An Open Letter to Former Vegans From Someone Who’s Been There
Dear former vegan,
Let me start by saying that I am not here to lecture but to give you some friendly advice as someone who has been there. Tons of people try vegan eating, but some are unable to stick with it—for a variety of reasons.
When I first went vegan in high school, I had a hard time with social pressure from friends and family and ended up reverting to my old eating habits after only a few weeks. It took me five more years to attempt veganism again. Now, after nearly 10 years without animal products, my only regret is that I didn’t make the switch sooner.
I’m here to tell you that it’s OK if you can’t go vegan overnight, but it isn’t OK to just give up.
You probably already know this, but farmed animals are the most abused animals on the planet. They’re subjected to horrible cruelties, including extreme confinement and mutilations without painkillers. Fortunately, one of the best things we can do to reduce and prevent their suffering is to eat vegan food.
But a vegan diet comes easier for some than others, and while it’s certainly possible for anyone to go vegan, having the right tools is essential. Know that there are tons of ways people make the switch to a vegan diet and that no single way is perfect for everyone.
Here are a few tips:
• Start incorporating new foods.
For most people, eating vegan expands their palates and opens up a whole new world of foods they might never have tried otherwise. There are some unfamiliar foods like nutritional yeast (aka nooch), seitan, and tempeh that you should definitely try. As you find new plant-based foods you like, you can start removing some animal-based ones.
From veggie sausages and burgers to plant-based mayo and cheese, new vegan substitutes for meat and dairy products are hitting store shelves all the time. A great way to start using these products is to add them to your favorite recipes in place of their animal-based counterparts.
Seriously though, if you have delicious vegan versions of all your favorite foods, why would you want to eat dead animals in the first place?
• Make some vegan friends.
Having a support system of like-minded friends is crucial to maintaining your happiness and, in some cases, your vegan lifestyle. While vegans make up a small part of the population, there’s still a good chance you’ll find like-minded people in your area if you know where to look.
• Cut out the most suffering.
Start by cutting out the foods that harm the most animals. Ninety-five percent of the animals we eat are chickens and fish—and they are probably the most abused animals in the world. By replacing chicken, eggs, and fish with other options, you can prevent a tremendous amount of animal abuse.
• Get extra support.
Maybe you’re on the shy side or get anxious around new people. Consider reaching out to Mercy For Animals’ veg support team with your questions about vegan eating. Just type your questions into the chat box in the bottom right corner—it’s like having your own personal vegan coach!
• Learn how to make it affordable.
When affording food is a struggle, veganism can seem out of reach. But as someone who has struggled with food insecurity, I can say veganism is more accessible than many people think. Some of the most affordable foods on the planet are vegan, including rice, beans, legumes, pasta, and all kinds of fruit and veggies.
• Be kind to yourself.
Remember that none of us is perfect and that veganism isn’t even about perfection—it’s about living in a way that reduces the suffering of animals, the depletion of our natural resources, and much more. If you find yourself cheating once in a while, don’t beat yourself up. You can always start fresh at your next meal. Having an approach you can stick with is more important than being perfect from day one.
Eating vegan is one of the best ways to prevent animal suffering. Trust me when I say you’ll be so much happier knowing that you are contributing to a kinder, more compassionate world—because once you know the truth AND how you can thrive without animal products, you can’t go back.
It might be the best decision you ever make.
Ready to give it another shot? For easy meal ideas, recipes, and more tips on making the switch, order a FREE starter guide here.