VWPA Advice #015 I Want to Go Vegan, Where Do I Start?
I have been thinking about going vegan and have decided that I want to move in that direction…
Help! What do I do now??
Callie is going to cover a lot of the practical advice about what to do. I’m going to give you some advice about how you’re going to feel. What I want to say to you, and all new vegans, is that you don’t owe anyone anything. Your new label will be very heavy in the first year. You’ll get so many questions, so much aggression, a lot of unasked for attention.
You don’t owe it to other vegans to be perfect. You’re allowed mistakes, missteps, backslides. You’re allowed to be uncertain some days, to stumble. You’re allowed to own leather items or eat honey or to not be sure about free range eggs. It’s ok if you’re “just” a health vegan, or if you don’t want to know about animal rights yet. Don’t let the vegan police make you think that you haven’t earned the label because you absolutely have. Just by saying you’re vegan, you are. Period. No one can take your V-card.
Carnists, or, as you may know them, “normal people,” will ask you the most ridiculous fucking questions. Seriously, it will blow your mind. They are going to show blistering levels of cognitive dissonance. Friends, family members, coworkers. People who you love and trust and confide in will suddenly seem different. Smart people will say insanely dumb, ignorant shit with zero sense of awareness. Your interactions will be weird, sometimes even downright hostile. You’ll be viewing their choices in a new light and they will be keenly aware of it.
You don’t owe these people anything either. You don’t have to have the perfect answers to their gotcha questions. You don’t have to be a vegan ambassador. You can get flustered, angry, sad. You can say things you don’t mean, or be unsure in your veganism. You can let them win sometimes, to make life easier. You can change your relationships, create distance from those who don’t accept this amazing decision you’ve made for yourself. You can make new friends. You can create new traditions. You can reshape your life to coincide with your morals.
I want you to understand: your veganism is about YOU. Of course, it’s about the animals and the planet and the people affected by the meat and dairy industries. But first and foremost, especially in the first year, it is about you. It’s your journey, your path, and no one else has any claim to it. Take joy in the changes, the discoveries, and yes, even in the mistakes, failures and frustrations. Being different is not easy; stepping out of a system of oppression and outside of societal norms will always cause a fuss. Veganism is a boundary, and people don’t like boundaries.
You are a vegan warrior princess, fighting the good fight, for whatever your reasons. Keep your chin up, and remember that this journey is yours. You don’t owe it or any piece of yourself to anyone else. The more of us there are, the easier it’ll get. So, rock on, warrior princess. We and the VWPA army are behind you!
Congratulations on making that decision! You are making such a compassionate choice for your life and should be proud of yourself!!! There is a lot of advice out there and (from my experience) most of it usually discusses the “one true way” of transitioning, however I call bullshit! There is no such thing as the “right” way, it’s a life-long journey you are starting on, not checking off a to-do list! Some say you should take baby steps and start cutting out animal products slowly, some say you should switch overnight. I say use the method that comes naturally to you. For example, I personally am someone who typically does something all or nothing, small steps don’t work for me-they never have. So when I went vegan I did it overnight. That’s not to say I didn’t have small backslides or make mistakes, because of course I did! However for the most part, once I committed, that was just it for me. Whichever method you think you will be most successful with is what you should do.
As for some practical advice, social media is about to become your BFF. Pinterest and Instagram both have a ton of users you can follow that have done the heavy lifting of recreating ‘traditional’ recipes. Seriously I can’t stress enough how helpful this will be! It will help you figure out how and what to eat which can be very tricky in the beginning.
Also, it’s important to have a well-rounded ‘education’ about veganism; because the more you understand (i.e. heath, environment and animal rights) the easier it is going to be to stay vegan, so books and documentaries are going to be great resources!
Lastly (and sometimes the most difficult), is your social needs… if you are fortunate to live in an area that has a community of vegans, definitely take advantage and meet some like-minded individuals! The vegan journey isn’t always easy and it’s nice to have people that can relate to what you will be experiencing. If there aren’t any vegans around, connect online! Join Facebook groups and follow pages where people are interacting. BUT just like in other groups, there are going to be people you get along with, and people you don’t. So if you are in a group and aren’t meshing well with the vibe, please don’t feel like you have to stay just because they are vegan. There are plenty more groups out there to choose from!
Best of luck to you on this journey! Veganism can be fun, stressful, exciting, frustrating, joyful and crazy, and probably everything else in between! It’s one hell of a ride and I hope that it brings you as much happiness and joy as it has brought to me! Please reach out to us if you need any support along the way <3
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