Laura's Vegan Journey

by Laura Bellefontaine
(Baton Rouge, LA, USA)

I remember being sixteen asking my mom if I could go vegetarian. She said “no” essentially. I struggled for the next two days living off pasta noodles and canned mandarin oranges until I gave up. Throughout the time period between when I was sixteen through when I was twenty-one I had wrestled with a mood spectrum disorder and insomnia. My parents continuously sent me to specialist to specialist seeking an answer. Throughout this time, I had been flirting with veganism while I remained on the standard American diet (SAD). Each time I attempted going vegan, I failed –miserably.

In the fall of 2012, I began picking up a few vegan cookbooks and watching various documentaries on plant-based nutrition. I was amazed at the health benefits that the vegan diet offered. For about three or four months I slowly made a transition. I did not switch in a traditional sense; I ate what I wanted, yet started to notice how my education in veganism was rubbing off. I started noticing that I was reading the product’s ingredients and making kinder options. I soon got familiar with vegan options at restaurants and started learning to cook all vegan meals (and loving them)!
The books, blogs and films that helped me in my transition are numerous. In fact, I have an entire book shelf of books I collected over this period in time. To name a few, I read: Ministry of Healing, China Study, and The Kind Diet. My favorite documentaries include: Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, Food Inc., Meet Your Meat, Dying to Have Known and Earthlings. Blogs were my favorite, I felt as if I knew another vegan, when in reality, I did not. When I read the blogs, I felt as if I was not alone, that instead I had friends teaching me. Many of these blogs I still follow today: Oh She Glows, Choosing Raw and Fully Raw Kristina.
Alicia Silverstein hugely effected my decision to go vegan through her book, “The Kind Diet”. Although, Alicia is a passionate vegan, she wrote her books towards people who were only flirting with the lifestyle. Through her book, I not only learned how to transition to veganism, but also, that it’s okay to fall off the bandwagon during my transition: just get back on! Early on, with all my attempts at veganism I felt it was all or nothing. That if I slipped and ate a muffin with milk and eggs in it that I failed and gave up completely. Instead, Alicia showed me an easier way. I started not to beat myself up during my transition phase, knowing that a vegan diet was possible. Not to mention, her recipes proved that veganism is not limiting, but exciting and delicious!
This continued until that wonderful day when, I couldn’t do it anymore, I simply could not eat meat, milk or any dairy product, nor eggs. Not only was this new plant-based diet revolutionizing my health but also, I started understanding animal rights. I knew I did not have the heart to kill an animal with my bare hands for food, so why should I pay someone to do that very act? Each time I learned something new, it took me another step away from the world. At this point, I realized that this could be the answer I had been looking for with my deteriorating health. Where up unto this point, everyday had become a struggle.
On March 31st 2013, I had made my decision to become 100% vegan. The evening before (March 30th, 2013) my husband prepared “my last meal”. As I sat down to eat this dish we turned on a Netflix favorite, “Vegucated”. I was going to show my husband why I had decided to change my lifestyle. Yet, there was one problem, I could no longer look at steak the same. I did not finish my meal, and knew the truth had set me free. I was vegan at last! A week later, I had gone off all prescription medications and called my dad crying, “It worked, veganism, all my symptoms are gone! I can sleep!”
My family has always been supportive. My mom even asks me too cook vegan meals when I come home to visit. They have faith this diet has helped restore my life. On the other hand, I lived in Louisiana with my husband near his family. They were not as supportive and criticized my new beliefs and lifestyle. At first, it was lonely living in Louisiana. However, after a year of veganism, they began to understand a bit better. I love my in-laws dearly and they have been extended much understand during this whole process. My father-in-law has even read the China Study.
I have been a vegan since March 31st 2013 and never looked back. People always ask me if I miss cheese. Honestly, I do not miss any animal products for their flavor. I am happy with my lifestyle and feel enriched with my food options. I love everything about it. I love how veganism within itself is a form of love and compassion. I love how my food options expanded after adopting this lifestyle. I only wish that I was born and raised as a vegan, knowing that a lot of my health problems could have been prevented.
I try to make the world better for animals by not eating them nor drinking their milk – it’s as simple as that. This simple practice of kindness allows me to vote for against animal cruelty multiple times a day with my dollar. Knowing that my dollar counts and what I buy in groceries stores, restaurants and beauty care products is what manufactures will produce. Look at how the vegetarian market has grown in the last years! This all starts with a few people.
I also have created a company that is based around health, veganism and plant-based beauty-care. It is called Genuinely Simple. I try and support veganism through the message I send through my products. Many people are ignorant of true health and the benefits of veganism. I try to reach people who might not otherwise know about veganism or natural health through various forms of marketing. Knowing if they love my product, they can learn a little about veganism and the plan to save humanity. (www.genuinelysimple.com)
I am simple; I believe veganism should be as well. Too complicated vegan recipes are expensive and take time to prepare. When switched to veganism, I took a tip from the garden and started eating tons of nature’s fast food options: raw fruits and vegetables. I love nice-cream or banana ice-cream. Which is simply frozen bananas blended up in the blender.
Looking back at my newly vegan self, I would tell myself to be patient and enjoy learning about the love of veganism. It’s going to change you for the better.

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