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.**
*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.