I am experimenting with not being vegan any more.

I’ve been vegan for more than five years.  That’s five years of no meat*, dairy, eggs, or any animal products in anything that I ate, used, or wore.

It’s been affirming.  It’s been (occasionally) challenging.  It’s been the right thing for me to do and be.  It’s been a part of my identity.  And it’s a part of my identity that I have been struggling with over the last few weeks.  It’s not that I don’t care about animal welfare or environmental issues any more.  In fact, I care about those things the same amount as I did before.

I was in a very different place when I went vegan.  It wasn’t a very good place either.  I was taking a lot of drugs, working in a terrible environment, not looking after myself, and was probably in my worst episode of bulimia ever – including when I was a teenager just diagnosed.  Cutting out dairy and eggs (I already wasn’t eating meat, or using any animal products that required a kill) was a strange decision, and was informed by many of the things that were going on around me.  It was a way of trying to regain some control of my life.  And it worked.

But I don’t think that’s the person that I am right now.  I’m not going to go back to a lacto-ovo vegetarian overnight, but I am going to relax my diet a bit.  I want to be strong and fit and healthy and right now I feel that being a bit more relaxed, but simultaneously thoughtful, about my diet is the best place for me to be.

It’s taken me a long while to get to this point.  I feel a bit of shame – but not at the fact that I am ‘quitting’ being vegan, more because I don’t feel worse about it.  I don’t think I’m worried about a backlash, but I don’t really know what to expect.  I’m worried about ‘coming out’ to everyone (like, do I just start eating cheese or do I have a bit sit-down in which I tell everyone that I’m going to start eating cheese again?!?  I don’t know how to deal with this!)  Plus, now I will have to brave the minefield of figuring out which cheese actually is vegetarian and which contains rennet.  That was easy before because I just didn’t eat any cheese.

Anyway.  These are things which I assume will sort themselves out with relative ease and I’ll wonder why I was worried about them in the first place.

So, I guess this is it.  My big reveal.  I’m not a vegan any more.**

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*Actually, because I was vegetarian for a long while before going vegan, it’s more like 16-17 years of no meat.

**Actually, I do feel a bit sad about now saying this.  Being vegan has been a big part of my identity for a long time.  Now I have to renegotiate that part of my identity.

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6 thoughts on “I am experimenting with not being vegan any more.

  1. mawil1 says:

    I tried being vegan for a month. I wasn’t a vegetarian. I stopped because I felt so tired and when I got it checked found out that I was vitamin d deficient. It really opened my eyes though to how much we depend on animal fat and dairy for a lot of stuff that we like but don’t need, ie cakes biscuits pastry. None of it is ‘healthy’ and by cutting all that out of my diet I lost, what was for me, a lot of weight ( 5lb in a month whereas I hadn’t lost anything for the last 6 months of running and calorie counting). I changed back because I wanted to get my energy back for running. In retrospect maybe I just needed to eat more, vegan or not!
    Why are you changing now? After 5 yrs I would have thought that you had it sussed? Julie

    • Neon Anonymous says:

      I was in a very different place when I became vegan, and I’m not ‘stopping’ because it’s too hard or because I don’t have it sorted out. I am experimenting with my diet and life to try and find out what works for me. I’m not discounting a ‘return’ to veganism if I find that this new diet/life doesn’t suit me. I just feel that it’s time to shift around a bit.
      I am going to take things very slowly – try a bit of this and that and see how I feel. I presume that (at home at least) I will still eat vegan the majority of the time because that is what I’m used to and what I know how to cook.
      We’ll see – I’m unsure how the whole thing will go (and how my body will react to foods it hasn’t had for such a long time!).

      • mawil1 says:

        Yes I understand about how sometimes we focus on controlling our diet or body because it makes us feel better about other things. I hope that you find the right balance for yourself.

  2. MrsB | Mind over Matter says:

    We all change and I’m sure you can still be an ethical non-vegan. I sort of went through the same thing of needing a strict ‘diet’ in order to get some things in my life (and health) under control, but I am too relaxing a little bit now. I think it only shows that we’re forever evolving but at the same time capable now of making decisions as we go along about what we eat or do and don’t need a set / written in stone code to live by.

    • Neon Anonymous says:

      I think that’s a bit part of this change – I think I’m much more confident in myself now, and don’t need to live by someone else’s (sometimes arbitrary) ‘label’ (whether that’s a diet or lifestyle label or any other kind of label). I can write my own rules and live by my own standards. Sometimes it’s good to relax things a bit – if only to see how we have changed through strictness!

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