2 months in2 veganism!
Updated: Jan 12, 2019
It's been approximately two months since I went vegan and I want to give an update on the journey because I'm far enough into it where I feel I can now give it some proper perspective. It feels like I've been vegan forever at this point so it's hard for me to acknowledge how little time has passed, but in actuality it is true, it has only been two months.
In the beginning days/weeks I carried a lot of sadness and resentment with me everywhere I went. It was hard for me to carry around the guilt of 24.5 years worth of slaughter and severe environmental damage. I was happy I made the decision to go vegan, but I still felt bad, tremendously bad. This is what I felt like, pretty frequently:
(unsure who the owner of this pic is, but whoever you are, you are blessed) This isn't to say I don't have any negative environmental impacts now -- but the greenhouse emissions I produce today are SEVEN times smaller than the emissions I created while eating meat (woohoo!). You can check out the graphic below to read more about the statistics in comparing the environmental effects of a meat diet vs. vegan diet. Sources are linked in the graphic itself.
But it wasn't just guilt that I carried with me in those first few days and weeks. I was often faced with situations I felt mentally unprepared for. I was overwhelmed with uncertainty in conversation which would then make me feel deeply alone.
Working as a caregiver I am often in other peoples personal spaces and homes, so I am constantly involved in making meals in someone else's comfort zone. This leads adults and children to feel particularly comfortable to ask me in detail about my own dietary choices. In the beginning, I was flimsy with explaining my veganism. I knew how to write it out but I didn't know how to verbalize it, especially when I was taken off guard. And honestly, I was nervous because my explanation involved topics that people don't truly want to discuss over their cheeseburger or fish fry, and I could sense it. Something about animal abuse, disease and environmental catastrophe just doesn't settle well over dinner,,, for some strange reason,,,.. but I'm sure it was more difficult for me to lead the conversation than it was for them to hear it. I was just a wobbly, anxious mess with my words in the beginning.
Which seems weird when you consider that I was a vegetarian for 9ish months before going vegan, so I should have been well versed in this, right? Wrong. I was pretty comfortable discussing my vegetarianism over dinner but veganism proved itself to be an entirely new conversation for me to lead. My reasons for going vegan were more multifaceted than my reasons for becoming a vegetarian. Vegetarianism was simple -- "I don't want to eat meat, it weirds me out". That was usually enough to start and stop the conversation, which was my goal then. Not too much to justify. People understand if you don't want to eat meat but they struggle with the idea of a person not eating dairy. Some people really just don't understand how another person could give up cheese. That's probably the most common response I hear. Although I certainly don't look at it as giving up cheese, I look at it as what it is -- I'm no longer contributing to the unnecessary and wide spread abuse of animals for the pleasure of my tastebuds.
I've also encountered people who truly believe cows need to be milked and therefore, you know,,, believe that buying ice cream made with cow's milk is somehow helping the cow rather than harming it because they believe the cow doesn't have anyway of being milked without humans... which is just so bizarre and frustrating and proves how disconnected people are from the sources of their food... because obviously cows need their baby's to suck their milk out which they could do if we didn't forcibly remove them from their mothers moments after they are born or you know, like forcibly impregnate them for our own use to begin with.... but anyway... I've heard some really strange retorts to my own decision to go vegan but I won't go too far into them... I think they are absolutely worthy of their own blog post.
These conversations continue to prove my need to answer questions as honestly as I can because it's blatantly clear that the people who ask me why I went vegan are the ones who are ignorant to the realities of the meat and diary industries. If people are going to ask me why I eat what I eat, than they deserve an honest answer. I've learned to focus on the positivity of eating vegan rather than the negativity of eating meat because truthfully, if I want people to go vegan, they have to do it on their own will with positive influences. Although, I've also realized that it's not my fault if my answers might seem "negative" or make someone else feel uncomfortable, that's on them. Maybe if something I said made them uncomfortable about eating meat, then maybe, just maybe they will reflect on it. The aim here is to be completely honest without being pushy, even if I do want everyone I know and love to stop partaking in incredibly toxic habits and go vegan.
With all of that being said, I think the initial shock of going vegan is now gone -- I feel significantly less frustrated in conversations with people and even less guilty about the choices I made in my pre-vegan life. I absolutely still find myself frustrated with other people's judgements towards my veganism, but now I understand that it mostly comes down to a lack of information and knowledge about the topic. It reinstates my need to regularly bring veganism to the table and to not feel guilty about it because it's obvious 2 me that the ignorance surrounding the topic needs to be dissipated. I've also let go of a lot of the guilt I harbored in the beginning because I no longer find sense in dwelling over things that are now beyond my control. Yes, I did eat meat for nearly a quarter of a century but I haven't in over a year now... and I haven't contributed to the dairy industry in two entire months! That is something to be proud of. Also, my future is shimmering with sustainability. It's time 2 move on. (pic of me now below, also unsure of the owner of this pic + beautiful baby)
Today I feel completely grounded in my veganism. Mostly because it's no longer new - it is my norm and I don't have to think twice about what I can or cannot eat or what I should or shouldn't discuss. I feel more present than I ever have. I am questioning and confronting issues straight on instead of living in accordance to norms that I do not understand or agree with. I am learning to find my voice through all of it and I'm also learning how to navigate the upsets too. I feel incredibly conscious with my actions and choices on a daily basis and I am now comfortable with the weight of that kind of responsibility because I know I am making the most ethical choices I can in this moment. It feels good to make good decisions. I'm excited to continue on this path-- veganism has opened my eyes to the world of sustainable living and I feel incredibly motivated to keep exploring. I'll be sure to update more frequently as I have a lot of ideas for future posts. Thank you for reading!! So much love.