Being plant-based and blame free
Did you ever think you could use kindness as a practical tool for change?
It may not seem immediately apparent, but human kindness can be the biggest reason for the change to a vegan lifestyle. It might be a need or want to help your health, the environment or even to support loved ones on their journey. Whatever it is, doing it with kindness will make it that much more achievable.
Actively being kind is proven to help reduce stress and improve emotional well-being, which in turn becomes a good foundation to make a change.
Along with that kindness though, there is also a part of you that might still nurture a culture of blame, frustration or anger towards yourself (one to think about), or to those who are still yet to make the shift.
Changing your lifestyle might seem simple, but it’s not always easy. Just change what you eat, right? That tends to work if you’re wanting to shed a few pounds, or do a month of healthy eating. But to completely rethink and revitalise your lifestyle is much more a cultural shift and requires an endless stream of care, compassion & determination.
Ben comes from an Italian family, with lots of rich culture and tradition. He had been vegan for about a year when this conversation between Ben, Jamie and Minal happened:
Ben: “I haven’t told my parents I’m vegan yet.”
Minal: “Why? That’s a weird thing not to mention.”
Ben: “Because I don’t know how they’ll take it…”
Minal: *Bemused* “What do you mean.”
Ben: “They wouldn’t know what to do. We’re Italian. My mum might be a bit more reasonable but my Dad definitely won’t be happy – I don’t think I could tell them. Like, every time I go home, I have to tell my mum I’m not eating fish at the moment or make up some excuse as to why I’m not eating meat…”
Jamie and Minal cracked up! By this point, they had realised that this was actually a little complicated for Ben and that he really couldn’t tell his parents that he was VEGAN!
Jamie: “Let’s say you told your parents you were gay – would they accept you for it?”
Ben: *confidently* “Yeah, I think they would.”
Jamie: “But if you told your parents you’re vegan, they wouldn’t.”
Ben: “No.” a little embarrassment in his voice.
He then went on to explain that it would crush his Dad that he couldn’t share his cooking with him anymore, that he definitely couldn’t tell his Grandma, and that it would take a lot to bring them around.
Surprisingly, Ben isn’t alone in this situation. One study carried out by Kristof Dhont and Joachim Stoeber in 2020, found that “more than half of vegetarians had experienced discrimination, and nearly 10% of vegetarians said that family had severed contact with them because they didn’t eat meat. About the same percentage say they were not hired for jobs because of their diet.”
Whether you’re a vegan making changes to your whole lifestyle for ethical/religious reasons, or environmental/animal welfare, or you’re focusing on making your diet more plant-based, making a change to your culture is a BIG DEAL. There are hundreds and thousands of years worth of history that will come up against you to challenge the change, but we find it’s useful to adopt a friendlier inner dialogue, embrace the small wins & be more understanding towards yourself and others making change.
No matter how many documentaries someone watches, vegan cooking courses they take, or plant-based Instagram accounts they follow, to make this kind of change requires a kind of ‘Aha’ moment. A realisation where you’ve been able to see your current culture clearly and make new choices that feel right. Especially if you want it to be a real, lasting change.
The key is to ditch the habit of blame or frustration, and enjoy ourselves. Enjoy what you eat, what you think, and the impact you’re having.
No one ever made a change by being guilted or nagged into it. If they did, it didn’t last very long, or they developed a lifelong disdain. People are happily making changes to a vegan lifestyle or plant-based diet through kind inspiration. There is so much wonderful stimulus out there that is helping people make authentic change, and it’s worth keeping in mind if you really want to ditch the cheese for the sheese and make the shift to plant-based joyful.