Going vegan is usually a big change in someone’s life. Those of us who’ve gone vegan, have done so at different times in our lives and, many times, at our own pace. Some people are able to go vegan overnight (cold tofu!), but some people need a bit more time to make changes…and that’s okay! Being vegan is a journey — and for some, that journey is a bit harder and takes a bit longer. Some start out as vegetarians and then transition to veganism and some make changes in other ways. Everybody’s journey to veganism is valid and completely acceptable…and it all helps animals!
For me, I started out as a vegetarian. I was a full-time vegetarian from January 2013 until April 2018, when I decided I needed to be vegan. During those five years that I was vegetarian, I still wasn’t fully aware of how disgusting the dairy and egg industries were (and continue to be). I thought I was living a cruelty-free life by avoiding meat; but I also had this desire in me to be fully vegan, so I started eliminating more and more animal by-products from my diet and lifestyle. Then in 2018, I felt that being vegan was the only way I could live…and ever since then, it’s become so natural to me that I can’t picture myself ever not being vegan. I just can’t do that to the animals. I wish I had transitioned sooner, but it didn’t work out that way…and I’ve accepted that.
There are people who probably disagree with my view toward going vegan. There are certain vegans who believe going vegan has to be done overnight — you have to go from zero to one hundred immediately. On one hand, I also would like to see everybody go vegan today; but for many people, that doesn’t always work. Some people are not in a place where they can drastically change their diet and lifestyle at the drop of a hat. For many, it takes effort and planning — especially going from completely non-vegan to full vegan.
And, really, by some vegans telling vegetarians, or those that are starting to make some changes, that what they’re doing or have changed isn’t good enough, it turns people away and it makes veganism seem unattainable — which it absolutely isn’t. Why would anyone want to continue working toward something when they’re told that what they’ve done so far isn’t good enough? A lot of people might just give up…and that ends up being worse for animals than transitioning slowly.
I don’t think it’s usually the intention of some vegan activists to criticize or shame anyone, but many times it’s taken that way. It’s important for vegans and vegan activists to support the small changes that people are making and encourage them, rather than telling them it’s not good enough. We have to remember that the world is not going to go vegan overnight, and, sadly, it’s going to take time for people to make changes. It’s important that experienced vegans simplify veganism for those who aren’t vegan and provide support and guidance. With love and encouragement, more people will go vegan.
That being said, even though I support anybody making small changes in their life toward being vegan, I also have to acknowledge what animals face every single second of every single day. Going vegan is the only way of living that doesn’t contribute to animal suffering and murder. Even being a vegetarian contributes to animal cruelty — which I know a lot of people are unaware of (including myself, at the time). When I was a vegetarian, I was indirectly participating in animal cruelty, exploitation, and death — even if I wasn’t fully aware of it at the time. Becoming aware of what’s actually happening probably was what pushed me over the edge last year.
When it comes to being vegan, transition at a pace that works for you to become vegan for life, but know that animals are suffering, in pain, and dying every day. Please choose a compassionate life. And please don’t ever give up on working toward veganism…for the animals. Remember: when you know better, do better!