I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to learn how to read at a very early age in life. During this time, I read many books written from different animals points of view. I loved the plush animal toy figures my mother sewed for me, and I used to play pretending to be different animals. The environment I grew up in however expressed dislike for vegetarians and similar thinkers, and with these prejudices I was not strong enough to realize the connection between what I ate and what was going on behind that. I justified my food habits by identifying with my name Björn, which has the meaning of bear in Swedish, and the image it might bring of an omnivorous animal. But something felt wrong in the far far back of my mind.
A life with diseases
My life until the last few years was plagued by many various health problems. During my childhood I had allergies, colds, nausea and stomach sickness, in my teenage years I got appendicitis, acne, depression, pneumonia, salmonella infection, ulcerative colitis and psychosis. In my twenties I suffered from colds, addictions of different kinds, depressions, and moodiness.
I will tell you about two events having a great impact on my journey:
- I met two very friendly and generous vegans (if you are reading this, I hope you know who you are, and thank you so much!) who cooked the most delicious vegan food! Experiencing this helped me appreciate vegan food as something positive and possible.
- At the age of 34, I visited a pig/sheep farm. I remember the contrast between being on a relaxed summer vacation on the Mediterranean coast to entering a concrete paved dark hall with a thousand eyes watching me in fear. All their bodies were moving as one, like a school of fish, because in such a place there is no other reference than the prisoners standing next to you.
A few months later I decided to go vegetarian. On New Year’s Eve, 2013, the decision to become a vegetarian popped up from my subconscious and struck me as so true and right as nothing ever had before in my life. And over time I realized that I had to be vegan as well, anything else was would just be hypocrisy and turning a blind eye to the impact of my choices.
Where I am now
Looking back on my life, I can see how much has changed since becoming vegetarian/vegan. Now I am never sick, I don’t even get the common cold, even when people around me have it. I am connecting with more people than ever before, both around the world and locally. When I talk to people I meet I am much less concerned about their social status, origin, gender or age than before. I am stronger, more fit and more active than ever before in my life. I am working simultaneously on a wide range of projects while also taking many actions and courses to improve my skills. I am constantly realizing and working towards my highest goals and dreams, while also creating a life and lifestyle I never thought was possible for me, while also trying as much as possible to help others. I have never been more at peace with myself as I am today!
We are all born without labels or names. Calling myself vegan only describes a tiny part of who or what I really am, think and do. But for me, and for this period of my life, it is a useful label to help me guide the choices I make in life, and I think it can do and does the same for many others.