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From meat lover to vegan
Let me first introduce myself. I try to keep it as brief as possible :-D and I hope you don't get bored reading all this. It's your choice NOT getting to know me...LOL!
My name is Leon (born 27/07/1975) and I am originally from the Netherlands (Holland), but have been living in Cambodia for almost 6 years now, since 2009. I needed a change in my life and started here with my own voluntary project and developed a relationship with my Cambodian boyfriend whom I met a year earlier during a holiday in 2008. In 2010 I decided to stay and find a job. Step by step my life started to change (of course I decided to make the changes) my lifestyle.
In 2012 I got the shocking news that my brother had lung cancer and I needed something to get focused and relaxed. I decided to meditate and that really calmed me down. During these meditations I felt the need to change more aspects of my life. First I gave up drinking alcohol. I used to work in hospitality before moving to Cambodia and adapted a very unhealthy lifestyle which involved drinking after work with colleagues like 4-6 nights a week and I mean heavy drinking, so practically I was an alcoholic. After finding a job in Cambodia I still went drinking at weekends and sometimes a few cans of beer during weekdays. I already quit smoking pot when I left the Netherlands, (did that for more than 10 years too) which is very common there because it is more or less legal. I found out that it really wasn't that hard to do, since there was no peer pressure here in Cambodia (friends, family, etc.) to lead me back to my old habits.
Next step was cutting out meat, which came to me in yet another meditation. I now know that during meditations one reflects on everyday situations and learns to see what one is actually inflicting upon oneself and others. Something inside of me just said; "stop eating meat". At first that wasn't easy at all, since Cambodian society is all about eating, especially socialising with them and there is always some kind of animals source in nearly any dish. It took me about 6 months to make the transition (read; to gather enough courage ;-) ) from just picking meat out of soups, curries and stir-fries to refusing to eat anything with meat in it. I still ate eggs, cheese and drank milk...since I was still ignorant of the hidden animal suffering and the nutritional lies behind the meat, egg and dairy in factory farming industries.
Last year my brother was declared terminally ill (after being declared "healthy" just 2 months before than and after a terrible trial of radiation- and chemo therapy) once again and my world was turned upside down. I desperately tried to find solutions on the internet that could cure him. I stumbled about so many articles on health that during the process I decided to also do a juice fast and detox program for a month. In the meantime I went back home for 3 weeks to spend some quality time with my brother and during those 3 weeks he died. This made me decide to try and do my best to live my life as healthy as possible.
I read many books on nutrition and that's how I came to some vegan plans and websites. Although it made sense I didn't go vegan 100% until I accidentally found Gary Jurofski's "Best speech ever" and that same day "Earthlings". I went vegan overnight. I couldn't take seeing all the hurt inflicted on our earth companions and (with a lot of sadness and unprocessed grief still inside of me) I cried a lot that same night. My eyes were finally opened and for a moment I was completely heartbroken and I had hit rock bottom.
As of this writing (18/4/15) I've been vegan for exactly 1 year now (and because of my determination even my mom turned vegan!) and intend to never go back. With the animals in mind, I have no struggles whatsoever in staying vegan. Animal foods related cravings are gone within seconds of reflecting on the suffering consuming it would cause (one of the reasons that I don't believe in a "vegan diet" or just any diet, because they are based on selfish reasons). Only struggle is living with my non-vegan boyfriend, but I am learning to accept and let go. I still have to learn through trial and error and that's why I educate myself about animal ethics and vegan nutrition on a daily basis and am slowly moving towards animal rights and giving animals a voice, although I am still searching for a way that would suit me best.
Let's join our forces together and try to make this world a better place, one step at a time, with all the creatures that inhabit it. May our love shine through and eliminate the hurt and hate.
You have an amazing story. I am very sorry for the loss of your brother. I have only 1 sibling and that is my brother who I adore. I can only imagine what you went through. To turn that pain into something positive in reverence to him is a testament to your love. I, too, went from eating meat for most of my life to being vegetarian in my 30's and I am beginning to transition to a vegan diet. I, like you, found inspiration through books and documentaries that certainly do not run mainstream here in the US. It also helped that my brother is vegan and challenged my thought process when it came to the SAD (Standard American Diet). You should be proud of all your personal achievements and growth. This is a great forum to meet like-minded individuals who are experiencing their own personal journey. I wish you nothing but the best and I really enjoyed your post. Welcome to Vegfriend!
I am saddened hearing your loss. Shifting from Netherlands to Cambodia itself was a great decision for you, I think. As you said it takes away the pressure. But the greatest of the decision will be the decision to become Vegan. I think the first and the strongest step one can take towards peace will be her/his first step towards Vegetarianism.