I went vegan overnight from omnivore and that was 4.5 years ago and I am still going strong and loving it! I don't miss animal foods or other products at all.
Two years into being vegan in 2013 I was very very underweight and sick and I had a sudden strange intense craving for eggs (bizzare because I was not a huge fan of them before) and came close to buying some but could not bear the thought of doing that because of my ethical beliefs. I was able to abstain from them. It was around that time that I realized what I was doing to my body and began to work to get better, little by little. But I understand that sometimes cravings can overpower one's values and beliefs and desires.
What made going vegan so easy for me though is I came from a place of dairy making me very sick when I was an omnivore and could only tolerate a few dairy products like plain Greek yogurt or a tiny bit of mozerella for years. I had never been much of a meat eater and was grossed out by most of it. I used to eat fish just for the health benefits. I would hold my nose and down sardines for the calcium. Many years ago I had started eating healthier and I began to include far more beans in my diet, and plant milks and fruits/vegetables and whole grains (brown rice, oats, millet, quinoa), so I guess my journey to veganism started long before the beginning of 2011. My body took time to get used to these foods. I started eating them a lot more in 2007. I just didn't know about veganism then, or that I was moving in that direction.
When I was in a period of recovery from my eating disorder, I took an interest in world hunger and began to research this issue more. I read Michael Pollen's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and that is when I truly learned about veganism. I disagreed with Pollen on many points, but everything I learned about veganism form his book and beyond aligned with my beliefs, values, desires. I couldn't believe I hadn't discovered it before. I had vaguely heard about it and had only looked at it from a health perspective and thought it was too restrictive. But when I truly learned about it I realized I could do this. I spent three weeks or so learning everything I could, from ethical issues to health and what to eat to lifestyle and philosophy. I read books by Peter Singer, Carol Adams, Tom Regan, you name it. I made up my mind that I was going to go vegan and I set a date and gave myself one week to give up Greek yogurt lol. Before I went vegan I made a list of all the foods I enjoyed that I could think of that were vegan and I focused on those. I also set about reading cookbooks at the library to learn what staples to keep around and how to replace eggs in baking (I loved to bake). I was amazed at all the ways one can cook and bake without eggs. I learned what to do with tofu, and I discovered chickpea flour and nutritional yeast for "cheese". I discovered how to make sauces with cauliflower or with sweet potatoes (one of my ultimate favorite foods!). I discovered tempeh. I even made a list of restaurants and stores in my city with vegan friendly or potential vegan friendly products. Over the years when I come across another one I still write it down.
For me it was easier to just make the switch and deal with the issues as they arose. I was psychologically ready, and I knew exactly why I was doing this. I wrote out my reasons and explored what it was about veganism that made me tick. I was vegan a solid month before telling anyone because I needed to build up my confidence and make sure this is truly what I wanted and could handle it well. My husband is so clueless he didn't even notice I was making all vegan meals lol. He just eats what I put in front of him.
I learned to make thick creamy smoothies to satisfy my cravings for Greek yogurt, and only wish I had discovered sooner how blending tofu with cocoa powder and banana or strawberries makes a rich, thick, creamy awesome dish that rivals Greek yogurt, with as much calcium and more protein and little sugar. I also kept an open mind about vegan food and did not try to be too restrictive. I consumed soy, whole wheat, various brands of plant milks, vegan yogurts and other "processed" vegan foods. I didn't try to restrict myself only to whole foods or no fat etc, but I also did not try the fake meats and cheeses right away only because they did not appeal to me. I wanted to move away from that and be creative in the kitchen and vary my diet a lot. I was also rebelling against cultural standards...meat as center of the plate, dairy at every meal etc. I had so much fun my first few years experimenting with so many foods, making key lime raw pies with avocado, or cashew cheese slices, or homemade breads and hummus. I discovered cauliflower and almond alfredo sauce, using black beans or chickpeas in baking, homemade vegan almond mayo, agar as a thickener. I never ate a mango until I became vegan, and had not heard of jicama until I went vegan. I made it fun by discovering new cooking techniques. It was also the opportunity I had always looked for to get rid of all my heavy commercial cleaners and toiletries and be more natural. I haven't touched a bottle of hairspray or glass cleaner since 2011.
In 2013 when I was sick but starting to fight to get better, I got involved with doing some activism to get outside of my own head and obsessions. I went to a Farm Sanctuary Walk for Farm Animals event and was introduced to leafleting and other vegans in my state. I later joined Vegan Outreach for a while and leafleted all over my city at high schools, colleges, street corners. I had to do more research and brush up on my skills in explaining some vegan issues so I could be more effective, and in the process it reaffirmed my beliefs and why I was and am vegan. Of course, I was a student and also working part time so it gave me the flexibility at the time to spend learning and reading vegan cookbooks and ethics etc and do stuff like leaflet. Now I work full time and am finished with school and if I had gone vegan doing what I do now it would have been harder and taken longer with less time to plan and soak up every aspect of veganism my hungry mind could grab at. I have been learning a new job since finishing school over the last nine months and it has taken a lot of my time. I tend to be all or nothing though. I used to try to be as pure as I could at first. I went through my entire house and gave away or got rid of anything nonvegan lol. Even my candles. Though I still have a very expensive canvas canoe pack with leather straps my husband would kill me for getting rid of. I still have some old hiking shoes made with leather and suede as "backups" in case my vegan hiking shoes fail and I can't find new ones, or I wear them in the woods on occasion when I know there will be a ton of mud involved. I think it is easy to lose sight of what it means to be vegan when you nit pick at every little detail. I have relaxed a bit in that regard. My husband feeds our dog food made with animals. She was six when I went vegan and has a VERY sensitive tummy, so I have not forced her to eat a vegan diet. However, I have slowly over time fed her tiny bits of beans and grains and veggies and she loves them! But only in tiny amounts.
Don't think of it as failing and trying again. Think of it as a journey, an exciting one! You aren't trying to pass an exam or get into the vegan club. It is not a requirement, its a desire for some reason right? What are your goals you want to achieve as a vegan? Why is it that you want to go vegan? Write those down and read them each day. Think about what is important to you and how your actions affect that. Sometimes it can be hard to make the connection. Like, what does a box of mac and cheese have to do with animal cruelty? And also, what can you do to replace that craving or need for that box of macaroni and cheese? Why do you feel you need it? It sounds silly but I have played out this scenario before when I had binge cravings during periods of bulimia.
In the end, only kindness matters. - Jewel
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