In 2013 I responded to a call for letters to new vegans. What did I wish others had shared with me when I began my vegan journey? Originally my letter was accepted into the now published book, but later dropped. I’m guessing because other more famous vegans submitted awesome letters. Since my letter was not published, I still own the rights to it and thought you might enjoy reading.
Dear New Vegan,
You have embarked on an inspiring journey of love. Love for yourself, animals, and the environment that enriches and sustains all life. Never forget this. No matter the bumps in the road you will inevitably encounter, your commitment to love will guide you to always making the best decision for yourself.
I wish someone had told me this journey was about love. My journey started from a place of intolerance. Intolerance for how animals are treated, intolerance for how we think animals make a meal, and a biological intolerance of animal proteins. If I had known how much love I could share with the world by not eating sentient beings, my journey would have been easier.
As a child, I had very little. It’s safe to say that humble is where I began. Thus, I ate whatever I could because I had no idea when I would be able to eat again. Choices based on ideals, emotions, or taste buds were not an option. When I was older and circumstances changed, I had little guidance on how animals did not have to be part of my diet. Today this idea seems absurd. My nephews make food choices from their taste buds every day. By seeing my veganism and love, they have clear ideas of what is possible.
What can I tell you that you don’t already know? Nothing. Your decision has already been made and changed many lives. What I can tell you is that you are not alone. There are lots of people near you who have made or are making the same decision. The easy part is finding them. Explore your local vegan friendly restaurant and talk with the wait staff. They already know who is vegan. Go online and find local vegan and vegetarian groups in your community. Start a Vegan Drinks group if one is not already organized and meet new people in a very casual way. Your support team is out there waiting to be part of your journey.
I encourage a support team because being vegan is still not easy. You may find lots of people who feel you have made a terrible decision. I know I did and still do. If you let them, they will argue you away from the love you are growing. Some will even feel offended by your decision. This is okay. Please know that they are only struggling with their choices, not yours. They may never change their minds and that is okay too. But, you can use your new strength from this love to stay on your path and show through your actions how easy and healthy veganism is. And you can use your support team to help spend less time on the negative.
A support team can also help you find new foods, new recipes, and new restaurants. If beginning their vegan journey at the same time as you, there is so much you can explore together. If vegan has been part of their lives for a while, they can help you leap over some of the initial hurtles of your new lifestyle. Hurtles such as the yummiest vegan brands and where to find them cheapest, or where to find the best veggie burger in town.
Please don’t be discouraged if finding a support team takes a little time. The internet is always available with blogs, websites, forums, and social networks to find like-minded friends and ideas. Lots of people are happily vegan and ready to share online.
The only other thing I can share is that all changes toward veganism are important. Even the little ones. It may take a little time to become fully vegan. I spent several months transitioning. It was the best approach for me. Everyone is different and it’s okay if a little time is needed. Please don’t think less of yourself if time is needed or if there is a moment of “cheating.” You know what is best for you and your new support team will help you get back to where you want to be.
New vegan, I hope you can follow all the joy, happiness, and love you are creating for yourself and trust that your world just got a lot better.