I spent my whole life judging other people’s lifestyles way too harshly.
Running an Instagram account dedicated to food, I would post photos of juicy red meat, creamy herbed cheese and steaming pots of lobster. Each caption would include a snarky remark about how I simply “do not understand vegans.”
In 2020, I decided to change that. Resolutions are often looked down upon, predictable and typically ending two weeks into the year.
This year, I committed to a new resolution each month. My January resolution was dedicated to eating completely vegan and eliminating all animal products, including cutting off my personal favorite food group: cheese.
About five days in, I hated my new life as a vegan. I felt like a block of cheese could have saved my life and I was ready to totally give up.
It’s important to use your resources when approaching anything new. If I was to begin snowboarding, I would probably take lessons before flying down a mountain. So, I enlisted help from my most hardcore vegan friend. If you don’t have one of those hardcore vegans in your life, use social media. You will receive far more perspectives and learn all about the cult-vegan classics.
Now you’ll have a grocery list of approved vegan items. This process really forces you to understand yourself on new levels. Assessing your needs in meals according to your body and pre-existing favorite foods is essential to not hating your new life as a vegan.
“But eating vegan is expensive!”
It’s actually not. Produce prices change throughout the year. Make sure you are always eating “in season,” as this will also decrease your susceptibility to allergies and save you money. Losing the “produce-pressure” and buying non-perishable items like cans of vegetables, soup and pasta is relatively inexpensive and they last forever.
The best place to shop in the grocery store to reduce your carbon footprint and get the most for your money is the bulk section. Shopping in bulk just requires a tiny bit more preparation and planning, as food varies in price by weight. You can bring your own mason jars and become a sustainable legend or just use the plastic bags provided at the store. The best vegan-approved bulk items are salted cashews, hemp hearts for protein and your choice of nut butter!
“But how do I know what is safe?”
Eating vegan is one step into a cleaner lifestyle overall. There are many apps developed to help you make purchasing decisions that are better for your body, inside and out. My favorite vegan-decoder app is “Is It Vegan?” You scan the barcode on any item and the meter will fall between red or green.
The app “Healthy Living” rates food and personal care items. Food products are rated based on three elements: nutrition, ingredient concerns and degree of processing.
Personal care items are rated through “Skin Deep,” which identifies hazardous chemicals the government does not protect consumers from.
My “vegan January” built my emotional intelligence. Understanding other people’s perspectives is done through experiencing the things they go through. I enjoyed the vegan experience for a month, but have shifted slightly to make my life as enjoyable as possible, like eating cheese sometimes and using honey!
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