This past summer, I chose to become fully vegan. This decision completely changed my life. It has taught me determination, self-advocacy, and sympathy. I am much more aware of my impact on the world, and I am now working my way to minimalism. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been vegan for six whole months! Now that I have half a year of experience, I wanted to share my knowledge with you. Here are the biggest lessons I have learned from being vegan.
You’ll make mistakes, and that’s okay. There are an unbelievable amount of everyday items that contain animal products. It will be hard to avoid these items, especially in the beginning if you aren’t aware of the ingredients. (A post about ten things that are surprisingly NOT vegan will be coming soon!) Veganism is about being compassionate and minimizing your impact on the animals, not perfection. The most important thing is that you make an effort, not that you’re perfect. Mistakes are learning opportunities. Don’t be too hard on yourself!
It gets easier. Going vegan can be extremely intimidating in the beginning. Confidence is key. It may feel restrictive at first, especially if you’re used to going out to restaurants with primarily meat dishes or if you love the taste of animal products. There are plenty of replacements for animal products that can help you transition, but these foods are highly processed (which is okay, on occasion). I’ve found that I’ve acquired a taste for many foods that I never liked before I went vegan, such as pears, grapefruits, asparagus, arugula, and much more. My expanded palette allows me to eat much fewer processed foods while still getting all the nutrients I need and having variety in my diet. Additionally, determining what is or isn’t vegan becomes easier with time. It was hard for me in the beginning having to carefully read the ingredients list on every food item and research if it was vegan. Over time, I’ve learned to easily tell if something has animal products in it. It has become so ingrained in my mind that I no longer have to even think about it — it’s second nature.
Changing others takes time. If you’re vegan, chances are that you want others to be vegan, too. I know how you feel — nearly every vegan does. I’ve tried to change my entire family’s habits, and boy was I determined. I did hours of research and gave a PowerPoint presentation to my parents, but to no avail. They said that my “presentation was great” and that they “would try to change,” but, their dinners that night were filled with animal products. I don’t blame them — I admit I was a little harsh and aggressive. What I’ve come to realize is that force is not effective. In fact, frustration and anger only contribute to the negative stereotypes of vegans. Setting a good example is the best way to create social change. I finally stopped trying to force others to go vegan, and only then did people follow my advice. Countless family members, friends, and friends of friends bombarded me with questions about how to go vegan. Just set the example that you want the world to follow, and you will inspire others.
You really make a difference. You may think that you don’t have an impact on the world in your everyday life, but you really do. It’s easy to talk yourself out of change by telling yourself, “I’m just one person, so I won’t make a difference.” With every pair of shoes you buy and every meal you eat, you can support the leather, meat, egg, and dairy industries, or you can support the cotton, tofu, rice, and bean industries. You have the choice to help stop the abuse of animals with every choice you make. As I’ve already mentioned, social change takes time, but you must have faith that it will happen. One person can inspire others to go vegan, who inspire others to go vegan, and so on. You can help change the world every day.
What will you do to make a difference?
Thanks for reading!