I was recently approached by a gym friend about the fact that I’m vegan. He had no idea that I was until he saw my Instagram page (which makes sense since we usually just have the cordial, ‘Hey! How’s it going?’ chat). As we were talking, he kept mentioning how hard it must be to be vegan and I kept reassuring him that it eventually became my new normal and it’s really not that difficult. But the conversation got me thinking, why does it seem so hard to be vegan?
Like most changes we make, it may seem daunting when you first consider going vegan. If you’re like me, then you grew up eating meat, dairy, and eggs. What the hell are you going to eat if you aren’t going to eat those things? It took me an entire year of being flexible with my diet and indulging in meat and dairy (mostly dairy) before I felt confident enough to eliminate animal products completely. The key for me was actually not placing that ‘vegan’ label on myself until I felt completely ready. And even still, I don’t feel guilty about a tiny bit of dairy creeping into my meal if Kyle and I choose to eat dinner anywhere but at home.
Another thing that helped to make the change easier was having a purpose beyond just losing weight. Yes, the weight loss was an amazing bonus, but I was truly focused on regaining my health. I mean, at 24 years old my doctor was talking to me about having high blood pressure. She even reassured me that it was to be expected since I have a family history of high blood pressure. That’s not normal for any healthy 24 year old. My blood pressure is now 108/73 in case you’re wondering. But I digress. If you’re truly interested in eating a plant based diet, you need to have a purpose that is meaningful to you for making such a dramatic shift.
For me it was my health. I witnessed my Papa suffer for the last few years of his life with poor health. I also saw how that impacted our entire family and how it still does to this day, 10 years after his passing. I just do not want to ever have to endure the doctors visits, treatments, and surgeries that he went through.
The three most common reasons people begin a plant based journey are: health, environment and ethics. There are numerous documentaries widely available that address all three of these reasons for switching to a plant based diet. Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, and Earthlings are just a few I would recommend.
So back to my original question, why does it seem so difficult to go vegan? I honestly think that it’s the fact that you are going to do something so different from what you grew up doing and likely so different from what your friends and family are currently doing that it feels impossible. But I promise, it’s not.
Have the courage to be different, give yourself some room for trial and error, and be open minded about how eating a plant based diet can improve the quality of your life. 🌱