A year ago I decided to “go vegan”
A year ago I decided to "go vegan" for a month. And a year later I'm still going. It's been tough; I've fallen off the wagon and I've chosen to step gracefully off the wagon but ultimately I'm so pleased that I stuck with it in my own way.
Prologue: I’m veggie
I have been vegetarian since I was about 9 years old. The concept of eating meat was intolerable to me. As I grew from child to adult, my choice to be vegetarian began to feel like less of a choice and more of a constriction. I felt a need to push this boundary and rebel against a self-inflicted constraint. Meat was my weapon of defiance (to be frank I chose many weapons, but this is a story about meat... or lack there of... so I’ll try not to go off-piste). However, it took me until well into my 20s before I could face trying a morsel of meat. I persisted and tried many types of meat and even went through short phases of eating meat regularly.
But I eventually settled back into being vegetarian. Mostly vegetarian. This time round, the title didn’t control me. Every day, every meal, I chose to be vegetarian, except on rare occasions when I would choose not to be.
1) Why be veggie?
My choice to be (mostly) vegetarian has been inspired by many things: a love of animals; the horror of the treatment of animals in the meat and dairy industry; the health implications of eating meat and dairy products; the effect of the meat and dairy industry on the Earth; the energetic effects of eating something that died suffering... I could go on and on but I’m not going to go deeper into my “whys” and “wherefores” here. If this is a discussion that is of interest to you then let’s go out for tea and discuss...
2) Why be vegan?
A year ago I decided to “go vegan”. It was a decision that was a long time coming. I had taken milk out of my diet years before and had cut down on many other animal products and was a very conscious shopper, opting for locally farmed organic eggs and organic goats or sheep cheese etc. Many times I had considered making the switch but would find myself eating eggs or wanting cheese or butter. Then, one year ago, it just happened. I just had a moment when it seemed important to me. I didn’t even finish the eggs and cheese I had in the fridge – I fed them to the local stray cats (I was in Cyprus at the time) and that was that.
3) I’m vegan
Last year my commitment was to be 95% vegan for the whole of January and then to see how I felt by February. And now, a year later I’m still (mostly) vegan. And grateful to myself every day that I continue to be. I have to admit – it’s tougher than being vegetarian. There are more battles of will (I really love the taste of cheese). And I choose to eat certain animal products on occasion because it feels right for me at the time. But all in all, I almost always choose to be vegan and, if it’s ever crossed your mind as a good idea, then I would encourage you to do the same as often as you can: 6 days a week, 2 meals a day, one month a year... whatever feels realistic for you right now.
Here’s a few tips to help you support your goal, whatever it is, this New Year:
1. Make your goal realistic
Don’t set yourself up to fail. Pick objectives that work with your intention and the realistic abilities and constraints around you.
2. Make your goal specific
Make sure you’re clear about what you want to achieve and what the boundaries are. Also be clear about the time commitment involved.
3. Tell people
Tell people who will support you and allow them to cheer you on. It can also help to let people know how help you when you’re wavering – do you need reassurance or a good telling off?!
Equally, don’t feel you have to share your goal with people who will not help you in achieving and committing.
4. Honour yourself and your Sankulpa
In Yoga tradition, a resolution is called a “Sankulpa”. It is treated as a sacred commitment to yourself and to your higher self. Treat your goal as such – be grateful for the ability to achieve this goal and honour yourself by committing fully and honestly to this goal. When you feel you might waver, take a moment to consider the commitment, how much it means to you, and honour that rather than the temptations to waver.
5. Don’t beat yourself up if you do waver
With all good intentions and with all the support you think you need, you may still slip-up with your goal. Acknowledge that you chose to veer from your intention, and then start again, with gratitude and kindness.
6. Do it now
Tomorrow never comes and there is no “right time”. Just make the decision and do it. Right Now!