These are the Stories of Vegan Evolution, stories from vegans around the world sharing their personal journey into veganism. Daria Zeoli answers the ever important question, why vegan?

It’s possible to change. I know it is. Two and a half years ago, I did.

I can only tell you that I spent most of my life disconnected. I was a burger queen. I would inhale a nine piece chicken nugget meal from any fast food restaurant (although I had my favorites). I didn’t think about where my leather sneakers came from and I had no interest in learning how to cook.

Sometimes the old adage is true: with age comes wisdom. As I approached thirty, I started to want to get my act together. It started with getting out of debt, and moved towards being more “green”.

One afternoon in the bookstore, I started to skim Skinny Bitch. I wasn’t hearing everything for the first time; I had seen Super Size Me, had read Fast Food Nation. For some reason, though, this little tome got to me. I gave up meat and dairy on the spot.

Not unlike many of you, I suppose, I come from a family with its share of health issues: diabetes, cancer, heart disease… the usual. I stopped eating land animals because I wanted to prevent these health issues from getting me like they got my grandparents.

But as I started to read up on things, something clicked. Sure, it made sense from a health standpoint. But it also made sense environmentally. And, of course, it made sense ethically. Within a few months, I had given up seafood and eggs. I’m afraid it took me almost a year and a half to give up that addictive poison, cheese, but I have been vegan since Thanksgiving 2009 and I haven’t looked back. I chose that day because I am thankful to have had my eyes open. Every year on my veganniversary, I will give thanks for the opportunity to do as little harm as possible to the world around me.

I have evolved from a card-carrying, meat-eating fast food junkie to a vegan who isn’t afraid to cook and who is still learning to have the same compassion for people that she has for animals. I count among my vegan heroes those who inspire, be it through their podcasts or through their farm sanctuaries. I feel like, now that my eyes are open, I hardly recognize the old me. I am excited to share facts with the omnivores around me. I have lent vegan cookbooks, books and films to others in the hopes of opening their eyes. I have cried when I was mocked and I’ve smiled when people have taken something from my example.

As vegans, I believe we are all constantly evolving. I recently heard someone say that we are at the tipping point when it comes to the animal rights movement, and as I look at how much information, food, and support is around us, I feel heartened that we’re about to tip over for the better.