Going full vegan is a big deal. Everyday life changes, food as an energy source takes on a whole new meaning, and your worldview shifts.
For Mango Steen, founder of Vegan Malta Eats, vegetarian for 17 years and vegan for eight years, the choice her and her sister made became obvious over time, and now there’s no way she’s going back to eating meat.
“Everyone is going vegan, from UFC fighters to doctors to movie stars”
Mango admits it wasn’t easy coming out as vegan.
“Everyone thought I had gone crazy at first. I was teased and ridiculed. I understood people usually tend to discredit, hate and fear things they don’t truly understand…,” she trails off.
“But I also knew this was the right thing to do, so I stood strong in my conviction. I used to suffer from arthritis in my fingers, I had cystic acne and 20kg of excess weight. All of that vanished as soon as I stopped eating animal products,” she says.
“I feel sorry for people that never get to experience the beauty of what this lifestyle brings”
“Like most children who found out who their food actually is and where it comes from, my sister and I were very saddened. We decided we wanted to stop eating animals. But with constant pressure from grown-ups and society, we were kind of brainwashed into eating animals again,” she says.
“With time,” she continues, “I had forgotten that my food was once a living breathing animal and that connection and compassion I once had as a child was lost. I no longer cared much about animals at all.”
She soon became interested in meditation and yoga, where her teacher suggested she tried going vegetarian if she wanted to progress in her meditation. She decided to go for it for the sake of her practice.
“It absolutely helped me develop even further. I noticed my meditation became stronger and my body became a little healthier – though the real magic happened when I went vegan.”
“I started seeing animals with different eyes – they were no longer products. they were no longer here just for me to use as I wish,” she says. “All of a sudden, I could see what I could so naturally see as a child: animals where not here for us but with us. They were sentient beings, with personalities, emotions and feelings. They want a life of peace and happiness.”
“It’s way easier than most would think and vegan food is absolutely amazingly delicious”
“People often ask: ‘You’re vegan?'” she laughs. “‘So you don’t eat fish? Chicken? Not even cheese? Nothing?!’ No, we don’t eat “nothing”, we eat a lot of amazing foods.”
“We are not limited to eating a handful of different animals and their secretions at each meal and following the same old boring recipes all our lives,” she insists. “Once a person goes vegan the world of food opens up and you start eating things that you would have never dreamt of before.”
There are a number of vegan foods you can get excited about according to Mango.
“Banana blossom that is made to taste exactly like fish,” she begins to list,” or jackfruit that tastes really similar to pulled pork, and instead of cow breast milk, we are spoiled for choice. Coconut milk, hazelnut milk, almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, soya and hemp milk…”
“There is nothing lacking from a vegan diet except for massive environmental destruction and the mass murder and cruelty towards animals,” she says.
Her drive against animal cruelty motivates her lifestyle
“I’m extremely against the abuse of animals,” she says. “99 percent of cruelty towards animals happens within animal agriculture. More than one trillion sentient beings are brutally slaughtered for food, every single year on the planet. Those are living, feeling beings who want to live just as much as you and I do. They scream and cry in terror until their lives are brutally taken away from them.”
Species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction are among the issues she vehemently opposes.
“If being absolutely against all of these things makes me an extremist and a militant, then I embrace that label and it is absolutely fine by me,” she smiles.
“Go vegan! It’s one of the best thing you’ll ever do”
Judging from her experience, going vegan was a positive choice for Mango – and she invites anyone who is interested to join Vegan Malta Eats to find out more.
“Since going vegan I have transformed from top to toe, inside – out, not only physically but mentally and spiritually,” she says. “It’s a whole new world which is incredibly rewarding. The connection with nature, the connection with my fellow earthlings, my body, my mind, my character – everything has transformed for the better.”