In the next few days thousands of people, including myself, will be giving veganism a try. Since 2014, Veganuary has been encouraging anyone and everyone to give the vegan diet and lifestyle a go for just 31 days. Even in these days of vegan convenience foods and easy internet access, the thought of adopting a vegan diet can still seem intimidating, so having a group to hold your hand through these first few steps can make things so much easier.
I have been trying to go vegan for some months now. I became a lacto-ovo vegetarian back in my early years of secondary school, some 20+ years ago. I took a step backward and became pescatarian for a new years, but I am happy to report that I have been veggie again for the past three months. My main reason for going vegan is for the animals; I have no faith in our current system of agriculture to provide the animals in their ‘care’ with a ‘good life’. On top of that there is simply no way to kill someone who doesn’t want to die. It doesn’t matter what kind of life an animal has led; once they are on their way to the slaughterhouse, everything is the same.
So why have I not been successful in my attempts to be vegan so far?
- The feeling of “not good enough”: I have been an animal activist for a good few years now, and my stance is always to meet people where they are, but there are always people out there to point out where you are failing, and why you aren’t good enough. More vegan than you. Like it is some sort of competition or fashion trend. I let this get to me far too much. Yes, I work with animal remains and yes, I want to end animal cruelty. They two are not mutually exclusive.
- Emotional eating: In spite of all of the progress I have made in improving my mental health since September, I still rely too much on food to make me feel better in the short-term. Mostly chocolate, but also Quorn sausages (which aren’t vegan yet). I always feel rotten afterwards, but I never seem to learn my lesson.
I am feeling a bit more confident in my ability this time around. So why will I be successful this time?
- Support from the Veganuary community: Their website, Facebook community, and their new book How To Go Vegan, all provide the right kind of support. The people and guidance there help to build confidence, provide support, and don’t belittle folk for making mistakes on their journey.
- I have a better starting point: When I first tried veganism my starting point was from pescetarianism, and a shed load of trauma from watching Earthlings (though I have no regrets, and feel that this is the once documentary everybody should watch). My heart was ready to make the change, but my mind wasn’t. I was not ready to try new things and read labels, to do the practical things, but now I am.
- Friends are on the journey too: A couple of my friends are doing Veganuary too! We all decided to do it independently, and I am really glad they did. Hopefully we can lean on each other while we find out feet.
So tomorrow is the big day; I start my 31 days without any animal produce. I’m feeling quite excited about it. In reality, it is a very small change for me but it feels like such a big deal. I am going to try not to beat myself up if I make a mistake by remembering the real definition of veganism.
“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” – The Vegan Society
Possible and practical.
Let’s get to it!