A few of the hardest things about going vegan is the social aspect and feeling judged by society and almost all of your closest people. When I first went vegan, I was the first person I had ever known to even be a vegan. It was completely foreign to my family and friends. I had people tell me I wouldn’t stick with it and It would be shortly lived, or sometimes people wouldn’t take me seriously and would blow it off thinking its okay to just try a piece of meat because “its only one bite, it won’t kill you.” What they didn’t understand was that it wasn’t just a fad or a diet for me, it was and still is a passion. It’s who I am at the core and aligns with all of my life values. So, how did I overcome it?
With love and compassion. When people don’t understand something or they are quick to judge, it’s important not to get defensive. That just turns people off from wanting to listen to you and as an activist that is not the most efficient way of getting your point across. The reason why they can’t relate is because they aren’t educated, just like I wasn’t educated before I went vegan, just like most of the world isn’t and that is not a fair reason to blame them for their reactions. I tried my best to help my family and friends understand the why’s in a loving manner, to educate them and explain the many many benefits of a vegan life style. And for the doubters who thought I wouldn’t stick with it, I was determined to prove them wrong because I wanted them to understand that this is who I am, this is a part of me now & there is no turning back. That girl who could once put back a 10oz steak was no longer with me and they were just going to have to accept it.
So, was it hard? At times, yes. I think the most frustrating thing was feeling like an outsider. Jokes were thrown my way left and right and nobody took me seriously. I would usually laugh along and try not to let it get to me, but at times it did. It can be really really tough as a vegan if you don’t have a good support system. People who push you, motivate you, understand you and support you no matter what. In the beginning, that was the biggest struggle of all. It wasn’t waking up in the morning and not being able to eat my usual veggie omelette, or eating a cheesy greasy pizza, or enjoying a delicious salmon dinner…that was actually the easy part believe it or not. Which brings me to motivation.
The key to living a sustainable vegan life style is finding what motivates you. Why are you doing it? What brought you to this place of feeling so strongly about going vegan? Is it for the animals, and seeing how horribly they are treated? Is it for the planet, and seeing the major effects that factory farming is having on the environment? Is it for your health, and feeling the best you have ever felt? Whatever it may be, define it and hold on to it, tightly. Keep reminding yourself every day the why’s, why eating meat and cheese and dairy just isn’t worth it- think of the bigger picture, watch documentaries, and never stop educating yourself.
For me, this was the easiest part about going vegan. I honestly cut all animal products out of my life over night. I was sure it was going to be hard, that I’d miss my eggs every morning. But to be honest, it was quite the opposite! At first I was doing it for health reasons, and I was determined to feel better in my own body. After two to three weeks went by, I felt amazing! So much more full of energy, lighter, clear minded, and so much more vibrant. After knowing I could feel so good, I had no desire of turning back. On top of that I started becoming more educated on the topic, watching documentaries like forks over knives, what the health, cowspiracy, dominion, earthlings, etc. and I was mind blown. Everything just became so clear to me and being anything but vegan just didn’t make any sense, it wasn’t an option for me anymore. I became so passionate about fighting for our environment and the animals that missing out on the taste of animal products seemed like such a little issue, it became irrelevant. Not to mention that vegan food tastes DELICIOUS.
Seriously though, nature has provided us with so many amazing foods- the options are endless. I was so fascinated by all of the different varieties of food out there, it was like learning a foreign language but getting to eat it too ;) I think I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but going plant based took it to a whole new level. Since its harder to eat out as a vegan, you do have to fend for yourself more often, but that’s part of the fun! Experimenting in the kitchen, trying new recipes and all of these different fruits and veggies you have never even heard of. It was a whole new world of food and instead of being intimidated by it and easily backing out, I took on the challenge and turned it into an adventure! The lives of the animals and our planet depended on it.
Almost two years later and I have been so blessed with finding myself apart of an incredible vegan community here in Boise. It’s been so cool to see the growth and progress happening here and I truly believe this is what our future holds. Maybe not a completely vegan world, but eating more plant-based then ever. And let me tell you, the social aspect gets easier and easier. With education, love and compassion people start to understand where you come from, accept it, and even lean more towards living a plant-based life style. My mom even made a mostly vegan thanksgiving this past year…a HUGE step in the right direction but also just a great feeling knowing that your family supports you in all of this. Having that kind of impact on people’s lives is an amazing feeling, and I hope to impact more people every day.