“That’s it. I’m done.”
That’s what I said on March 18, 2011 as I watched the image of a cow being forced to slaughter — afraid, unwilling, desperate for help that wasn’t coming.
I was watching the documentary Food Inc. and that was the moment I decided to go vegan.
One tiny problem: I was the biggest meat eater I knew. I’m talking Ron Swanson levels of meat love here. Brazilian steakhouses, you know, the places where they bring you an assortment of meats on a stick over and over until you say stop, were my jam! I ate meat and dairy for every single meal and now I was planning on quitting, for the lack of a better expression, cold turkey overnight.
And I did!
If there is one thing that I am is determined. Some may say relentless or stubborn to a fault but determined just sounds better, doesn’t it?
You can watch the video to see how I managed that transition or here’s the breakdown:
1. I opened up my memory palace
I started thinking of anyone I had ever met who was vegan or vegetarian, any blogs or websites where I’d heard those words. I needed a place to start and that seemed like a good one.
I messaged all the people I knew who were vegetarians or had mentioned they were at some point and asked for advice and guidance.
I remembered PETA had a Free Vegan Starter Kit and I ordered that.
I remembered Alicia Silverstone, the actress from Clueless, had done an interview about her book The Kind Diet about veganism and I went and bought that book.
2) I made a deep dive into those resources and educated myself
I knew I could eat french fries and pasta and still technically be vegan but I also had the good sense to know that wasn’t exactly healthy so even though I barely ate any veggies at that point I started reading up and getting educated on what vitamins I needed and what I needed to start eating.
3) I looked for emotional support
When I told my mom about going vegan she thought it’d last a week. My boyfriend (now husband) was not happy and said I shouldn’t even dream of trying to change his diet. The people closest to me were all meat eaters and no one understood what I was going through.
At the time there weren’t a million Facebook groups and veganism was still considered kind of a “radical” idea that only people in drum circles subscribed to.
The best advice I got on an online forum was to just stick with it. The longer I did, the ones making little jokes and saying this was a phase would see this was for real and would come to respect it.
That’s exactly what happened.
4) I was kind to myself
While I haven’t touched meat since that day watching the documentary, there were days when the restaurant where I was eating only had one vegetarian option and it had cheese and butter. In the early days, I would eat that.
I think it’s so important in the early days of transitioning to veganism to not feel deprived. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Not every vegan believes this but I do.
I think we can make a whole lot more change in the world if we try our best and if we fall short one day just accept it and try harder tomorrow than to take an unwavering position that won’t last.
Think about the last time you tried to cut down on calories. I’m sure day 1 you were like, that’s it, no cake, no cookies, no chocolate, no sugar. Then by day 3 (if you’re lucky! I never even lasted that long) you ate an entire pack of Oreos because you were feeling so deprived. If you had allowed yourself a small treat along the way, you might have been able to stick with that goal.
5) I remembered my why
The transition to veganism was challenging for me for the first 2 weeks. That’s how long I actively craved meat. After that, the cravings subsided and eventually went away altogether. Now the smell of meat actually makes me a little ill.
But in those first 2 weeks when I would smell a burger and salivate, I just kept thinking of that cow’s face. She was my why. She was the reason I was doing this and it kept me steadfast in my goal to go and stay vegan.
My life changed in so many wonderful ways after going vegan but that’s a story for another time. For now, here are the resources that helped me in the beginning and if you’re just transitioning to being vegan and need advice or guidance or just a cheerleader, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh, and now that you're vegan, if you have a sweet tooth, you'll need to learn how to bake those awesome treats dairy and egg free. I can definitely help you with that! You can get my recipe for the best vegan chocolate chip cookies ever here and if you're ready to get baking #allthethings, I suggest checking out my eBook Vegan Baking 101.
RESOURCES THAT HELPED ME WHEN I WENT VEGAN:
Book: The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
Website: The Kind Life
Blog: Oh She Glows
Resource: PETA's Vegan Starter Kit