Happy Wednesday everyone! How are you this week? Today I have another post about going vegan for you and how presuming that a label has one meaning for everyone can be hugely detrimental, so hopefully even if you’re not thinking of going vegan, this will give you some food for thought.
When I started thinking about going vegan I was worried that it would be too big a commitment and how it would effect my life. I have incredibly inspiring amazing friends who commit their entire life to being a vegan, and as much as I completely admire them for that, I wasn’t sure that THAT level was for me. I spent a long time worried that going vegan would change my whole life in a way I wasn’t ready for. Did ‘going vegan mean I would have to throw away my favourite shoes and hand bag? Would it change other peoples view on me? What about dating – would I now have to only date vegans, because they would be the only ones who understood? And then I realised that I wasn’t interested in becoming a label, and I hadn’t begun to think about things like vegan cosmetics or materials, because for now, those things were not on my radar. Primarily I was interested in changing my diet, to a plant based, healthier regime that, if it wasn’t entirely vegan, definitely resembled it. I wasn’t going to let a label define me, but instead set my own definition, and that in turn made the changes I wanted to make, so much easier to do.
For one month I ate strictly vegan. No slip ups, no exceptions. At the end of the month I felt great. I’d lost weight and I had more energy than I had had in months. I knew that a vegan based diet was for me. However, I wasn’t sure how strict I wanted to be with this. I love eating out, and not a single other person in my family is even a vegetarian, let alone a vegan. Did I want to start enforcing my lifestyle choices on others? Did I want to be the only person at the table not having a slice of cake? In truth? The answer is no I didn’t. So I set some rules of my own:
- I would eat entirely vegan at home
- I would eat vegan when I was out as much as possible
- If the cake looks truly worth it I’m going to have a slice
- I never want my lifestyle choices to cause anyone any bother
What do these rules mean? They mean, at home I live by a plant based diet, I don’t buy meat or dairy products, or anything that has any animal produce in it. When I go out, I scour the menu for anything that fits the same diet I live by at home. Sometimes that means ordering several sides, sometimes you strike lucky with a specific ‘vegan option.’ I don’t ask to see a list of ingredients, but I do ask them to adapt things if it is easy enough (eg. pizza without cheese). I love eating out, the whole idea is that it should be an enjoyable experience, and for me, that means not making anything too difficult for myself or for the restaurant. I don’t order cake when I am out very often. Lets face it, cake from chain coffee shops isn’t that good anyway, and unless I’m in a super nice independent cafe, where I know the cake hasn’t been ordered in I just don’t think it is worth it. But my boss at work is an incredible baker, and for everyone’s birthday he makes us a cake. A cake I know will be delicious, and is only really once a month, so yes, I will have a slice.
And as for not wanting to cause any bother, here is my thinking…
Most of the time I tell people I am a vegan, because for me, being a vegan is actually really easy. Cook me a plate of veg and I will be happy. But would my nan cook me a plate of veg and feel like she had given me a meal? No she wouldn’t. She’d want an extensive list of things I do and don’t eat, and she’d spend hours trying to find something elaborate and impressive to cook me, and would still fret that it wasn’t a ‘real dinner.’ Veganism is getting more and more widely acknowledged by people, it’s even, thankfully, understood by a growing amount of people. But still, sometimes it is easier to just say you’re a vegetarian, especially if your nan is nearing her 90’s.
Maybe then, this makes me a fraud? And I do worry about this. For a start I only eat a vegan diet, I don’t live a vegan lifestyle. I am still ignorant as to what is in my make up draw, and my favourite shoes are made of leather. This isn’t something I’m proud of, and it is something that in the coming years I do want to change but for now, I can’t claim to truly be a vegan in the purest sense of the word. As for the rules of my vegan diet? Well I am getting stricter in that, the more I find my feet with it, and the more confidence I have in explaining to other people what veganism is, and why I do it, but for now I still have the occasional slip up where I will be halfway through eating something only to read the ingreedients to find milk or egg hiding in there.
I don’t live vegan, and I’m not perfect in my vegan diet. But this doesn’t make me a fraud. I made my own rules and I live by them. Sometimes giving something a label can be detrimental, because while it can help identify something, as with all the choices we have to make in life, there is no one size fits all.
For me, going vegan meant, doing the best I could for my diet and the planet around me, but also accepting that I am human, and that I still want to live my life in a way that I enjoyed. One day that may mean living a vegan life in all areas, and being as amazing and inspiring as my friends are, but for now I am doing my best with good intentions.
So if you are thinking of going vegan, but worried about what this really means, take a step back, and ask yourself, why you want to go vegan, and also how you think going vegan will change your life, in both positive and negative ways. Once you’ve done that you’ll soon be able to find your own rules. And remember there is nothing fraudulent in being honest, but also that just cutting down your intake of meat or animal produce by 50% is making a difference.
Live life & be honest about making your own rules x