Yes, I'm vegan. NO- I'm not skinny!
I logged into Facebook and one of the first statuses that met my eyes was one questioning, "at what pants size do you officially become a plus sized woman." As I began to troll the status, I looked into the comments section and watched women reply with sizes ranging from 16 on down to a size 12. "Oh wow!" I thought. It had not been that long ago that I was a size 12. I began to toy with idea of me being plus-sized by American standard.
Since childhood, I've always been a curvy. My childhood memories trace back to people commenting on the roundness of my backside or the fullness of my front, older boys and men showing interest in me despite me being significantly younger than them and my father always being extremely rigid on what clothes that I wore. I am not new to the idea of being "thick" ,as we say in the African American community, but viewing myself as plus-sized was a new outlook.
The pressure that women & girls feel about body image, weight, and size in unfair. The truth is that America has socialized us into a certain expectation of what we should look like, but the truth is that the only pressure we should have is to fully love ourselves and our body. Women and girls don't have a look and neither do vegans! Veganism is a lifestyle and it's not limited to a race, a gender, religion or body type.
Here's how I began my plant-based journey:
In my adult years, I began to change my lifestyle. It was about 12 years ago, when I decided to become a vegetarian. That decision, however, did not happen over night. It happened progressively and had nothing to do with the shape of my body.
First, I stopped eating red meat and pork. Coming from a family whose roots are deep in southern traditions this was not the easiest transition. In the south, or specifically in my family, there were tons of dishes filled with pork and beef so transitioning away from these two meats created some questioning and chaos at the dinner table. The next step was getting rid of turkey, and chicken. I really struggled in this phase because I had learned for quite some time to substitute my beef and pork products with turkey and chicken products. Also, being a Chicagoan, it was very hard for me to venture away from Harold's Chicken. (I loved Harold's and I couldn't see myself giving up that mild sauce for anyone...lol...you have to be from Chicago to understand.) I, however, stayed focused and continued to press on towards my goal of vegetarianism. I practiced the life of a pescatarian (only fish and veggies) and made my final step toward becoming a vegetarian about 6 months after I became a pescetarian. I was so happy to FINALLY be a vegetarian. About a year after becoming a vegetarian, I finally began making my transition into the world of veganism.
Currently , I am still in the transitioning into veganism. I am still learning so much about this lifestyle. It is not just about eating, it also a new way of living. I have had to learn to shop, cook and eat totally different from the way I was raised. Until you begin practicing veganism, you never realize how many things actually have animal products in them. Everything from common snacks to beverages to vitamins might contain animal products. For instance, did you know that some of your favorite beverages are filtered through animal fat? Or that many vegetarian products still contain animal products in them like eggs and milk? I certainly did not!!!
When you begin to practice a different way of eating and living you naturally receive criticisms from people who are different from you. I get a lot of dietary questioning and judgement, one of the most common being a reference to my body.
To be clear, I never became a plant-based eater to improve my body image. In fact, I am and always have been absolutely fine with how I look. Additionally, loosing weight is not the main motivational factor for a lot of vegans that I know. Veganism is much larger than just wanting to loose weight (although if that is your reason for wanting to join us that's fine. We welcome you!) Veganism teaches compassion, empathy and provides you with a new way of looking at life.
I chose this lifestyle for a few very simple reasons. One, eating meat increases the acidity in your body and I want my temple to remain as alkaline as possible. (Why drink alkaline water when you can just eat more fruits and veggies and less sugars and meats...I digress.) Two, I am environmentally conscious and our meat consumption is extremely damaging to our universe. Three, I have always preferred vegetables and even before becoming a vegan I always felt better when I did not consume foods that were high in dairy or animal products. Four, my daughter is lactose intolerant and as I began to research the impact that dairy has on all of our bodies it made me want to stray away from it more and more. Finally, given my family health history, practicing a vegan lifestyle was a way to stray away from diseases that have generationally plagued my family.
So there you have it. Yes, I am vegan, and no I'm not skinny! I am happily moving through life in my size 8s-10s, , and I do not feel any regret that I am not skinny. In fact it was never one of my goals to begin. I am also happy that my family and I feel great and are happy with our lifestyle choices. I love that I have learned a new level of compassion and empathy towards all life. (I think this is a natural exchange that occurs once you stop eating meat. You begin to respect life for it being just that as opposed to something for your consumption) Finally, I am happy that this journey has propelled me towards being more conscious about what things I am eating, how things are made, where they come from and it is teaching me new ways to cook and create dishes.
If you are interested in following my food journey, you can follow my instagram food page where my bestie and I have created a food diary @foodiefoxes. You can also continue to follow me on my social media pages, @onesun3flowers. I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you!
With love and light,
Author of Flowering Yourself
Co-founder of OneSun3flowers