Every once in a while I read an ill-fated tweet; one sent to the universe with the best of intentions, but is nonetheless cringe worthy:
“Going vegan tomorrow! Wish me luck!”
Typically without fail, this announcement is sure to be followed by a not-so-distant sequel; a check-in from the depths of a booth in the nearest burger joint. A proverbial “I’m out” cry ending a 36-hour tale of woe. A tale that, when reminiscing about phases of life gone terribly wrong, will be recounted for years to come.
Here’s why making an announcement in this way will most assuredly be futile:
Nothing about going vegan requires luck
Saying so infers there is some sort of external force involved; magical plant-based powers that will sweep in overnight and gift you an aversion to cheese. Assuming you need luck to go vegan also implies that you’re looking at it as if it’s a pass/fail type thing. The truth is luck has nothing to do with it. And luckily for nearly every vegan alive there is nothing from which to fail; there is no board of directors who will revoke your trying-to-eat-vegan status because you had a piece of milk chocolate. Any diet, no matter what it’s labeled, is all about choices, and you can decide each day what you want to do. You can’t possibly fail at something for which you’ve set the parameters. You can choose to jump in to this new diet with both feet and never look back, or you can ease into it over the course of a few years, reserving the right to change your mind at any time. The power is always yours, and no luck is required.
Stop calling it “going vegan”
Doing so implies that veganism is some sort of final destination; a foreign land accessible only to those brave enough to buckle up and accept the challenge. As if you’ll wake up tomorrow in Veganville unable to relate to your previous life. That’s just not how it works. While it’s true you might have had a life altering experience that prompted you to give up animals for food, you’ll still wake up the next day in the same world with the same habits, the same people, the same job, the same hobbies, the same “what’s for dinner” conversation you’ve always had with your significant other. You’ll still go out, still go on vacation, still have fun and you’ll still enjoy food. The only difference is you’ll be doing all of the above powered strictly by plants. What you put on your plate doesn’t define you; therefore you don’t need to label yourself as such. Just eat the way you want to eat, and don’t worry about labeling it.
If you felt compelled to make this announcement in this way, your “why” isn’t big enough
Those who choose a vegan diet do so for different reasons, but they all do it for an important reason. For some it’s a health issue, for some it’s environmental, for others it’s a compassion for animals so deep within their souls they can’t put into words. Regardless of the intentions, early on in their vegan journeys the choices they made were most likely the result of deep personal reflection. There’s no doubt you’ll need support and cooperation from friends and family along the way, and there’s nothing wrong with being a vocal champion for this way of life (respectfully, of course) via social media. But if you feel the need for an on-line pep rally in order to attempt a vegan diet, you aren’t ready.
Here’s the thing. I’m not passing judgement on anyone. If you aren’t ready, you aren’t ready and that’s totally okay. And if you’re not interested, you’re not interested. Fine. I just want you to know that when the time is right for you, transitioning to a vegan diet won’t feel like a struggle.
If the concept of living a plant-based life seems like it will be unimaginably challenging, I’d suggest rethinking your approach:
Read as much as you can, explore new foods, determine your “why.” Most importantly, set your own parameters and go at your own pace. At some point, you’ll settle into a comfortable space where your diet aligns with both your biology and your values; where it seems like second nature, and you don’t care how it’s defined or viewed or judged by others.
And you certainly won’t need luck from the Twittershpere!
So, I just gotta know! Have you ever made this proclamation, and what was your experience? Did rallying the internet troops help your cause? Also, if you know anyone struggling with their own plant-based-diet demons, send this to them. Maybe it’ll help.