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I was always aware of there being something wrong with eating animals but raised in a strong family with two elder brothers my ideas were always considered childish. I tried to turn vegetarian when I was 12 but was confronted with mum trying to sneak ham into my sandwiches and so many comments of ‘it’s just a phase’. Having been unable to stand up for myself most of my life, I just conformed, it was the easy option. I kept my head down and worked through school and university and got married to a bully who make me feel even more worthless as a person.

Two years later after a string of events I plucked up the courage to stand up for myself. Finally. I have never looked back. After vowing to stay single I met a wonderful man, Matthew, who just happened to be vegetarian and we moved to the country. Living near animals made me aware of the choice I’d never truly made but knew I should so I gave up the meat. I could not watch the lambs in the field infront of our cottage and laugh as they bounded from one side to another playing games and then eat a lamb roast. Couldn’t do it. So I was a vegetarian. I never considered becoming a vegan until I listened to a podcast from Compassionate Cooks. My now husband Matthew fell upon the podcast one day and told me I must listen. He was a bit stunned after I did listen and decided I was immediately vegan. He took some friendly persuasion but I am thrilled to say he has now made the same decision and we decided to raise our two children as vegan also. We have a little girl, Heidi, aged 2 and a son, Miller, aged 7 months.

We have encountered difficulties as vegans, not least being that we live in Northern Norway (we are English but moved over here in 2004) in a small community where meat eating is abundant, vegetarians considered mentally instable and where elk hunting is quite common. Needless to say I have to travel far and wide to get the basics I need to keep my family healthy! But we are healthy and I feel more alive than ever. When I gave up the dairy I noticed so many positive changes, I lost all my pregnancy weight and my shape is better than ever, my skin is flawless (I had excema before, none since), my hair shines and I no longer feel sluggish or bloated. I also feel more in control of my life and am so happy not to contribute to suffering.

I feel my life continues to improve in leaps and bounds. I am quite a different person than the shy girl I grew up with inside of me. I am part of a media company which I helped found here in Norway and am writing a script for a children’s television series alongside many other arts projects. I am also a qualified yoga teacher. I have a blog entitled new vegan mom (www.newveganmom.blogspot.com) and my son and I make a weekly vlog for new mums and their babies entitled ‘Yoga Baby’ (www.yogababy.tv or you can go to blip.tv or itunes and subscribe). I am also writing an interactive book for children (www.snoredust.blogspot.com) where kids can submit ideas and pics to be included in the published novel. I guess you could say I’m busy!

I encounter many people who just do not understand why veganism has such a positive impact on our lives…but then occasionally I meet one person who does…

~Jill in Norway

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I first became a vegetarian for the obvious health benefits, but soon learned of the cruelty and injustice inherent in the meat industry. I was devastated to think that I had been supporting such cruelty for the majority of my life.

I became a vegetarian in February, and was happy to discover your podcast about a week ago. I have been listening to it ever since. I am glad to know that the issues I wrestle with are felt keenly- not just by me, but around the world.

As a teenager in high school (a Senior), I have trouble getting respect for my choices. I am forced to buy my own food, using my own allowance, because the family I live with are all non-vegetarians, and their mother will not buy food I can eat. I especially appreciate all of the cooking tips, since I cook almost all of my own food.

At the end of the school year, I am hoping to make the transition to veganism. I had not known the extent of the cruelty before listening to your podcast, and I was shocked when I learned about the abuses of dairy cows. I am going to finish the cheese in the fridge that I purchased, and then I am not going to purchase anymore. I have stopped drinking milk already, and will stop buying products with milk in them.

You have inspired me to “speak my truth.” When I first became a vegetarian, my mother – who I live apart from but visit often – was opposed to it. She has pernicious anemia and was convinced that I would not get the nutrients I required on a plant-based diet. I have since convinced her to stop trying to change me back to being non-vegetarian, but she still worries that I am not eating enough.

I want to thank you for all the work you do to help the animals, denied rights and even voices. You are truly an inspiration.

~Tessara

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