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Why I Decided to Go Vegan and How It Has Impacted on My Physical and Mental Health

Updated on October 23, 2019
Taz Haddlesey profile image

I began writing in April 2018 when worsening symptoms of PTSD and depression stopped me working as an ED nurse. Writing is therapy.

I know that vegans often have a reputation...

...for being preachy and annoying by telling meat-eaters how wrong they are and how right they are, simply on their food choices. This is not one of those articles. I would simply like to talk to you about why I went vegan and why – I have zero opinion on what you eat or why, this is just another part of my little story.

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The first time I decided to take a vegetarian diet...

...I was about nine years old. I was brought up by my grandparents who do not believe in a vegetarian diet and have no feeling towards animals that become food. There is no problem with that, I just mean to point out that this decision was out of nowhere given my upbringing.

When I think back to that decision, I think I can remember going to a local urban farm and bottle feeding a pet lamb. This was almost certainly the very best thing that had ever happened to me at that time and it has stayed with me.

If memory serves, this was a Saturday and my grandma prepared a Sunday roast the following day for the family and a neighbour that used to always join us for Sunday dinners. The meat was lamb. I believe it was this moment that I made the connection for the first time that lamb was a lamb and chicken was a chicken etc.

I believe it was this moment that I made the connection for the first time that lamb was a lamb and chicken was a chicken etc... I was completely mortified.

I was completely mortified as I asked my grandma if I was right, if the dead thing on my plate was the same as that beautiful little creature I cuddled and fed the previous day. She explained that yes I was right but ‘We don’t think of them as animals when we want to eat them’. I was devastated, how could that be right or fair?

I asked about all the other meats, poultry and fish etc. and quickly began to do her head in as I continued to challenge her at such a young age, especially in front of our neighbour. I was usually extremely well behaved as I was a very nervous child and would never talk to her like but I didn’t care. Needless to say, I refused to eat it which didn’t go down well either, again I did not care at all and was actually quite angry about it.

For the next few years there would be this daily argument about food, I would refuse to eat meat, my grandma would complain about preparing two meals which was fair enough but I just was not having it. Eventually I would give in to this argument and ended up eating meat for a year or so which I’ve still not forgiven myself for. Even though it was very rare I did eat meat, I couldn’t call myself a vegetarian anymore and that felt rough as it made me so proud before.

Needless to say, I refused to eat it which didn’t go down well either, again I did not care at all and was actually quite angry about it.

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When I was started university I met my now best friend...

...who was had been a strong minded vegetarian all her life, as I once was and that was the final push I needed to return to vegetarianism. That was 11 years ago now and I have never looked back.

It was amazing to talk to someone who thought like I did about animal welfare and was matched in how far we would go for animal rights, as well as her dad who feels exactly like we do – so wonderful to have an experienced person on our side. We all have talked about how much healthier it was too which is not only common knowledge now but on trend. If I’m honest we just loved how right our choice was for us and reaped the benefits of good health.

It was amazing to talk to someone who thought like I did about animal welfare and was matched in how far we would go for animal rights... If I’m honest we just loved how right our choice was for us and reaped the benefits of good health.

We are all fervent supporters of an excellent vegetarian charity called Viva who would print incredible exposes about the meat industry, advertise the awesome benefits of a vegan diet and share veggie and vegan recipes. Veganism became something that we always wanted to do because it’s so healthy and so much better for animals everywhere, especially cows but always had a reason not to be 100% committed.

I decided to go vegan after a short spell of depression, insomnia and anxiety when I first started nursing. The pressure of being a newly qualified nurse and having a background of undiagnosed PTSD meant I had to take time off to rest before returning to work as a nurse.

This was the right time I felt, I had more time to prepare new recipes, I was hitting the gym hard, I knew to look after my physical health in order to protect my mental health and I thought that supporting my true ethical believes would help me to be ‘happier’ in a way.

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Creating this balance is the best way for me to feel both physically and mentally healthier.

So I decided to make as many vegan choices as I could...

...in order to maintain a healthy balance with it all and my best mate has done the same. This means completely vegan big shops but not crucifying yourself if you fancy a little chocolate or something.

Creating this balance is the best way for me to feel both physically and mentally healthier. I don’t think people believe me when I say that eating right and considering animals makes me feel better about myself. As well as the incredible physical health benefits like lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lean protein sources and improved digestive health. It’s a double win for me.

Now, I know it’s not for everyone so this isn’t supposed to make you change your mind but I swear eating vegan and being an animal activist has help me enormously so maybe it’s worth thinking about?

...eating vegan and being an animal activist has help me enormously...

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    • Iammattdoran profile image

      Matt Doran 

      5 months ago from Manchester, UK

      Great article. I've been thinking of going vegan for ages - even if just to try it for a month or so at first. Interesting to hear your experience.

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