Veganism gave me the key to self love

We're constantly slammed by the media, "try this diet", "drink this tea", "lose 10 kilograms", "try this fat burning workout" but at the same times we're expect to love ourselves. How are we to love ourselves if we're lead to believe there will always be flaws that need to be fixed? Well, what we are not told, is that all of that, well, it's all bananas! Here's how veganism gave me the tools to find self love.

Firstly, I need to communicate with you guys what true self love is. It's not a dress size, bone structure, skin tone, hair color or a number on the scales. It's got nothing to do with your weekly pay cheque or meal plan. And most importantly, it's not a destination. You cannot wake up one morning with the six pack of your dreams, a Tesla, a cover model partner and BAM there it is, life's perfect and you're more confident than ever. Self love is an accumulation of decisions you make every day to better all facets of yourself and your health (mental, physical, spiritual and social). It's just as self loving having a pity party with your girlfriends as it is having a sweet potato, kale salad with avocado post workout. Its exercising to feel amazing, never just to look "good" and resting to feel comfortable and energized, never to escape reality. Choosing to support your best girl friend when she's stressed over pizza instead of meal prepping food that only leaves you hungry. It's all about balance and self love is the key to finding health and living you happiest and fulfilled life.

Veganism is a lifestyle the promotes abundance and eliminates cruelty. You seriously cannot feel guilty about living in a way that aligns with your ethics and keeps your body at its healthiest. This piece of mind allowed me to disassociate any negative ties I had towards food. Even the most processed of vegan treats are still free of cholesterol and factory farming ties, I reconnected with myself again and I had reclaimed the balance with food I took for granted as a child. Every plant food is full of the nourishment your body thrives off. So when you're eating a plant-based diet you're practically eating your way to self love – every bite does you good.

With all this good quality fuel you feel remarkable. And let me tell you, you'll do remarkably well too. You'll feel on-top of the world and have the energy to hike it too. An absence of saturated fats means clarity is a given. You won't feel slow and sit on the couch all afternoon, you'll wish to explore this world and move your body because it feels good. Exercise becomes a reward for all the amazing things your body can do and not a punishment for a second helping of cheesecake.

When I became vegan I became more compassionate, not just towards animals but towards others too. I attribute this to seeing veganism as the lifestyle it is, naturally showing and preaching and ethical philosophy translated into all my interactions. And let me tell you, when you show love you feel it too and that also includes the love you have for yourself. I built ethics that I stood by, that I was passionate about. They have given me purpose and confidence in my identity and lasting impressions. This perspective is the one I now choose to see, one that allows justice for all. Karma is also real people, be kind – trust me, it makes life so much easier.

Being vegan gave me something to share with others and something to help others with. If you have friends or family members struggling with their health, their energy, even themselves and who are considering veganism, showing them the wonders of this lifestyle can really change them and deliver a lost fulfilment they're searching tirelessly for. Being able to help others and spread this compassionate message indirectly validates why we really are vegan – to guide each other in the most cruelty-free direction we can.

We're an adventurous species and a new lifestyle reminds us of exactly that. Even if new experiences are hard to swallow I highly doubt you'll bite off more than you can chew. Living life, exploring different vegan restaurants and attending different ethical events not only gave me positive reinforcement for my lifestyle but also allowed me to meet other like-minded people who offered community. This belonging made me feel so much less alone and far more confident in myself. We all share a similar mission and understand that we are all strong enough to fulfil that mission.

After putting my thoughts together on this topic I've realized something that most of us ignore. Pretty much none if these factors revolve around body shape or image. I think it's bogus how society screws our thought, hypnotizing us to believe that looking "good" must equal a similar internal feeling. I mean self love is a feeling that cannot be visualized only felt. Remember that, choose to feel it. Tell your self conscious thoughts that hold you back to, "VEG-OFF!"

Alix Laidler

Instagram @alixhlaidler