You may be considering changing to a plant based or vegan diet. There are many reasons people make this change be it for animal welfare, health or concern about the environment. Since I have been a vegan for a number of years, I am biased on the subject but truly believe a vegan diet is a really healthy way to live.
I was brought up, as are most people to eat an animal based diet. We are socialised to do so and the vast majority don’t think about or question it, but over the years I became increasing uncomfortable. Although I ate meat, I didn’t want to know anything about the processes enabling it to end up on my plate.
I was aware there was a lot to know about how farm animals were treated and slaughtered and what suffering or abuse they may face but I was scared it would upset me. I made certain I didn’t look at any news of animal abuse or deaths, such as footage of live export, and on rare occasions when I visited friends’ farms if they provided food from an animal they had killed, I couldn’t eat it. For me to eat meat, it needed to be disconnected from the living being it once was. I needed to have only strips of meat or meat cut into sections. Like many other people I was totally disconnected from the unpleasant realities.
Addressing the moral and personal questions you will have
I love animals and could never kill one to eat it, but continued to eat animals killed for me by other people, so I felt morally compromised.
For a long time, I tried to ignore the uncomfortable feelings I had as I was aware animals were suffering, but if I started paying attention, I might have to stop eating meat.
What would I eat if I did that? How would I get all my nutrients and stay healthy? Healthy balanced diets according to most authorities contained meat and dairy. Grains and vegetables were said to be important but were not the main event! I just loved cheese and as I really enjoy a good coffee, how was I to give up milk? Soy milk didn’t even taste good so it all sounded like a big sacrifice and maybe it was just too hard. What difference would it even make in the grand scheme anyway if I, as an individual changed my diet?
There was also my concern of how my family, friends and work colleagues would react and how difficult it would be to socialise or go out for a meal.
Understanding how to achieve a balanced diet
Some of my reluctance in progressing to a full vegan diet it must be said was due to a mindset around what I would be missing rather than what I would be gaining. A friend who had changed rapidly to a vegan diet eventually gave me a gentle push and so I finally took the plunge and bought some soy milk. To my surprise after only a week, soy milk tasted pretty good in my coffee and I wished I had changed over sooner.
In reality it was much easier than I thought it would be and on the whole my family, friends and work colleagues have all been very supportive of my choices. There are now many excellent alternative products to replace meat, milk and cheese and although they don’t taste the same, over time you appreciate the food for what it is and no longer compare it to the animal based alternatives.
I am very glad I finally made the decision to change my diet and eventually progressed to cutting out as many animal products from my life as possible.
I no longer worry about whether being a vegan as an individual makes any impact regarding the environment or animal welfare and farming, as I am happy that even if it is negligible, I am holding myself accountable to do the best I can to maintain my own moral code and I am no longer an active participant in the animal production line!
As a vegan you do have to plan a bit more to ensure you have a balanced diet and I often cook in bulk as the preparation can be a little more time consuming.
My reasons for being vegan far outweigh any inconveniences
Eating out has its challenges as not all that many cafes and restaurants cater for vegans, although most are happy to accommodate by changing menu items to a vegan version, particularly if you have called ahead to arrange it. Of course, sometimes I do get sick of avocado on toast as that seems to be the “go to”, but the longer I have maintained this lifestyle, the less this bothers me.
More and more people are now concerned about issues such as the treatment of intensively farmed animals, and environmental impacts of what we all do. If we each try to make the best choices we can in line our own ethics, the world will surely be a better and kinder place.
If you are considering a vegan diet, I can wholeheartedly recommend that you don’t wait. What have you got to lose by giving it a try?
Check out the blog on how to transition to a vegan diet