For any of you looking to make the transition to a vegan lifestyle, we thought it would help to read a little about another’s transition into being vegan. Below is our interview with Carrie Ducote, an Atlanta-based animal rights advocate.
How long have you been vegan?
I’ve been vegan almost three years.
Was there a specific moment that you decided to become a vegan?
I have been vegetarian my whole life so I was toying with the idea and decided to give it a try for lent. I never looked back after that!
What helped you make the switch to a plant-based diet?
My friend Judy made the transition from vegetarian to vegan a year or so before I did and seeing her success really helped make the decision easier. I had a good group of vegan mentors who gave me lots of good tips and tricks, told me about their favorite products and encouraged me along the way.
What did you find easy about the change?
I really felt good about the decision I was making so I let my conscious be my guide so to speak. Having supportive friends and family made a huge difference while I learned the ins and outs of the diet.
What was difficult about the change?
There’s a lot of really fantastic vegan products out there but there are also some that made my stomach turn. Lots of trial and error learning which products I liked!
What resources did you use to help you in the transition?
The most useful resource has been social media. There are vegan specific groups for lots of different areas so I was able to tap into those for advice and support. I also was able to get in touch with all my vegan mentors easily that way. My husband bought me some great vegan cookbooks and those became my bible (highly recommend Thug Kitchen).
What advice would you give to someone thinking about making the switch to a plant-based diet?
Give it a try on a temporary basis and see how you like it. Don’t be too hard on yourself while you figure out the best foods and recipes that work for you. You’re going to feel really good about the decisions you’re making for your health, the environment and the animals.
What lessons have you learned since you made the change?
To always support each other and don’t be afraid to try new things. Take the time to learn where your food comes from and what’s in it, even if it’s plant based.
Is there anything else you would like to share about transitioning to a vegan diet?
I feel really good about the choices I’ve made and I’m proud of my journey. I’ve done a lot of research and know that I’m making the right choice for me. Now that I’m pregnant, I’m learning about a whole new aspect of a plant-based diet: vegan parenting. I’m really looking forward to this next chapter in my journey. Things have changed so much even since I made the transition and I look forward to the day when my family’s food choices are no longer the minority.
What do you think is the greatest impact of a vegan diet – for you personally, for society, the environment?
For me personally, it’s the animals. I’ve always had a connection to other species. I work in companion animal rescue and share my home with a menagerie of animals including two pot belly pigs. Getting to know them and learning about their personalities and quirks has made me feel more connected to animals who are raised for consumption. My pigs motivate me to keep fighting for their species to have the kind of life they deserve.
For society, I still think it’s ethics. I have no doubt that future generations will look back on the way we treated other species with horror and ask us how we could have allowed that to happen. We are a society who treats companion animals well, we build strong bonds with them and grieve when they pass. I’m not sure why none of those considerations seem to transfer into other species but I think that is changing as people begin to pay more attention.
The environment is rife with issues and many of them can be linked to human overpopulation and over consumption. We take more resources than we need and that is taking quite a toll on the environment. Animal products are not an efficient way for humans to get calories and nutrients and the devastation on the planet is becoming more and more apparent. As more people make the switch away from animal products and to more efficient plant-based diets, I hope some of the environment is able to recover.
Katherine Bechdol graduated from the University of Georgia in 2008 with a bachelors degree in geology. After working as an environmental consultant she decided to follow her passion for healthy eating and is now working towards her Master's Degree in Health Science from Georgia State University while working in the Coordinated Program in Nutrition in order to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She believes that food can heal the body and her long term goal is to become a research scientist in order to help individuals suffering from chronic disease heal in a functional and integrative way.