Written by Lena DiFulvio

I want to start by saying that my journey towards veganism has certainly not been a fast one, nor has it been easy. Let’s face it; changing your diet and completely eliminating foods that you’ve enjoyed your whole life is hard. Having to bring your own meals to family gatherings and making yourself something separate from the rest of your family every night is hard. Choosing between the cold vegetables at the salad bar and the hot vegetables cooked in butter in the main line is, well, hard! Veganism, contrary to popular belief, is not for the faint of heart. Changing basically every aspect of your lifestyle to match your morals is not something done overnight, and it certainly is not a linear path to success. 

So, why even try to go vegan in the first place? I mean, what’s the point of even trying if you end up just eating cheese pizza on a bad day? Does that make you a hypocrite, or worse, a liar? My answer, as I have found throughout my vegan journey (which is still very much in progress I might add) is, quite frankly, no. The beauty of choosing to go vegan– whether it be for your health, for the planet, or for the rights of other sentient beings– is that you are the only one that truly is in a position to hold yourself accountable for your actions. This is your journey toward becoming a more conscious, loving, and compassionate being, and every step you take towards that goal is a step worth taking, no matter how small. 

What’s the easiest way to become vegan? Start. Small. If you have a bowl of cereal in the morning, try it with plant milk instead. Instead of dairy milk, you now have the option of soy, almond, oat (my personal favorite), cashew, coconut, or rice milk. If you really like lasagna, why not try vegetable lasagna instead of using beef? Why not try veggie hot dogs instead of the regular ones? Why not try non-dairy yogurt? When put this simply, I realized that I really didn’t have much excuses for not trying these things. And, as it turns out, I actually like all of them better than their non-vegan counterparts. Once you are used to incorporating vegan options into your diet, slowly transition yourself to dedicating a couple of meals a week to being totally vegan. This journey takes time and patience. And it’s certainly not wrong for you body to crave what it used to eat. Sometimes, you may even indulge these cravings (gasp!). Try to focus yourself, however, on how far you have come, instead of dwelling on any minor setbacks.

What do I like most about being vegan? There are plenty of reasons why I truly love being vegan. Choosing to eliminate animal products from my diet, closet, and makeup bag has made me a more compassionate person. Every decision I make is something I consider beyond myself, and I have learned to consider other sentient beings who experience the same emotions I do. Becoming vegan has also made me more creative and has expanded my pallet. Instead of just cooking brown rice, I know now that I have the option of making quinoa, sorghum, wild rice, or barley. Instead of simply steaming broccoli, I now can whip up sauteed swiss chard, roasted kale or eggplant, or even bake an acorn squash all because I have explored different ways of cooking all sorts of different, beautiful vegetables, grains, and legumes. Instead of looking at my plate and seeing a graveyard, I see a garden, a wealth of vitamins, and a medicinal heaven– that is, unless I’m enjoying a pint of Ben and Jerry’s non-dairy cookie dough ice cream. In that case, it’s just heaven. Socrates really did get it right after all these years: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Need more tips? Want to get involved with the veg movement? Need support on your journey? Feel free to contact me at difulviole@washjeff.edu : ).