My Journey to Vegan ~ The Unfiltered Truth
Today we’re gonna talk about my story. I think it’s so easy to see vegan bloggers, Youtubers, and stunning Instagram accounts as flawless authorities on the subject they claim. I’ve always done my best to never give the impression of perfection around my vegan journey- because I want you to know that I’m just another perfectly imperfect human being here with you, and you’re not a bad person or less brilliant just because you’re not “as good at being vegan” as the people you see online.
Here’s the truth about my messy vegan journey- including why I’m STILL not 100% vegan!
I decided to be vegetarian at 15- but honestly, I never liked meat. It was an easy choice.
I’ve literally never liked meat. Like even as a little kid, I was always picking the meat out of everything- with the exception of those tiny vienna sausages I used to fight my sisters for… and caramel pork chops. Bacon was alright. And that was pretty much it for me. Because I have cystic fibrosis and have much higher calorie, protein, and fat needs than most people, my parents were really worried about what might happen to my health on an alternative diet- and they set the rule that I couldn’t stop eating meat until I was 16 and old enough to prepare my own healthy meals.
I cheated the rule a tiny bit, refusing to eat meat ever again at 15, but I was determined and had LOTS of research to show my parents I was ready… and so it began. I was THRILLED! And after testing me the very next day by making bacon and caramel pork chops to get me to rethink my decision (it so didn’t work! I passed the test.), he even helped me learn how to make tofu!
Fast forward to my first year of college, at 18, I was still very Catholic and for Lent I decided to give up dairy… It wasn’t meant to be permanent, but after a few weeks I stopped craving cheese, and I just never felt like buying dairy again. I wasn’t a fan of eggs, and it was easy enough to replace honey with agave when I had student loans to cover the price different. (Yeah, I did end up regretting that attitude lol). I didn’t have dairy again outside of family holiday meals until I was 21 and had to live with roommates who ate like nothing except animal products. My budget was tighter than it had ever been, and desperate to pinch some pennies, I turned to cheesy boxed meals.
So here I am. I’m 23 years old, just FINALLY got out of roommate situations (literally this month!), and for the past 4 months, I’ve been slowly leaning back into my old vegan lifestyle. I missed it and I have felt almost constantly sick and lethargic since taking on dairy and boxed foods again, but I had a really hard time owning the fact that it was 100% my decision to eat the shit foods I was eating.
I needed to OWN responsibility for my own well-being, regardless of my budget or what the people around me were doing.
The truth is: a vegan diet doesn’t have to be more expensive. It can actually be a lot cheaper, when done well, and as someone who works from home and has lots of opportunity to cook, I realized there was really no excuse for me to not be making healthy, filling, affordable vegan meals.
I gave myself a TON of slack because living in such an unhealthy roommate situation where I genuinely didn’t feel safe on a daily basis was really difficult, and it put some ethical and health decisions on the back burner. But now that I’m in my own place again, I’m holding myself accountable for my decisions, and while it’s been a little uncomfortable, it feels AMAZING!
Today, I’m allowing certain non-vegan things into my life.
…like the honey and eggs my mom bought me- she was trying to help because she knew funds were tight after the move, and I really appreciate it. I’m not going to buy non-vegan food or drink products anymore, and that’s a hard rule, but for now I’m still going to accept the gives and help I need in order to get back to my healthiest self. I think veganism is more of a spectrum sometimes- and there are gray areas like used clothing from thrift stores and gifts from family and holiday dinners that I think we are each allowed to handle differently.
To me, the most important aspect of coming back into my vegan lifestyle is sustainability. My health has been suffering, my mindset and my soul have been suffering knowing I was part of a problem that leads to so much suffering and feeling powerless around it. Right now, to be my best self I need compassion and caring for myself and those around me- but I also need to be willing to accept help, and to also set boundaries.
There’s no right answer in life, and there’s no right way to go or be vegan. In my world, if you’re doing the best you can by yourself and the world around you, you’re doing great. And if your best looks different today than it did a year ago or than it will tomorrow, that’s okay too. Just be honest with yourself and trust your heart. You’ve got this.
I’ll do the very best I can today. I hope you’ll join me in doing the same, and show yourself loving compassion if that best-you-can-do isn’t as great as you want it to be.
You’re growing and I’m proud of you for it.
I’m making this decision for my health, for my soul, for the animals, and for the beautiful planet I don’t want to continue destroying.
It’s not about perfection, it’s about doing the best that I can in each moment.