I've been vegan for seven months now. I was a vegetarian for eleven years and decided to finally eliminate dairy from my diet. My entry into the meatless world wasn't easy. It all started for health reasons, which ultimately led me to discover a whole new lifestyle that came with nothing but positive results.

When I initially became a vegetarian I was about 20 years old and felt like crap. I was eating lots of fast food, sodas, sweets, you name it. I was also on medication for severe acid reflux. I knew I had to do something. I found myself always at the doctor for one thing or another. I was told by my doctor that I would have to take the acid reflux medication everyday for the rest of my life. What kind of advice is that for a 20 year old?! Since then, I changed my diet tremendously and I stopped taking my acid reflux medication. I started taking lots of vitamins and supplements, I picked up yoga, and I stopped eating meat.

For the first five years, the only animal product I consumed was dairy. Then, I moved away to Florida and began a whole new life on my own. I started slipping and began eating fish again. That went on and off for a few years and then I went back to my dairy only vegetarian diet (lacto-ovo). But, I still felt like I wasn't completely healthy. It was the dairy. Every time we had wine and cheese nights, I felt terrible immediately after. Every time I ate pizza, I felt like I had eaten a brick. So, I started to "cut back." I splurged on dairy maybe once a week, but then my body began rejecting it. My skin started breaking out, and I'm not prone to acne, I was bloated, I felt sluggish, and on some days I felt the same heart burn I had felt years before.

Finally, I told my boyfriend, "I'm giving up dairy and trying this vegan thing." He said, "Okay, do what makes you feel good." And so, I did. Instead of having eggs and potatoes for breakfast, I'd make a green smoothie or juice. I became more aware of what my body needed and not what I craved. I started cooking a lot more and still incorporated my Mexican twist in my foods, but without all of the cheese. I began to follow vegan bloggers and read articles about the benefits of veganism. I felt so much healthier and energized. Nothing could stop me! I am now on a completely plant based diet and I don't think I will ever go back to eating animals or using animal products. It's just not worth it.

It isn't a difficult lifestyle. You are what you eat. Personally, I feel better now than I ever did before. Veganism creates this whole new realm of what you "should" and "should not" consume, use, and wear. It allows you to understand why we "should" and "should not" choose these things. I began educating myself more. I became much more conscious of what was in our household products. We changed the type of shampoo and conditioner we use, body wash, makeup and hair products, detergent - literally everything we use and consume is now 100% cruelty free and free from animal byproducts. I also stopped consuming honey and anything derived from an animal.

Most days, I consume a green smoothie or a juice. I eat a lot more veggies now than I ever did, and I love it! I do have a sweet tooth, so occasionally I'll splurge and have vegan ice cream or chia seed pudding. It's okay, I'm still human. In my personal opinion and experience, vegetarianism was a stepping stone to my now plant based lifestyle. I've learned so much about myself in the last seven months. Not only has my health changed for the better, but I am no longer contributing to the unethical treatment of animals. I am so happy with this new transition in my life and am so thankful for the outcome.

☮ Nydia

Published by Nydia Villezcas