Today makes 3 wonderful years since I've been vegan! For me, celebrating your Veganniversary is like celebrating your birthday, but it's more about reflection than presents (although, I do almost always buy myself a present, simply because I like presents!) After 3 years of being a vegan, I've really learned a lot, and I've seen such a shift in the world that I truly hope by this time next year, I know some other people celebrating their veganniversary too!
In the past month alone, I've had several people approach me and ask for help on how to begin a meatless lifestyle. Apparently there's a new and powerful documentary on Netflix called What The Health that's been making waves amongst meat eaters and actually giving them the desire to change their ways! It's from the makers of Conspiracy, so while I haven't watched it (I never watch those types of documentaries, it's too hard being an empath), I know that is has to be some powerful stuff. I'm thrilled that these documentary creators have been able to take facts that us vegans have known, and create a film that puts them in the most easily absorbed terms and inspires that change in people. This shows the progression of veganism in the mainstream world.
My advice to those asking for help is this: I encourage ALL meat eaters to start with vegetarian first, to limit the shock to your body, and then gradually make your way to being vegan. It's a marathon, not a race. Try multiple kind of faux meats, they tend to help make the transition easier. Look up recipes and find vegan cook books to help inspire your meals. Try foods you've never tried before, whether it be tofu, eggplant, lentils... whatever, try them all. Your palette will adapt as you go. Eating a variety of foods will ensure you're getting the right nutrition. Supplement with vegan vitamins, I do, even though I have a healthy diet. You will slip up, and that is fine. If you're truly dedicated to the lifestyle, your heart is going to be in it, and you'll have no problem getting back on that horse. Have daily affirmations and find a mantra. Something like "This cow and my dog are exactly the same. You can't eat one and love another." Follow various vegans on Instagram, read tons of blogs (like mine!), visit sanctuaries, donate your time to help at them if you can, volunteer, and enjoy the journey. This vegan life is not one of convenience, but it is one that's rewarding. You'll have to work hard for those rewards, but eventually it does get easier, and it becomes second nature. Mentally, physically, and emotionally, going vegan and doing it right is the single best decision you'll ever make for yourself. It has been for me.
I have been participating in a lot more activities the past year. I've been going to several new vegan places that I've seen popping up, I've been attending fund raisers, I went to a wolf sanctuary, I went to an animal sanctuary, I'm doing Yoga with Dogs tomorrow, and I've been trying really hard to be the healthiest I can be. I got a FitBit and have been walking regularly, I've cut out all caffeine, and I've been eating the best I ever have. As a vegan, you need to be the voice for the voiceless, and you certainly can't do that if you're not well. My health hasn't been great, with the discovery of Hypothyroidism that literally affects all aspects of your body and mind too, but I'm working on it. Seeing a therapist, working on my anxiety, and taking medication to help is essential to my overall well being. I can't help animals if I'm a crazy person in the nut house!
I've really learned to use my voice over the past year, and speak up for what I believe in. Because I fear confrontation so, its easy for me to let someone say their peace and me just try to keep the peace without really saying what I believe in. Not anymore. I've heard on several occasion that being vegan is crazy, it's extreme, all vegans are extreme. Nope. People tend to confuse passion with extremeness. Having a deep rooted passion for not wanting animals to suffer for our food, clothes, entertainment, beauty products, cleaning products, and for us in general... that's not extreme. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, as was said by Einstein himself. It's insane for me to think that by letting people have their opinion on veganism, which is often riddled with inaccuracies, without voicing mine, which is full of facts since it's how I live my every day life, will never help to promote the positive change our society needs. I want to be more of an activist, and this is the first step in doing so.
This past year has not been an easy one, but it's been a rewarding one. As I overcome and conquer my issues, I'm learning that I'm a lot stronger than I am. And if I'm going to fight for the rights of the animals that can't fight for themselves, I'm going to need that strength.
Cheers to another beautiful vegan and cruelty free year!