Over the next few weeks, we will be introducing our new group of Contributors, joining The Vegan Project from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, professions, and locations. As The Vegan Project grows in conjunction with a renowned popular interest in veganism and plant-based culture, we welcome these new members, connections, and stories.
We asked all of our new Contributors to write a piece about Veganism, their personal experiences with it thus far, and how it connects them to the Project.
Meet Erika Renfrew, based in Victoria, BC. Currently, she is studying to be a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and is founder of www.thetutudiaries.com.
Two years ago, vegan was a foreign word. I didn’t know what it entailed, nor did I give it any thought. I consumed meat and dairy because, well, didn’t everyone?
Veganism trickled in during a tumultuous time with my body. As a teenager with an eating disorder, it took five years and countless therapy sessions to consider myself recovered. However, what remained was an obsessive desire to control my diet and weight. Now in my twenties, this multi-year story can be summed up in three words: restrict, binge, repeat.
Enter: veganism. In all honesty, plant-based eating first appealed to me for weight loss purposes. Individuals who transitioned to a plant-based diet were dropping pounds, but eating more. My restrict/binge mentality did a celebratory dance.
Now, let’s fast forward two years.
After dabbling with raw, starch-based, and low-fat, I’ve ditched the dietary rules and eat what feels right. Always vegan, of course! My love affair with nutrition can still be rocky, but plants are healing. Gratitude has replaced fear when it comes to my relationship with food.
Here’s the real kicker: I haven’t lost much weight, but I feel like a new person. Rather, a brighter version of myself. My energy is high and consistent, my quality of sleep has improved, and my body craves movement.
On the road to becoming plant-powered, I took a stop at vegetarianism and even returned to animal products for a blip of time. To find purpose beyond a pant size, I swapped edibles for Netflix and binge-watched a number of documentaries pertaining to health, animal welfare, and the environmental impact of animal agriculture. The information presented was overwhelming, terrifying, and I’m-never-going-back-inducing.
I also started reading—a lot! I discovered that meat and dairy is linked to most of the modern world’s major diseases. Not only does our health suffer for our appetite, but so does Mother Nature. It doesn’t matter what size anyone’s pants are if there is no clean air to breathe or water to drink.
Finally, despite labels such as free run, cage-free, or natural—animals suffer for every mouthful. It no longer made sense to protect cats and dogs, but destroy the equally lovable or intelligent cows, pigs, and birds of the world.
Very quickly, the question became—why not? Taste wasn’t an adequate answer.
It’s my belief that veganism stands for peace. Peace obtained personally, consciously, and on a grander scale with the planet and all of its beings. Perfection isn’t the goal. I would fail if it was! But every day we have choice and this choice matters; I choose plants.
Erika Renfrew || @erika.renfrew