Hi welcome, pleased to meet you, the names Tara.
I grew up in north west England jumping from place to place as my parents were business owners. My sister had long become vegetarian at the age of eight (perhaps younger), when she made the conscious decision to do so. Being six years younger this meant I grew up with a very vegetarian life style. Of course I still ate meat in these early years as my mother had encouraged me to do so, although I was not blind to the vegetarian life style.
As I grew older to around the age of 10 my diet fluctuated from vegetarian to meat eater, to telling white lies about having a meat free diet. Ever since I was young I have always been aware of sentient beings, which led to me slowly cutting out meats I deemed too cruel to eat. I remember when I was young and I drove past a field with my mother and there had been a great commotion. Sheep had been bleating loudly and they appeared to be distressed. I saw all their lambs collected up, with a wooden gate separating the sheep from their babies, whilst they were loaded on to a truck. I asked my mother what they were doing and she told me,”they’re taking the lambs to slaughter.” Clearly at this young age I could see for myself that this suffering was wrong.
When I was fourteen I made the leap to being vegetarian full time. This was after lent came around and I gave up the last type of meat I had been eating at the time, chicken. After going my forty days without it I finally decided to try it again and i’m glad to say the sheer thought of the animal I was eating just made me feel sick.
Vegetarian life came easy to me as we had an abundance of Quorn stocked in our freezer as my sister had been vegetarian for years. Years later my third sister finally joined the vegetarian sisters and my meat eating mother was beside herself. Not entirely, she was open to our vegetarian life but could not wrap her head around the fact that she had raised three vegetarians; when all her life she had eaten meat.
After travelling through this journey for four years and learning more everyday I decided I wanted to be vegan. The plus side to this is that I am lactose intollerant, so figured it would be much better. Although I was an idiot, at the time there was not as many readily available meat substitutes for vegans. So I ate the worst way a vegan could, living off fries and salad with bowls of rice. I tried this for three months only to find it affected my health. Although I want to clarify, it was not the vegan diet that affected my health it was my lack of knowledge on the subject.
At this stage in my life I moved to Yorkshire! I spent the next two years slowly cutting out dairy and egg products to the point were I was left only eating meat substitutes that contained 0.00001% milk or something ridiculous like that! I had lived in Sheffield and found vegetarian food to be widely available with vegan food creeping up in the market too.
At the age of twenty I took a holiday to Croatia, which for some reason made me take the full time leap to veganism. Looking back I think the holiday made me realise I have been lazy and should not just choose a diet because it’s easier. I learned that even vegetarianism is very hard in some parts of the world, yet in England it is widely accepted. So I decided I can no longer turn a blind eye.
I explored my vegan journey split between university in York and home in Sheffield. I’d like to thank many people in the city of Sheffield, all of the wonderful caring people, working to create a vegan city! Sheffield, the vegan capital of England, and trust me it lives up to that name, makes being vegan seem like the popular opinion worldwide; because in Sheffield it is!
I’m now twenty two and vegan for two years, and I would not change it for the world. Being vegan has changed my life completely and made me a happier self. It has not only made me happier in what I am eating but It has also changed my life physically too. I have watched friends grow and ditch meat forever and made friends from talking about our ideas and concerns for our world. I have explored food and restaurants with friends. Veganism is not just a diet for me it is a whole life style that opens you up to people and possibilities, making me a much more social person.
I now live in Spain and at first I was nervous for what it would mean for my vegan diet. Yet I was surprised to find that right in Gibraltar they offer all the English shops you could need to stock vegan food in fridge fulls. I also have the added bonus of getting giant vegetables as they’re all grown fresh over here in Spain! Lucky me and now my vegan journey continues, there is much to learn!