It’s been one full week since I’ve started my vegan challenge, and I’ve already discovered so much about myself.
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.
After a few slip-ups when traveling over the weekend, I feel much more confident being at home and cooking. 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 *cough dad cough* 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.
But I was reading through The 30-day Vegan Challenge by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (which I highly recommend if you’re at all interested in going/trying vegan). In her chapter for Day 24, she tackles how to eat “confidently and joyfully in social situations” (italics my own).
Being vegan isn’t about forcing your views on someone else, making someone feel bad if they eat meat or feeling bad when you are asked why you’re not eating at a party. Here is a quick summary of what spoke to me in this chapter:
Making your own life changes is uncomfortable for others and can even be threatening to them. They often go on the defensive, either asking you any number of scientific/philosophical/ecological questions about your lifestyle choice or explaining the reasons for theirs. “You tell someone you’re vegan and that person takes it personally,” writes Patrick-Goudreau.
It can be threatening to others who maybe wish they were living up to their ethics or who believe they are and are measuring themselves next to you. That’s not what veganism is about.
One of my favorite quotes from the chapter (and there are many) reads: “When you state ‘I am vegan’ you aren’t simply saying ‘I eat vegetables.’ You are a physical representation of someone who is living a conscious life with an awakened mind and heart.” In all other aspects of my life, I strive to be aware, since I am a firm believe that an unexamined life is not worth living (thank you Luther College Paideia!). I am an avid practitioner of yoga, which is all about self-awareness. I believe in local and sustainable food sources, so it only makes sense that I fully commit to a vegan lifestyle of skating by as a vegetarian, fooling myself into thinking it’s good enough. For others, it might be. But if I stop and am truly honest with myself, it’s not enough for me.
I know this is kind of all over the place. I’m still trying to formulate coherent thoughts, but I have found there are many things to be thought. What you eat makes a powerful statement, even if (or especially if) you are unaware of your food choices. I am fortunate in that I truly enjoy cooking and that I love food and all that it stands for (and there are huge political and economic consequences to what and how we eat).
If you’re curious, here are a few things I’ve been eating this past week:
Breakfast – fruit smoothies, oatmeal with almond butter, nuts, dried fruit and cinnamon, and hash browns (just cook them in oil, not butter!)
Lunch – curried dal from Oh She Glows (I’m obsessed with this recipe!) and other dinner leftovers
Dinner – Burrito bowls (cilantro lime rice, black beans, corn, sautéed onions, peppers and mushrooms and homemade salsa), chickpea salad (chickpeas, carrots, celery, veganaise, Dijon mustard)
I am so excited to be on this journey. And, like much of life, being vegan isn’t a destination, it is a journey. Thanks for being here as I start mine.