Almost three years ago, I decided to go completely vegan. Because of my personal beliefs and my eating preferences, becoming vegan made the most sense.
I had no idea what to expect or what struggles I’d encounter, but I knew this was the right decision for me. When someone starts living the most authentic version of who they are, amazing experiences and lessons always seem to follow.
I see it as the universe’s way of rewarding you for taking steps in the right direction and following your intuition. Yes, going vegan has taught me a lot about health, but I've learned more about life in general then I ever expected. Here are some of those lessons:
1. Don’t fear change. It's a good thing.
When I started going vegan, I had to change a lot. Adios, buttery toast and sayonara, late-night-ice-cream-bowls. Change isn’t easy and in the beginning stages of a transformation, we automatically confuse "being difficult" with "being wrong." After making a countless adjustments to fit this new lifestyle, I can say with confidence that change can often mean things are going to get better.
2. The answers you seek will always come as long as you take small steps to find them.
When I first started this lifestyle, I was a junk food vegan: fake meats, soy everything, “cheese” pizza ... you name it. Becoming a clean eating vegan wasn’t even in the realm of possibilities when I first made the switch (read: sugar addict and emotional eater). I really wanted to be someone who found joy in eating food that was good for my body and my mind. I knew that drinking smoothies, eating superfoods, and having fruits and vegetables every day was in my best interest, but I also knew it couldn’t happen right away.
So I did what worked best for me until I could get to the next level. I figured it out step by step and remained patient that the answer would come. Over time, I incorporated healthier habits and naturally gravitated toward clean eating. As with anything in life, small changes will lead to bigger ones, but you’ve got to be willing to start somewhere and take the first step.
3. No one can tell you the best way to live your life, only you know that.
I admit it, when I first went vegan, I wanted to convince everyone I knew (and didn’t know) to join me. Do I still think it would benefit everyone? Yes. Do I still try to convert anyone and everyone? Never. I learned that this lifestyle is not something you can convince someone to try. It’s a heart-based decision that requires serious commitment, discipline, and passion. Don’t tell people how to live their life, and certainly don’t listen to people telling you how to live yours.
4. People can be judgemental and harsh. It has nothing to do with you, let it go.
I’ve had my fair share of encounters with people who criticize or judge my decision to go vegan. I remember in the beginning being defensive and combative in these situations, but I realized early on that it was a waste of my energy. If someone has an issue with a choice you’ve made, especially one based in ethics, it almost always reflects an insecurity they have about the life that they live. They're fighting their inner battles and taking it out on you. Don’t engage. Let it go!
5. The beginning is always the hardest. Just keep going, it will get easier and it will be worth it.
I still remember my first days of going vegan. My eyeballs were constantly popping out of my head after seeing the ingredient list in all of my favorite snacks. Milk here, milk there, milk everywhere. Oh, and walking by pizza places? Torture! I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to let go of some of my favorite things, but over time I found new foods that were better in every way and I never looked back.
The beginning of any worthwhile journey is not always enjoyable or comfortable, but worth it? Always.