For those interested in learning more about why and how I went vegan, this is my vegan story. It’s a story that started many many years ago, but that I only really put into action recently.
I was raised vegetarian, and so I didn’t eat meat or fish as a child. By the time I was old enough to choose what to eat, I didn’t like the taste of meat at all. Being a vegetarian was just a given for me. However, I wasn’t raised a vegetarian for ethical reasons, and like most people, I found it easier to not think about the ethical side of animal agriculture. When people asked me “why” I was a vegetarian, I would give them the easy answer of “oh I was raised this way and just don’t like the taste of meat”, and move on quite happily.
Photography by Tommy Reynolds Photography
Things started to change when I was around 18. A lot of big things were happening at once, with me going to university for one term, deciding it wasn’t for me, moving back home, and getting engaged… but on top of this, I was facing a ton of health problems as well. I fell into a bad spell of depression and anxiety and gained around 2.5 stone (about 28 lbs). It wasn’t a great time. I had some really weird symptoms that I never got to the bottom of, and I’m still frustrated to this day that I was so sick and still have no answers.
About a year later, my health problems had settled down a bit, but I was still an extremely unhappy 178lbs (12 stone something…) so after one massive breakdown, I decided this wasn’t the way I wanted to be, and chose to go on a diet. Having never been on a diet before, I just didn’t know where to start. So I got on Google and found the Dukan Diet. The Dukan Diet (which I don’t recommend to ANYONE), is basically a protein rich diet, and not much else. You start off with a week of only eating protein, then alternate days of protein only and protein and vegetables, until you reach your goal weight, then you start introducing carbs again in a very controlled way. Well, it worked, I lost weight (fast) and have kept it off, but it was NOT healthy. The lack of fibre does horrible things to your digestive system, I was tired, cold and constipated. Not really what you want in the run up to your wedding.
After the Dukan Diet, I stumbled upon several vegan YouTube channels, and something clicked. These people were amazing, and inspiring and passionate, and so HEALTHY. I started to learn more about the benefits of veganism (outside of diet) and I think from that moment on, I knew that eventually I would become vegan. But there was still something holding me back. Fear.
Other than music (which I began to study at university), my other passion was baking. I wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to pursue this in a career, but I knew I wanted to end up doing something with food. Well, how could I possibly do that as a vegan? At this point in my life, I felt quite low about everything, I wasn’t crazy on my appearance, I was working in a job that was ok, but not my passion, and my anxiety was pretty bad. Holding onto this dream of mine, which did not mix with veganism, was more important to me at the time. So life moved on again.
Fast forwarding to 18 months ago, in January 2015 I started Lauren Caris Cooks! I had finally found a way to share my passion for food with my family and friends, and lots of other people too. This started as a predominantly baking blog, and it was going well, but it didn’t take me long to realise (maybe 5 months?) that I didn’t want all that butter, sugar and sweet stuff around all the time. As sad as my work colleagues were that I wouldn’t be bringing cakes into work regularly anymore, I knew it was the right choice, and I transitioned LCC to be a vegetarian food blog, based around mostly whole foods, with some treats thrown in now and again.
Over time, I started to watch more and more vegan videos again, and properly committed myself to researching all aspects of veganism, including not closing my eyes to the ethical side, learning about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture, and the very real horrors of the dairy and egg industry. I used to make myself believe that the dairy and egg industry was somehow separate from the meat industry, so it was ok, because no animals were actually dying for it. It’s actually funny to me now that I believed that.
In May 2016 my mind was made up, I was going vegan. I think once you reach that point there really is no going back, because it’s so much more than a diet. How could I turn my back on all the things I’d learned about animal treatment, the health reasons, and the very real sustainability issues the planet was facing? This was so much more now. It gave me a reason when I was out and craving a cookie, NOT to buy one.
Since becoming vegan, I feel happier, calmer, more aware and more compassionate as a person. I find myself living more consciously in all areas of my life. Since I already had a food blog, I felt SO excited and passionate to turn this into a vegan food blog. I feel like I’ve finally found my home with food, and my excitement for cooking and recipe creation has just switched back on with a vengeance. On top of recipes, I’m planning to branch out into more vegan lifestyle topics as well, as I feel that will fit together nicely, and create some more interesting reading for you all too!
While I feel like I’ve found my feet with veganism now, in the beginning I had so many questions. In order to try and help you, whether you are at the beginning of your own journey or just wanting to learn more about veganism, I’ve written a 20+ page vegan starter guide, including 7 exclusive recipes! You’ll get your own free copy when you sign up to my newsletter. Click on the button below to get yours!
I can’t end this post without mentioning all the people who have been huge inspirations to me during my own journey to veganism, so here they are. Go show them some love!
Jenny Mustard – Veganism and Minimalism – Jenny is so inspiring, and she’s one of the most friendly YouTubers I’ve ever watched. You’ll feel like you’re sitting at home having tea with a good friend watching her videos.
Lily – Legit Nutrition Hawaii – Lily is one of the most knowledgable, balanced people I’ve ever had the pleasure of learning from. All of her arguments and opinions are carefully considered and constructed, and you can be sure you’re getting top quality, reliable information from her.
Jenné – Sweet Potato Soul – Jenné is the most fun!! Her energy and spirit shine through in her delicious food videos. A trained vegan chef, her food is not to be missed!