Go vegan? Me?!...
Like most vegans today, I was the furthest thing from veganism at birth. Born in Toronto, Canada to Italian immigrants, traditional dishes like pizza, lasagna, and meatballs often graced our family table growing up. Looking back on things, all I can think is “Yikes!” but it was the reality of the situation.
Although it would be very romantic to say that I went vegan overnight, my story went very differently. Vegetarianism and veganism had never even crossed my mind until my mid-20s. Despite this, I believe that my transition to veganism started at a fairly young age with many small but impactful influences throughout my life that lead me to realize that going vegan was the right choice for me.
My furthest recollection was when I was under the age of 10. I refused to eat the traditional Italian meal of rabbit. It made no sense whatsoever to me. Why would we kill and eat a cute and fluffy bunny? Each time the dish would be served it was an emphatic, “No! A bunny is not food!”
My bond with animals has been very strong for as long as I can remember. I grew up with dogs, fish, birds and even lizards. Although today I disagree with the domestication of certain species of animals, these experiences throughout my childhood were invaluable. Each and every moment with these animal friends taught me about their extreme loyalty, intelligence and unconditional love. Life lessons that were imprinted upon me, humanizing these amazing creatures. Not to mention that I had an affinity for animated movies starring animals, such as 101 Dalmatians, Lion King, Rescuers, All Dogs Go To Heaven and Land Before Time. Significant influential experiences that primed me for my transition to veganism later in life.
Also at a young age, I developed my passion for physical activity. Playing provincial level soccer (football) which later lead to strength training as a primary form of activity. My enjoyment and regular frequency engaging in physical activity, more specifically lifting weights put more of an emphasis on meeting specific nutritional goals (particularly protein) to optimize performance. My consumption of animal-based foods increased dramatically as a result. Meat, eggs and dairy were staples for me to realize performance related goals and at the onset I really did not think much of it. But as time passed, all of the animal-based food consumption struck a nerve and my love for animals finally began to shine through. I found myself asking... Where is my food coming from? How are these food choices impacting my health? And most importantly for me... How is this affecting my animal friends?
After stumbling across a documentary called Food Inc. the floodgates were opened and I was curious to learn more about the food system. Shortly after, I decided that going vegetarian would be a great first step in the right direction, and during that 2 year period I continued to educate myself, stumbling upon literature like The China Study and Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness to name a few. Each painted a glaring picture around the health benefits of a plant-based diet and allowed me to realize that I could transition my performance-based goals in a vegan-friendly way.
Finally what I feel was truly the most significant impact on my transition to veganism - following PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) which exposed me to slaughterhouse investigation footage, reducing the disconnect between what was on my plate, in my products and the animals that I said I loved. Whether the claims were labeled with the misnomer "humane" or not, that animal ultimately had to give up his/her life for food or items I didn't need to thrive.
Since going vegan it has become my life's purpose and passion to document and share first-hand the amazingness that a vegan lifestyle can bring. It has been a complete transformation of mind, body and soul and I know it can be for many others as well. So each and everyday is an opportunity to act and inspire change to stop animal cruelty in its tracks, improve our health and the environment.
So if it's vegan you can find it here! Time to take that one step closer to a plant-based tomorrow. Together we are plant-strong!