VEGAN PLANT-BASED ADVENTURES
Spoiler alert — It’s very little to do with awkward food situations.
I was vegetarian for 17 years before I made the transition to Vegan. I had always liked the idea but was intimidated by how difficult it seemed, and terrified about what happened to people when they became Vegan.
My partner and I decided to try Veganuary; we got about halfway through the month and realised it was not as tricky as we had initially anticipated. So we did what any practical people would do, we continued; it will be three years in January 2021, and it has been quite the adventure. I use the word adventure specifically because that is the most accurate way to describe our journey.
You have to be pretty resilient to make this transition, and it can be challenging depending on what resources you have at your disposal. I always thought our biggest struggle would be with food; we live in Vietnam, and the Vegan movement has only really taken off over the past year; but no, that’s not the case at all.
There is a lot more to Veganism than what is on your plate, and a lot more hurdles to get yourself over in this new way of living. You are almost certainly going to find that a lot of the time the struggle is connected to people.
People as in you, people as in others.
Here is what I have learned so far; hopefully, it can go some way to making someone else’s transition a bit smoother.
It is a journey — your journey
The reason behind the decision to become Vegan is different for everyone; the thing that is always the same is the journey they are about to embark on. No one starts out a perfect Vegan; in fact, I think it’s probably fair to say there is no such thing as a perfect Vegan; everyone is muddling through and doing their best. So it’s crucial that you prepare for this journey and approach it in a way that works for you as an individual. Yes sure take advice from others, but do your own research too, you know yourself better than anyone else. You are about to enter a world where there are a lot of opinions about your choice to become Vegan, both good and bad. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are about this way of living, the less you will care about anyone else’s opinion!
You have to give yourself a break
Seriously, because, in the beginning, it can be tough.
‘OMG, I failed, there was cheese in my taco’
All hell breaks loose, then the shrieks of delight from the non-vegans come:
‘well then you’re not Vegan anymore’
That’s right, game over you are no longer Vegan, right? They are lapping this up, revelling in your horror, because let’s face it — that would be easier for them wouldn’t it? If their annoying Vegan friend, just gave up at the first hurdle and stopped with this silly nonsense. Well, I say no. Woah there — hold up (and all that stuff) I am pretty sure this has happened to more Vegans than not. It’s not a failure, it’s an annoying glitch, generally due to miscommunication about what ‘Vegan’ actually means. So yeah, your Taco got screwed up, so what, move on, don’t eat Taco’s there again, you are still Vegan, and you’re trying your best.
If you are feeling deflated or overwhelmed about the road ahead, take a look at this video by Earthling Ed, he’s such a great speaker, and this video is a powerful motivational tool. Just remember one step at a time is good enough!
I have been speaking to my Vegan friends about this, and it’s a pattern they can all relate to. After you decide to go Vegan, and as a part of your transition, you become more involved in all of your decisions, you have to be, you soon find you’re reading the labels on everything, just to be sure. Next, you have questions and want to find out more; so you start to read books and watch films, you follow Vegans on YouTube. These are all tools to help you; there are so many fantastic resources available that cover every aspect of Veganism, but much like your journey, you need to find the right tools for you. I couldn’t watch Earthlings; I couldn’t bear it, I was in floods of tears 7 minutes in. The good news is there are a lot more options now. Here are the three that have helped me explain to others.
What The Health 🎥
This film was the biggest eye-opener of all for me. I felt so naive and stupid after watching this. It didn’t have the best reception from the Vegan community, but put that aside, and it’s a fascinating film. I like the fact that it focuses in on health, I loved all the statistical information, It’s an easy watch and works as a great jumping-off point, especially if you’re using it to explain to others.
Another great way of explaining your decision to go Vegan without being too heavy-handed. There is no doubt this is a beautiful film, yes it does have some upsetting elements but is easier to digest than something like Earthlings. Directed by the amazing Bong Joon Ho (of Parasite acclaim) and starring Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal.
A gentle giant and the girl who raised her are caught in the crossfire between animal activism, corporate greed and scientific ethics.
This book is hilarious. I stumbled across it on a trip to Portland in my Vegan infancy and grabbed it on the off-chance it might be ok. I had no idea who Dan Mathews was, or what he had accomplished. It’s quite brilliant, it follows Dan’s journey through life, his friendship with Pamela Anderson, his triumphs and his failures — all in the name of animals. It also shines a light on the fantastic work PETA does. I like this as again it’s relatable and although the issues are serious, the approach is not.
So yes, it never ceases to amaze me that so few people know the difference between Vegetarian and Vegan, but this is not what I mean by ignorance. Sadly the ignorance I am referring to is more likely to come from people who have decided they want a debate. They think they know it all, Veganism is unnatural, humans are designed to eat meat, you can’t get enough protein from plants, soy is causing more damage to the environment than the deforestation of the rainforests. In my extensive experience, I have found there is little point in arguing with these people. It doesn’t matter how well versed you are, or how brilliantly you can debunk each one of their points, it’s just not worth it, because not only do they not care or understand, they don’t want to. I am yet to work out why this happens, or what these people are trying to achieve, it usually just creates a very uncomfortable situation with a lot of squirming from everyone else. Just remember be strong fledgeling Vegans, you are doing a great job, and don’t you let these people tell you any different!
Tolerance and diplomacy (for the above)
No matter how hard you try to avoid awkward situations your choice to become Vegan will land you in them whether you like it or not. You can choose from many different coping mechanisms. I, for the most part, choose tolerance and diplomacy. Mainly because:
- I can’t be bothered to get all worked up
- I often feel sorry for the person spouting the total and utter garbage
- If you encounter these situations frequently and get all fired up and retaliate each time, you will eventually explode and who wants to explode? Not me!
- I don’t want to be seen as one of ‘those angry vegans’ (even though I am planning in my head how to kill people with my mind)
- I want other people to become vegan, so I try to set a good example
You see before I did decide to become Vegan, I knew a lot of vegans, and the majority of them were angry, vocal and it put me off. Now that I am Vegan, I sympathise with the anger, but I maintain tolerance and diplomacy are going to get you a better outcome.
Disclaimer: on occasion, you are going to lose your sh*t and that’s fine too!
Constant justification *yawn*
Does anyone have to justify their reasons for eating bacon? I don’t think they do, and yet they are eating beautiful, intelligent piggies. So tell me, why is it that when people find out you are Vegan, not only will you be expected to explain and justify your reasons for this decision, but you must also be able to deliver audience-appropriate, engaging, ad-hoc presentations; detailing the hilarious trials and tribulations of your Vegan journey? Although this is often down to the best intentions of a well-meaning ally who is proud of your achievements, it gets a bit tedious having to be their Vegan showpiece. I use to launch into my speech with such enthusiasm; now I can spew out the abridged version in two minutes max.
Your supporters (YAY)
I mentioned in the last point about your non-Vegan allies. They do exist; you may well find that you accrue some Vegan champions. They offer support, praise your brave decision and you know what, often, it’s not the people you would expect. Two of our most prolific supporters are the CEO’s of where we work. They have embraced and celebrated our transition with such enthusiasm, often at the annoyance of other staff, but you know what I will take it. Thanks! I do always wonder why Vegan supporters don’t just become Vegan themselves. Still, as they are genuinely interested it’s worth sharing your plant-based pearls of wisdom, and if you keep chipping away, you never know right?
It IS a lifestyle
I just did a sick in my mouth at how corny that sounds, but it’s true — it really a way of life, it is so much more than what is on your plate. It is a community and network of like-minded people and resources that you can draw from to create the Vegan lifestyle that works for you. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world there will be a local Vegan community. Maybe start with looking on Facebook there will probably be a group, and you should join because you will find that the community support one another; there will be local vegan businesses, gatherings, clubs, events and it helps a lot. Once you are a part of this network it makes it even easier for you to succeed.
This is a big one. Being Vegan is a commitment. A commitment to yourself, to the animals and the planet. When you decide to become Vegan, you are also making a choice to live in a different way. Think of it like this; it’s a giant project with a bunch of coursework and collaboration that you are a tiny part of. Most successful Vegans embrace this great big project; they make it their homework to find out more, they share their findings both good and bad and try to help their peers to understand. They are committed to the cause, the movement and everyone in it, it’s a pretty powerful thing to be a part of!
No Vegan wants another Vegan to fail!
(well at least I hope not)
Whatever the reason behind your decision to go Vegan, you have automatically enrolled yourself into an extraordinary global club full of people that hold the same values as you, and that is exciting. That club is there to help you on your adventure. Yes, you will meet challenges every single day, but you have to remember that there are always challenges on adventures, without them it would be boring. There are stacks of resources available across every platform, and plenty of people out there who are willing to help, all you have to do is ask.
Good luck on your adventure, and don’t forget to be proud that you’re a member of the super Awesome Ve-gang.
(one of the best clubs there is)