Every year, my slow descent into veganism becomes a little more tangible.
The summer before my senior year of high school, I attended a political summer program called “Girls Nation,” where I met up with 99 other girls from across the nation for a week of mock senate proceedings and campaigning. My roommate there was a girl named Danielle, a vegan from New Jersey.
She challenged me to go vegetarian for the week, and it seemed like a feat I could accomplish. After the week was completed, I realized that I was perfectly capable of eradicating meat from my diet and moving toward cruelty-free eating; I just needed to take the first step.
When I got home from Washington D.C., I cut out red meat from my diet. The first two weeks were miserable. I remember the first few lunches back at school where I looked longingly at my best friends’ cheeseburgers.
Still, I had chicken, which is easily the most versatile meat. I could eat comfortably at most restaurants because every restaurant has chicken strips. Honestly, I forgot I was a pollotarian. Avoiding red meat was just a way of life.
Months later, I officially claimed the title of “vegetarian” when I finished my last plate of Blazin’ wings at Bdubs.
Life was much harder without chicken than it was without the other meats I had successfully dropped. But again, life eventually went back to normal and avoiding chicken became a subconscious habit.
Every year since, I have tried to make my diet a little stricter. Last year, I completely stopped eating eel. I know, it’s weird. But for a long time, I couldn’t live without eating Sushigawa’s unagi at least once every few months.
This year, I have decided to end my gelatin consumption. Saying goodbye to fruit snacks hasn’t been hard, but I know I’ll miss s’mores when the summer months come. By this time next year, though, this will simply be the new normal.
I’m sure my sluggish progress seems insignificant, but it’s important.
I can’t go cold tofurkey and eliminate all animal byproducts from my diet at once; it just isn’t realistic for me. And that’s okay.
It doesn’t matter how much progress you make as long as you’re making progress. Personally, I think moving slow is far more sustainable than making a drastic change all at once. I have seen a lot of burnt-out former vegans in my time.
So don’t worry about whether your progress is obvious to the people around you. Whether you have specific workout goals, academic goals or a video game personal record to achieve, trust in the process and work at a pace that makes sense to you.
Slow and steady wins the race, whereas rushing through things may cause you to drop out before you even hit the finish line.