Contributor: Dr Heidi Burton
As a vegan, I often hear, “Oh, I could NEVER go vegan.
Change is something many people avoid. But I am here to offer a little encouragement if you are thinking of trying some vegan/vegetarian options. Another common thing I hear is “What is the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan?” You will hear so many ways that this can be explained, but for my purposes, a vegetarian is some one who eats a plant-based diet (no dairy, eggs or animal products) and a vegan is a description of a lifestyle that doesn’t exploit animals in anyway. There are people who describe themselves as a vegetarian with certain allowances such as lacto-vegetarian, someone who consumes dairy as well.
People love animals and many can not bear the thought of their suffering. There are also the people who notice they don’t digest red meat well, or dairy causes sinus congestion, so they want to change their diet to feel better. And there is no denying the incredible impact a plant-based diet has on the environment.
As a newbie Vegan, I advise you to not to listen to the zero tolerant vegans who don’t believe in baby stepping it. Any little change you make is creating a difference. One meal, or one day a week is a great start.
According to Environmental Defense Fund, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of US roads. Now that would be something to celebrate.
Don’t expect to only eat salad because that will get old very quick. You need some yummy substantial food. Your favorite chicken soup – try a plant based “chicken” with veggie broth. It may be hard to believe, but the fake meats are actually quite tasty.
But most of all don’t be hard on yourself, or others. Maybe you try almond milk and hate it. That’s okay. Try another type or brand. Craving something animal based. Eat what you will and just try your best. Thinking about depriving yourself is setting you up for failure. Don’t pay attention to criticism or those who point out when you eat something that isn’t plant-based. Maybe tomorrow you will find a new recipe that you absolutely love. There is no falling off the bus. Just keep at it. Some people are very passionate about their lifestyle and that is fantastic. But you need to do what works for you. And change will help you, the animals, and the environment!