10 steps to becoming veganTom Levin
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Vegan – a person who does not eat or use animal products.
Step 1: Be curious…
Veganism. It was alien to me before. In fact, I would actively comment on my vegan friend Rachelle’s posts on Facebook like, “I don’t want to see this” and I personally, would refuse to watch them and feel pent up frustration towards her. Looking back, this is my own conscience battling with my curiosity and choosing to remain in denial.
Eventually, my curiosity got the better of me, so I started to watch them; mainly due to autoplay and my sparking curiosity. It was barbaric and shocking in more ways than one. I was shocked and thereafter the images were implanted in my ever-meandering mind. I started to become more curious, yet still too happy with the bubble I lived in to even dare open my eyes fully to the corruption and cruelty, so I didn’t just yet. I was never against veganism, but it annoyed me at times. I was sure I could prove a vegan wrong, or that there were more justified reasons as to why you SHOULDN’T be vegan, as did every now-vegan, I guarantee that.
Be the change you want to see in our world…
Step 2: Ask a Vegan!
On September 24th, at midday, I invited Rachelle over. I have known Rachelle for about a year and a half and we quickly became the best of friends. Rachelle has been Vegan for almost 2 years. Oh, how curious I was, as someone who never stops thinking; my, oh my, I just had so many questions to ask! Consequently, I still didn’t feel I wanted to become Vegan (or could), yet I was eager to find out more. I mean, Rachelle has tried to educate me over the duration of our friendship. I often refused to listen, yet she never forced it down my throat, she is gentle and intelligent and only ever tried to inspire me… I came to her. This is the day I became Vegan; the only regret I have is that I didn’t do it sooner.
Stage 3: The reckoning | Taking off the blindfold
Watch Cowspiracy. It was about 20 minutes in to this 90 minute documentary that I knew that was it. Come the end of it, I was sobbing hysterically. I had so many questions, this time not aimed at Rachelle, but aimed at mankind as a whole! Rachelle knew exactly what I was going through. Hell, she went through it too! She embraced me and she too cried! Now that my eyes were open, I wanted to know more…
TIP: Educate yourself on animal cruelty, climate change, and health. You have access to unlimited knowledge and information at your very fingertips.
Step 4: Taking the vow & acknowledgment
The day I became vegan, I acknowledged that I would never eat a cheeseburger again, nor a stick of my favourite Kinder chocolate (which I was 100% addicted to… one was never enough), pick n’ mix, fillet steak, Jewish chicken soup, smoked salmon, and scrambled egg (which is tradition to eat on Christmas morning since, FOREVER), tomato and mozzarella, roast chicken, shellfish, beef Bourguingnon, cheese, milk and ice cream… just to name a few of my favourite things. The list is inevitably endless, but guess what? I am totally okay with that! Becoming vegan was instant, sudden, and all at once. Do I regret it almost 2 months in? Not one bit!
TIP: Feel like giving in to your cravings? Remind yourself of why you made this decision. Personally, I have no difficulty or ‘cravings’. I feel settled in my heart and soul with my decision. You are strong; you have committed to an act of selflessness; be proud of yourself and do not give up. It can only get easier, and your heart, body, and soul will only thank you for it.
Step 5: Clearing out your fridge & pantry
THE BIG CLEAR OUT. I donated everything, there is no need to waste it!
TIP: Re-stocking can be expensive. Write a list, putting the most important items first (e.g. black salt, nutritional yeast) and buy products over time, re-building your pantry.
Step 6: Dealing with the stigma & unsupportive people
The stigma attached to being Vegan is a little silly, especially when you know how you felt before and how you now feel after. Don’t take life or yourself too seriously, it will only result in negative feelings. I, myself am not easily offended, however, bar a few people, most of my family and friends have been incredibly supportive. Yes, at times they either don’t understand or get mildly irritated, but they don’t go out of their way to stop me. To be honest, if it really irritates someone, that’s their problem, not yours, and arguably it’s their own conscience playing tricks on them. Remind yourself, “I am no longer funding the cruelty to animals, plus I have reduced my carbon footprint. So if that annoys someone, I’m not sorry, darling!”
TIP: Stay calm and state the facts when necessary. If people don’t want to listen don’t make them. Remember that you too once felt that way, it is either the conscience of others making them negative towards you, or they simply don’t care! Smile and remember you are doing your bit, continue inspiring others, and people will come to you over time…
Step 7: Learn to cook
Cooking is not only fun and therapeutic, but you will be able to experiment with new ideas, be healthier, and also ensure you get all the nutrients you need. You can follow my recipes for ease or let them inspire you to create your own! If you are becoming vegan, it is important that you get all the nutrients you need. Eating chips all day and bread because you can’t cook, or are always tired or in a rush is not healthy. Find the time and make it enjoyable. Plan your meals in advance and share your new creations with the world!
TIP: Plan your weekly work lunches on the weekend and make the night before, or as I do, wake up early to cook. It sets me in the most amazing mood and mindset for the day, it’s beyond therapeutic.
Step 8: Join the movement & online communities
One of the beautiful advantages of joining the movement, is that you have automatic access to an over-whelming platform of support groups that you are welcomed into with open arms. No matter what questions you have, you can seek advice and share information, food, and photos at any time with people of all ages from all over the world.
Step 9: Be a pioneer & inspire others
My way of inspiring others is through my food, seeing as diet is arguably the biggest change you make when going vegan. It is not that hard, really! Do you lose flavour? NO WAY! I couldn’t care less that I will never have meat, cheese, or dairy again as there are so many alternatives. It’s interesting, it breaks habit, and it’s better for the world.
Step 10: LOVE life, be positive & be happy
Lastly, this is a really important step and I want anyone taking this life choice into consideration to listen carefully. When you open your eyes to what is really happening in our world, it is upsetting. I am overly-sensitive and very empathetic; I always have been and always will be. I often take on the pain of people close to me and now the animals, and our planet. HOWEVER, I am extremely positive and I refuse to lose that. Just because I now hold more knowledge, doesn’t mean I will lose my positive sparkle and neither should you.
I believe and know that we can make a change in our world, in our generation, before our very own eyes, we will all make a difference. I would like to invite all my readers to join VEGANUARY this coming January 2017. Be vegan this January.
Do it for our Animals.
Do it for our Planet.
Do it for Ourselves.