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How Veganism Changed My Life – Teresa Chambers

Teresa Chambers chose the vegan lifestyle after waking up to the cruelty of animal farming

We were staying in a hotel and had bought ourselves a whole load of cheeses and biscuits to feast on in the room. Roule, strong cheddar and goats cheese, plus crackers, nuts, grapes, chocolate pastries and wine of course. It was lush (although I did get heartburn and felt so lethargic I had no energy to do anything).
I’d been listening to the audio book of Tom Campbell’s My Big Toe as I went to sleep at night. I fell asleep as I listened so I’m not sure how much I took in, but it must have had some profound effects on my subconscious as I have made several lifestyle changes. The book talks about all living things being equal on a molecular and evolutionary level, with similar patterns of behaviour and efficiency and common goals (to survive and become more efficient as a species).
It made me realise that we are all one, we should not raise ourselves above all other creatures on the planet; we should embrace, nurture and harmonise to become more efficient and so evolve.

Hungry for knowledge

At first, I became ravenous for food documentaries, I began watching every documentary I could find, including Food Matters, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Vegucated, Farmaggedon, Food Inc. I learned about
nutrition and the body’s ability to self-heal, with arguments against the medical establishment and all the pills we pop to treat symptoms, rather than go to the source and protect our body from damage in the first place.
I learned as much as I could find about modern farming, where animals were kept, what they were fed, how they were treated, what drugs they’re given, how they keep a cow lactating to produce the milk we
drink.

I was shocked, sickened and emotionally low at the reality of our treatment of animals. I burst into tears and had to leave the room at one point when I watched a production line of screaming piglets being hung upside down and having their testicles hacked off.
The terrible noises of the upset, abused and frantic animals reminded me of film clips I’d seen of Nazi concentration camps, when children were separated from their parents.

Eyes wide open

My eyes were finally opening to the reality of the situation, how we have turned farming into a factory operation with animals as the machines, producing chemically-enhanced versions of foods that we
take for granted as nutritious.
Most farm animals are given antibiotics as part of their diet to fight all the infections they are expected to get from amputations, excrement and bad food. Antibiotics are now in the meat that we eat. No wonder
we are developing immunity to antibiotics.
Overnight, on December 30, I decided I was never going to eat meat again, and at the same time, it dawned on me that to be free of my involvement with cruelty to animals, they only way forward was to give up dairy too. I decided that never again would an animal be killed or enslaved and mistreated for my benefit.
Then, of course, I realised I couldn’t wear their skins either, so vowed to buy no more leather shoes. But I am holding on to my winter leather boots for the next 20 years if they will last, as it would be just as unethical to throw them away when an animal died to put them on my feet.

Hard days

The first two weeks were the hardest and then I suddenly adapted. At the beginning I craved cheese, milk chocolate and chicken, but I enjoyed researching replacements such as vegan soya milk and cheeses, dark chocolate and soya meat products such as tofu and mince. I ate a lot of quorn at the beginning until I realised it is made with organic egg, but as the weeks went by, I didn’t want to replicate meat. It just wasn’t necessary. I learnt that cancer cells actively grow in a protein diet above 10%. Most western people probably eat more like 30-40% meat and dairy so it’s not really a surprise that cancer is flourishing. Humans only need between 5-10% protein in a healthy diet, and a potato is 8% protein. There is definitely enough protein for our needs in vegetables and pulses. We have been brainwashed by the meat and dairy industry into thinking that we need to eat lots more when, actually, it is making us ill.
Initially, I started making fruit and veg smoothies every day. They were delicious but I went to the toilet up to six times a day; it was horrendous. But as the documentaries had warned me, that was my body detoxing and cleaning itself out. Eventually my toilet habits went back to normal.

Progression

By week three, I had changed my eating habits quite drastically. I was very excited and full of energy. I discovered butternut squash and how good it tastes and how filling it is. I used it in stews or just microwaved a slice for a couple of mins and chopped it up with walnut oil, advocado, tomato and walnuts, plus balsamic vinegar. It tasted so good, I ate tonnes of the stuff for two weeks solid.
I tried many soya, rice and oat milks and settled on hazelnut milk as my (decaffeinated) coffee companion. For a treat, I found that one or two squares of dark organic chocolate was enough instead of a whole bar of milk chocolate.
I went to the health food store and stocked up on nuts, seeds and dried fruits such as dates, apricots and cranberries. Now I just randomly add a handful of them to any of my meals or breakfast cereals when it suits.
Another hard thing to take on board was the fact that there is a small selection of vegan wines available. But I thought all wine was vegan? No, apparently wine is usually filtered through fish bladders to remove
impurities and make it clearer.

The journey continues

I have continued watching documentaries to discover more. I am now moving towards organic produce after learning about Monsanto’s domination in the soya bean world with its genetically modified seeds
and giant lawsuits against farmers who try to grow their own. Plus another chemical giant, Bayer, and all the chemicals being sprayed onto crops around the globe and how poisonous they are to other
species. Petrol-based fertilisers and pesticides are killing bees, birds and butterflies and turning the soil barren.
We are killing our own eco system. If the bees stop pollinating our fruit and veg, we and the animals will have nothing to eat, apart from genetically modified corn and factory-farmed antibiotic treated and urine-sprayed meat. What kind of creatures will we become on such a diet?
It’s now been some months since I became vegan and I think I have changed for good. I don’t think there is any going back because once you know something, you can’t unlearn it. It doesn’t make sense to me to treat animals so badly, or to spray foods and the ground with poisons which are making us and other species sick on a global scale.

Taken from March/April 2015 (Issue 4) Vegan Life Magazine

1 Comment

  1. […] lucky enough to be raised vegan. I always had a strong connection and empathy for animals, and my veganism was very special and important to […]

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