I didn’t become a vegan overnight. I didn’t even become a vegetarian over night. Rather, it was something I thought about for a long time before I actually committed. After mulling it over for the better part of a year, I finally decided to stop eating meat all together in July of 2007. During my year of contemplation, I gradually started eliminating meat from my diet. First it was pork and beef, both of which were relatively easy for me to give up because I’d always known how unhealthy they were. I was still eating turkey and chicken, however, and wasn’t quite sure how I’d give those up–they were a pretty big part of my diet at that point. Still playing with the idea, though, I started trying to have vegetarian meals whenever I could. I really didn’t know much about a healthy vegetarian diet, so I knew I’d have to read up on it to make sure I did it right and didn’t end up gaining a bunch of weight or feeling tired or whatever (both of which can also happen on an omni-diet, obviously). As it turns out, I started to enjoy cooking – something that had never been a favorite pastime of mine. I loved the idea of making myself healthy, filling vegetarian meals, and enjoying my food so much. My taste buds seemed to change – I was liking foods I had never been particularly fond of, and it felt pretty cool.
I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone compared making a huge change in diet to getting married – you have this big day where you decide “Ok, this is it! I’m doing it!”, and then after that you just do it because you’ve committed. That made a lot of sense to me. When I was eliminating meat from my diet and learning about vegetarian cooking, I was kind of “dating” vegetarianism, until once day I decided “hey, we should get married”. Luckily, vegetarianism isn’t a person who can (and likely would) turn me down. We were partners!
It was the same thing with going vegan: I dated it for a while, and then just decided I was going to do it, and there would be no turning back. Now we’re in love…or at least I am. Let’s not worry about the details, okay?
Anyway, the point of this all is that I think baby steps are okay – in fact, they’re to be celebrated. A couple of my girlfriends (big shout out to Sarah & Becky) have both been taking their own baby steps. Sarah’s working on cutting at least some of the meat out of her diet and Becky’s a full-fledged veggie now. I am so proud of both of them, because I know what a struggle it can be, but I also know how worthwhile it is. I’ve never felt better in my life. Sure, a lot of that is emotional because for me, eating animals just got to be kind of painful. I felt emotionally lousy every time I was doing it, to the point where it just wasn’t worth it anymore. I think that’s what psychologists might call my “conscience”, but let’s not get too fancy here. Basically, I just had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing – that was enough for me.
Whatever your reason for taking some of those baby steps (or in Becky’s case, pretty big leaps!) – health, the environment, animals – keep on steppin’! Knowing that you’re doing something good for yourself, the earth, and all those little piggies and cows and chickens will make you feel all warm & fuzzy inside.