A Manchester University Student never realised quite how rewarding her transition to become vegan would be. Megan Green finds out more…

A lot has changed for 20-year-old Hannah Walters in the year since she decided to change her lifestyle by becoming vegan due to her strong beliefs in animal rights and welfare.

She said: “I constantly shared things on Facebook, like how the Yulin dog festival was so bad and how it was so bad that people were shooting rhinos in Africa, but then I was there eating a pig and I just thought what’s the difference a pig and a dog? Nothing at all. They’re just as intelligent and just as sentient.”

When Walters first made the switch, she did not get all of the support she had hoped for.

“My dad was really reluctant about it. He was like “how are you going to get your nutrients?” because I was anaemic before. My mum was kind of the same, she was worried about my health but she knew that it was what would make me happy. Now they’re both really supportive,” she said.

According to the Vegan Calculator website, in the year Hannah has been vegan she has saved 401,500 gallons of water, 14,600 lbs of grain, 10,950 Sq.ft of forest, 7,300 lbs of Co2, and most importantly to many vegans around the world, 365 animal lives.

It’s not only the way people eat that can affect the lives of animals, it can also be the products people use, for example, cosmetics. “I’ve changed all of my cosmetics, my makeup that I buy, my perfume, hair products and things like that are now cruelty free because I don’t agree with animal testing. I try and buy more ethically sourced clothes and things because I believe that veganism should be more about humans as well and how they’re treated in the working environment.”

“I’d say I’m more mindful with my environmental impact. I try to buy things with sustainable palm oil, or I try to avoid it all together, but it can be hard to completely avoid these things, I’m a student, I can’t afford to go and buy things that are going to cost £50.”

It is reasonable that not everybody understands why people decide to go vegan, or how it affects the world. Hannah sometimes finds it difficult when people question her beliefs, however believes it is important for everyone to understand the bad affects meat eating has on the world.

“When educated people are just having a go at me for being vegan and say “you force your beliefs on me” it’s like, well I’m not really forcing my beliefs on you, I’ve shared a post of my food on Facebook, that’s not forcing my beliefs on you. Most people ask questions because they genuinely don’t understand why I do it and I’m quite patient with those people because I was there at one point and I used to say “vegans are stupid” and “how do they get their protein?” It’s about education really so you have to be tolerant and educate people.”

Hannah didn’t always eat this way, she used to just eat what she could afford.

“I used to eat chicken nuggets and chips and steak a lot. Steak was my favourite food. What I could afford really was cheap synthesised chicken nuggets and chips and it just wasn’t very healthy at all.”

The transition of becoming vegan will always be difficult for many people, Hannah found that the hardest part was learning what she could and couldn’t eat. “When I first started I thought I could eat all Quorn products, but then a lot of them have egg and milk in, so that was probably the only difficult thing.”

Photo Taken from Hannah's Facebook with the caption: "£6 ?? tesco oatly milk on offer for £1 a carton and Tesco free from products on offer at 2 for £2.50"
Photo Taken from Hannah’s Facebook with the caption: “£6 ?? tesco oatly milk on offer for £1 a carton and Tesco free from products on offer at 2 for £2.50”

In Hannah’s opinion, becoming vegan can give a person a much happier, healthy life. “I lost about two stone in the first month of being vegan.”

“I’m more passionate about cooking and have discovered some new foods that I would have never even considered touching before. I’ve also met some amazing, compassionate people and I’ve learnt more from them people about political issues and it’s just helped me grow as a person.”

I went on a food shop with Hannah to see exactly what she could buy.

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