What’s the key to staying vegan?
Surround yourselves with other vegans.
I know, it sounds way too simple.
And maybe as someone who hasn’t been vegan for a full year I don’t seem like the person to take advice from about how to remain one. But I do know a bit about being a lifelong vegetarian and have a past of trying and failing to be vegan.
I tried to be vegan four or five years ago, stopped, continued wanting to do it for many years, didn’t do it, wanted to again, was met with resistance from several people close to me, kept waiting, decided to stop waiting and tried again. Now it’s going great! So, what’s different?
Last year, I moved into a vegetarian house with a few vegan roommates. I became very close with a vegan friend, started dating said vegan friend, made of bunch of new friends who all knew me as vegan and started exploring the vegetarian/vegan restaurants in the city. While visiting my family, I watched documentaries promoting veganism and plant-based diets with my parents, and soon my Mom decided to become vegan too. I have support. Now I even have a blog so that I can explore and share my experience.
I’ve experienced many challenges to being vegan. And I have heard from a others why they stopped being vegan. Often, the reason often has more to do with social pressure…their partner/close family member/best friends weren’t supportive or on-board with it, so eventually they were worn down.
Eating is often a social activity, from eating lunch with coworkers, going out to eat, cooking for friends and family, trading recipes or going to a potluck. It can often feel alienating to not be able to share with others.
Here’s my advice:
Tell others about what awesome food you eat. Invite them to dinner. When people ask, explain (in a nonjudgmental way) why you’re vegan. Take them to your favorite (vegan or vegetarian) restaurants. Go to vegan meetups. Encourage people who are thinking of becoming vegan. Seek out other vegans in your life. Try to create a community of people supportive of your choices, ideally people who themselves might be vegan.
Obviously, social support isn’t the only factor, but it’s a big one. What else helps you maintain your resolve?
In the meantime, watch this video from Koko the guerrilla on climate change and remember the tremendous impact eating meat and animal byproducts has on the environment (and therefore, biodiversity)!