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Going Vegan


Going vegan was a significant change in my life. I ate animal products every single day, trying to ignore the story behind every meal, until the guilt became too strong and I knew it was time for me to act on what I believe in. It took me a couple months to make the full transition, stopping one product at a time, which I think made it healthier for my mind and easier than completely changing from one day to the next. I want to share my journey and this transition, with the negatives and positives that came with it.




1.       Judgement

I couldn’t write about going vegan without mentioning the reaction of the people around me. I received all sorts of reactions; some found it and still find it amazing, supporting me and always making sure I can have something decent to eat when we go out or when they invite me over for a meal. A few had a more passive reaction, not really understanding what I was doing and why, even after explaining it to them, but letting me be nonetheless. And others had a very negative and aggressive reaction to it.
Now I’m not usually someone who flat out admits that I’m vegan unless there is a need for it (for example if I’m eating with someone, the fact that I am vegan will most certainly come up), but some still seem to think that I find myself superior and that I am looking down on them with judgement. I know that vegans are portrayed negatively by the media and the world in general, but I would’ve thought that the people who know me would not be so quick to think that being vegan means you automatically are an asshole. Saying I don’t want to eat certain foods or wear certain clothes can bring such hate in some people. I’ve had friends say to me that what I’m doing is stupid since “you’re not gonna change the world you know”, that I’m going to die, insisting on the fact that what I am doing is unnatural and dangerous. It’s funny though how the people who say these things are the ones who have never looked at the label of their food or the ingredients in them, compared to me who was done thorough research.

2.       “When are you stopping this nonsense?”

Many see veganism as a phase or a diet that will soon stop. Well, sorry to disappoint, but not for me. Oddly enough I have had responses such as “oh you’re vegan, for how long?” which to me was something difficult to answer. When you start out you don’t think of an end date, but you also can’t imagine being vegan for the rest of your life, it just seems like such a long time! The question has a definite answer now: there is no end date. I simply love it too much and I can never see myself stop advocating for love, compassion and equality. But then again, that causes problems for the people around me. They don’t forget to remind you that being vegan is a bit of an inconvenience: they often can’t eat at their favourite restaurants with me, and we can’t go to the same places we used to.
Eating differently is something that can bother people as well, and it sometimes bothers me too, but I guess that’s how it is and we just need to get used to it.

3.       Living with non-vegans

I am the only vegan in my family and it can be challenging. Being confronted every day with animal products that they call food, but that are to me the outcome of terrible suffering, is hard. Having to share my table with my loved ones eating what to me is a caring and amazing animal, is heart-breaking. I walk in on my parents or siblings preparing it, then I have to smell it being cooked, and finally see it being eaten. It’s no fun and it hurts that they don’t care about something that it so important to me. I understand though, I mean I still ate all of it not too long ago and I always try to remember that to avoid commenting on their life. What really bothers me ,however, is having my family or my friends ask me what they should eat, chicken or beef? “Should I add an egg or some cheese?” I don’t think they realise what they are asking me, because they don’t understand. Answering “neither” only makes them angry, but asking me to make a choice when I changed my whole life to avoid making it, is insensitive.  

4.       Not being too hard on yourself

I’ve had this problem. When I decided to go fully vegan I was very hard on myself if I realised that I had made a mistake: ordering something in a restaurant and then realising it was made with eggs, or that there was milk in a product I bought and I forgot to check the ingredients. This has happened a couple times and it was very difficult for me to let go and move on at the beginning, feeling like I was a ‘bad’ vegan and not a ‘real’ one because I had made a mistake. In my opinion, that’s a flawed way of thinking and it is unhealthy. The best thing I can do is move on, and simply be more careful next time. At the beginning, it’s something so new to us that we are bound to make mistakes, especially when we are away from home or in a foreign country and that we’re not always comfortable in asking the details of the menu. I think we are also scared of other people judging us for that mistake, but we probably see the situation as being worse than it actually is. 

5.       Discovering new foods

I am someone who honestly ate pretty much always the same thing, especially as a university student, not really knowing how to cook. I stuck to the foods I knew best (pasta, basically), never being very adventurous and never wanting to try something that I had eaten years before and had the memory of disliking. But being vegan made me explore so many different foods that I had never tried before, or that I even didn’t like. Before I could not bear the sight of lentils, beans, hummus and quite a few vegetables, but now I eat all of them, hummus being something I eat practically on a daily basis. Our tastes change when we want them to and when we put our mind to it. Many of my friends say they could never be vegan because they don’t like this and that so it wouldn’t work, but if you have the motivation to do it, you can do it easily. Eating a big variety of foods makes your diet healthier and much more enjoyable too!

Overall being vegan is something that I absolutely love, and that I never want to change. It makes me feel good physically and mentally, and has a positive impact on the world. Nowadays so many restaurants and supermarkets are selling vegan food, which makes it so much easier! The criticism it receives can make you feel alone; however, now there is a large community of vegans on social media, making it easier to find people we can relate to.

I wish you the best if you are starting your journey to veganism, and congrats for you who are already vegan!

Eleonore

Comments

  1. I’m glad to see that you started blogging and that your first post is about being vegan.

    Like you, I think almost all of us vegans have had the kinds of judgments and difficulties eating with friends and family when we are the only ones in a given group to have outgrown our societal habits into veganism.

    When I’m confronted with the idea that it’s a diet or a fad that will pass, I explain that it can have started as such for many, but that it’s actually a lifestyle and a philosophy of life. It’s a whole image we have and there are so many benefits from health, to environment and it’s far more eco-friendly than an omni way of eating.

    Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, you are very right that we now have so many options in stores and restaurants. Your friends and family must respect your choices, even if they don’t understand. I have had my share of difficulties and had to eat alone for many years before we could come to some kind of agreement. I hope you find a way to cohabitate and when you have your own place, you can make your own rules! (it’s what we did here, actually).
    It’s so important that you learned not to be so hard on yourself, eventually, as being vegan isn’t about perfection in an imperfect world: it’s doing our best in the circumstances around us.

    I’m sure we’ll have many discussions on this topic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for this! I completely agree with what you say. It may take bit of time but eventually the people around us get used to us and we can all live in harmony haha.
      And yes it's so much more than just a diet! It's a whole lifestyle.

      I'm sure we will haha

      Delete
  2. So glad for you and do not take notice of people who are negative.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yes I think the best thing we can do is just try and ignore the negativity and focus on the positive!

      Delete

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