I recently went to my friends home for dinner and her children who are both beautiful little souls asked me why I don’t eat meat and what does this mean? I found myself explaining however it got me thinking about all the reasons I am plant-based because for me, ‘its just what I do!’
I have been plant-based for nearly 9 years now, wow how time flies?!
I had never been a big meat eater and actually didn’t enjoy meat dishes so it was not a surprise to my family that I chose to eliminate meat altogether, the shock came when I explained that it was also dairy; cheese, milk & eggs and anything that came from an animal or was meant for a baby animal, such as milk, which is meant for a calf not an infant.
Growing up, we were given our meals and it was an attitude of “take it or leave it”. No choosing - “that is what we have for our meal and that is what you eat”.
I remember going to my Dad’s place of work and sitting in the car waiting for him. He was at that time an engineer for an animal food production company. I was horrified to see a chicken running around the yard with no head, it had just been slaughtered and was still running. I was traumatised and scared. I was a child that would cry when Lassie the dog got lost on the TV film that my brother and I would watch, I would normally end up locking myself in the bathroom and sobbing whilst my brother laughed on the other side of the door!
In the early 90’s I went Vegetarian after watching a programme on TV about animal experiments and was so upset that I decided I wasn’t eating meat. After becoming poorly that year, I went back to eating small amounts of meat. On reflection, it was a silly thing to do. There was no education available back then and we didn’t have the Web to browse let alone social media. My ex-husband was into body building so it was all about meat and protein because ‘that’s what real men eat’ - apparently!
My world is very different now, I’m older, wiser and more educated. Thankfully.
Nine years ago, I was suffering from a plethora of health conditions in the form of being severely disabled with long bouts of being deaf and mute, this impacted my mental health and I went through bullying at work which caused stress that added to the traumas I had experienced years before. It really was a very vicious cycle and not one I would ever want to repeat.
I started researching vegetarian lifestyles again and came across plant-based and vegan and in my heart I knew this was for me. My mum had just passed away from multiple organ failure and it felt like my mum was saying “Johanna, do this for yourself, don’t do what I did” and so I give thanks and love to my Mum for giving me life twice, not once.
I read and watched as much as I could, my partner was supportive however he was a little unsure about going plant-based himself so I continued to cook for him as I had and I went plant-based, he is however more open nowadays and eats vegan dishes throughout the week. However, after a few weeks and feeling amazing, he asked me to stop evangelising to him about how wonderful it was to be plant-based and that throw away comment, stopped me talking about it openly unless someone asked or commented on what I was eating.
Today I am much more confident than I was nine years ago. I’m proud of who I am because I know that there is a strength that comes from making massive changes to one’s lifestyle especially when others aren’t on board. YouTube became my support group tribe as did a team of plant-based doctors, who have no idea who I am!
I used to think, and others would always say that I was a great cook. I’d wanted to be a chef growing up so always had an interest in food preparation and I love to sit with family and friends and enjoy a meal, laugh and chat. I cherish these moments.
Nowadays, I cook and prepare food like never before. Being plant-based has taught me how to combine Umani flavours and I’m incredibly inventive when it comes to food prep. My kitchen is my happy, mindful place. Often family and friends will eat their meal and just before they finish will say “was there meat in that or not?” and I laugh knowing that I just served them food they thoroughly enjoyed without the slightest hint of animal abuse or suffering.
I also have a passion for preparing raw plant-based foods and will do at least two days a week on a raw (uncooked) plant-based menu. I can eat this way all summer however it gets cold and very damp in the UK and my body craves for heat which comes in the form of temperature not spices.
I don’t buy shop bought foods like vegan burgers etc because they are not great quality, often high in fat, salt and sugar so I batch cook and prepare all my foods and have a kitchen that resembles a chemist lab and shelfs filled with spices, herbs, beans, lentils, legumes, nuts, seeds, sprouts and such like that my daughter describes as a ‘Chinese health / herbal shop’ (no dead animals though!)
I love fermentation and am soon to be offering courses on gut health at a prestigious catering school which I’m very excited about. I have qualifications in plant-based food and nutrition too.
So why am I plant-based? Firstly and honestly, it was for my own health. However within weeks of changing my diet and lifestyle, it became about animal welfare too. And then, living with a Renewable Engineer Consultant and helping him with his business, I realised that what I was doing was having an impact on the planet and even more so, all those that enjoy a Carnism lifestyle have an even bigger but negative impact on the planet.
I see the planet as a place I am visiting; it’s no different from visiting someone else home as in I would not leave a mess, disrespect their environment, eat their pets and expect someone else to pick up after me so why would I do that to this beautiful planet?!
It’s not been an easy journey at times, I used to get challenged a lot and have had to learn to prepare food in advance because nine years ago, one didn’t have the luxury of grabbing an oat drink or a bean burger. This is probably why I am not an advocate for commercial plant-based foods because I am so used to preparing my own dishes and snacks. People didn’t know what the word vegan meant and were completely unsure about the plant-based part of my answer! We realised after I went plant-based that we didn’t get invited to dinner anymore and I inadvertently offended someone at a party because their daughter had asked me to provide my own meal so I took a ‘Buddha bowl lunchbox’!
My biggest challenge was cheese and before my monthly cycle, I could easily scoff a block of mature cheese as I was back then; addicted to that little piece of yellow ‘dairy crack’. When I came off all dairy I was very poorly and thought I had pleurisy however within a week I could breath fully and had no mucus. I felt like a totally different person and it was an amazing feeling. I also went through menopause with not much difficulty.
There is so much evidence for the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet, people will seek me out nowadays and ask questions or ask me to coach them on a plant-based lifestyle. I don’t approach people and offer advise however may drop the occasional hint that they may consider trying an alternative diet for a short while to see how they feel. My family are all meat eaters apart from my daughter who is now plant-based for her own health and she too knows the benefits of such a lifestyle as does a friend who was told she would not have children and changed her diet and is now a mum. Many clients report changes in sleep patterns, decreased joint pain, weight loss, no asthma etc and will share their shock at how much energy they now have.
I am a ‘Wellbeing and Resilience Coach’ and I also teach. I see and feel everything as energy and therefore why would I consume and live a life that is one of love, peace and gratitude and then fill my gut and psyche with dead animals and animal products that were tortured, raped and killed? Now there’s a thought for your day!
When we practice integrity and align with our highest values, we honour our dignity and I see no sentient life as less worthy than myself. We find a sense of mutual connection and community and thus we start the journey of love and gratitude for all fellow beings no matter if they have skin, fur, scales or feathers!
It’s a strange world at times, more times than not these days. People call themselves an animal lover whilst dishing up a chicken for dinner.
Many people feel it’s their place to mock and make fun of those like me who refuse to eat animals or be part of their destruction, and yet live their lives filled with illness, dis-ease and bullying tactics because it makes them feel better about their own choices.
Shaming is counter-productive and very damaging and it certainly doesn’t stop me living my highest values.
I have hope and optimism for a future of non animal eaters when two small children are fascinated why an older woman 🤦🏽♀️ would make such choices and then they promptly tell mummy… “I don’t want to eat animals anymore, I want to be like Jo!”
If you want more help and information, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
With love and appreciation for a loving, non fearful and high vibrational world 💚