When did you go vegan and what made you go vegan?
I went vegan in February 2017 and I think it was really a long time coming. It wouldn’t say it was just one thing that made me go vegan but different things accumulated over time. I always looked at meat and felt guilty knowing that it was once living and breathing like me but never thought I could survive without it. But I then came across a few vegans on Instagram and saw that they not only survived but actually thrived as vegans and started to do my research into it. Then I decided that I could no longer contribute to animal cruelty so took the plunge to become vegan.
So from that moment onwards, what was your transition strategy?
I had already been a Piscatarian for over a year and had long cut dairy milk out of my diet. So I then cut out fish and other dairy and looked at my hair and skincare products as well. I knew a lot of these products were animal derived and tested on animals but didn’t want to throw them away as I don’t like waste plus I felt like I have already bought them and if I throw them away then the pain caused to that animal was all for nothing. Any that I could use, I used up but the others I gave away to family members. I just decided that I won’t contribute to that any longer by buying any more products from these companies. So I started to look carefully at consuming healthy, organic, vegan-friendly products in both food and skin/hair care
How long was your transition period?
To be honest I pretty much ripped the plaster off and did it straight away with my food. I finished whatever I had left in the fridge and then started my vegan lifestyle. There were a few times I accidentally picked up something non-vegan and in the beginning (like the 1st week) I would eat it, but once I became more disciplined with it, any time I would pick up something that I couldn’t have after watching all of these documentaries, I just couldn’t knowingly consume it. My skin care was also pretty much straight away. I used to be an Avon representative so I accumulated a lot of stuff but I stopped using them once I found out they tested on animals so my partner used them and he just finished the last bubble bath. I finished whatever moisturizers of theirs I had and went onto vegan skincare probably within about 2 weeks.
Now that you look back on that period, what would you have done differently?
I would probably just give all of my skincare away and not use it anymore. I would also check my foods as much as I do now to make sure I am not paying for or consuming non-vegan products. I think I probably would have watched a lot more documentaries sooner to educate me better, earlier.
What was the biggest challenge when you just went vegan?
For me, it was and still is the hair care. I recently stopped straightening my hair and went natural. A lot of hair products for afro hair contain silk, beeswax, honey so finding products for my hair which are vegan-friendly can be a struggle. Most of the brands that cater for us are in the US.
How do you deal with these particular challenges now?
The natural hair care scene is getting a bit better and a lot of naturals are vegan so the vegan natural hair care demand is growing. I follow a lot of vegan natural hair brands on Instagram so am becoming more aware of what’s available to me. A lot of the time I just tend to use natural oils in my hair which are vegan and tend to sometimes work better than other products
A lot of people think that a vegan lifestyle is restricting them. As an experienced vegan, how do you feel about this?
To put it nicely, I think that is utter nonsense. I can understand the misconception because I thought the same before I was vegan, but there is so much available now, I think you just need to know where to look. Veganism is growing at such a rapid rate that even mainstream non-vegan companies are now jumping on the bandwagon trying to keep up. It can be a struggle at times but the more people that do it, the more companies will release that people want this and will have to cater to us.
What is for you the best part of being vegan?
I love the community. We are all just so welcoming to each other. Also, I love the way it makes me feel, not just physically, but mentally and spiritually. I feel so empowered knowing that my actions are helping those without a voice and it’s so great knowing there are people out there who may not know you or share all the same values with you, but we are all working together with one common goal, to end animal cruelty.
So, how did the vegan lifestyle improve your life?
My outlook on life has changed. It helped me to see just how precious life is. I also feel healthier. Like, I can eat a big hearty vegan meal and not get that sickly overfilled feeling I used to get when eating meat and dairy.
To close the interview with.. Do you have tips for transitioning vegans?
I would say that if you are a heavy meat-eater, to cut things out bit by bit to help your body adjust. If you are consuming less meat than before you are still helping. But if you feel like you can just take the plunge and go vegan straight away, go for it. I would also say to watch documentaries such as What The Health, Dominion, Forks Over Knives etc to gain knowledge of these industries and to help cement your belief that you are doing the right thing. I recently went to my first Animal Rights March in August and if you can find one near you then I would say to definitely go. It’s such a rush to pound the pavements surrounded by like-minded souls with one common goal. For product reviews, I would say to check out blogs and Instagram because you get a real understanding of the products and not just what the companies want you to see. Also for recipes, check out blogs as well as Pinterest. You can follow the hashtag #veganlife to check out all things vegan ie food, activism, fashion on Instagram. Following fellow vegans really planted the seed for me and solidified my belief in my new vegan lifestyle.
Tanekka from London is a vegan fashion and lifestyle blogger with a lot of sass- in a good way! She also is a sales-representer of Arbonne.