I saw him the other day. I was clubbing with friends for my belated 21st when I was yanked by the arm into the eyes of a familiar face; a face that brought butterfly flutters to my stomach, a feeling I knew so well four years ago.
Guess what? I have been vegan for one month! *applause*
For those of you who don’t know, veganism is an animal-free lifestyle, steering clear of meat, dairy, egg, animal-tested products and animal clothing. Why have I made the switch? Well, I met some inspiring people on a cruise I was recently on and from there decided that I no longer wanted to support any industry or lifestyle at the expense of other beings.
So, as a newbie to the clan, I’m going to share 6 things that I wish I knew about veganism long ago!
Substitute, don’t eliminate. This tip applies to those who don’t often think before they eat (chocoholics – I hear ya). Don’t know how you’d live without chicken nuggets, bacon, cakes, or cheese? You can still buy all of those things. Unless you’re eating a strictly wholefood diet, you can find cruelty-free alternatives to all of your favourite junk *squeal*. Over time, however, it’s best to weed out processed foods and nurture your body with the nutrients it needs to look after you.
You will receive scrutiny at some stage. In our modern form (dating back 200,000 years), humans have always been carnivores. Hence, for some people, the idea of an animal-free diet contradicts our instincts and the ‘way of life’. I try not to impose my views on others, so an effective reply for me is to acknowledge that unlike other species, humankind is intelligent enough to make choices for itself. I tell them that although we may differ in opinion, I’m going to be the best person I can for both myself and the world I share.
You don’t have to know all the answers straight away…or ever. I’ve been asked so many bizarre questions, like: ‘So, are you against toad-culling?’ ‘Should farmers not be allowed to drink from their own cows?’ And my favourite: ‘So, what can you eat?’
Initially, I felt obliged to respond thoughtfully whilst squirming under pressure. I’ve now realised that I don’t have to answer to anybody else, nor is there always going to be an easy or correct reply.
You need to find your motivation. If you don’t know why you’re doing it, the chances are it won’t stick. It’s so easy to sneak in that party pie that Aunt May made for your birthday party, especially at the sight of everyone else helping themselves. Granted, you may slip into those cravings from time to time, which is why you need a trigger that will remind you of why you were inspired by veganism in the first place.
Avocados will become your life. My bloody goodness, what doesn’t avo’ taste delectable with? Be warned, however, they’re pricey! My latest phase is avocado, tomato, pepper and garlic powder on toast. Drooool.
Not all vegans are the same, neither is what they eat. One thing I was guilty of before becoming vegan was assuming that all vegans were hippie-like, strictly wholefood, opinion-pushers. In reality, though, some vegans eat healthy and some eat poorly; some vegans are private whilst others are vocal advocates. We shouldn’t stereotype anybody based on what they do or do not eat.