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Going Green: The Benefits of Being Vegan

Photo by Vegan Liftz:

Last updated on July 19, 2023

Editor’s Note: This article is a part of the Holos Project, a four-way partnership (ENGin, The Los Angeles Times Insider, Published Points of View, The Outspoken) established to empower the voices of Ukrainian students across the world through one-on-one journalism mentorship. This article was written by Yeveniia Pohorielova from Ukraine with the mentorship of Sonal Sukhatme from the United States. “Holos” is the Ukrainian word for “Voice”. 

All my adult life, I have been interested in health and nutrition. I became seriously interested in issues of a healthy lifestyle and wholesome nutrition immediately after graduation from school. I studied the composition of different products, compared their chemical composition, and tried to make my diet as balanced as possible. I also studied information about the benefits and harms of different products. My path in nutrition has been a long, very confusing, but interesting one.

Five years ago, my family and I became vegans. At first, it was more of an experiment than a conscious decision. But very soon, everything changed. I felt the benefits of plant-based nutrition and did not want to return to my old ways.  But vegan cuisine was new to me, I still did not understand how to cook plant-based food deliciously. It was long days and weeks of experiments in the kitchen. I missed my previously favorite dishes and tried to repeat them in a vegan version. It took me about four months to diversify our new diet. But I succeeded and in our diet there were already many tasty and nutritious dishes. (I have shared some of them on my YouTube channel:

Ukraine is an agrarian country, with a wide variety of plant products. This makes being vegan in Ukraine not difficult. A huge amount of cereals and legumes, fruits, vegetables, berries, herbs, and several types of nuts are grown on Ukrainian fields – all of this is of our own production. In addition, many people living in their own homes and having a small plot of land near the house also grow vegetables, fruits, etc. And all these products get to local markets and fairs regularly. It is very fresh and tasty, and very often absolutely no chemicals are used for its cultivation.

A diet rich in fresh vegetables, herbs, legumes, and healthy fats gave a positive result. We stopped getting sick with seasonal colds and the energy level has noticeably increased. My hair, nails and skin condition has improved, I began to get enough sleep in just 5-6 hours, although earlier 8 was not enough for me. My husband’s gastritis disappeared without medication, and my son’s allergy disappeared. My second pregnancy and breastfeeding period went without a single vitamin, and the results of blood tests are better than in the first pregnancy with specialized vitamins. 

My little sister also went vegan. And this is probably one of the greatest joys in my life, because 3 years before my sister was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, an autoimmune disease. She drank hormones and other pills by the handful. And the doctors unanimously said she would have to drink hormones for the rest of her life. As of today, she is a vegan and does not take hormones or other pills. With this type of nutrition, she achieved a stable remission, and the doctors only shrug in surprise.

After Russia started the war in Ukraine, we were forced to leave the country. Now we are in Ireland and we are very grateful to this small country for the great help to the Ukrainians!

For half a year of living here, we have missed Ukrainian cuisine and Ukrainian products very much. Irish food is very unusual for us. There are a lot of semi-finished products, imported fruits, berries, vegetables, almost tasteless and odorless. The Irish are very fond of potatoes (which we almost never eat in Ukraine) and can eat them 3 times a day. And even vegan products from local companies are almost always fatty, spicy, with a lot of breading, fried or deep-fried.

Due to such a striking difference in the diet, in the first month we had serious problems with the digestive system. Deep-fried potatoes are not healthy at all, although they are suitable for vegans. This reminded me once again of the importance of a healthy vegan diet.

Personally, I believe that health and happiness are dependent on each other, and they create an ongoing cycle.our health is very dependent on the level of happiness in our lives. A healthy lifestyle, in my opinion, will certainly lead to a happier life. Whether we like it or not, the day always comes when we must take responsibility for our lives in our own hands.

Ultimately, everything that happens in our lives is the result of the decisions we make.

The decision we made 5 years ago was one of the best decisions of our lives. And I am very glad that I have the opportunity to share our experience with you.

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