Our Vegan Journey

Posted on January 28, 2016 by Samara Hipkin | 0 comments

Veganism seems to be a growing trend these days, and this is something we are both very grateful for. Philosophically and physically we embed veganism into every facet of our lives to the best of our ability, but like so many others we weren’t always this way; although, in some respects, you could say we were both made for this lifestyle.

I feel like the best vegan stories are the ones involving people who started off ferociously omnivorous. You know, the ones who couldn’t ever imagine living without consuming the flesh of another being, who publicly tore down vegans while wearing ‘mmm bacon” emblazoned across their chest loud and proud for the entire world to see....and yet somehow they managed to open their eyes and make the transition to veganism. These kinds of stories are relatable and inspiring to the masses whilst being often, incredibly amusing. Our story is not this way..

When Meg and I were children we were very sensitive. To the point where we would cry out of sympathy when we witnessed a person sitting by themselves in a restaurant. When we consumed meat- which was daily-we were taught (by otherwise very compassionate parents) that it was important, that it was healthy, that there was nothing wrong with it. I don’t remember ever not knowing where meat came from, but I do remember feeling quite nauseous on a regular basis while eating it- that is, until I learned to shove those thoughts to the quietly suffocating place in the back of my mind. We both learned to do that very well for a long, long time.

In grade 8, we had to pair up and pick a debate topic where one of us would take the pro side and the other would argue against it.  Meg and I paired up together and we chose the topic of our debate to be animal testing. I ended up arguing the less compassionate side of the debate. When the day of our class presentation came my argument was weak, alternatively Megs’ was very impassioned. By the end of it, some boys were laughing at us, and venomously interrogated us with the question “are you even vegetarian?”  We didn’t answer and they continued to laugh at our expense.  In a way though, that question sparked something inside of us- regardless of the delivery of the question. We had asked our parents about vegetarianism before, but they had always sort of brushed it off and we never delved into it any deeper. We told ourselves that if our parents thought it was okay, than so it must be. Yet deep within us we knew that eating animals still didn’t sit right with us. We still had those moments when the realization that sitting on our plate was the carcass of an animal would hit us, and we felt unsettled and disgusted. But again, we would numb out our emotional response. We would willingly become ignorant for the sake of convenience, but this feeling was too powerful and our hearts would not let us hide from it forever.

By the time we were 17 we were referring to ourselves as “aspiring vegetarians”. We would tell people that we would only eat meat if absolutely necessary, but otherwise we would strongly prefer not to...Except on those occasions when I would order bacon on a veggie burger and then explain to the puzzled wait staff that I was weaning my way off of meat. I look back on that now and shake my head. When we were 18, during summer vacation at our cabin, we realized we hadn’t eaten any meat over the entire week that we had been there. We said to ourselves, “this isn’t so hard”, and from then on we were completely vegetarian. Unfortunately at this time we did not consider the idea that dairy and eggs could be harmful as well. Actually that is, in part, a lie; the fact is that I was too afraid to look into animal agriculture because I knew that if I was aware of the information I know now I could never justify eating ice cream to myself ever again. So once again, wilful ignorance won the day.

Fast forward two years to our acne breakouts, Meg immediately decided she wanted to cure her outbreak naturally, without conventional medicine. I apprehensively joined her for the sake of not looking like the weaker twin. The first thing she decided to try was a vegan diet. “We eventually want to be vegan anyways” she said “It may as well be now!” So we tried it. Unfortunately our acne wasn’t diet related so it had a very minimal healing effect on our skin, yet Meg kept on. I, however, was not a strict vegan yet. Cheese and ice cream still drew me in too powerfully and I had not yet worked up the courage to look into the production of animal by-products. But over the course of a year I had weaned myself off of all animal by-products (Except for when I cheated with mini eggs at Easter). We started weight training within a year of my vegan transition and each put on 20 pounds of muscle very rapidly. We also quickly got rid of our non-vegan clothes (donated) and cosmetics (tossed out- bad sam! I know that now). By this point we both knew the full reality of the animal agriculture industry, and we were both fairly blindsided by the sheer cruelty of it all. It made us angry, upset, heartbroken and disgusted all at once and for a while I went on a social media scourge and took on anyone I could find arguing against veganism. After a long time I grew tired of arguing with people who would bring up the same arguments, with the same mentality and I decided that by just being me, speaking up in person when I thought it was called for and standing my ground in a compassionate way was a better path to go about giving people an understanding of what veganism is. For both of us that approach has worked wonders. We are very vocal about our veganism and will discuss it at any given moment if it is desired or necessary, but we make our best attempt to do so in an educational manner instead of a confrontational one.

It has now been over five years since we made the transition to veganism, and over 8 years since we have eaten any meat. Our health is off the charts, we have no deficiencies and we performed our best years as athletes on a vegan diet training 30 plus hours a week. We are still active, and we rarely get sick. We will never go back. We have proven to ourselves that we don’t need animal products to survive, and we have science to back us up. If we could give two points of advice to “aspiring vegans” it would be these:

- Take it slow and do your research. Ask questions (we are always willing to help, as are most other vegans). If you jump into it and don’t know where to obtain all of your nutritional needs and decide to sustain yourself on green salads all day, or jump to the other extreme and live on veggie burgers and oreos, than your health is definitely going to worsen. That’s how it is. That is not the result of being vegan, it is the result of poorly educating yourself and not  making sure you are getting all of your nutrition on a daily basis from different sources.

-it is okay to fail. If you mess up (like I did with the mini eggs at Easter), then it’s no big deal. Get up, brush yourself off and try again. Many people will quit something as soon as they make one mistake, which is in all honesty, the worst thing to do. Everyone screws up. You are learning, this a new experience, your body is integrating. Don’t get down on yourself for it, just keep doing your best. That is all anyone can really ask of you. Do your best. Your best might be different from someone else’s, but it doesn’t matter. Every little bit helps. It’s about changing the supply and demand; it’s about doing everything YOU can to make a difference. This is all anyone can expect from anyone else. Perfection is not real, but step by step we can get pretty damn close.

Here are some good web resources and blogs for anyone looking to try and go vegan.

The Vegan Society

This is a great video for vegan newbies

The Vegan RD -Veganism from a nutritionists persective

Oh She Glows-This one is our most used blog

The vegan chickpea- Another great vegan blog

The Minimalist Baker- Yet another one of our go to blogs

and finally The top 50 vegan recipe blogs of 2015

 

 And with that, all I can add is: Please, please  let us know if you have any questions at all <3

With love, light and plenty of wonder

Xoxo

Sam

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