The person interviewed wished to be kept confidential.
When and why did you decide to go vegan?
I went vegan in around September 2009. I did already have exposure to vegetarianism as a child. I was nine years old when I watched an animated film called “Watership Down”. It made me cry and I stopped eating meat from the age of nine to the age of sixteen. After that age I started drinking, smoking and eating processed meats. I became vegan at the age of twenty-nine when I was cleaning up my diet and learning how to unconditionally love myself. It was through research on the internet that I came to find veganism.
How would you define veganism?
Health and love. Health is synonymous with love.
How have you developed unconditional self love?
I overcame depression, I gave up smoking and drinking. I also eliminated emotional pain from the psyche. I was still eating meat during this time.
You describe yourself as “enlightened”, did this come as a result of a vegan diet?
It comes in stages. The first stage was working through my emotional pain. Afterwards I worked on my diet and I began to see the correlation between food and mood, as well as how certain foods stress the body and deplete it of nutrients so that it is harder for a person to feel good. I took it from there and that lead me to a raw vegan diet. Four months into following a fully raw vegan diet, in conjunction with taking certain adaptogenic supplements such as Rhodiola; I began to have a spiritual awakening. I became enlightened and it was very difficult to take in at first. In fact at this point I started to experiment with my diet again. I have always had to have a ‘yard stick’ to allow myself to go back and forth and to see things from both sides.
Without veganism would you have advanced as far, spiritually speaking?
Veganism is synonymous with spirituality and the end game for me was enlightenment.
How did you adopt a vegan diet?
My process was to first eliminate all red meat from my diet and only to eat lean meat. Over time I removed lean meat, fish and lastly dairy foods from my daily diet. In total I spent nine months eliminating these foods one by one.
What was the hardest food group for you to eliminate?
Dairy based foods, in combination with carbohydrates such as pizza and sandwiches. I was most addicted to white refined carbohydrates such as chips, white bread, white rice and crisps.
How long were you a raw vegan for?
I was raw for around five years: from 2010 to 2015. Then when I got into activism in 2016 I started to slip, in the sense that I began to eat both cooked foods and a bit of junk food too. Fortunately I know about a process called “ketosis” and how to turn off the addiction process in the brain/body.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is an internal mechanism that the body uses to correct the chemistry of the brain and to turn off the hunger mechanism. It is a process where the brain switches from burning carbohydrates as a main source of fuel, to using fats instead. There are two ways to get into ketosis: you can ‘trick’ the body, or you can use starvation.
What do you mean by “starvation?”
It is a practice called fasting and it has spiritual value because it corrects the chemistry of the brain and it makes you more balanced mentally. It has applications for health too, it is a practice that some people use to correct certain deficiencies in the body.
What is the longest period that you have fasted for?
Nineteen days. A did a four day dry fast followed by a fifteen day water fast. During the dry fast I didn’t eat or drink anything and stayed at home trying to expel the least amount of energy possible – trying to do nothing.
Can you explain what you mean by “doing nothing?”
I stayed in the home and watched a lot of films, read a few things and would then go to sleep. In actuality I wasn’t doing nothing, I was doing something: inducing ketosis. Later, through the usage of coconut oil I found a way to induce ketosis without having to go through a four day dry fast. Through the usage of coconut oil you can be in ketosis in one hour, so you don’t have to starve the body. It’s called “nutritional ketosis.”
What is nutritional ketosis?
As long as you have all the right nutrients in your diet beforehand you can get the benefits of ketosis without starving yourself and going through carbohydrate withdrawals. In the first four days of a typical fast the body goes through carbohydrate withdrawal. During this period people can feel low, dizzy and lethargic. With coconut oil, however, you can go directly into ketosis by turning the hunger mechanism off. The hunger mechanism is actually the same mechanism as addiction.
How do you feel when you are in ketosis?
At peace. At ease. Like the Buddha when he achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. I also have an abundance of energy. I can concentrate for something like ten hours at a time and not my normal two or three hour concentration span. I breath better and I have to make sure that I drink a lot of water, as my intake requirement is much higher.
Are there any negative drawbacks to following a vegan diet?
You need to approach veganism in the right way, if you think that this way of living – from a dietary perspective – can “fix you” completely, then you can run into nutritional deficiencies. You need to educate yourself on how to eat correctly on a vegan diet. This means a whole food, non-processed diet for the most part. Basically put: if you love the idea of veganism more than the practicality of the diet then people’s attachments to their ideals can get in the way.
What are the main positive benefits of veganism?
Health, happiness, the environment, the welfare of animals and a growth in spirituality; personally and planetary speaking.
As a bonus question: if meat could be replicated in a laboratory environment, such as the Super Meat movement and no harm was inflicted upon animals in the process, would you eat it?
No, I wouldn’t, because consuming it would harm me in the process. Meat from an animal contains components such as uric acid, unnecessarily high levels of protein, saturated and trans saturated fats. These substances are naturally present in animal products and are detrimental to the body. If you are not aware of The China Study by Colin T Cambell [the longest running scientific study on nutrition to date] any animal protein over 5% turns the cancer gene on in the body. Basically that is all animal based foods, as meat is at least 30% protein. Vegan foods on the other hand, such as nuts, lentils and broccoli, which are also high in protein don’t show to turn the cancer gene on.