I perceive veganism as a lifestyle. It is not just that I avoid eating animal meats or animal bi- products. Yes, that is the core of veganism. However, the longer I have learned, researched and acted upon this practice, the more veganism has trickled into even more areas of my life.
Specifically, body image and my perception of beauty.
Like most girls and women, there are parts of my body that I battled with daily. My skin was a huge source of insecurity for me. Throughout all of my 20’s, I felt ugly and completely unattractive if I didn’t have makeup on. Sometimes I would even put makeup on before going to the gym. I couldn’t see anything else when I looked in the mirror except for my blemishes and redness. Some would say that my acne wasn’t even that bad. But to me, it felt like a burden and it took a toll on my self-esteem.
Something switched in me around the time I turned 25, last year. I started to accept my flaws. I don’t have flawless skin, but I have other qualities, I would tell myself. I felt shallow and materialistic caring SO much about what I looked like. So I decided to just give up. Not give up on my appearance, I still liked to wearing nice clothes and putting on makeup, but I gave up on basing my self-worth on the condition of my skin. I cut my makeup routine in half. I stopped analyzing my face in the mirror ever night. I just let it be and told myself every day that I was beautiful. I was going to make myself believe it.
I have explained my skin story before (if you haven’t read it yet, I will link it here) but it was the reason I first became interested in veganism. After cutting dairy from my diet, I saw a huge improvement. I started testing the waters and wore less and less foundation. The summer of my road trip across the country to California, I eliminated makeup completely and let my skin breath for the entirety of our 8-day trip. The first few days, I battled the voices in my head that told me that my natural face was ugly void of powders and foundations to cover every blemish. But I focused on my journey, on the experiences my boyfriend and I were having instead of thinking about what I looked like.
This was the beginning of how veganism changed my perception of beauty.
I have always been so concerned with how I look on the outside. Is my skin clear? Am I thin enough? Am I curvy enough? Do these clothes flatter my figure? Do I look sexy? Too sexy? Not sexy at all? Is my hair ok?
These are the questions we as women are always asking ourselves when we look in the mirror. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be attractive but there is so much more to life than the condition and shape of your body, to the flawlessness or lack thereof, of your skin.
But what about the other parts of you? The parts that are on the inside? The parts that keeping you moving, and functioning, that keep you alive! We often neglect our insides in order to be more presentable or fashionable on the outside.
When I started learning about what I had been putting into my body all these years, the chemicals, the hormones, the processed meats, I was scared. If I pollute the inside of me, what is to become of the outside? Of my health?
I don’t like calling veganism a diet because it is not a diet in the sense that we have been taught a diet is. A way to lose weight. A way to become more desirable on the outside. It is a lifestyle because you are thinking beyond that. Dieting is a selfish act in a way. You are only thinking about yourself and how food affects your own body. But by being vegan, I am thinking of the earth, the air, the animals, the planet… all living, beautiful things. It has taken me out of myself because I am no longer just eating to eat, I am eating with a purpose.
I am not saying that all my body image issues went away. I still work on loving myself daily. But this last year of being vegan has kept me in touch with my body in an entirely new way. My skin is healing, my digestion is healthy, my energy is high, my mood swings are less frequent, my hormones are becoming balanced, my menstrual cycle is regular and I am in tune with my female body.
I am learning to love myself more and more.
Food is important to our everyday life, yes. But body obsession, dieting, and hating yourself shouldn’t be.
It is amazing just how great I feel about myself when I know I am treating my body with love and kindness from the inside out. We as human beings are interconnected with the earth and we suffer greatly from the greed, wealth, and the gluttony which has destroyed the food industries and wrecked havoc on our health.
Instead, fell the freedom of loving your beautiful body. It all starts with the belief that you are worthy.
I am beautiful, not because I am perfect but because I am part of mother nature, the most beautiful women of them all.