Today was the first morning that I poured soymilk into my coffee instead of skim milk. It was tempting to cut out animal products cold turkey, but not realistic. Veganism will be a gradual change because it is a learning process. I will not be a perfect vegan immediately and I accept that. Just yesterday I drove to the store and spent about $20 on vegan products that tasted like crap.
I also made the common mistake of buying soy cheese and assuming that it was vegan without first reading the ingredients. Wrong. The soy cheese contained casein. I could eat it anyway, as it was an honest mistake, but the thought is still new and grotesque to me. Calf stomach. No, not in my body, no thank you. None of the products I selected really impressed me either. The disappointment kind of hit me. I felt a heightened sense of awareness towards my lazy desire to deny what was known to me. I found myself rethinking my decision to become vegan. What a hassle to stop and evaluate every single bite that goes into my mouth. Why can’t I just eat it if it tastes good? The conversation that I had with my aunt the day I decided to try a vegan diet came back to me.
My aunt is pescatarian meaning she eats fish and animal products such as eggs, milk and cheese. She does not eat products directly derived from animals such as beef, turkey, or pork. When she educated me about animal products hidden in protein shakes among other products I eat regularly, I responded in disgust. I immediately declared myself a vegan from that moment forward. She reacted by casting her eyes downward and saying, “I know, I just try and not think about it.” Her remark blew me away. To me that is admitting that despite your recognition of the facts, you will disregard them and choose to live in a land of pretend. In this land of pretend, what is known will cause you to think no further and to feel no guilt. It is the willingness to accept ignorance. It is the willingness to not think and to create a barrier to your knowledge. But what if there was a better way? What if instead of lingering on the fact that yes, becoming a vegan may be a hassle—that the rewards I will gain from this diet in terms of health and peace of mind in knowing that I am committing no cruelty towards animals—will be worth the transition. Without trying a vegan diet, I will never know what possibilities lay before me. I am hungry for knowledge about how veganism will benefit my own body, passionate about respecting all living things around me—human and animal, and eager to leave a positive imprint on my earth instead of an unsustainable ecological footprint.
And just one question I will pose to you: what is the worst case scenario? Perhaps the vegan diet does not work and I find research that refutes what I have learned so far. Then I will have the choice to stop. Veganism is not a death sentence and it is certainly not a dangerous diet when followed in an educated fashion. I am looking forward to making positive changes to my own body and to the world around me in this transition.