I Became Vegan To Match My Actions To My Beliefs
My journey with vegetarianism began twenty-five years ago with a little book named Charlotte’s Web. Being the only vegetarian in my family and friend group, I struggled to fully embrace the lifestyle. Despite the majority of my meals throughout my life being vegetarian, my soul ached.
One night in 2017, I used a bee venom mask, and I swear a bee attacked me the next day. It’s probably, maybe, not true, but that’s the guilt I carried with me.
So last year, I decided to try being a vegan. The world seemed to be pushing me in the direction. I’d been wanting to live the lifestyle since reading Charlotte’s Web, the vegan population doubled at my office, and my acupuncturist said it would make my skin glow. So I went for it.
And I really did it! When I began I had no idea if I was capable of becoming vegan, but I’ve stayed on the journey even when I made mistakes here and there. It never felt like a goal, and yet not only was it a goal but it changed my life.
Here’s what I’ve learned in the past year.
It’s okay to be impolite.
Being vegan means being a bit pushy and firm from time to time. Not everyone cares about what I’m trying to honor through my diet. Some folks care they just don’t know. I’ve been treated like an inconvenience or the punchline to a slew of jokes. I’ve learned to hold my ground when it comes to dining out with friends and family. If we’re going out to eat, I can’t go to every restaurant, but there’s plenty I can go to (Vegan Spots in Austin).
It’s okay to not be perfect.
I didn’t even think of all the things that are not vegan from the get-go. I had some stumbles, but I had a vegan guru in my friend, Rachel, to guide me and remind me I’m eating way fewer animal products than I was two years ago. My efforts have a positive effect on the environment, my health, and of course, animals. And it’s not just me! My husband eats vegetarian at home and my daughter is vegetarian full-time. 👇
My daughter is here for it.
Henley’s three and at some point last year she noticed I don’t eat meat. We started talking about what that meant and she started labeling food as “Pig” instead of “bacon”. One night we snuggled up to read Charlotte’s Web and after an hour of me answering her questions, a little vegetarian sprung forth! Now my husband is outnumbered and gets a guilt trip from a three-year-old whenever he eats meat. She even asks him to go to the farm to apologize to the animals’ families. Being able to tell and show Henley I love animals allowed her to realize she didn’t want to eat meat.
Living with values.
Before last year, my identity as an animal lover and my actions didn’t match. I prioritized my comfort and other’s comfort, by eating animal products. I didn’t want to be difficult, I didn’t want to give up fancy dinners out, I didn’t want to say goodbye to cheese, and I really didn’t want to think about how my food landed on a plate.
And yet, I squealed at the sight of goats, fed chickens, cuddled pigs, and hugged cows. I only loved animals when it was convenient. Last year taught me I can’t be an animal lover and eat animals. (Sorry, if you believe it’s possible to be both. Not meant to shame or offend I just believe something different.)
Adopting a vegan diet allowed me to align my animal-loving nature with my actions. Living a life that honors my values has changed more than my diet. It’s made me question the world around me, and grapple with some tough inconsistencies in my life. For example, on multiple occasions, my “vegan” order showed up with cow’s cheese and one of my other values is not creating food waste. Digging deep when parts of you are at odds is hard, exciting, and human.
There’s more work to do.
I’ve spent the last year educating myself on how and why I should follow a vegan diet. It’s seeped into so many more things including my approach to fashion. I’ve learned some horrors about fast fashion that I should have known or at least assumed all along. Building on my goal from last year, I’ll only be purchasing clothing that’s secondhand or an essential from a sustainable, ethical, and women-owned business.
The spirit is to spend my money on my values. And being trendy while fun is not a value in my soul. Helping me out so far are the Finery App (co-founded by Austinite, Brooklyn Decker) to keep my closet in order, and Christy Dawn to make my boho dreams come true. Oh, and I’ve swapped my Starbucks matcha for a homemade one with Califia Farms almond milk and Golde Matcha powder. (My skin and wallet thank me for it.)
Historically a goal for me is a milestone, but the past year I’ve been doing real work on my soul and moving toward a more complete version of me. That’s way more than any goal in the past has done for me. I may not have climbed the corporate ladder last year, but I felt more me.
I’m already seeing the impact of matching my words and actions on Henley. Kids are so curious and quick to call out inconsistencies. So I hope to be a good example and inspire her to discover her own values and live ’em even when it’s hard.