Going vegan was the most challenging and rewarding decision I have ever made for my health. I can still remember, a couple years ago, being asked “would you ever go vegan?” with my response being, “No way. Never.” Ironically enough, after living a vegetarian lifestyle for a year, I made the decision to do exactly that.
So what changed my mind? A multitude of things. Not only do I feel a plant-based diet is beneficial to one’s health, but it is sustainable for the planet and merciful towards the lives of animals. Being used to a vegetarian lifestyle was definitely helpful in making the transition to going vegan, though it was still not a smooth one.
If you’ve ever examined the ingredients in processed foods, you’ve probably found that they contain either milk, gelatin or eggs. In other words, these foods most certainly cannot be categorized as ‘vegan.’ Finding vegan alternatives that were within my budget was a bit of a fiasco, especially since it meant I had to prepare my food beyond just throwing instant noodles into the microwave on a regular basis.
After six months of being vegan, I can tell you that I still struggle with adjusting to this lifestyle. First of all, I’ve never been a huge fan of cooking for myself. After a long day of work or school I feel tempted to eat something that requires minimal effort to conjure, before lounging on the Netflix couch. Instead, I’ve developed a recipe book that includes super lazy recipes such as avocado toast and green tea smoothies. In that respect, if you ever find an Instagram photo of my own gorgeous-looking homemade vegan dish, know that I’m incredibly proud of it.
Being a vegan doesn’t mean that I’ll try to crush your soul for choosing to eat differently.
Additionally, though I rarely crave meat, I do often crave eggs in the morning, or cheese on my pizza, and while at one point I was extremely restrictive of these foods, I now allow myself to eat them once in a while. I figure that if a vegan lifestyle is a choice I want to maintain for an indefinite amount of time, I’ll have to be slightly lenient with my indulgences, according to the situation. For example, if I’m out with a friend and there is nothing vegan on the menu, I’ll allow myself to order the closest thing to it.
Vegan life is sometimes frustrating and inconvenient but it’s rewarding in more ways than one. While I passionately advocate this dietary choice for many reasons, it doesn’t mean that I’ll try to crush your soul for choosing to eat differently than me. The negative stereotypes that surround veganism is something I find quite astonishing, and even unnecessary. Even vigorously passionate vegans have good intentions about the subject, even when it seems they ‘attack’ those that eat meat.
While at Boston Pizza with a friend a while back, veganism surfaced in the conversation, and my friend halted mid chicken-wing, thunderstruck.
“Oh my goodness, I’m sorry. Does this disgust you?” The answer for most vegans, I find, is “no.” A dietary restriction or preference does not change a person; everyone is free to respectfully decide what kind of diet they want to upkeep, and this is not as big of a deal as everyone makes it seem.
So continue eating your bacon and I’ll continue eating large portions of guacamole. Veganism is my lifestyle, my struggle, my reward, and to each their own.