Tomorrow marks my three-month Veganiversary. But I’m still not calling myself a vegan.
The answer is a little more complex than I realised so bear with me.
As I talked about in my Veganuary post, I always planned to commit to going completely vegan for the month of January. I then wanted to finish up any non-vegan items in I had my kitchen (chai latte powder, I’m looking at you) before deciding whether or not I’d convert to and stick with veganism.
Well, here we are approaching the start of April and I’ve not had a single chai latte in 2018.
Every time I’ve considered having something non-vegan, I’ve felt really guilty. I wasn’t talked into this by anyone, I didn’t make a huge deal out of it, and I have nothing to prove… Yet I still can’t bring myself to drink that damn chai.
As many other Veganuary participants reported, sticking to a vegan diet has been easier than I expected. I am genuinely surprised that I haven’t caved and eaten an entire wedge of brie in one session or ordered a triple-cheese pizza in a moment of weakness.
Yep, I was one of those vegetarians who vegans hated for saying “but cheese!”. Giving up eggs was easy, switching to plant-based milk and yogurt even easier, but cheese has always been the main hurdle standing in my way to crossing over to the
dark vegan side.
Yet, it turns out that I can live without it!
I mean, I do have to actively avoid the cheese aisle in supermarkets, I’ve tried nearly every “cheese”, cheeze and sheese on the market (my local Sainsbury’s thoughtfully has the range stocked on the end of an aisle), and I’ve swapped my hangover cure from cheese on toast to avocado and tomato on toast. Healthier, at least!
Speaking of health…
I can’t actually say that I feel healthier in general. This is definitely my own fault, though. I seem to have decided that it’s my duty to purchase absolutely anything and everything that’s been veganised; I’ve bought everything from from pies to pizzas, cheese to chocolate, and even vegan Cornettos (!), my justification being that I want to support the people and brands lovely enough to veganise their goods.
I guess I also want to prove to myself that I can still eat almost anything I want to. Including comfort food and treats.
My next challenge is definitely to cut down on vegan junk food!
So after all this, why am I not calling myself a vegan?
I think it’s mostly because of the pressure that I feel can be associated with that label. Being a vegetarian brings on enough questions and criticism; everyone suddenly becomes an expert on health (but protein!), animal welfare (farm animals are loved!) and the environment (your tofu is destroying the Amazon rainforest!), or they try their best to trip you up (are you sure that wine is vegetarian?).
For vegans, the scrutiny is next level. I can’t be bothered with that right now.
There will be some vegans who dislike this stance and feel I should be actively educating others on veganism. But honestly, my dietary choices are nothing to do with other people, be they meat-eaters or meat-haters. I will happily discuss my choices and beliefs with anyone who asks but I’ve never been a “preachy” veggie, so I don’t feel the need to shout about veganism either.
If vegan activism and awareness is your thing, that’s awesome. You do you. I definitely do talk about it, I just prefer a more passive approach. I love sharing tasty vegan food on Instagram, tweeting about awesome vegan initiatives, and waffling on about my beliefs, choices, or latest amazing vegan meal on this blog.
Ultimately, I decided to try out veganism for myself because I feel that it aligns more closely with my ethical beliefs, my love of animals, and my passion for the environment. I’m not doing it to make a point, to be “different” and “alternative”, or to follow a trend. I do aim to stick with it but to be honest, the thought of possible failure scares me so I’m not yet comfortable with the label.
I guess I consider myself a strict vegetarian who is currently trying out an entirely vegan diet, have been for three months, and plan to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.
And for me, that’s enough right now.
Did you participate in Veganuary? Have you stuck with it?