My Story, My Awakening

It has become about time that I talk about my story, my transition on becoming vegan.
When I was a child back in the UK, our family would often go walking to the local woods and we’d enjoy the nature and peace of the area. Our final destination was a small lake with wild ducks. We’d take bread, coax them over and feed them. I was completely fascinated with these creatures. Like all children, I loved animals and the duck’s gentle quacking and their little squabbles over the bread was so fun to watch. One day, as we were all walking back home (I think I was about 7 years old) shots rang out. I asked mum what was going on and she told me that some people were shooting the ducks. The ducks I had just been feeding.  To say I was inconsolable is an understatement. My mum recalls how it took her so long to calm me down. I was completely distraught. I just couldn’t understand why anyone would do that to those ducks. It was that day that I made the connection and decided to become a vegetarian.
I was extremely fortunate that my family was so supportive even at such a young age. My mum cooked more vegetarian food for the family and made me something different at those times when meat was served. I continued this lacto-ovo-vegetarianism. I had a few slips, partly due to being young I suppose. In my teens I was a bit of an activist. I really wanted to tell people about this issue but this seemed to dwindle as I got older. I think part of the reason was because as I grew older I realised deep down that because I still ate dairy and eggs, I still wore leather, I was actively contributing to the killing of animals. I knew that if I talked about the issue of animal rights, people would quite rightly point out that there was something a little hypocritical about what I was saying if I still wore leather, ate cheese etc so I just stayed quiet.
In my twenties I became a tour guide. I took people through south east Asia, Europe and Morocco. My job was to expose my clients to the culture and a big part of that was food (usually a lot of meat). I enjoyed learning and teaching others about these different cultures and began to feel  that I was really missing out on something delicious by being vegetarian. I would take my clients to a duck farm (for foie gras) in France. We watched how fish sauce was made in Vietnam. I’d take them to the local camel meat sellers in Morocco where the clients would buy meat and we’d then take it next door for grilling in to camel burgers. We’d walk through fascinating markets with corpses hanging everywhere. I’d reason that at least people can see meat for what it is, rather than being packaged up without a face in the supermarket, that it is such a large part of the culture here.  I think I became numb to all of it. While in Asia I didn’t worry too much about the fish sauce and in France I ate loads of cheese but still stayed vegetarian.
I left the ‘road’ in 2005 and moved to Vietnam where I became pretty sedentary. I didn’t seem to care much about anything and I gained a bit of weight, ate lots of dairy and lots of cheese. You know what it’s like.  Every new year, resolutions would be made to embark on a more healthier lifestyle and then it would fall by the wayside a few days later. I wasn’t inspired.
When I was given a smartphone as a gift, I discovered Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcast early in 2009 (during my New Year’s enthusiasm phase). I downloaded the episodes and I listened… and listened.. and listened… I cried in bed when I heard how the feathers are ‘ripped’ from live birds (an official industry term by the way)  as my head rested on my duckdown pillow, I reveled in the realization that I could get all my nutrients from plants. I was flabbergasted to realize how easy it would be to make the change to a vegan lifestyle. I slowly got rid of all the animal products from our fridge (there’s still a bit of leather and feathers floating around our house even today but it won’t help the animals if I get rid of them now.) but I made the transition. I started cooking. I couldn’t believe how delicious it was. The weight fell off me without doing much exercise and I felt so much more at peace, became a nicer person to other people and my connections with animals and the world have deepened to such a level that I sometimes look at my cats and just want to cry because they just so amazing. The joy I get from living my life according to my values of compassion and non-violence is an incredible feeling and the knowledge that my choices are really helping the environment too? It can’t be beaten.
Being vegan in Asia is so easy. With such a huge range of cheap fruit, vegetables, beans, tofu and tempeh I have a very varied diet. Much more so than most meat-eaters I know. I exercise, and feel better than I have ever felt; physically, mentally and spiritually.
Anyone who knows me know, know that these are my values now and I do not compromise on them at anytime (what’s the point in having values if I don’t manifest them in my actions?). I am now passionate about raising awareness about the suffering of animals. I am an activist for the animals because they have no voice. I try to be a good vegan role model and hopefully seeds will be planted through my interactions with others. Sometimes seeds grow.  I’m just livin’ my truth.
I have had some successes though. My incredible boyfriend listened to what I told him about the animals and also the wonderful podcasts and became vegan shortly after I did. Sharing our vegan journey  is one of the most wonderful parts of our relationship. My family came to visit us one Christmas in Bangkok. We kept a vegan household throughout their visit. By the end of their trip and lots of dinner table discussions, my brother and his girlfriend became vegan, my mum has eliminated 99% of animal products from her diet after reading Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live and my dad seriously cut down. I have friends and other family members who have also become vegetarian or even given veganism a try. I have been amazed at how open they have been to it. If we set the bar high, people will rise to it.
So… That’s it. That’s my story so far. It’s only been 2 and a half years since I woke up, but they have been wonderful years. The best years. I can’t wait to see what happens next!


7 responses

  1. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. I have been vegan for a long time now and yet I’m still struck by how central it is to my identity. It is a powerful choice about how you want to be in the world.

    I’ve spent a lot of time with Colleen, I recommend her podcasts to so many friends because I don’t know anyone else who speaks their truth with such authenticity and warmth.

    I’m heading to Bangkok in December and would love to meet up for some vegan food.

  2. Hi Lisa,

    Thank you so much for your comment. I am sure you will have noticed a lot of “Colleenisms” in my story. I guess she has been very inspirational to me. I completely agree with what you say too. It has given me more focus and purpose to my life than anything else I have ever experienced.

    I would love to meet up with you in Bangkok, but I am living in Jakarta now! If you ever head to Bali or Indo, let me know! 🙂

  3. Good one, honey!!! Glad I cooked those veggo meals for you when you were young. Look how healthy and happy you are now, having taken it all to its logical conclusion. Keep it up, sweetheart. Love Mumxxxxxxxx

    • Thanks Mum. I am sure I don’t tell you enough that your unwavering support (and dad’s too of course) has had a profound impact throughout my life. Someone commented on this post and said how amazing it was that you were both so supportive of my thoughts to become vegetarian at such a young age and that it would inspire her when her daughter wants to do something similar when she’s older. So many parents wouldn’t have allowed it and I am acutely aware now that it would have required a whole lot more work on your part. (I would have helped more in the kitchen if I had realised). So… Publicly I would like to thank my awesome family. I am so grateful.

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