Food, Keeping the Peace, Life

On Veganism and Perfectionism


The Rough Road To Veganism

It was about two and a half years ago when I started feeling very sick. My anxiety was spiraling out of control. As a result, my stomach started bothering me pretty regularly. Food and I have had a love-hate relationship for quite some time now. So when I found out my regular tummy aches were due to Gastritis, I went on a mission to make food not only my friend, but part of my healing process. This began my long road to veganism.

I began eliminating different foods from my diet, starting with meat because it can be very hard to digest. Then I removed most spices from my cooking to see if any of them were irritating my stomach. I ate only fish and eggs for a long time, but eventually I gave them up too. Trust me, giving up seafood for this island girl is no small feat! But little by little, I was feeling better, my stomach was healing, and I was losing weight in the process.

I started to eat my five small meals out of bowls to control my portion sizes and I continued to eliminate different foods such as processed foods and even grains. Then, this coffee with creamer junkie, cheese addict, and Greek yogurt loving mom gave up dairy! The pounds started to melt off. The more things I removed and replaced with more fruits and veggies, the better I felt. I was becoming more energetic, feeling stronger, sleeping better, and I wasn’t having any more digestive issues. Less than a year later, I had lost 40lbs just with changing my diet. I was mostly eating veggies, legumes, nuts, fruits, and some whole grains. My diet wasn’t perfect by any means, but I knew I was on to something.

What The Health

I watched every health documentary out there. All of them made an impression, but the one that impacted me the most was What The Health. After watching it, I knew that the choices I was making for my diet were not only helping me, but they were making a difference to animals, our environment, and the entire planet. I felt like I was headed in the right direction, but what if I made a mistake? What would people think? How would people react if I had a chunk of cheese one day or if I accidentally ate a dish not knowing it had meat in it? What if I sneaked some chocolate? (all things that have actually happened)

When we are talking about our health and life choices, we shouldn’t be worried about what anyone says. We all make mistakes and not one of us is perfect. But as humans, we tend to care a lot of how others see us. Someone makes a change for themselves for the better, and our human reaction is to scrutinize their choices and tell them why their choices are wrong. Even worse, we like to call them out if they fall short of what their ultimate goal is. These are some of the reasons why I’ve avoided putting a label on my diet or lifestyle up until this point.

Vegetarian, Vegan, or Some Other Label

There were a couple of times in my past that I attempted to become a Vegetarian. It never lasted too long though because I would fall off the no-meat wagon and be too afraid to continue, lest I made anymore mistakes. There didn’t seem to be a lot of non-meat substitutes back then and definitely no was there room for error. In my heart, I wanted to be Vegan for such a long time, but it scared me. I’ve always leaned toward the lifestyle because it seemed the most humane, environmentally friendly, and healthy way to live. So this crunchy granola girl was all about it! But again, it didn’t seem attainable or sustainable.

If you went vegetarian or vegan, not only were you scrutinized by your meat-eating peers who constantly asked where you were going to get your next protein from, but the vegan community did not seem welcoming to those of us who were either mulling over the idea or just starting to make a few small changes. I also didn’t like how meat-eaters or mostly plant-based eaters were sometimes treated. I mean, how can you encourage or welcome these potential changes in others if you subscribe to perfectionism? Of course, we would all like to be successful in our choices, but if you’re going to only focus on how we should avoid failure, then that will give negative vibes to those attempting to make a change.

We live in a world of labels that can sometimes attempt to put limitations on what people can be or they can foster an idea of perfectionism, which in reality, does not exist. You can read about my thoughts on labels from a previous post here . As humans, we can only do our best to achieve our goals and even the smallest steps and choices toward that can make a huge impact on our lives and the lives of others. It’s time to stop worrying so much about what people or things should be called and stop trying to fit them in a perfect little box, with no room for ever going outside the lines. Care what people think, but if we truly believe in something, we should sit firmly in that choice without letting others’ opinions effect that choice.

Veganism Doesn’t Equal Perfection

I chose Veganism and I started the process about a year ago. Yes, I’ve made mistakes along the way and I’m sure I will keep making them. My goal isn’t perfection. It is to do my best to be healthy, to be compassionate to animals, and to be environmentally conscious. So if I accidentally eat something that is not completely free of animal products, please don’t judge me. Just encourage me to keep going and keep trying! Call me plant-based, vegan, veganish, or wannabe vegan…it really doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that I’m eating mostly plants and it has been life changing!

I feel great and it’s awesome to see my husband and kids slowly making these changes as well and embracing a more vegan lifestyle. They are mostly plant-based eaters now and I truly believe it’s because I’ve accepted where they are in their journey, and I have never asked them to live up to some idea of perfection. If you want to encourage others to try veganism and this way of eating, then accept them as they are, flaws and all. Most likely you’ve been where they’ve come from or made your share of mistakes. The idea of perfectionism has no place in any community, nor does it allow for love if that love is only conditional on our performance. If we are more accepting of mistakes, we can strive for excellence together instead of demand perfection of one another.

We’re In This Together

Life isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s amazing! I’m so happy with the the choices I made that led me to this point. All of it has brought me so much peace in my life and such peace of mind. I’m excited to see how using these foods as my medicine, adding more daily activity, and continuing to focus on my overall wellness will have even more positive effects on my life, my family’s life, and the lives of others. So, if you want to try to eat more plants and even give veganism a try, go for it! I’ve got your back. I guarantee you it will change your life in ways you probably can’t imagine. And hey, if you “screw up” and eat a burger or decide it’s not for you, that’s cool too. No judgement here…only love.

Peace, Love, & Plants,
Darlene

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