There is an endless stigma about being vegan. You know exactly what it is. It’s the same stigma you had before being a vegan, or the one that is preventing you from becoming a vegan. The one that echoes and tells you, questions you, “what will you eat?” Then it asks, “will you get all your nutrients from a vegan diet?” Lastly, “where do I begin?” It’s the voice that continues to gnaw at you and makes you prepare endlessly for the answers to these questions and more. One of my favorite attributes and talking points is the fact that I’m a vegan; that I actively choose to live a kinder life and I wake up every day and make that decision over again. However, it took me awhile to overcome all the doubts I had, and to answer all these questions myself. If there’s one thing I don’t like about the vegan lifestyle it’s all the mystery around veganism and the idea that there is a “right way” to being vegan. So let’s work our way through the mystery.
"One of my favorite attributes and talking points is the fact that I’m a vegan; that I actively choose to live a kinder life and I wake up every day and make that decision over again."
I was recently reminded of my early transition into a kinder lifestyle. I was wandering around a wine festival with a group of friends (asking about which wines are vegan, of course) when one person in the group reached out to me and asked, “What are some good non-dairy snacks?” Suddenly I had a flashback to when I first considered being a vegan. At that time, I didn’t have anyone that I could reach out to and ask a question like this, so it was an unexpected moment where I was taken aback. I had become someone that had answers. Me.The answer to the initial snack question was delayed due to all the wine but it got me thinking; how do we live a kinder life? Well, we start by taking little steps. We live a life that allows our friends to trust us and ask how they can change up their current lifestyle, and then it builds.
I start by being kind to myself. There is no point in beating yourself up with the questions that you have, or the things that you don’t know. We all start somewhere. So, question everything and everyone possible. For me, it started with food. I found a vegan blogger by some serendipitous google search who happened to detail all sorts of food pantry hacks and places to eat and how to modify your menu. I started there. I followed them over all social media channels: who did they follow? Who did they promote? Who were their followers? It felt like I was doing a research report, the most exciting research report. From one of those posts, I found that I was lucky enough to live a short drive from one of the best vegan bakeries. That opened up a new wave of information - new people, new experiences, new places.
The day after the wine festival, I was reminded of all these little steps I took and the ones I’ve modified since becoming a vegan and, subsequently, making the decision to live an entirely kind lifestyle. My day started the same as it always does: a cup of tea and a bowl of fruit. Then I got a text from my new wine acquaintance. It’s a continuation of the conversation we never finished over the weekend. The wine has worn off and I’m prepared with answers. So it begins. I list all these things: popcorn, fruit, veggies, hummus, etc., etc. It’s invigorating by how simple it is to live a kind life through food. I then ask myself, how do I live this kinder life beyond the food that I eat? It becomes so complicated at times, and it feels so out of reach.
Following my vegan blogger research report, all of these new questions and ideas opened up for me. I found that there were vegan fashion companies, more vegan restaurants, and vegan makeup lines. I then opened my closet and took a look at what my clothes made of. I opened my makeup bag and looked at the ingredients in my makeup, and researched the company that makes it. I looked at the material that my shoes made of and wondered how I so thoughtlessly went through all of these purchases in the past. Granted, I decided to start small. I wasn’t going to full on purge my wardrobe, but with this new information I was going to make new, informed decisions. Never again would I idolize something made with leather and think that it was some extravagant, expensive drool-worthy object. Never again would I randomly pick up a tube of lipstick without knowing what was in it and where it came from.
These discoveries were so freeing and so overwhelming. I didn’t know how I was going to thrive in my new lifestyle, but I knew that there wasn’t any other way that I could go forward after processing my new wave of information. I won’t say that I don’t make mistakes now, that I don’t make impulsive purchases any more. The most important part is progress, not perfection. If there is any part of you that is considering living a kinder lifestyle, if there is any part of you that is questioning things that you have taken for granted, that is a start.
"I won’t say that I don’t make mistakes now, that I don’t make impulsive purchases any more. The most important part is progress, not perfection."
Our lives are made up of these little choices and in them we can choose. We can choose to be the same or we can choose to be different. We can choose to be introspective or to be brash. We can vote with our money, or ignore with our money. Sure, no one said that it would be easy, but it would be worth it in the end. There are so many ways in our lives that we are already choosing to be kind. If only we took the time to focus more on them. To focus more on what makes the better decision for the world that we live in, the more sustainable future. We can choose to back away from fast fashion, unknown ingredients. Which life will you continue to choose?