I have a little confession to make. I had a hard time switching from being vegetarian to vegan. I share this with you dear reader, because many of you may be in the same boat.
When I decided to give up meat in suburban Maryland in the mid 80s, it was an easy choice. I knew I was done. What wasn’t so easy was the teasing in school, figuring out what to eat, and the difficulty of finding hummus and soymilk at my local Safeway.
Luckily, there was a Food Coop close by.
What I didn’t know (and couldn’t have known!) was that this decision would impact the rest of my life.
I had no idea that I'd eventually give up all animal products (bye bye shoes and goat cheese!) and become a physician, but here I am.
Fast forward 27 years, and I can’t imagine living any other way. I am eternally grateful for this choice that benefits animals, myself, other humans, and the planet.
But it wasn't easy.
My challenges with going vegan
It really came down to my addiction to dairy. Over the years, I could easily go weeks or months with out any ice cream or cheese. Then on a stressful day I'd just give in to casomorphin (the opiate-like chemical released when consuming dairy.
Yes, it contains ‘morphene.’ It would course through my body and I was once again hooked.
A few years ago I realized I had to stop being a hypocrite and make the commitment. I now have no interest in cheese pizza or Ben & Jerry’s. The desire is just gone.
While it was hard for me, it doesn’t need to be for you.
Here are some tips to going vegan:
- Make the commitment. For most people this is key.
- Get support from people who are already vegan. Find them at potlucks, through Facebook, ad at festivals and meetups.
- Take a cooking class and get some cookbooks, or find some recipes online.
- Educate yourself. Read and watch documentaries that support your choice.
- Have statistics to back up your choice when friends and family start to freak out.
- Find healthy plant based options you love.
- Know that your palate will change. The sight and smell of meat will eventually be unappetizing.
- See what works best for you: Experiment with easing in to it or going cold turkey (so to speak).
Take it from a former cheese addict, it can be done.
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