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Throughout my entire life – or at least since my teenage years – I flirted with veganism. When I was around 17 or 18, I decided to go vegetarian, in spite of the complaints of my mother, a cardiologist who tried to dissuade me by saying I would suffer from many deficiencies such as anaemia.

I stuck with vegetarianism for five years, until I moved to a different city to live by myself and began falling into pescetarianism. Then, over three years later, I came to London, where I managed to remain as a pescetarian until mid-2014. Without thinking much, I decided to start eating chicken again. Pork and cow’s meat followed.

I simply disassociated. When I thought about it, I felt guilty, especially because I am ‘truly, madly, deeply’ passionate about animals. I expect it is easier – for our mind’s sake – to love our cats and dogs, but not to think about the thousands of cows, chickens, pigs, lambs and turkeys being tortured and slaughtered every single day. That’s what I did and I regretted it immensely.

Moving forward almost four years, everything started to change when I decided to buy and cook bacon at home. It was the first – and last – time I did that. I felt bad from the opening of the packaging to the frying of it. However, I ate it in a Full-English and, worse, posted it on Instagram. Now, you must understand I was a very pushy vegetarian, which means some of my best friends came to ask me if I was crazy or whatnot. Feeling ashamed, I promised them I would cook a vegan Full-English the next evening.

I did cook the vegan Full-English, and it made me think about trying to be plant-based for a week. As I mentioned previously, I always flirted with veganism; I also admired vegans, they were to me sort of “what I want to be when I grow up” type of thing, yet I didn’t have the “balls” to be one sooner. As many others do, I also (mistakenly) believed it was too hard.

After buying a dozens of grains, fruits and vegetables, I got a few recipes online and began my plant-based week. I initially thought this would be only an experiment, and that I would end up going back to be a vegetarian afterwards. For once, I am pleased to say I was wrong.

Actually, I really, really enjoyed eating plant-based. It was so much easier than I expected. In fact, I found out that the only thing a vegan requires is to prepare oneself a bit better when it comes to meals and, just to be safe, always carrying a snack. Every morning I woke up feeling excited, happy to know that I was feeding my body healthy micronutrients. Moreover, I was not contributing to the suffering of any sentient being, and also reducing my carbon footprint.

One week became two, which turned into three and then into a month. It wasn’t difficult to decide to properly transition to a plant-based diet aiming to achieve a vegan lifestyle. Of course, transforming your household completely takes time (and some research): it goes from changing your shampoo and toothpaste to the washing powder and fabric conditioner you regularly use. Again, it doesn’t happen overnight, but it is so worth it!

By living cruelty-free, I feel I am now the best version of myself and that brings me pure joy. Although there are a number of things I still want to improve, it seems selfishness gave place to compassion, which warmly fills my heart. I recently saw an image that shows quite perfectly how it feels: even if you are living in a big, grey city, inside it is like being inhabiting a cosy house with a garden, surrounded by flowers and trees. Even the sun shines brighter when you are connected to all colours, shapes and sizes of earthlings.

Lastly, a plant-based diet can bring several health benefits when you do it responsibly. It helps preventing type-2 diabetes and many cardiovascular diseases, control blood pressure and cholesterol, and to tackle obesity. Furthermore, it reduces the incidence of the “yo-yo effect” that usually comes along with the overconsumption of sugary and processed foods. Some researchers argue that it can also aid in the treatment of tumours. I am not a doctor, far from it, but there is sit seems a clear win-win for you, for the animals (including wildlife) and for the planet.