You Don't Have To Be a Vegan

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but I guess haven’t had the time or focus to word vomit my thoughts onto the internet. It’s a topic that is close to my heart and has grown increasingly more important to me over the last year or so. I believe that diet is so important to having a healthy lifestyle and in being so a direct correlation to happiness and mental health as well. All of the information posted here is of my own opinion and from my own experience. I am in no way a health professional or a nutrition expert so please take this post with a grain of salt and do not look to me for life-altering changes. This is simply my take on my diet and how I choose to eat. Your life is your responsibly. With that said, let’s get into what has been brewing in my head and in my heart for so long.

I decided to stop eating most meats around 2014. I say most meats because I continued (and still occasionally) eat fish. The technical term for this type of diet is pescatarian. The choice to move to this type of diet I believe was mainly due to exposure to people in my life who were completely vegan. I saw how they ate and had many conversations with them about why they chose the diet they did. It got my wheels turning. I never really enjoyed eating meat. Sure, a steak now and then was okay, but it wasn’t something I craved, and I think cooking chicken was more of a habitual convenience than a diet choice. I was raised having and slaughtering livestock for food. The graphic images of this have stuck with me for life and was also another huge reason I stopped eating meat paired with my love for animals. Lastly, and I think the main reason I stopped, was due to all of the new information coming out about the meat industry. People were researching where our food was coming from and finding that it wasn’t as clean or maybe even as safe as we thought it was. All of this put together just clicked for me. I didn’t want to be a part of something that hurt animals, but I also didn’t want to jeopardize my own health by ingesting food that could be tainted with chemicals or bad juju.

Jumping forward to today, I guess I would still be considered pescatarian, as I occasionally eat fish. I say occasionally because most of the time now when I eat it is when there is no other solid protein source available (such as going out to eat or being invited to a friend’s house for dinner), or if we catch the fish ourselves while camping and eat it while on vacation. I have cut out most of the dairy in my diet, again, only eating occasionally or when there’s no other option. Alternatively, I purchase almond milk for cooking and consuming at home, as well as the wide variety of non-dairy cheeses available at pretty much any grocery store these days. I also still eat eggs, however I only purchase cage-free organic eggs and hope to have my own chickens soon to source eggs from (I plan on doing a more educational post on why I still eat eggs in the future). So, why am I telling you all of this? Because I feel like in order to get into the conversation I want to start, it’s better to know where I’m coming from. I don’t want to seem like I come from a place of judgement. And, I suppose, that’s really my reason for this entire post.

Let’s stop judging each other for what we eat, and let’s start encouraging each other to do better.

No, I am not vegan, but I do eat like a vegan as often as possible. Do I call myself a vegan? No. Do I call myself a vegetarian? No. Why do I need to call myself anything? I think the biggest problem with the whole vegan label is the idea that we have to limit ourselves right away (and limit everyone else) to actually make a difference. You have to start somewhere, and that’s okay. This is why I include my journey in the beginning of this post. I think it’s so important to show people that it can be a transition. And it doesn’t even have to be this extreme! I mean, it’s not really extreme at all, but it can be simplified even more. And I think this is important because people are naturally afraid of change. Change can be scary, so sometimes it’s easier to process when we start small. I think that putting these big over-arching labels on things makes the plant-based community feel hard to reach. And we need to make it more inclusive if we want to see real change. Let’s get into easy ways that you can creep into being more plant-based and start making changes that are easy to accept but also easy to grow from.

Meatless Mondays

The first and probably one of the most popular ways to become more plant-based is starting with Meatless Mondays. This is where you take one day out of the week to eat completely meat-free (and hopefully dairy-free too!). I think this is a great option for people who have never really considered eating vegetarian or vegan diets before. It’s a small step into a big world and makes for a great opportunity to research recipes, ingredients and different ways of cooking without throwing your whole life into a whirlwind. Still too much change? Start with plant-based dinners on Mondays. This way it’s only one meal once a week while still giving you a great opportunity to try new things and hopefully spark bigger changes.

Small Ingredient Swaps

Another great way to make small changes in your diet is to pick one specific item or ingredient that you could start living without. For example, instead of drinking or using cow milk you switch to almond milk. This is a small change that could grow into something larger in time but still make a small difference. It’s also a great opportunity to try new plant-based ingredients and give yourself a way to figure out what you like in case you decide to take a bigger plunge. Don’t care for almond milk? That’s fine. There’s also soy milk, cashew milk and oat milk to name a few. Another great and easy ingredient swap? Switching ground beef for plant-based crumbles. There are many different brands now that offer such a substitute and I find that most taste just as good, if not better than ground beef.

Plant-Based Meal Swaps

I think this is probably one of the most fun ways to try plant-based changes and a great way to get friends and family involved too. Take turns hosting dinner nights (or just swapping meals or recipes) and sharing your favorite plant-based recipes. I know that this has been huge in my circle with showing people that plant-based meals don’t have to be boring or only filled with vegetables (although those are my favorite *wink*). Have friends that already eat plant-based? Ask them about helping you find options and making changes! I’m sure they’d be happy to help you along or invite you to dinner to see what great and healthy meals you might be missing.

These are just a couple of the ways you can start making a difference. If you’re interested in hearing more, let me know in the comments below.

We don’t all have to be vegan right now. If we can all commit to starting somewhere and making small changes we can all start to make a difference.

MelissaRose

4 thoughts on “You Don't Have To Be a Vegan

  1. this this THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’ve also been feeling this way for YEARS. I only recently decided to ditch the label of being vegan and call myself plant-based because trying to be a perfect vegan was tearing me apart inside.

    I realized if ever I was honest about my imperfections, most of the “vegan community” would probably roast and slaughter me (ha ha…) and tell me to revoke my vegan card whilst telling me I obviously don’t give a shite about animals ENOUGH because I’m selfish enough for including ethical honey in my diet and choosing to buy non-vegan shoes because I know that even though- yeah, I’d rather wear CUTE COMFORTABLE STYLISH PRACTICAL VEGAN shoes, they’re just not always available or are really that many to choose from right now. Even though a synthetic accidentally vegan option is probably way more terrible for the environment/people making them….

    That being said, I know that in the last 5 years of my eating plant-based and living an (I’ll admit, pretty imperfect but super strict) vegan lifestyle, the options grow and grow every year and I always say NOW is the best time to go vegan!

    I feel eternally tormented for feeling like those people are right, if I really wanted to be a perfect vegan I technically could be. But it’s SO not practical, and when/where do we draw a line? The animals DON’T wanna die, we get that and it’s the whole motivation for me to even want to live vegan/plant-based, but at the same time-am I not important? Is trying to be a good person 24/7 especially when no one is watching (yeah my guilt complex was HUGE-still kind of is) killing my mental health?

    I feel even more like slapping my past self for ever slightly being one of those people (labeled myself vegan at the time) that said “you CAN do it you just don’t want it or care about the animals enough” because now I ACTUALLY live in a food desert and tell the people living in the boonies to order off thrive market.com (I’m looking at you Hannah McNeely) when the closest thing to produce is the gas station having potatoes and onions for convenience because they don’t go bad for months………..

    Sorry for the NOVEL I just felt like UGH YES I AGREEEEEEEEEEE. THANK YOU for this post I feel so much less alone/insane!β™‘

    We need a million imperfect people making the best choices they can, not 100 perfect strict vegans. The truth is none of us can ever be perfectly ethical/eco-friendly, we gotta start being practical and asking the best of ourselves, not the impossible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOVE THIS COMMENT SO MUCH!! Especially the end “We need a million imperfect people making the best choices they can, not 100 perfect strict vegans”. I believe this is SO TRUE and feel so strongly about it. I think it’s so important for people like us to make this a REAL and ATTAINABLE lifestyle choice day by day, not something that we torture ourselves and our bodies into. Is it better to starve yourself then to break down and eat an available piece of cheese? To me, it’s not. If you are consistently trying and consistently wanting and intending to make a difference then that is EXACTLY where you need to be. MUCH LOVE GIRL! We are not alone!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for spreading this message!

        I wish this is the message I clinged to back in 2015/2016. I’m kind of an all or nothing person, so you just have to tell me “animals don’t wanna die” and I’ll never eat them again. So of course I listened to the first vegan influence on me which was a bunch of skinny pretty people eating 50 bananas a day and cycling all over Bali.

        I DON’T EVEN LIKE CYCLING THAT MUCH or BANANAS FOR THAT MATTER.

        Of course I didn’t care about having much reason to back up my logic when I was in high school…skinny/pretty/tropical = the GOAL.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. and I hate that I feel I even need to clarify this, but skinny/pretty/tropical of course isn’t a bad thing, still a goal of mine lol-but what I’m trying to say is it’s not E V E R Y T H I N G. Perfection is TOO all or nothing, because if you don’t at least TRY regardless of being perfect or not, the fact is you’ll never make a lasting long-term change at all.

        Liked by 1 person

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