November 1 is a very special day for me. It is the day when I can celebrate with all the honesty, bravery and patience everything I have become since 2013, when I decided to never meat again.
Veganism didn’t knock on my door with all its advantages at once. There was no reading of vegan literature, no watching of horrible documentaries. It was a long, fully independent path I stepped on in May, 2012.
From time to time, you understand that you can live without some things. In 2012, I finally realised that for myself. The first step in changing my perceptions of the world and nature happened for a reason. Let me tell you a bit about my family, and you will understand.
Alcohol addiction was our demon. It was tempting, capturing and ruining our lives. The dad of my dad, grandpa Oleksandr, was a very nice man… when he married the second time. But when he was married to my father’s mum, it was hellish. He drank a lot, messed up, hit his wife and children. It’s great that I haven’t seen how he broke the family apart. I met grandpa Sasha when he was conscious and hilarious. He joked a lot and I swear he smoked so much that his hair smelled like a cigarette. He died because of a heart attack after drinking aftershave before bedtime. His normal routine. He lived in Rodakove, Luhansk Region, with his wife. It is a small village where there are not enough medical establishments and doctors. The ambulance was too late. They only registered grandpa’s death. His addiction won.
My second side of the family was not better. When I was 4, my mum’s mother died. That was a breakdown point for my grandpa Illya. He started drinking a lot. Once he drank so much he couldn’t really stand. It was summer and he fell down on the grass. Summers in Luhansk are boiling. Alcohol combined with the high temperature can kill people. My father found his poor father-in-law half-dead by the road, brought him home and saved his life. I remember grandpa Illya cried and said we should’ve let him die. That was the moment I saw the dark side of alcohol addiction.
My dad also drank. Fortunately, not so much. But when he did, he was very loud, had arguments and word battles with everyone.
When you have such examples in your life, you work to prevent them. In May 2012, I decided to quit drinking all types of alcohol as well as smoking. It was only about my health. I also made a decision to stop eating meat. My dad made fun of me and said that I should not eat fish as well because it is living. I haven’t had any meat and seafood since that conversation.
If you think that becoming vegan is simple, you are wrong. Veganism is about conscious choices you make every day. You cannot say, “Tomorrow I will go vegan.” It doesn’t work like that. When you switch to veganism this way, it will end for you very fast.
The thing you need to understand is that first vegan days are quite stressful. You do a lot of contains reading, you check all products you buy. The funniest thing which I’ve ever seen in the supermarket was the seasalt with the note “may contain eggs, peanuts and mustard”. Seasalt. May contain eggs. How is that even possible? And yet it is when we are talking about mass production. When you switch to a vegan diet, you need to know recipes, tricks, healthy combinations to make your food nutritious for your body. You need to analyse what makes you feel bloated, when you have constipation, why you feel thirsty, etc. You need to analyse everything you consume and make healthy choices. Veganism is not about losing weight. It’s about losing the chains of propaganda, mass consumption and misconceptions. It’s about being free.
So, I didn’t go vegan till March, 2013. You’ll ask why, and the answer is very simple. Chocolate. Chocolate bars whispered to me in the supermarkets, they seduced me with their creaminess, velvetiness, smoothness and stress relieving abilities. They whispered, “Buy us, eat us! We know you want to…” And I did. I couldn’t stop eating mass production chocolate till March, 2013. As you know (or maybe you don’t), store bought chocolate contains a whole range of crap including eggs and milk. Reading such contains, I realised that I am strong enough to let it go. It was time to fight the sugar industry and I did.
I am proud to say that I do not consume any animal products since March, 2013. It’s been almost 8 years now and I haven’t ever been happier. It is the second birthday. Every March I celebrate the whole month making some yummy meals and raising awareness about veganism.
In 2013, I started watching documentaries about factory farming, reading books about veganism, learning new recipes. I remind you once again that veganism is not a cult. You cannot watch a movie and become a vegan. Though, I know some vegan leaders who think it works like that — those campaigns which show people videos from animal slaughters on the street. Those leaders really believe that they can change people’s perceptions, which were forming during many years of propaganda, with only one documentary. Unfortunately, they are wrong. If it worked like that, everyone would go vegan a long time ago. You stop eating dead animals only when you accept the fact that this planet equally belongs to all animals. Human is just one of them.
I accepted nature’s strength. At the time when I went vegan, I weighed 57 kg. There was some of extra fat in my body. When I stopped eating animal products, I lost 7 kg within a year. I ate everything I wanted, without limitations. I wasn’t hungry. I was healthier than I had ever been. But people around me only saw that I lost weight. My mum was shocked when I came home for a summer break. She thought that I am torturing myself and got very surprised when she saw how much I eat. My body cleaned itself. I only lost the fat I didn’t need and the toxins which were ruining my body. My body weight has been stable 50 kg since 2014.
In 2014, I decided that it’s time to take the next step in my journey. Since I was a child, my dad was obsessed with ayurveda (especially mudras — hands and fingers yoga — and breathing technics). I started reading books and articles about ayurveda and raw veganism. It truly impressed me how this lifestyle helped people to fight diseases and other dietary problems.
In August 2014, I went raw vegan. First month is a rollercoaster — you don’t know what to eat, you don’t know how to balance it, you are sometimes hungry, you search for raw vegan options everywhere. Your first dishes are hilarious. You try to follow the recipes but it comes out ugly and nonedible. You don’t have all necessary equipment like a powerful blender. You try again and again and, finally, it works! I followed YouTube channels, read blogs, found recipes, created my own recipes… It was a wonderful journey full of amazing knowledge. Step by step, I learned how to make raw chocolate, raw cakes and many other delicious treats. I am still raw vegan and extremely proud of that.
Raw Veganism and Honey
There are lots of discussions around honey. The truth is very simple. Yes, bees are exploited by people when we are talking about mass production. Most of the honey you see in the stores is not even honey. It’s made of sugar. You know it and still buy it because it’s liquid enough so you can easily put it on your toast.
As a raw vegan, I use real honey when I have flu or regular cold, but I only buy it from people who really love their bees, who don’t feed them sugar syrop, and who are registered and controlled by the Union of Beekepers of Ukraine. I use honey as medicine and here is why.
In December 2014, after several months of being raw vegan, I got cold and took the pills which were called “Arbidol”. These were just regular pills which were prescribed by many doctors at that time. After two days, I started feeling bad, my mood was changing, my stomach was not ok. I didn’t consume anything else which could lead to such reactions. In February 2015, I stopped using pills for menstrual pain, flu and regular cold. Instead, I learned the natural meds recipes on how to lower your temperature, how to treat cough, etc. Don’t get me wrong — I am not crazy. I support medical science. My father is a doctor. But I stopped using medicine when it’s not neccessary. Ask yourself what you do when you have a headache. That’s right, you take a pill. What I do is analyse the reason and then eliminate it or find natural sources to kill the pain. Works every time. Let your body fight when it is able to do that.
The recipe for lowering temperature when you got a cold: 1 table spoon of natural honey for a glass of warm water (not hot!). Drink it and wrap yourself in a warm blanket. Sleep and sweat. Your body will do everything needed. And when someone says that honey is not vegan, remind them that most pills they use every day are tested on animals, and those animals die unlike the beloved bees in a small countryside beehive.
Be consious and strong.
Follow me: https://www.instagram.com/rawveganua/