When I decided to go vegan, I thought my toughest challenge would be life without Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. As a Wellness Coach, I don’t like admitting that this thought momentarily put into question my entire decision.
But, sense prevailed. Values come before cheap pleasures and so I pushed ahead. Going vegan would be in alignment with what I really wanted.
I was excited by the idea of a healthier lifestyle. In the lead-up to my change, I had loved learning about the health benefits of going vegan through documentaries, podcasts and books. Food was at the forefront of my mind, but certainly environmental impact and animal welfare were becoming more and more important to me.
Still, the thought of change was scary. I thought the switch in foods would be a slog and I assumed there would be an underlying sense of loss. Like I was always lacking something.
After almost a month, I’m happy to report that this has been far from the truth for me. I’ve always loved mostly plant-based meals, but I’ve now found an appreciation for food science as well. I’ve been incredibly impressed with the taste, textures and selection of alternatives for vegans. Especially when you really just want that comfort food of spaghetti and “meat-balls”.
The fact is, I haven’t struggled with the food side of things at all. I’ve not lost anything. If anything, I feel like I’ve gained so much.
I’ve found tremendous benefits to my eating habits. I’m a much more conscious eater. I’ve always prepared my lunches for work but now I have to plan lunches, snacks and drinks. I can’t just take a cookie that’s offered to me at work. I have to consider ahead of time what I’ll want and plan accordingly. I have to find satisfaction with what I have rather than always craving more. The best part is that it’s actually working. I feel satisfied by my food in a way that I never have before. I am choosing consciously what I want to eat rather than being reactive to environmental stimulants and pleasures. I am more grateful and conscious of every meal, every snack and every drink.
So, if switching food has been so much easier than expected, what has been challenging?
Surprisingly, it’s been the switch of standard house-hold products that use animal-based ingredients. Things like shampoo, perfume, laundry detergent, nail polish and basic cleaning products.
Pulling out my leather shoes and bags for the charity shop was to be expected but learning about how animal fats are used in my laundry detergent and even plastic bags was not something I was prepared for.
The worst part? These ingredients are not used because they’re vital. They’re used because they’re cheap. They cost companies less money to make our everyday products if they use animal parts. In the meantime, we have unknowingly de-valued the life of animals with each purchase.
I’m not suggesting everyone cares or would change their shopping habits if they knew this, I’m just suggesting that we should know about it. As a consumer, we should know what our hard-earned money buys. What it creates. And whilst I have no judgement on other people’s decisions and how they live, I know that I am a more conscious consumer after 29 days of being vegan.
I was not able to go vegan overnight. Hell, I think it would take a lifetime just to get to the bottom of everything that could have animal products in it. But I am glad I’ve started making the switch. I’m glad I have my lifetime to follow something which is more in alignment with my values. I’m glad that I’m living a healthier lifestyle and one which can help create an economy of conscious businesses.
I hope that if you’re interested in becoming vegetarian, vegan or any kind of healthy lifestyle change, you can be comforted by the fact that change is always scary, but it is always where we grow the most. Change can be challenging but it can also surprise you in so many ways.