I had no idea just how much healthier I would be

Profile of a new vegan: Triantafillia Memisakis came from a traditional meat eating family. Here is her vegan story.

I was never much of a meat eater. I've always hated the smell and flavour of pork, lamb and beef, so poultry was the only thing I ever really liked. Growing up in a traditional Greek household, all I ever got was ridicule for my dislike of red meat. My biggest vice had always been dairy, especially cheese.

After college, I decided to make some radical changes to my life in order to get as healthy as possible. All the research I did really confused me, because there was so much contradictory evidence. Studies that said eating meat and dairy is healthy, and then studies that said the opposite. It was all extremely frustrating!

I was 24 when I moved from Greece to Australia. Meat was still everywhere and I met a lot of people who were under the impression that it was perfectly healthy to eat masses of eggs, bacon and cheese multiple times a day; this just didn't sit right with me. My mind was ready to accept the message. All I had to do was meet the right people to plant the seed. And that's when it happened, I met a girl who invited me to a vegan picnic. At the time I was nervous, because I wasn't a vegan, but she assured me it would be okay. I went and it was a relief to meet so many beautiful people. I realized that vegans weren't the stuck up, preachy people I had always considered them to be. One of them, the kindest, sweetest man I had ever met handed me a USB drive that held several documentaries on it. I watched them that night.

Those documentaries were 'Cowspiracy', 'Earthlings' and 'Forks Over Knives'; they changed my life. 'Cowspiracy showed me I couldn't call myself an environmentalist, if I was omnivorous. 'Earthlings' showed me I couldn't call myself an animal-lover, if I was omnivorous and 'Forks over Knives' was the one that hit me the hardest. All that time I had thought I was healthy, but I couldn't have been more wrong.

While watching those documentaries I had been eating a chicken dinner. Needless to say, I didn't finish my meal and I went vegan that same day. Cold turkey. I have never looked back and never intend to. I had never been particularly crazy about cows, pigs or chickens, but since going vegan I have come to appreciate their intelligence, adorable appearance and unique personalities. It has really opened my eyes to so much more than just what I eat.

The most helpful resource during my journey has by far been the Vegans In Perth Facebook group. Everyone on there has not only been amazingly helpful online, but they have also been so wonderful at meeting up and hanging out in person. I have made so many friends and gone to a slew of vegan festivals since my transition and I have never felt better physically, mentally and emotionally. I knew it was going to make me healthier, but I had no idea just how huge the difference would be.

If anyone out there is thinking about getting healthier, making a change to heal your body or just really love animals and the environment, I wholeheartedly recommend veganism. I thought it was going to be a huge problem for me, but I was pleasantly surprised to find just how easy it actually was. I'm looking forward to all the ways in which this beautiful lifestyle will broaden my horizons in the future to come.

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