1. You Become a Better Cook
That first time in the kitchen after making the determination to go vegan can feel like you’re being sucked into a vortex. Every meal idea you think of seems to come to a dead end when you realize that meat, eggs and dairy products are no longer part of the equation. Our culture has intentionally inserted meat and dairy products into our ideas of what makes a “balanced” meal, something that takes conscious effort to unlearn. Whether or not you were someone who enjoyed cooking before your shift to veganism, you’ll now be faced with the unavoidable opportunity to get creative.
Personally, I found the push out of my comfort zone allowed me to experiment with more vegetables, herbs and spices than I ever had as a meat eater. You begin asking yourself questions like “How can I make the most delicious, filling, nutrient packed veggie sandwich?”. These lines of inquiry push you to understand more about the food you’re eating, the nutrients each food brings to the table, and what flavor combinations are most satisfying. Eventually you realize that you’re not limited at all in the kitchen, being that there are hundreds of veggies, herbs, nuts, fruits, and carbohydrates to choose from. Your only limiting factor is yourself!
2. You Become an Educator on Veganism
After turning vegan I decided to keep my choice mainly to myself so as to avoid the backlash from negative vegan stereotypes. However, in restaurant or party environments and occasionally in conversation it comes up and generally people are more curious than anything to hear about my experience. Whether people want to debate or want to learn more, I’ve found myself time and time again sharing my personal experience and reasoning behind my decision to go vegan.
Veganism isn’t a lifestyle that holds a substantial spotlight in our society, so oftentimes as a vegan you’ll be someone’s only sources of information on the cause. Personally I don’t allow the pressure to “turn” anyone affect me, but rather just embody the image of a healthy, happy vegan and let those who are curious ask me all their questions. It’s sort of a laid back form of activism, but I think it can have a strong impact on the communities that we live in.
3. You’re Driven to Form Community with Other Vegans
Going vegan can feel lonely at first, but I urge you to use that feeling as fuel to find your vegan community. I remember how excited I felt the first time I went to the only all vegan restaurant spot in my town. I introduced myself to everyone, the chefs, the wait staff, the people sitting at the bar and there was an instant sense of connection, acceptance and community among us.
Going vegan asks you to go against everything you’ve ever been taught about food, all the food you’ve eaten growing up and mainstream restaurants and food events everywhere. The good news is that other vegans recognize and respect this struggle and will instantly be accepting towards others going through the same thing.
So attend any vegan festivals, markets or events in your area and visit your local health food stores to learn more and meet more like-minded people. Additionally take a vegan cooking class or nutrition class if you can find one. Be on the lookout for opportunities to connect and you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful sense of community and personal growth.