When I was a meat-eater, I couldn’t fathom being vegetarian. It just didn’t seem possible.
Then I cut out red meat and pork, but I couldn’t imagine not eating chicken or fish.
Then I stopped eating chicken, but the choices for most vegetarians, it seemed, on menus when we went to restaurants was so limited, I thought that’s it, I can’t possibly cut out fish entirely.
Then I stopped eating fish. But I couldn’t see myself going vegan and the prospect of switching to a gluten-free diet seemed impossible.
Since then, our family has cut out eggs entirely, mostly cut out dairy (we occasionally eat a small amount of goat cheese), and we’ve cut out gluten almost completely. We are constantly hearing comments like “but you still eat meat sometimes, right?” or “do you eat fish?” or “so, you never go out to restaurants?” to which the answer to all of these questions is NO!
No, we don’t eat meat; that’s what being vegetarian means. It doesn’t mean we don’t eat red meat, or we don’t eat meat on Thursdays or we don’t eat meat but we eat fish (that would be a pescetarian, not a vegetarian). In fact, we don’t drink the milk of animals (unless almonds are considered animals) or eat cheese (generally). And we don’t eat eggs (which makes baking a challenge). All of these things combined is what being vegan means (some people include not eating any animal products and include honey in this — we’re not quite that hard core).
But that doesn’t mean we don’t go to restaurants. Because there are lots of other vegan people, too — they’re just not generally thought of that way. Indian food? In India, meat is expensive, so most traditional dishes are made with just vegetables and spices. Hence, there are tons of vegan options on an average Indian restaurant’s menu. Also Thai food, Vietnamese food…we’re planning on trying Ethiopian food sometime in the near future. American food? No, that’s not generally very conducive to veganism or vegetarianism. Ethnic, and particularly Asian food? Yes.
I’ve thought a lot about the reactions of surprise and shock and disbelief to our diet and it is related to my own preconceptions about my dietary choices over the years, and I think what it comes down to, what people are actually saying when they say “I could never be vegetarian” is that sounds really hard.
And the truth is, it’s really not.
Sure, for me, the progression from being a meat-eater to vegan was probably over the course of about 15 or so years; it was a gradual process of dropping this item or that item. By the time I dropped chicken and was onto fish, it was only when we went to restaurants, and the biggest concern I had at that point was where the fish was from and whether it came from potentially toxic waters so eventually, dropping fish was more of a “I don’t want to deal with checking where the fish is from so I’m just not” decision than an ethical or health decision. But, now that I’m here, it’s not hard at all. And it’s a lot healthier, too. I used to have chronic stomach and digestive issues that magically went away when I stopped eating dairy and wheat. We make more of our food, so we know what goes into it rather than buying food from the frozen section. And it tastes better, too. I wouldn’t go back to what I was eating before in a second.
The point is it’s a matter of perspective. Like thinking I am okay designing WordPress themes, but I’m not really a developer, then I can build and develop themes, but I could never do a plugin, to actually building my first WordPress plugin and realizing it wasn’t really that hard — certainly any harder that doing a theme.
The only thing keeping you back from doing anything at all is your own voice inside your head saying I could never do that, it’s too hard. Hard is relative. The hardest part of “hard” is thinking it. It’s just a matter of perspective.