I’m Stephanie and im a 27 year old girl, born in Sweden, raised in Cyprus. A general life lover with a positive attitude, a keen adventurer, a yogi, an exercise “bunny” (for lack of a better word), an amateur chef, a lover of nature and of learning. Can’t say I’ve ever really identified with the standard Cypriot ideals or practices despite growing up here and loving this country. Needless to say, that with my most recent venture in adopting a plant-based lifestyle I can pretty much call myself an alien in a Cypriot culture. How can I NOT eat Lamb Souv;a? Kleftiko?! Not eating meat in this country, is not only very strange, but quite frowned upon and challenged. Truth is, up until 6 months ago, I was going about my Mediterranean lifestyle which naturally included eating animals like any other person (apart from cows milk – I’ve always thought drinking from another animal’s boobs was weird). Then, one day, I watched “Cowspiracy” and I fell from the clouds. But, I thought I was an environmentalist? I couldn’t believe that eating meat was the biggest contributor to global warming, more than all vehicles combined and that 85% of all grain grown goes to feeding cattle animals, while there are starving children in Africa. I soon used the perfectly healthy defense mechanisms of rationalization and denial (yes i’m a psychologist so il be throwing in fancy words like this here and there) to make me feel better, and they sounded a bit like this: im vegetarian 70% of everyday and I have at least 3 complete vegetarian days a week! There, I felt better, going about my life again, accepting my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) flaring up here and there, happy that I’ve rationalized away my discomfort.
On my FB news feed one day, whilst having a veggie mousakka (yes I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing and who was around, AKA a flashbulb memory), a TED talk titled “On Carnism” appeared (a shout-out to Michelle who shared this video). Plonk, there I go again, falling from the clouds. But I thought I loved animals? So, why on earth have I been eating them? What is different to my dog who I speak to everyday as if he’s human, or my cat who literally cracks me up on a daily basis, to a pig? The answer is nothing. After seeing the shocking treatment which animals went through in order to satisfy our taste buds, I felt a little bit sick. I think mostly I felt so bad because I knew, from having studied nutrition, that eating animals was simply unnecessary. So why was I doing it? I underwent a radical shift in perception at that moment where now i didnt see “meat” but a dead animal.
More shock followed; the Dairy industry! I, like so many others, thought that eating cheese, since you don’t “hurt” the cow, wasnt so bad. Oh how wrong me and so many others are. How have I not realized before that obviously dairy depends on exploiting the fundamental and beautiful aspect of motherhood? I continued to do my research. “Free range” eggs should be fine, said my lovely little superego, defending my ego from true realization. Again, I was blind to the fact that male chickens couldn’t lay eggs. So what happens when there’s a baby male chick? My imagination didn’t have to work hard for that one. Let’s just say that grinding is involved.
The last and largest facet of my research focused on health. Because there has to be a line between how much you’ll protect the environment and the animals, If it means sacrificing your well-being and health. Right? That’s when I found out that not only will it not harm me, but it can heal me, and provide me with incredible Health benefits. I read books such as “How not to die”, “The World Peace Diet” (highly suggest both) and watched movies such as “Forks over knives”. Not only is 85% of life threatening illnesses are caused by your diet, but going plant based can actually reverse or prevent disease. Like I said above; I thought I was a life lover. I spent 5 weeks researching this topic, I tried to find reasons to stay animal-based and tried to find information falsifying certain plant-based beliefs (After all, science is based on falsifying a null hypothesis!). But i came across nothing of that sort.
So after collecting all this knowledge, there was no other option of at least trying to live my life plant-based. Today, Im not 100% vegan, although I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I’m able to say that I am. One thing i am today is IBS-free, which after 12 years of suffering with it, is an absolute relief. A plant-based journey is one which starts with awareness, is fueled by compassion and ends with comfort, a clear conscience and better health. How far one wants to take this journey is a personal choice, of which awareness for how your food got to your plate and how it will act inside your body, is step number 1.
I felt that I couldn’t have learned all these things, and not shared. You don’t want to change anyone. What you want is merely for people to know, understand and to become aware, of the consequence of each and every choice you make – that actually your choices can be for you but can also extend so far beyond you. I’m surprised at how EASY it is to make healthy, environment friendly and cruelty-free choices three/four times a day, once you know how to make those choices, and that is one of our aims here at itsaplantbasedlife. If it is tastier, easier, cheaper and healthier to eat plant-based, then we have to ask ourselves why do we continue to confine and abuse sentient animals, why do we continue to damage the environment and our health? That was the question I asked myself, and because i couldn’t answer it, well, here I am.