I've been a vegetarian for over seven years. In the past three of those, I tried going vegan twice. This is my third attempt, I'm five months in and feeling pretty great about it.
In all honesty, it's been a pretty smooth switch for me. I didn't have any crazy cravings and my body didn't reject the new diet in a massive way. To this day, I still have a pair of legs and a pair of arms.
But things did happen. In the end, even if you were vegetarian for a while, going cold turkey is a big change in one's diet, especially if said 'one' eats unfathomable amounts of daily cheese.
Here are the three of those 'things' that feel the most important to me. Maybe just maybe they'll help you through your own journey of becoming vegan or consuming very little animal products.
1. A switch not a transition
I know a lot of people ease into veganism by slowly reducing the amount of animal products they eat. And I understand intellectually that this works for many people and even if you don't cut out animal products completely, it's better than nothing.
But I am not one of those people. In my previous attempts, I tried to reduce my dairy and egg consumption by being a 'house vegan' and not buying any animal products for the house. It didn't work. I slowly slipped back into my twice-a-day cheese habits.
To me, "eating very little animal products" was an excuse to relieve my guilty conscience and a bad one at that because it didn't work. I still felt like a hypocrite talking about the massive role the meat industry plays in climate destruction but still eating cubes of cheese for lunch.
This time I cut off everything cold turkey and realised a 'transition' into veganism is a slippery slope for me. I'm not saying I whip myself anytime an animal product touches my lips, I accidentally ate a can of tuna stuffed olives recently, but I also don't give myself an easy way out.
2. Food is... important
Within three weeks of switching to veganism, I lost quite a bit of weight, at least quite a bit for someone who wasn't trying to lose any.
This weight loss was purely based on laziness. My eating habits are much like a rabbit's, I eat small portions but I eat constantly. Which means my diet is mostly snacks, and in my previous non-vegan life snacks almost always contained animal products. So when I switched and couldn't find any easily available vegan snacks I just stopped eating snacks.
Cue the weight loss and lethargy that follows not eating well. I realised in my annual visit to the gym that I had lost weight and connected the dots like a home detective finding a serial killer with the help of red string.
After my ground-breaking discovery, recovering was easy. I did some research (read five labels) and discovered the wonderfully rich world of snacks vegans can have. Most bread is vegan! And hummus! You can even put your hummus on your bread.
3. Travelling while vegan can be a little annoying if you're lazy
My first attempt at veganism failed because four months into my new diet, I went on a trip to Italy. The sheer amount of fresh burrata blinded me and I caved, thinking I wouldn't be able to find anything both vegan and delicious.
Again, this was mostly laziness. I was travelling and staying with friends, friends who already knew great restaurants in cities we were visiting, so I just didn't want to do the work. And admittedly, I also wanted to eat the cheese.
This time, I went on a five day trip to Belgium by myself and being vegan while travelling was mostly a piece of cake. The main difference was that I did a little research and jotted down some cafe names before the trip. Ok, maybe it was more than 'a little' research and maybe I made maps marking all the places I found; nevertheless, I've never eaten better on a trip.
Whether you do the switch or a slow transition, I believe a plant-based diet is the way to go. The meat and dairy industries are not just cruel to animals but also to the living planet and to our fellow humans.
If you ever find yourself in Belgium and in search of vegan food, hit me up for some maps and don't forget: there's always hummus.