By Carol Williams for Elephant Journal.
I never believed that a change in my diet could have such an impact on my life.
Having been a vegetarian ever since I turned 16, I didn’t expect that cutting out all animal products would help me learn new things about myself and those who are important to me. Switching to a vegan diet proved to be not only challenging to the body but to the mind as well.
While being vegetarian is somewhat more accepted, veganism seems to distance one from everything that’s good in life—like pizza nights with friends.
Fortunately, I live in a city which caters to all culinary preferences imaginable, so becoming a vegan didn’t really affect this part of my life—but to trying to convince a non-vegan to eat a chickpeas burger or a seitan sausage proved challenging.
I never expected that the things we eat could affect us socially to this extent. But that’s just one thing, atop a mountain of unexpected changes, powered by my turn to veganism. (One way to get healthy gut bacteria is from Kombucha. Learn more about it in Mamamia TV’s video below. Post continues after video.)
Here are some things I learned along the way, that I wish I had known before going vegan.
Transitioning to veganism doesn’t need to happen from one day to another.
Research tells us that the more gradually people transition to veganism, the more likely they are to stick to it. I expected that vegetarians would have it easier, since they’re already used to making conscious dietary choices every day, but I still happened to be pretty dedicated to good cheese and delicious honey.
I wish I had known that one can take weeks, or even months, until becoming fully animal-product free. Making a few huge dietary changes all at once overwhelmed me. Later I learned that it’s best to break the transition up into sporadic big changes and regular small transitions.
In the end, it’s all about our comfort. The changes we make shouldn’t feel oppressive or difficult to adjust to. (Post continues after gallery.)
Small changes are equally valuable.
When transitioning to veganism, I was convinced that it’s only the big changes that count. Fortunately I had a fellow vegan recount me her story—emphasising how small changes, like choosing one meal a week to be completely animal product-free, make up for a larger transition.