For several years I was suffering from digestive issues. Annoying yes, but I always seemed to just manage and ignore them. After all they would come and go and some of the issues didn’t last long. This past March, those issues were so extreme and becoming more frequent I called my doctor. Her advice? Cut out dairy. So I did. Cold turkey. I was already using almond milk in my coffee so that didn’t matter. I would miss the cheese though…
I also decided if I was no longer consuming dairy then I could also adopt a vegan diet. I had tried vegetarian diets in the past (of course not vegan because I couldn’t give up that cheese) and now that dairy was no longer in my life I decided it was time to try going vegan. I didn’t ease into it. I didn’t cut certain things out one by one. I went grocery shopping and decided to longer consume anything that came from an animal. This is what I do. I started training for my first marathon without ever even running a 5k. I picked up knitting needles and instead of knitting in a straight line I was knitting in the round with complex patterns. I kind of go all in on things. And most of the time my passion fizzles out and I get back to “normal”. However I did run that marathon.
Well no surprise here. My all or nothing vegan diet lasted about two weeks. Then I was back to having turkey tacos and grilled chicken. I stuck to the no dairy and felt amazing. As my old diet crept back in I now had something to compare my lifestyle to. I felt amazing eating a vegan diet. I was eating more whole foods. More fruits and vegetables. I had more energy. I was getting creative with my cooking. And even though I slipped back into some carnivore meals, I was still eating mostly plants.
My mom took note of my new diet and got me the book “Mostly Plants”. It really spoke to where I was. I wanted to eat more fruits and vegetables and less food that came from animals. This cookbook was exactly where I was in my struggle.
I now realize that my all or nothing mind set will continue to set me up to fail. For many reasons I want to go vegan. First, I am having a harder and harder time separating my feelings of empathy for animals and also consuming them. I have read books and watched documentaries and those are enough to make you want to quit eating animals, and anything that comes from them. I want so badly to be fully plant based, and I know eventually I will get there. However in order to be successful I know my all or nothing approach is not the best bet. So here I am eating a lot more plants, still eating eggs, and shrimp and, *gasp* chicken here and there. I haven’t had red meat or pork since I started this journey. I am being easy on myself and not letting my vegan “failures” consume me anymore. My progress is still making a difference whether that be for the planet, the animals, or my over health and my family’s health.
So today I would consider myself a “flexitarian”. On the rare occasion that I consume animal products I am letting it go quickly and not harping on it. I am also finding that when I do consume meat my taste for it is changing. I am easing into it! I Am not throwing away leather handbags or shoes, but I will be more conscious of what I buy going forward. Making a big lifestyle change is hard and you will “mess up”. What I am learning is that it is okay to not be perfect. We’ll get there.