I will always remember the day I became a vegetarian. It was almost as daunting as coming out, but that’s for a new blog post entirely! Becoming a vegan or vegetarian for some can be an almighty step, especially when you have family to convince. Again, I’ll cover veganism and family in another post. Today I want to give you the low down on what it’s like making the transition, whether you choose to cut out meat or even all animal products, I’ll talk you through it so you don’t feel too lost, and we’ll also take this opportunity to debunk some common myths.
So why become a vegan or vegetarian?
Lots of people have their own reasons. As an example, I’ll give you mine. I love animals, all of them. There’s something about non-human earthlings that I feel a connection to. Not only that, but I know in my bones they have a natural innocence that’s naturally pre-programmed into them. Whenever an animal acts violently, it is done with reason, and not for pleasure. You can argue that a cat will kill for fun, but believe me, they don’t. Animals have a natural and biological reason to do what they do. But humans on the other hand, have a mental edge. We have deeper control over our actions. We are driven by conscience and morals, and this can either be a good or a bad thing.
I am vegan, because I believe animals are not ours. We share Planet Earth with them, our fellow Earthlings. You too should choose this bright path because of your love for animals, and the notion that you have a higher responsibility as a human being to preserve the choice of goodness. You will become a voice of reason, you will broaden your horizon, and you will leave a positive impact on the environmental and emotional reactions of those you inspire. And at the end of the day, you will lesson the unnecessary suffering and death of millions of animals each year.
Understand what it means to be vegan or vegetarian.
Being a vegan or vegetarian is not about being perfect. Let’s just make a mental note here to really drill this in. “Being a Vegan or Vegetarian is about reducing as much harm as possible.” That is the motto you should live and breathe. It is not about being perfect. Humans are not perfect in the slightest, and we will always slip up along the way.
“Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places! I have since an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men will look upon the murder of animals as they look upon the murder of man.” – Leonardo da Vinci
“It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.” – Albert Einstein
Having said that, when making the transition, it’s important to know what you want to change. First and foremost, it’s about removing meat from your lifestyle, and YES, that means fish too. You are not a vegetarian if you eat fish! You are more accurately, a pescatarian. But again, for another post. Most vegetarians I have come across in my time, are very committed to eliminating meat from their diets, and may even extend that to what they wear, removing garments and accessories made from animal skins.
When it comes to vegans however, we take a few extra steps to what we leave off the table and in our wardrobes. It is ALL animal products. This includes but not limited to: dairy, eggs, cheese, animal milks, gelatine, skins, furs, and also animal testing. Sounds like a big deal? It is to the animals, believe me, just because they can’t say thank you, doesn’t mean they’re not grateful.
To be a vegan or vegetarian, is about making sacrifices…but only at first. Along your journey, you will learn not to miss these things. Human beings love their comforts, and when you remove something from your lifestyle, it can be very uncomfortable. But perseverance is key here, and you must remember why you’re doing this in the first place. You’re doing this for the animals, the ones without the voice, the one’s without a choice, in a world dominated by humanity.
So where should I start?
Firstly examine your lifestyle and situation. Do you live in a family of carnivores? Do you have a freezer full of meat and carcasses? Is your wardrobe full of leather jackets and snakeskin shoes? Are you concerned with protein intake? Do you prepare your own meals? Or do you have someone to cook for you? Do you want to make the change gradually? Or do you want to go fully cold turkey? Pardon the pun…
When it comes to eliminating meat, I went full throttle. I was lucky enough to have a supporting mother who respected my choice as a young teenager, a teen who couldn’t cook, and she was willing to prepare me separate meals. But I made the choice there and then, and said no to that fish fillet for dinner, and eight years later, I haven’t touched or even missed meat once. But I understand if things aren’t as simple for you. Lets say you live alone. This is probably the easiest situation. You have full control over your fridge and what comes in and out of your front door.
- Examine what you’ve already got, and if it originates from an animal, then make your decision. I do not advocate throwing things away. It’s wasteful and thoughtless, so instead, use it till it’s gone, or donate it. Use the meat and dairy in your fridge to make a dish you can use for a last supper party, give your leather goods to a charity shop or friend who might want them instead, or if you’re super sentimental, make a Past-Life box as a reminder of what once was.
- Learn to cook vegan meals and get yourself some cookbooks. My absolute favourite cookbook ever, is the Oh She Glows cookbook, by Angela Liddon. Gorgeous recipes! Once you know how to feed yourself the ethical way, you’ll be less likely to swerve back into meat eating.
- Get into the habit of checking the labels of everything you buy. At first, this is one of the main things that puts people off. I mean, who really wants to spend extra time at the supermarket scanning the back labels of food? But believe me, once you’ve done it a few times, it’ll become second nature, and you’ll know what products contain milk powder, or egg whites, or even the dreaded bovine gelatine. You’ll thank me once you know exactly what that is.
- Understand that Organic / free-range / RSPCA Assured, does not excuse the fact that it’s still an animal product. The idea that it’s sold to you in the first place is to turn a profit. And when it comes to selling animal products, it means cutting corners on animal ethics. Keep things simple for yourself by eliminating any animal products. The less you have to do with it, the cleaner your conscience.
- Shop around for alternatives. If it’s a struggle, stick to vegetarianism first. Eliminating all animal products can be arduous, but cutting the meat first can be easy if you know what to buy. One of the best things about becoming Vegan for me, is that when I cut out one thing, I never replace it with just one other thing. Your spectrum to new things is suddenly widened, and you find yourself trying things you may not have tried before, and as more people choose a life of ethics, so do more companies choose that same path. Remember, companies will only provide its customers with what they want. That’s how they survive.
- Check the Internet for new recipes, products, events, and festivals on veganism. Meet people who are already vegan or vegetarian so you don’t feel so alone, because believe me, we are a long way away from people taking veganism seriously, and that leads me to my final point.
- Don’t give into temptation. There will always be obstacles you have to overcome as a vegan or vegetarian, but hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and what is life without a few hurdles anyway? People will judge you, question you and they will, believe me, tell you you’re missing out on protein!! When you’re confronted with opposition like this, just remember way back to why you’re doing what you’re doing. You’re doing it for the animals, because you love them. Remember this when you walk past that burger van on your lunch break, when you see that half price offer on cheese at the supermarket, and when your favourite handbag brand releases their newest designs. Remember there are alternatives, and when you find them, they’ll be your discoveries…be proud of your discoveries, and share them with the world.
So what’s next? What about…?
If you’ve succeeded in your crusade for a more ethical lifestyle, then congratulations. You’ve managed something many people are not capable of. But wait, what about…? I for one have heard every question and argument against veganism there is. Truth be told, you cannot argue with a vegan without getting an intelligent response. Do I sound cocky? Well I’m so used to it now, it’s hard not to have an arsenal of responses to arguments against vegans and vegetarians, and since there are so many of them, I will again cover those in another blog post. But as an example for now, vegans and vegetarians do not have protein deficiencies. End of!
If you feel like you truly are stuck, and are surrounded by those against your lifestyle, remember these few things: Don’t argue with those who won’t change their opinion. It’s a waste of time and energy, and at the end of the day, you’re doing it for the animals, not for the bigots. If you get to the point where you just have to tell the world of your newfound wisdom on the detrimental effects of red meat, then just be cautious of how you express it. Unless you’re universally loved, (I’m afraid it’s very unlikely) nobody will like you if you’re a preacher. The best thing you can do for animals and the environment…is to smile!
Yes! Keep Calm and Smile On. If there is one thing people cannot help but notice, it’s a happy you. If you live your vegan / vegetarian lifestyle the way you want to, and you’re reaping the benefits and happiness from it, people will inevitably notice that, and THAT my friends, is how you make an impact. Positivity is contagious. x
How did you transition? What are your biggest fears on transitioning? What do you think will be hardest to cut from your lifestyle? Are you happy with your transition? Did you find it hard or easy? Let me know!! 😉