I Wasn’t Meant To Be Vegan – My Vegan Story

Jan 5, 2023how to go vegan, lifestyle

Spread the good vibes


As we proceed into the new year, we also move into January, which is now known as Veganuary worldwide. I want to use this time as an opportunity to share my vegan story that I’ve never shared before.


The Roots Are Deep

Thinking back now, it’s not surprising I went vegan 4 years ago.

Every family has two sides – mother’s and father’s. My two sides could not be more different. The mother’s side has always been more unhealthy – mentally and physically; diet loaded with meat and dairy, processed foods, etc. No stress management, no further education, no books, no workouts. My father’s side is the complete opposite of that: a healthy diet loaded with vegetables (although not vegan nor vegetarian), they all praise education, my dad has always been talking to me about stress management and unwinding, my aunt and uncle are both PE teachers.

Growing up closer to my dad’s side of the family, it is no wonder I picked up their values and ways.


This is my grandma’s garden (father’s mother).


I think one of the biggest influences came from my aunt. She’s a special kind, you see, always going against the flow, always doubting everything society says and teaches. She was the one to tell me what’s inside pates (like liver pates etc.) – my mom couldn’t get over how my aunt made me hate meat. I don’t remember that, though, I was too young. But I do remember how I always hated the smell of my oma’s (my mother’s mother) fridge; no wonder, it was loaded with sausages and meat of all kinds.


When Body Can’t Take It Anymore

We have different bodies and different bodies can take different amounts of sh*t we put into them.

Mine broke down quite quickly.

I was 15 when I went to live with oma and grandpa. After finishing school I’d come home to a lunch that she cooked. She would load my plate with too much food and act all offended if I didn’t finish it. Her food consisted of (cured) meat, white pasta, processed sunflower seed oil, white flour for thickening, and so forth (with occasional beans and potatoes though). Not the healthiest.

I gained 10 kg in 2 months. But that wasn’t the worst part (although it did affect my self-confidence and led me to a few-year cycle of self-loathing and eating disorders; but that’s a different story). The worst part was that I started getting rashes. Backs of my hands were covered in red dry skin that was itching and bleeding. And it didn’t stop there. I had it around my mouth and around my eyes. When it got worse it spread over the lower parts of my arms and over my neck.


The severity of my skin disease – the third photo shows me in 2015 in London with rashes all around my mouth.


It went so far that I had to go to the emergency room one night. On another occasion, I had to leave school and go see the doctor who sent me straight to the dermatologist’s office (wasn’t the first time I was there). That’s where I learnt I had a condition called chronic atopic dermatitis. They gave me some pills and some creams and sent me off saying I’d suffer for the rest of my life. I went back a few times when things got worse and pills and creams didn’t help but came back with new creams and always the same answer:

“There’s nothing we can do.”


If they won’t help I’ll have to help myself


I knew I had to do something. I was 15, a teenager, my mouth plump from rashes, all red around my eyes and hands as if I burnt them. It wasn’t good timing, I have to say.

To help myself where doctors said they couldn’t, I started experimenting with food. I had to tell my grandma I wouldn’t be eating her food anymore (which was a very hard thing to do) and I started cooking for myself. I replaced cow’s milk with plant-based milk. I started discovering quinoa, amaranth, bulgur (I clearly remember those foods were something very new in 2012), chia seeds, oatmeal, etc. At the time I also realized I love nutrition and I love cooking!

Two years later, when I was 17 or 18, I went vegetarian.


U-Turn After Going to University

After moving to the capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana, and starting my life on my own, I started to discover the vast space of social sciences (I studied Cultural Studies). I learnt about feminism, discrimination, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy, and it completely changed my life. As a result, I broke up with my horrible boyfriend who’s been slowly and quietly destroying my life for years. In two weeks, my life got 100x better.

That’s when I knew I can make a huge change – I went vegan. I’ve been eyeing this diet and lifestyle for a while but wasn’t brave enough to do it. Also, my boyfriend was a fan of McDonald’s and meat, so it was a no-go at the time. After I left him, I knew I can finally be who I wanted to be!



Not everything always goes your way


But going vegan overnight with no preparation, no guidance, and no knowledge whatsoever turned out to be a bad idea. It was great for a few weeks. Then I started struggling mentally because every time I had something with dairy or eggs I’d beat myself up for eating something non-vegan. Guilt was a huge part of my failure. Another reason was that I simply excluded all animal products without knowing what to use instead. So I just didn’t really use anything. No wonder I lacked a lot of nutrients without realizing it.

By the end of 6 months, I was hungry all the time. I was eating all day long, with no break in between. I felt bad for eating so much and bad for not feeling full at all. My mom told me that I probably wasn’t meant to be vegan. I needed animal protein to be healthy. I introduced dairy and eggs back into my diet and in a week I was all good again. I realized that my mom was probably right:

I wasn’t meant to be vegan.


Knowledge Is The Strongest Weapon

A year went by and I started contemplating veganism again. I’ve read a lot in the meantime. I’ve met some vegetarians and vegans. I’ve seen some movies. I knew a lot more than I did in 2017. In October 2018 I’ve made a decision to try again, but this time I’d take it slowly. I’d take as much time as I needed to make this change.

At first, I stopped eating dairy products that weren’t that important to me like certain cheeses and kefir. I knew saying no to those won’t be all that painful. After actually saying no to those foods a few times I felt empowered. I was ready to exclude more foods so I continued with eggs, yogurt and butter. Very soon I knew I could do it. I could go all the way.

But I needed to get through Christmas first. I certainly wasn’t going to destroy Christmas by not eating any of my grandmas’ and mom’s sweets.

But in January 2019 I did it again. This time for real.


rainbow buddha bowl with hummus sauce


It’s been 4 years since I went vegan. I’ve learnt a lot and once you know stuff you can’t not know it. I’m not the type to be ignorant. When I learn something that speaks to me I have to take action. Any kind of action.

Going vegan was me taking action for my health and for the environment.

What worked this time was the knowledge I gained about nutrition. I knew how to substitute animal foods; I had a strong reason why I’m doing it (health and environment) and I had strong evidence why it will help; I made a change gradually so my body had the time to adjust which was crucial in my case.


Compassion is the answer

Going vegan changed my life forever. I don’t intend to go back to the old ways, because of all the benefits that I see and feel with myself. And I don’t only mean health-wise.

Going vegan has taught me to be compassionate. After learning about the treatment of animals in the dairy and meat industries, I’ve developed compassion towards animals that I’ve never felt before. In our family, no one was an animal lover, but going vegan taught me that animals also feel, love, grieve, cry, feel happiness and sadness, and they can play and goof around … not just cats and dogs, but also pigs, cows, bears, even fish, and crabs.


Me in 2019 petting horses in Ghent, Belgium


Starting to feel more compassion toward animals made me more compassionate toward people, too. This then led to me being more aware of exploitation in all industries (food, cosmetics, fashion). Gradually I started paying attention to what I buy and where, how much plastic I use, and who I support with the money I spend. I even started loving myself more – I stopped smoking, drinking, and smoking weed, started regularly working out again, eating better, reading more, sleeping more, and even started dating the right person for the first time in my life.

Going vegan has literally changed my life.


Change from within


Starting to eat plant-based has led me to live a vegan lifestyle as much as I can. Being vegan doesn’t have to be radical or loud, it doesn’t have to mean you fight with your family and the government, and it doesn’t have to be hard in any way.

But it does mean one thing: you’ll become healthier, you’ll feel better and you’ll become more compassionate.

I believe compassion is what just might save the world if enough people start practicing it.

If you’re in any way open to trying to live a healthier, more compassionate, more loving life – give this vegan thing a try. You don’t have to be 100% vegan to make a change. Start with as much as feels right to you right now and see the change it makes in your life.

You’re welcome to come sit at our table any time!


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