I readily admit I am a sucker for documentaries. Especially food documentaries. In fact, it was a documentary that pushed me to become vegetarian in 2013. Now, two and a half years later, a documentary is again pushing me to make a big lifestyle change, this time to veganism.
I’ve debated going vegan almost since I became veggie, but I’ve always managed to talk my way out of it. Recently, a friend recommended I watch “Cowspiracy,” and it gave me the kick I needed to go vegan.
I did a 30-day vegan challenge. My intention was to stay vegan, but I used the 30 days to make the transition, to be forgiving if and when I mess up and to figure it out. I know there will be challenges (including cooking for my gluten-free, meat-loving husband who is supportive of my decision) but it is time to face them.
I journaled throughout the entire process and had some interesting revelations.
The first few days, food was all I could think about. What am I going to eat now? And as soon as I’d finished eating, what will I eat next? I seemed to have the word “vegan” on a continual brain loop—it was always there.
Coming from a vegetarian diet definitely makes this a lot easier than if I had been eating meat, since I already have a good arsenal of favorite meatless recipes. What I’m doing now is mostly tweaking, taking out the butter or yogurt and finding substitutions.
That being said, I know I’m still going to struggle. But that’s okay. Being vegan isn’t about being perfect, it’s about following a lifestyle that aligns with your ethical center.
One thing I am certain I am going to struggle with is explaining my choices to others, especially my family. I know I have a tendency to apologize for unnecessary things. Hello, I was raised in Minnesota, it’s what we do! That can make for some awkward social situations when I feel the need to apologize for any inconvenience I perceive, whether or not they are real.
I’ve managed to do really well with one exception: bread. As I’ve already noted, my husband is celiac so we’re already limited on the breads we can buy. I was in the middle of making toast one day when I thought I’d check the label, just in case. Sure enough: contains egg.
I sucked it up and ate my avocado toast anyway but knew it might be my last one for a while. I still haven’t managed to find a gluten-free vegan loaf of bread yet but I’m on the hunt. And if worse comes to worse, I’m going to start making my own.
My husband and I threw a Halloween party, complete with a table full of food. I made chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, both vegan, plus a vegan chili cheese dip so good I’m still thinking about it. We had veggies and hummus but there was also ranch dip. I’m a sucker for ranch and could see myself eating it despite my new veganism. But refraining was much less difficult than I thought. I filled my plate with vegan options and walked away. With that simple action, I removed myself from temptation. Why didn’t I think of that before?!
Leftover Halloween candy was piled high in a bowl on our kitchen table. All of it was made with milk chocolate and the bowl was bound to be there for weeks if not months, there was so much candy. In a moment of genius, I packed the whole bowl up and brought it to work. I left it in a common area but also put a few pieces in my office for visitors. Surprisingly, I haven’t touched it, not even once.
At the start of this challenge, I thought I would be tempted. But without making a conscious effort, my mind made a clear decision: I don’t eat that. If I see something on the ingredient list that’s an animal product, I put it down and move on. It’s kind of like a pair of running shoes you want but don’t fit – they might be nice but they’re not for you so put them down and go find yours.
I know my toughest times lie ahead: hello Thanksgiving and Christmas family potlucks. But there are so many resources out there that it’s easier than ever to live a vegan lifestyle.