Reflecting on my First Year as a Vegan

At the onset of 2019, I made the goal to go vegetarian for the month of January. I was intrigued by the idea of veganism, but was too timid to jump right into it. However, it didn’t take long at all before I decided to throw apprehension to the wind. I don’t know the exact day that I went vegan, but I can narrow it down to early January of 2019. To be completely honest, I never would’ve guessed that this lifestyle change would be as easy as it’s been.

Not so long ago, my brother-in-law asked me what was the hardest thing for me to give up. The funniest thing happened: I struggled to come up with an answer. In the moment, I figured I was just drawing a blank and the obvious answers would come flooding into me at a later time. To my surprise, that never really happened. I eventually gave him the only answer the came to mind, and that was that I missed not having to check labels all the time. As I sit here now, reflecting on the past year of my life, I can honestly say I don’t particularly miss any of the non-vegan foods I enjoyed before. I’ve by and large been quite satisfied with the vegan alternatives available to me. Even cheese, which is definitely the weakest link of all the vegan alternatives I’ve tried, has no hold over me. Not to say it’ll never happen, but as of right now, I don’t crave it.

Whether sweet or savory, vegan junk food is real and just as tempting as the junk food I used to eat.
Photo by Lina Kivaka from Pexels

Not to say this past year has been perfect, it hasn’t. Some accidental purchases were made, some consumed, some not. This is not something I’ve allowed myself to stress over. Accidents happen and dwelling on them isn’t going to undo what’s already been done. All you can do is learn from your mistakes and do better in the future. It’s important to keep perspective and remember that one mistake does not undo all the consistent choices we continue to make every day.

The biggest thing I’ve learned in regards to veganism this first year is to not be overly confident about anything. There is a lot of misinformation in the world and while we may try our best to sift through all the lies, it can be hard to really know for sure if we’re successful or not. I’ve tried to find sources of information that are trustworthy, but even so, it’s important to question everything. I’ve definitely been guilty of parroting things that ‘sounded’ like a legitimate point without taking the time to really analyze it from all sides.

There is a lot of overlap between veganism and environmentalism, but many environmentalists who are concerned about the impact of plastic on wildlife, continue to eat animal products.
Image by Jasmin Sessler from Pixabay

For example: Perhaps you’re familiar with the influx of alternatives to plastic straws to Save the Turtles or Save the Sea Life! etc. I heard someone make the observation that people were willing to stop using plastic to save the fish, but wouldn’t stop eating fish to save the fish. It’s seemingly just another example of, what? Hypocrisy? Irony? Point being, it was something that I’ve said because it sounded like a poignant observation at the time. However, now, I strongly disagree with that sentiment. It’s not technically wrong, but I think the point of it is to shame people who want to do a good thing, but aren’t willing to go far enough with it in the eyes of veteran vegans, environmentalists, etc. I now see this mentality as extremely damaging. It tells people that small changes are pointless and that there’s no point in doing anything if you aren’t willing to do everything. Otherwise, you’re a hypocrite, you’re stupid, selfish, whatever. It’s unreasonable to expect everyone to be passionate and educated on the same exact subjects that you are. It’s absurd to expect everyone who is interested in those subjects to be in the same place in their journey as you. We evolve over time. Regardless of how educated or informed you are on a subject, your perspectives on certain things will likely change over the years. So, how arrogant we are to sit in judgement of someone else not meeting our standards of where we happen to be currently.

For me, one year in, living a vegan lifestyle hasn’t been a struggle. I’ve never considered myself a particularly egocentric person, but there is a struggle in humbling yourself. It’s hard to remember it’s not about you being right when someone else says something you know is wrong. The world is better off with 50% of the population trying to do good than 5% of the population being ‘perfect’. I personally believe, knowing when to show restraint, when to listen, and when to speak up, is the bigger part of the journey.

There’s really no concrete before and after making an ethical decision like this. Every day, every meal, every purchase, you have to make the choice again when you’re beholden to no one, but yourself. This is what dictates the strength of your convictions.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

7 thoughts on “Reflecting on my First Year as a Vegan

  1. I’ve been vegan for a few months in the past. I can honestly say it was easy for the first month or so, but got much harder as time went on. However, I do think I could manage being vegetarian, or mostly so. I definitely try to keep my meat consumption to a minimum because of the damage it does on the environment and I’m expanding my horizons to try to buy meat, if I want it, through ethical and sustainable avenues.

    It’s a lot of work, this whole environmentalist thing, but I can’t imagine life without it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I imagine being an environmentalist is much like becoming vegan in the sense that it becomes easier when you’re passionate about it, but it always requires effort. Thank you for your awareness and trying to make ethical choices. The world needs all of that it can get! 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on your first year as a vegan! My struggle as a vegetarian is my environment. I am not a vegan because we eat out a lot and I cannot survive on eating lettuce. On the other hand my husband is a meat fanatic. Our dog and cats eat chicken. So I have to buy meat for them and also have to prepare it for them. So hypocrite is my middle name.

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    1. I’d have to disagree. We all have some aspect of hypocrisy within us, whether we recognize it or not, but I think it’s unfair to brand yourself that way. (Based off of what you’ve said, I obviously don’t know you. Lol.) Eating out is a legitimate struggle for a lot of people eating a restrictive diet. We don’t eat out much, but when we do, we have only a few options to choose from. If we went out a lot, I wouldn’t want to survive on side salads either. 😂

      The pet thing is a bit of a gray area. My understanding is that a dog can be vegan, but the owner would really have to pay special attention to their diet (and purchase specialized food) to make sure they’re getting all the necessary nutrients. Cats, however, are obligate carnivores and need meat in their diet. There’s no shame in giving your pets what they need. You’re still lowering the demand for meat by not consuming it yourself and that’s a good thing! You’re doing the best you can in your environment and I think that’s wonderful!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Great comments.

        On eating out – Veganism when going out can be hard depending where you live, as some communities are much more diverse in their food offerings (I live in the Northwest and it’s insanely easy to be vegan – like most cities on the west coast) – I remember when I was dairy/egg/gluten free for a couple years and visited a friend in DC five years ago or so, it was really tough to find places that no only accommodated dietary restrictions, but made great meals purposefully without them, but it is definitely improving. Vegetarianism is not just ‘lettuce’ – it is a lot easier if you’re willing to try a different approach (multiple meatless appetizers for example, pasta & risotto dishes, veggie pizza, etc) and if you’re open to a lot of cuisines – particularly Asian (and not just talking tofu! Indian food is incredibly easy to go veg!). I am not vegetarian by habit but my husband and I don’t have meat at every meal – and rarely eat meat when we go out, as most restaurants buy whatever is cheapest – i.e., factory farmed meat – and we resolved that if we won’t buy it at the grocery store, we won’t buy it at a restaurant!

        On pets – Yes, dogs can be vegetarian (several companies actually make vegetarian dog food including Natural Balance, sold at Petco, and there are even some vegan brands…) but cats cannot, like you said, as carnivores. Even if you feed your pets meat though, you can at least start by feeding them organic and/or raw diets to at least ensure you’re not supporting factory farms. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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