Meet Alejandro Silva (@silvaaesthetics), a 16-year-old vegan from Bucaramanga, Colombia, who turned to plants initially to help cure his acne, and has found a life-changing conscious path as a by-product. With a flair for bodybuilding, martial arts, and photography, Alejandro is on a mission to help as many people as he can achieve their best self.
TAW (The Anicca Way). When did you adopt a vegan diet and how was your transition from meat to plants?
Alejandro: My transition started slow: first I left cow-meat behind, then I left pork and all those super processed animal products such as sausages and canned products, and lastly I left chicken. By December 1st 2015 I had officially turned vegetarian, around 5 months into vegetarianism I became aware of how cruel the diary industry was as well, and how being vegetarian should only be a stepping stone into veganism because vegetarianism is not sustainable. Thus, I started cutting diary out of my diet, but after two weeks I had a relapse and ate chocolate cake. Then I was vegan since May until the next 'incident'...In June I was visiting Buenos Aires, Argentina, with my family (who are not vegan, except my brother, who wasn't with us), and we went into a restaurant and I order a quinoa burger which on the menu was described as a quinoa patty, tomatoes and lettuce. So I asked the staff if the patty was really just made out of quinoa, asked if the bread had eggs, and following their nods I ordered it. In the last bite a piece of cheese fell to the plate in what seemed like slow motion...I was no longer vegan. Days after that I felt sick and had digestive issues, but ever since I have been completely on a plant based diet and I love it.
TAW: What inspired you to turn vegan?
Alejandro: For months I had followed a YouTuber named Brian Turner; who had been on the anti-acne drug Accutane and following his treatment he turned vegan to maintain clear skin. After doing the same treatment of Accutane three times myself, and dealing with acne since I was nine-years-old experiencing horrible hormonal side-affects from the medication, I was inspired by Brian's videos and decided to go vegetarian and see how my face cleaned up. At the same time I was cutting out animal flesh, I started watching movies like Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives, and some other documentaries that promoted a plant-based diet and then I became truly aware. I became aware that animals do not belong to us and it is not ethically okay or morally acceptable to promote an industry that kills and rapes animals just for our temporary satisfaction, So I made the choice and cut out all animal products from my diet.
TAW: What methods have you used to learn and acquire information about health and a plant based diet?
Alejandro: YouTube was my main source of information; I watched people Like Happy Healthy Vegan, Bite Size Vegan, Brian Turner, Jon Venus, Dr. Michael Greger, Gary Yourofsky and more, and also on websites like nutritionfacts.org and all their documentaries and studies online.
TAW: Talk to us about your training regime since becoming vegan?
Alejandro: My training has gone to a new level in both bodybuilding and martial arts. In bodybuilding I'm still able to gain muscle mass naturally by consuming only plant protein and while training I feel a lot better; my energy levels are higher, therefore I can train more efficiently, and in martial arts I perform faster and my endurance is higher now there are no traces of animal fats blocking my blood flow.
TAW: What did you notice physically about yourself once you switched to veganism?
Alejandro: My acne has been massively impacted, in a positive way! My face has become much smoother and my skin in general has become much softer.
TAW: What about mental changes?
Alejandro: Turning vegan changed my perspective on food completely. In a way I feel very positive about my personal eating changes, knowing that I am not supporting the horrible animals-for-food industry, and that I can promote veganism positively on my social media platforms. But I still don't like waking up every day knowing that billions of animals are going to be tortured and killed just for human consumption.
TAW: Do you take supplements? If so, what do you look for in a supplement?
Alejandro: I occasionally consume a vegan protein powder, nutritional yeast or maybe products like powdered peanut butter (organic). But If were to consume more specific dietary supplements such as B12, pre-workouts or a product like that I would look into transparency and a complete ingredient breakdown to fully know what I put into my body.
TAW: What is it like being vegan in Colombia?
Alejandro: It's great. I think being vegan in the 21st century in general is easy and amazing, because the movement has grown so fast. I cant imagine how it might have been back when there was a lot less information. Here in Bucaramanga we have a few vegan restaurants and shops with great vegan-meat products and very cheap legumes and grains. There are more and more vegan places opening and the first ever vegan festival will be held in Bogota in January. It's amazing to be part of the movement here and watching it grow.
TAW: You are passionate about social media, what do you hope to achieve with this and what message do you hope to spread?
Alejandro: My goal is to promote veganism, a healthy lifestyle, mindfulness and awareness, but truly I only have one end goal: to help as many people as I can reach their best self, even If I can just make someone’s day a pinch better by sharing my story, or through inspiration or entertainment. I want to show my journey to becoming my best self spiritually, mentally and physically so others can take from my experience and achieve their best self themselves. All of us have so much potential to better ourselves but most of us don't tap into that. I'm happy spreading a positive message and helping people by leading by example and sharing my advice, knowledge or experience to others who might need it.
TAW: How does the next five years look for you?
Alejandro: To continue spreading my message, eventually I must go to a bigger platform such as YouTube, so Currently I'm saving up for a new camera, then for the next years I will keep focusing on growing my social media platforms so I can reach and help as much people as I can.
TAW: Who are some vegan identities motivate you or you look up to?
Gary Yourofsky, Brian Turner, Anita Krajnc, Emily Moran Barwick, Dr.Michael Greger, Tess Begg, and Jon Venus are the main ones; I really Recommend you check them out!
Follow Alejandro Silva on Instagram: @silvaaesthetics