In exactly one minute from posting this blog post, Veganuary will be officially over.
As I reflect on the past four weeks, I cannot help but think back to the person I was and the person I long to continue being now this short journey of discovery if over.
The last four weeks have taught me many things, but I’m going to keep it short and give me my top 10 lessons from the past 4 weeks.
- It’s not JUST about the animals– Whilst the vegan lifestyle is predominantly about the ethics of killing other sentient beings, I have discovered so many other plant -tastic reasons for being vegan. Such posts.as being healthy (see point 2), environmental reasons and humanitarian ones as well. All of which I’ll cover in more detail in future blogs.
- Veganism is NOT primarily a “DIET”– You can say your on a “plant-based” diet. Yes veganism has been proven to lower cholesterol, control diabetes (read The China Study for more information), but it was never really meant as a faddy diet, which I fear it may begin to become, if celebrities jump on the “vegan fitness bandwagon” in a way that makes people think they are following The Atkins diet or The Raw food Diet. I’m not saying it’s NOT a diet I’m just saying the primary focus was not first and foremost fitness and health. Although, the benefits of veganism for both is well advertised.
- Take it one day at a time – Actually this was said to me after week 2 my a fellow vegan blogger Junie Haloway.*Check out her blog here*. She told me to… ” Don’t look towards tomorrow… just this moment right now. Make your food choices in the moment and before you know it’s been a year.” -Junie Haloway. And you know what, she’s right. In my life filled with things (I try not to used the “Busy” word anymore), it is so easy to get caught up in what you doing, where your going next. For me planning meals to an extent simply works for me. However, sometimes grabbing some ingredients out the fridge and running with it works well too and often made for the better meal choices.
- Don’t be afraid of what your family and friends might think – To be honest my family and friends are fairly laid back. I became vegetarian at 11 and I guess you could say, when I am determined to do or try something, how other people perceive me or what I’m doing don’t even enter my mind. Luckily, for me I didn’t even have to explain the whole process or have long drawn out arguments about “lack of nutrients” and various other common misguided conceptions about veganism. I am aware it may not ben the same for everyone. Only advice I can give is talk with kindness. Getting irate when discussing veganism and why you wish to try it, will only give people ammunition, because they then think you’re easily wound -up. They only issue I found was the usual people trying to wind me up or the constant “what you eat?” , “How can you survive?” *que eye rolling from myself*questions. Top tip. DO YOUR RESEARCH. if you have researched and have answers to the common questions people may take your lifestyle choices more seriously.But DON’T PREACH.
- Make vegan friends (or at least join a cyber group) – Whenever I felt like someone wasn’t “getting me”. I’d slip onto Instagram or Facebook and just pursue the groups there. I didn’t always comment but reading about other people’s journeys, whether they been vegan 3 years or 3 minutes, really helped
- Actions speak louder than words – I did veganuary very quietly. Apart form positing regularly on Instagram and the 3 blog posts written, I’ve hardly bought up veganism. However, my cousin bought me tickets to Veganlifemag_live for Christmas (sensing my already growing interest) and on the back of that has gone vegetarian. My boyfriend has also gone vegetarian vowing “…to only eat meat he kills himself.” Considering his not actually gone hunting in the 2 1/2 years I’ve known him, I’m thinking the chances of him eating another animal is very very slim. Both have done it off their owns backs, I haven’t really talked about veganism or veganuary (only when asked). So, sometimes people see something in you and change because they want whatever you’ve got…In this case. HAPPINESS AND PEACE. Yes, I mean peace. There is something exhilarating and peaceful about knowing I’m limiting my contribution to many of the ethical and humanitarian issue we as a society have created unnecessarily.
- Experiment with new produce – In the 4 weeks I tried vegan I failed to cook with tofu! Huh? How? I hear you ask? Truth is, I think I was just a little concerned about how to cook with it. With the numerous amounts of resources out there, I really could have just googled recipes. Truth was at time I became lazy vegan. Also, tempeh and seitan. I’m yet to discover what they are and how to use it. Whether I stay vegan or not they sound interesting.
- Don’t beat yourself up about “slip ups” – Need I remind you of Veganuary Week One. It’s what I dub #piggate. Vegetarian for 16 years and I couldn’t tell the difference between a veggie sausage and a pork one. Ammunition for the animal eaters to point out my flaws (not that anyone did thank goodness! ) and a good way for me to point out the exact reason why as a vegetarian, I couldn’t fathom why people still ate animals when the “mock meats” taste the same. I also ate a doughnut (definitely not a vegan one), when I was waiting for dinner and hadn’t been shopping for animal friendly snacks. It happens to all vegans at some point and maybe a number of times. It’s not about perfection.
- Don’t be “stuck up” – One thing I noticed about some ‘ancient’ vegans is their lack of tolerance for any adaptation in the beginning. Everyone beginning Veganuary, likely ate some form of animal products (If not all of them) before #tryingvegan. I luckily, didn’t experience this personally, but read a few comments on some groups that just made me think wow! People are not going to stick at something, if they feel people are going to attack them for not “sticking to it” to the letter. Abused and shaming is one sure-fire way to reinforce the “crazy vegan” outlook. Likewise, preaching at your animal eating friends and family members because you’ve ‘opened your eyes’ is not helpful to the cause either (see Point 6).
- Intention NOT perfection – I’ve seen loads of amazing quotes floating around during this journey. But my favourite thus far is this… “Veganism is about intention not perfection.” Nobodies perfect and anyone who pretends to be is lying to themselves more than anything.
So What’s Next?
I suppose the biggest question is now that Veganuary is officially over, Will I be sticking at veganism?, or am I hop footing it back to a life of animal made brie, camembert and Stilton? (Cheese-isms because these where my hardest products to forgo).
Short answer is YES. Last year, I gave up milk for health reasons and I think even then Veganism was in the back of my mind. Everywhere I went I seemed to end up sat near vegans. On a train last year to the Alzheimer’s show, in a restaurant in London after a pottery class, tickets to Veganlifemag_Live festival in January with my cousin. All the signs seemed to be there. Call it fate, God or even coincidence, it just made sense.
The last month has been filled with learning (lots of books to read and many documentaries watched), an overwhelming sense of compassion not just for animals, but for humanity too and my body feeling refreshed and renewed. Like it’s finally found what it needed to keep itself going.
So, I guess I can say I am vegan! For many many different reasons and I couldn’t imagine being any other way now. Some people may never accept me for that or understand my reasons. But that’s okay. This is my life journey and I’m here to live it for ME. For the animals,for my health, for my environment and for my planet. Some may say, we cannot save the world. Yes this may be true, but someone has to try to slow down the damage we do to it, ourselves and future generations.
I have been vegan 1 month now, but I am by no means going to always get this right. I’ll slip up, I’ll likely make mistakes when picking foods for a long while. I may crave dairy products. I may even fall of the vegan wagon entirely and that’s okay. This is me. Living the best I can, not trying to reach an imperfect perfection, but living day by day, moment by moment. Being the changes I wish to see in the world. Me, living – not by perfection but WITH INTENTION.