About a year after I went vegetarian I was a little confused. Having spent that time obsessively investigating vegetarianism, how to go veggie, animal rights etc. I had one big looming feeling still weighing on my mind - should I go vegan? At this point my question was more along the lines of 'why am I not yet vegan?' I know the feeling, you've read all the blogs, seen all the videos praising a vegan diet and the benefits of transitioning, but you still can't quite seem to make the change. Having been in this exact mindset, we want to help you answer some of those niggling questions as to what might be holding you back, and offer some tips on how to remove the doubts so you can make the change once and for all.
One of the biggest reasons I held back from going vegan was because of judgement. I went vegan before it was 'cool', when not many people were shouting about how great a plant-based diet was and pubs definitely didn't have a vegan menu. The reality is, you will face judgement. People don't like people who a) seem to question their choices b) go against what's deemed as 'normal' and c) are following a purported trend - yes that's right, even if you are a strong animal rights activist, in 2018 veganism is cool, which means you will probably be plonked into the category of 'only vegan because it's cool'.
How to overcome judgment:
1) Don't give a f*ck - this is easier said then done, but I promise you that the more you follow your own beliefs and stand strong in your reasons for going vegan, the less you will care what others think. It will also become way easier over time.
2) Educate yourself - I remember meeting a friends boyfriend and his friend for the first time. When they found out I was vegan they spent most of dinner chatting about why they loved eating chicken so much. Instead of shying away or getting angry, I whipped out my knowledge wand and educated them on the realities of what a chicken (actually) goes through before it reaches their plate. I relayed this info in a totally relaxed way, in an effort to show that I was not threatened but just wanted to start a convo on why I chose not to eat them. After dinner both those guys told me they respected my decisions greatly and I had made them think a little more about their food choices.
3) Start a conversation - It may seem like the easiest way to avoid judgement is by staying silent, but I have found it to be the opposite. No one likes whiney vegans that judge others and want to convert everybody. Of course we love it when our friends go vegan or our mum wants to cook a plant-based dish, but the reality is we will only get that kind of good energy back surrounding veganism if we give it off. Just simply start conversations around the topic, ask questions and be inquisitive. Don't shy away when people probe you about your choices and don't get defensive when they think differently, because the only way for people to understand why you made this choice is to show them positively why you love it and are excited about it - let your message be positive and you will often receive that energy back.
This one's pretty obvious, but worth mentioning. Cheese addiction is a thing, and I know because I've been there. Growing up in a Dutch family didn't exactly help me when it came to getting over cheese. It can feel pretty overwhelming when you're trying to ween yourself off dairy, it seems to be in so many products. Aside from the reality of cutting it out, the views of dairy in our society can make it even harder to ditch it.
How to overcome dairy:
1) Address your craving: Sometimes when we crave cheese, yoghurt or ice cream, we are actually craving the texture or one satisfying part of that food. If you think you want some cheese you may just be craving something a little fatty, so why not try and munch on some nuts or avocado on toast instead? For a yoghurt craving, why not try and make some creamy nice cream or an acai bowl. By making these small changes your palette will naturally change over time and you'll end up craving brazil nuts and kale salad.
2) Don't be afraid of vegan versions: I once tried to avoid vegan cheese, ice cream and yoghurt like the plague. I get why people would choose not to eat these products and I wouldn't recommend them as a staple part of your diet, but they can be so helpful when transitioning away from dairy, especially when you're in social situations with non-vegan friends.
3) Remind yourself why you don't want it: It seems kinda obvious, but there is a reason why you've chosen to go vegan. Whether its due to animal cruelty, climate change or for your health, there will countless resources out there that made you realise this was a good decision. If you're struggling to cut out dairy, list 5 reasons why you don't want to consume it any more and let those inspire you to make a new choice right now to change your diet for yourself, animals and the planet.
This connects to the first point on judgement, but it's more internal. Aside from the judgement we receive from others, we can also be pretty hard on ourselves. With veganism being a big deal at the moment you can put even more pressure on yourself to be a perfect vegan and never mess up. The reality is that view isn't realistic. I remember countless times when I first went vegan when I was at a party and there was no vegan food, when I stood in my kitchen drunk at 3am with my best friend and ate some cheesy doritos - we're all human and we're all on a journey.
How to overcome fear:
1) Take it slow - you will hear stories of people who saw a peta video of a cow being seperated from her calf and went vegan instantly the next day and hasn't eaten cheese since. That's amazing and kudos to them, but it's okay to take time trying to figure out what's right for you.
2) It's okay to ask for help - Got some vegan friends? Inspired by some vegans on instagram? Use that to your advantage and reach out, we're a family of people who've chosen to live differently and we love to share our resources and wisdom. You and a friend could hold each other accountable if you're transitioning together, text each other an inspiring message once a day to keep the spirits up. Be creative and share the love, you don't have to go on the journey alone.
Got some other things holding you back? Let us know in the comments or ping us an email and we'll try and help you solve them. Got some advice for new vegans share it with us in the comments below 👇
Peace & Love
Lassy & The Fox