10 ways becoming vegan changed my life

Since the previous article was fun to write and ended up quite popular (maybe because it’s shorter than my usual rants? :’D) I decided to write another one on my other big, life-changing decision. Once again, no particular order…

  1. My skin cleared up. It had already become way better after I stopped eating gluten and dairy, but there was also a certain improvement when I stopped eating animal products.
  2. I lost weight. I wasn’t consciously trying to, though I was certainly slightly overweight beforehand. I sometimes refer to it as losing “guilt weight” since I felt so much better after I took the decision, but more realistically it’s likely because vegan whole foods are less calory-dense, so I was eating as much, but it ended up being less total energy.
  3. TMI, you’ve been warned. I started pooping VERY regularly. Everyday, often twice a day. If I don’t poop in one day, I now start wondering what’s up.
  4. I learned a lot about nutrition and health (I didn’t go vegan for health, and would have likely stopped eating meat before if I didn’t think / had always been told it was necessary for me to be healthy. Spoiler: it’s not).
  5. I started putting a lot more time researching a product before buying it. What it’s made of, what are the working conditions of people making it, what will happen to it once I discard it – things I didn’t think so much about before. I started looking more into the zero-waste movement as well.
  6. I became more assertive and more of my own individual. I’m still not very assertive, it’s just not in my character and I don’t want to be that vegan (I guess my type of activism is simply normalizing veganism and showing that there are good / logical reasons to be vegan, not only pseudo-scientific banter). However, this was truly the first decision I took that showed a true shift from how I was raised, if not in values, at least how I interpret and implement them.
  7.  People sometimes excuse themselves for talking about non-vegan food they’ve eaten or eating animals in front of me. Which I’m not sure what my feelings are about this? I mean, sure, I’d rather they didn’t, but then again, I ate meat for most of my life, so it’s not like I don’t know what it is…
  8. I notice thought inconsistencies / cognitive dissonance much more, not only when veganism is at stake, and also how much people dislike having it pointed it out. Another side-effect of this, is that admitting that I had been wrong by adopting veganism as a new lifestyle & philosophy, makes me more reflective of my beliefs. Since I was wrong once, and for something as big as this, I could be wrong again. So I try to listen to arguments opposite from mine with a non-prejudiced mind. It’s not easy!
  9. I notice how much animal products are in EVERYTHING, often unnecessarily or as cheap fillers, like milk in salt and pepper chips. WHY???
  10. For the first time in a very long time, I am considering changing my career plan. Since my last year of high school, my mind was set on a career in drug discovery. Saving people’s lives by creating tomorrow’s drugs. And it is what I am currently doing, as a postdoctoral researcher in protein engineering, I design antibodies against cancer targets, which will hopefully progress to a personalized medical treatment for patients. However, I realize that the medicines I am making will have to be tested on animals (this is required by law). While I do think that this might have been necessary at some point (like eating meat was likely necessary for our ancestors to survive), there are now more and more technologies, like organs-on-a-chip, being developed which are better for testing drugs than using animals. I think using animals is unnecessary in many cases, as it has been shown in multiple cases that animal testing is often inefficient at predicting human reactions to a product (see this case  in France only two years ago). So I’m considering a possible career switch to science policy in the future.

The first time I saw the top image, or one similar, I was far from being vegan and my reaction was similar to the bottom one. I thought vegans were very stupid not to know that cows do not need to be killed for milk, and that would actually be against the farmer’s interest! The fact that they were two white / slim / seemingly affluent women didn’t help with the stereotype of “they don’t have anything better to busy their days with”.                                                                                                                                                           This is why I think this type of activism isn’t very effective. It didn’t make me connect the dots. I didn’t realize that cows need to be pregnant to lactate, so as soon as the calf is born it is taken away and killed rapidly to be sold as veal. And even though I had always been told to buy beef raised for meat and not beef raised for milk (it is compulsory to write which type of beef it is in France) as it is supposed to taste better, I never realized this what was they meant by “I want to live”. I was the ignorant one, yet I judged them as being ignorant. Tough lesson to learn…


The ethical journey

Today, a non-yoga post. Or maybe an Ahimsa-related post (is there such a thing as a non-yogicly relevant post?).

Last weekend, I went shopping for boots at mooshoes, as the inside of my previous pair of boots was so worn out that it made my feet hurt, and I had already had them repaired  once.  I found a nice pair of wood and faux-leather boots, made ethically and sustainably in Portugal, for $150. While it’s not cheap, this is around the price I would have paid for “regular” boots (aka leather boots in any fashion shop). And it made me wonder: if the price and quality are the same, why are ethical and sustainable options not more widespread? If faced with two similar-looking boots, one ethical and the other not, would people still buy the non-ethical option?

Thinking about this made me realize how far along the way I’ve come in terms of values. Being ethical has not always been one of my core values, or rather, if you’d asked me I would always have thought it was important but I was not always acting in agreement with it. Simple exemple: I’ve not always bought ethical chocolate. If the supermarket didn’t carry fairtrade cocoa, I would buy the regular one. If they had both, I would have likely bought the fairtrade one, but not really thinking about it.

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to live ethically in today’s society. First, everything is aimed at consumption. More, more, more. Buy more things, eat more food, produce more. So it’s kind of weird when suddenly you wake up and want to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot. Suddenly, all of your purchases become an act of mindfulness. Do I get the out-of-season veggie that’s not wrapped in plastic, or the plastic-foiled in-season veggie? What about vegan junk food as you want to support vegan brands, yet are obviously more wasteful than eating unprocessed plant foods? Or fruit that might spoil while being transported to work vs packaged dried fruits? What if your ethical item is not available at the moment, do you change your whole plan or do you buy the non-ethical version? And if you order your ethical groceries online, is it really better than buying regular groceries near you?

I realize some of these question are more practical issues compared to not knowing what the best option really is. But even the definition of veganism includes “as far as possible and practicable”. At some point, when you have two hours of your day spent commuting, 8-9 hours of work, one hour cooking, 1.5 hours working out or teaching, spending one hour comparing products at the grocery store feels exhausting. And that’s all the while being privileged, and having enough money to choose what I buy and where I buy it from.

Some days I feel as someone who has the money to support ethical brands, I am morally obliged to do so. And I often do. But there is also an incentive to consume less, get rid of what we don’t “need” and live a simpler life. Which I also try to do. Finding the sweet spot is sometimes difficult. A while ago, I was at a friend’s place for dinner and other friends of this friend I didn’t know asked me about my fairphone, and veganism. They commented that if everyone cared as much as me, the world would be a better place. While on the one hand it made me happy that they acknowledged my trying, on the other hand I just wanted to say “it’s not that hard! Everyone can do it!”, and while that might not be completely true, I do believe that everyone can do something better. We make so many choices everyday, yet we rarely think about them. And I think that’s where the bottleneck is: how do you get people to start to think and be more conscious about all these decisions they make everyday?

Definitely not by retiring out of society, while it sometimes seems like the best way to have the least impact on the planet. I tend to think that leading by exemple is the best option, showing that you can still live “normally” yet make better choices for the planet and its inhabitants. So far, it’s been the extent of my activism. Yet there are issues which this approach too:

  • I’m not perfect. No one is, and I’d like to think that makes me actually relatable, and empower people to change what they can. But I’m clearly privileged, and I flew transatlantic a few times last year due to my boyfriend and me living on different continents. So there’s ground for criticism, and some people would easily jump on the occasion to say that since they didn’t fly, they can eat all the meat / use all the one-use plastics they want / etc. And I get it, changing something you do on the daily  (habits, yogis, habits!) is much more difficult than forgoing one flight. But I think that’s missing the point. We should all be in this together, and if you use less resources than I do, kudos to you!
  • I tend not to speak much about these choices I make, with the exception of a few friends and on this blog. And it can be depressing to see people get a take-away plastic lunchbox and/or coffee everyday. It does feel like all the efforts I make are for nothing…
  • Some things are definitely NOT practical. Or cheap. For exemple this year I wanted to plan holidays without taking the plane. I figured that from NYC I should be able to go to a couple of nice places with the train. One plan is to go to New Orleans. The trip takes 30 hours and costs upwards of $800 for two people in a cabin one way, while the plane takes an hour and is $100. While my boyfriend is on board with being eco-friendly, that discrepancy was a bit too much for him (He’s what you’d call frugal, too). We compromised on going one way with the train and back with the plane (plus some greenwashing donations), yet I feel most people would not hesitate and book a return ticket with the plane.


Anyhow, what are some things you feel you could do better ethically-wise? How do you deal with these daily dilemmas? And how far have you gone if you look back a couple of years? What type of activism do you think is most effective? Does your ethical living  bleed into your work too?

PS: I’m trying to gather the courage to become a Terracycle recycling collector for toothpaste and snack wrappers. Will probably do it soon, just need the nudge…

PPS: if someone knows of a solid toothpaste which contains fluoride, please let me know in the comments below!


It’s this time of the year again, when everyone takes new resolutions to better themselves in the coming year. It’s been many years since I have taken new year’s resolutions, and this year is no different. I see self-improvement as something I do continuously, so I don’t generally have something specific on my resolutions list.

It’s funny that these good resolutions are so ingrained in our culture, yet most people do not think about self-improvement on a daily basis. Worse, most people are resistant to change, not only for themselves, but also for others. “Oh, you changed” is rarely a compliment (unless you’re back from the hairdresser… and sometimes not even). I personally get a lot of resistance to my changing of certain things, even from family members or friends (though I do feel quite lucky to have a generally very open-minded support group, which I attribute to having met most of them in an academic setting). One obvious point of contention is my veganism, but I’ve also experienced it with my journey of reducing waste, weightlifting, or even my yoga practice.

I think part of it comes from the fact that I’m trying something new, which often doesn’t fit with the idea they have of who I am. And they might be right sometimes, and I won’t stick with what I’m doing (looking at you, pole dancing – I have way too slippery hands). Other times it does stick, and funnily sometimes people who met me later in life cannot imagine me without it: for instance people who met me during my PhD have always known me as “the yoga girl with the allergies”. People who will meet me during my postdoc will likely have a hard time imagining me eating meat.

Conflict also comes when I do (or start doing) something others feel like they should be doing but don’t. I also have this, for exemple when it comes to zero-waste lifestyles, but I try to see it as inspiration instead of judgement. Because I cannot commit to a fully zero-waste lifestyle now does not mean that I cannot do anything. I can do research, I can change some things, I can limit my waste, I can talk to other people about the simple changes I am doing and how they can implement them too. And maybe one day I’ll be able to be fully zero-waste, but meanwhile I’ll be reducing-waste.


I try to keep in mind that even though every little thing helps, in the grand scheme of things most people are not gonna become fully vegan or zero-waste. However, most people might become flexitarians or reducetarians. By striving in a lifestyle that is more compassionate and better for the environment, while still being relatable as fully part of society rather than an outcast (and hopefully a useful contributor to society as both a researcher and a yoga teacher), I hope and aim to inspire people to make small changes in their own lives. Even in France, I do see that things are changing, even for veganism, as usual slower than anywhere else (how dare you touch upon French Cuisine!), but at least in Paris, and in supermarkets, vegan products are becoming more broadly available.

I’ll still be taking the plane to move to NYC. I am convinced that we can live a modern lifestyle while being more respectful of our surroundings, and I don’t see flying stopping any time soon. However, I will not take the plane when it isn’t necessary: for exemple I went to Berlin by train a few weeks ago. The inconvenience+price VS ecological impact wasn’t enough to convince me to get a plane ticket. I would also like to see more initiatives limiting flying for science conferences for exemple, with all the options that new technologies such as Skype (and who knows, soon holograms?) offer.

’tis a complicated time to be alive, that’s for sure. Even when you want to make the right choice, and you do some research, there is so much conflicting information on ze internet that I cannot blame people who do not take the time to go through dozens of article, without any scientific training, and synthesize the information to make an educated choice. This is why I believe that we have to push for more certifications -even though there are already so many. I realize that more labeling might confuse consumers even more, but I am rarely as annoyed as when I am looking for information on a product and cannot find it. At least if it is there, you might or might not look at it, or spend much time comparing products, but you can do it. And there are often great people on the internet who will take upon themselves of making comparisons and come up with the best choice depending on both your budget and your values.

Anyways, are you readers taking new resolutions? Why / why not? And if so, what are they?

What’s the best way to promote a lifestyle (aka: to instagram or not to instagram)

I’ve been considering starting an Instagram account. I keep on toying with the idea, yet not actually doing it.

On the one hand, Instagram clearly is an easy way to promote a healthy lifestyle, and inspire people. I believe that I am somewhat out of the regular yoga-crew, even though I am white, female, and relatively slim, since I also happen to be an Iyengar practitioner, who are relatively unknown on the interwebs, and I did my training while getting a PhD in structural chemistry, which I will defend and receive in November. I’m also a French vegan, which is still a rarity (though that is changing).

I genuinely would like to make Iyengar yoga more known and attract younger practitioners (I talked about age issues in the Iyengar community here). Few teachers are known outside of the Iyengar community, I would say Patrica Walden for sure but still mainly by older practitioners, and Carrie Owerko who is doing hell of a job at spreading the Iyengar world while making it seem fun and attainable.


Interestingly, when I saw this cover of Yoga Journal, I did not notice it was Carrie Owerko initially, but my first thought was “wow she’s got her front foot really activated, really nice to see that in a yoga pic’ for once!”

Anyhow, the Instagram world, while full of yogis, is pretty void from Iyengar yogis, with the exception of yogi Zain who makes beautifully edited videos, and Fanny from Iyengar yoga notes. If you know of other follow-worthy Iyengar yoga instagrammers, by all means please leave a message in the comments.

So why am I not doing it? Well, I’m still wondering if having an Instagram wouldn’t make me addicted to a) taking pictures all the time and b) external validation. While I started this blog with the only intention to write down my thoughts, I would start my Instagram account with the idea of spreading my idea of yoga, veganism and generally my lifestyle to as many people as possible. First, I’m still not convinced I’m that worthy of an inspiration. Second, well, this blog is not getting many viewers, which I’m fine with, but what if my Instagram doesn’t either? Third, if it does get some traction, is it really promoting what I want to promote? Instagram posts are very short and centered around a picture. While it is easier to communicate and attract people through images, is an image-only medium really the best? Finally, the Iyengar community itself is quite critical about form. And I am too. If I would want to post picture of poses, they’d have to be pretty-near perfect… which might take a lot of time and fun out of my practice.

So overall, I’m thinking of changing the blog a bit, with maybe more short, Instagram-style posts. Maybe some “progress pics”. Maybe advertise my blog a bit more. But not a complete switch to Instagram.

What’s your opinion? Do you use Instagram? Do you wish there were more Iyengar yogis on Instagram? And what’s the best way to promote Iyengar yoga or simply a healthy lifestyle on the internet? Where should I promote my blog?  Looking forward to reading your comments and suggestions.



2 years!

I can’t believe it’s already been two years since the experiment. I don’t think when I started, I ever imagined it would turn out into a permanent thing. Now I can’t imagine going back to eating meat!

So, what changed during the past two years?

I read. A lot. I informed myself about the different reasons to be vegan, and I realized that I was lying to myself. Even though I care a lot about the environment (see below), I am an ethical vegan. I recently came to this conclusion, partly after watching many of Unnatural Vegan videos, but also reflecting on my feelings towards animals (even though there is evidence that it can be healthy and in some cases environmentally neutral to incorporate some animal products into one’s diet, I would not do it) and reading this interesting piece on vegetarianism and the yoga sutras of Patanjali (please let me know if you cannot access the article).

People started to ask me questions about veganism, and I am slowly openning up to the idea of being an “activist”. At least with friends, I am ok explaining why I am vegan, and also not having all the answers. Planting a seed and sometimes admitting I’m not perfect has its role in promoting veganism, if only for making it more accessible and not-all-vegans-are-assholes. #leadbyexample? Interestingly, I’m the only vegan I know. And I used to think vegans were crazy, so I can relate to non-vegans. Arguing is getting easier as I get more informed, and I have to give a shoutout to r/vegan for its very well maintained wiki. I once too thought that animals were mistreated only in the US, that no harm was done to dairy cows and free-range chickens. And back in 2011 when I watched Earthlings (don’t you love that it’s classified as horror/documentary?!) for the first time, I got easily convinced to eat animals again “because you can’t survive without animals products”. Worst is, I totally believed it. But I know better now,  and I also know to do my research on pretty much any claim before taking a decision.

Which leads me to: making better decisions as a consumer. To reduce the harm I create, both to animals and to the environment. What am I doing about that?

I started looking into the zero waste movement. I replaced my plastic toothbrush with a bamboo humblebrush. I was already using a menstrual cup, but I’m trying to switch most of my other beauty products to plastic-free ones (think soap bars and homemade deodorant – I used to use coconut oil only, but it’s not strong enough for me). I’m planning to buy a safety razor when I’m done using the plastic ones I have. I stopped using plastic bags or plastic-wrapped fruits and veggies, am planning to start bulk-shopping, and near-stopped buying organic products once I realized that:

1) they’re not pesticide-free

2) they’re not vegan

3) they’re often not better for the environment

4) organic produce is almost always wrapped in plastic!

Ideally, I would grow my own veggies in my garden, but yeah, this is not gonna happen before a while. Even though I moved to a place which has a small garden with a compost bin, and I’m very happy to finally be able to compost most of my waste since I eat mainly whole foods!

Image result for zero waste

Illustration by Maddie Bright

Generally I’m trying to be more conscious of anything I’m buying and limit what I do buy. Do I really need it? Can I buy it second-hand? What about fairtrade / slave-free / etc? (I got a Fairphone 2). Food-wise, I sometimes have to make “hard” choices. I’m already very limited between allergies and veganism, so sometimes I will by a gluten-free vegan good that contains palm oil. Because my mental health is also important 😉

Alright I think that’s all for now, if you have advice and/or questions please leave them in the comments below, I’d be happy to hear what you do to limit your impact on this planet 🙂

The V-word

I’m a vegan. Here it goes, I said it. It’s hard for me to say, for fear of the reactions people around me have when I say it.

Recently, someone I know posted on FB that they were anti-vegan. It hurts. And there is no good response. If I intervene and say “Hey, so you… want to see more suffering? that’s what you mean by “you’re anti-vegan”?” I’ll be seen as preachy, just because I identify as vegan. But that’s all it means, being vegan, is consciously making better decisions to reduce suffering.

“Veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose.” – The Vegan Society

NB: Humans are animals too, so this includes slave labor etc.

Everyday, you make hundreds of choices. In an ideal world, for all of these choices you make you would have all the information you need and all the necessary time so that you can make the best choice. Obviously, this not the case, and we make most choices out of habit and convenience. If you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, nobody will judge you because you choose either option. But most days, you have the power to make a better choice and reduce suffering, and if you consistently make take choice, in my book you’re a vegan.

So with this definition, you can be a vegan and eat meat, as long as you’re trying to reduce your consumption. Yes, this will be a controversial point of view, and I’m certainly not saying that the poor cow or chicken did not suffer during its life and death being “raised” for food. In my opinion it’s better not to eat meat than to eat meat, because it’s a direct way you, as a consumer, have power to reduce your impact on Earth.

But I was born and raised in France. Culturally, eating meat is an entire part of the French cuisine and by extension, lifestyle. I was raised, like most people, with the idea that animal products were healthy and even necessary for survival, and only crazy people would be vegan (since it is unnatural and you would have to be unhealthy). So I ate meat, and let’s be honest, for most people, meat tastes good. It’s convenient to eat. But is convenience and taste a good enough reason for the environmental havoc it is creating, the suffering it brings to farm animals, notwithstanding your arteries and your waist?

It took a long time for me to stop eating meat. Information about factory farm, like Earthlings, the impact of meat eating on the environment, like Cowspiracy, and other documentaries about the health aspects like Fork over knives and many others, slowly changed my mind. Information is power. However, it took me a while. I got diagnosed with  gluten and dairy allergy, so I had to eliminate those first. When that was done, I slowly started reducing my meat and fish intake, not buying any for home but eating it if there were no other options at a restaurant or a friend’s place. I had to learn how to plan and propose to bring food when I travel or am invited. I am still viewed as an extremist, when all I want is literally to do no harm, or at least as little as possible.


Being vegan in the US is so easy. Lots of convenience food, options in restaurants everywhere… Definitely not as easy in Europe. But getting there. I try to lead by example, showing that I am not craving any foods because I can always make a vegan version of it, being very active and healthy so that nobody contests the fact that being vegan is healthy. Of course, you should pay attention to your B12 levels, but then again I believe vegans are asked about their health so often that they have to be healthier than meat-eaters, who often do not care about their diets and think they eat healthy without actually ever checking (beware, this is a generalization!).


It’s not always easy to know what is the best option for all of these choices we have to do everyday. For example, I sent some shoes I had (from before I went vegan, so leather) to get repaired. I love these shoes, and I thought this was the best option – repairing rather than buying new ones would be both cheaper and better for the environment. However, what I did not realize until I got the shoes back, is that since the lining of the shoe was in leather, the shoemaker used leather to repair them. It was too late when I got them back to change anything, but I don’t know what I would have done if I had realized this before.

Other of my difficult choices include products which use palm oil (extremely bad for the environment), gluten-free breads that contain eggs (I usually don’t buy them anymore but it’s hard…), clothing (what about sweatshops and human exploitation?), and so many. Still, I try to inform myself to make better choices each time. I’m not perfect. I will never be. But I can strive for self-improvement and make a better choice than the previous one. That’s what veganism is all about for me.

Conclusion? Inform yourself (especially if you claim to be a scientist!), and maybe you’ll end up becoming a vegan too!

In the same spirit:

So, I’m just gonna leave this link here in case you decided you want to learn more; you’ll see links to some of the movies I referenced (and some more here in case you think it’s different in your own country, I know it is an argument I used to have), Vegan Sidekick in case you have very logic arguments against veganism (don’t think they’re original, we’ve heard it all before ;)). I highly recommend Happy Cow to find out nice restaurants (also linked). And of course, you can always reach out to me or any other vegan friend you might have, I’m sure they will be more than happy to help you transition to veganism or answer any questions you might have!

Brand sustainibility check: https://rankabrand.org/home/what-we-do

Some cool vegan youtube channels and blogs if you’re looking for ideas:

https://www.youtube.com/user/hotforfoodblog ❤

https://www.youtube.com/user/rawvegannotgross/videos ❤





http://minimalistbaker.com/ ❤