How I maintain my plant-based balance.

Confession time. I’m not 100% vegan. I try but I’m incredibly fallible in the pursuit. There are some things I don’t bend on (no flesh of any kind, ever, for over a decade) but I eat eggs when I can get good ones. My body needs the boost sometimes when I’m out of routine or working weird hours. I also love baking. It’s bad. Sometimes, I do the dairy in the baking. No where else usually but, that gawd damn sweet tooth wins from time to time. It’s fluid. There will be months with no animal products at all, them BAM! Cheese plate. Usually this is right before my moon.

But the journey.

I am conscious of every bite of animal product & do so with absolute awareness of the harm I cause. I enjoy it less each time.

The progression of my plant-based journey went like this. I had a gf who went vegetarian. When I asked her why, she told me she felt bad using the resources required to raise animals for feed. It wasn’t long after I found the book, Fast Food Nation. Yuck. Like seriously. If you’ve been thinking about quitting meat (& fast-food), pick it up. What struck me here was the abuse of the workers in so many of these slaughter houses. I know in Canada, it’s a little different but it’s still atrocious. One hundred percent pure abuse of any living being in those places regardless of species. It also breaks down resource, economic, & health pitfalls to consuming meat.

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So I got off meat pretty quick after that. It was a progression. That first year. I was allowed turkey dinner at Christmas, then permitted myself one ‘meat month’ per year after. Ironically enough, poultry of all sorts was the first to go & the easiest to quit. When your body is only getting occasional animal protein, poultry seems a little pointless. I did a meat month the first year only. It was easy after that because I’d started to understand how to do vegetarian right.

Next, I discovered the book Skinny Bitch. Despite the title, it is not about being skinny. It is however written by a couple bad-asses women who lay it down quick & dirty. It’s an inspirational, get your shit together & go-vegan guide. It worked. I did a whole year completely vegan after that one. Except for Clamato Juice. I didn’t realize until eight months in what the ‘clam’ in Clamato was. I know.

It’s important to understand your motivation. For me, it started as a stand against human & animal abuse, then the resource use & environmental impact. Over time, it shifted completely to where I could not longer justify taking a life for my consumption when my survival did not require it. (Think the dairy & egg industry don’t take lives? Think again. Not only do they take lives but they enslave animals & kidnap younglings. I encourage you to do some research on the topic.)

Being vegan is possible for most people but it does require a lot more effort if you want to do it right. It can’t just be pasta and mangos all day everyday (though they’re great). You need a balanced diet that contains a wide variety of foods. You need to understand how to cook things properly for optimal nutrients & you need to understand how to put foods together for the best possible health.

Most importantly, you need to listen to your body.

I share this with you because I want you to understand that your journey to cutting back on & potentially eliminating animal products doesn’t happen overnight. For most people, it probably shouldn’t. There are the rare unicorns that can commit, maintain, & thrive right out the gates but in my experience, it tends to be quite fluid & there needs to be space to go ‘off course’ at times.

You need to be able to be flexible enough with yourself so veganism doesn’t become a chore.

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It’s a new experience & an ongoing journey. It’s an opportunity to expand your diet & optimize your health. It needs to be light & fun or you will never be able to stick to it. It needs to be a sustainable lifestyle practice, not a zealot dogma. Do your best. Make small, attainable goals, then commitments. Listen to your body & be kind to your soul. Most importantly, give it time. Make it a gradual, gentle shift. Your body will need time to detox.

Food will start to taste different as your taste buds come back to life & your digestion will gradually reset itself. Then look out, whole new world!