It’s been over a year now since I had to accept the hard fact that a vegan diet wasn’t working for me. I had finished my Holistic Nutrition Certification that taught me all about the incredible benefits of plants and all the ailments that a vegan diet could cure. So why in the world was I getting sicker? I was so frustrated. How I was supposed to help clients? How could I face every animal I came across? I felt so torn between my morals, my knowledge and everything my body was saying to me. What I didn’t realize is just how big of a lesson I was getting in a totally (seemingly unrelated area in my life. Minimalism. So let me walk you through how trying veganism taught me minimalism one lesson at a time.
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The reason I started working my way toward a vegetarian and eventually vegan diet was because I started learning about the harsh treatment of animals, the environmental impact and the serious damage being done to those eating the standard American diet. This was a huge kick in the butt and a big reminder to look at the bigger picture. The funny thing about looking outside ourselves is that it allows those things we always thought we needed to seem less important in the grand scheme of things.
This was a major turning point in my minimalism journey and I didn’t even know it. Since becoming a mother, I had definitely put my energy toward others besides myself, but there was still a big part of me that was totally focused on everything I thought I needed. Veganism forced me to look outside myself and put my attention toward other causes.
When I first started eating a vegetarian diet, my biggest struggle was giving up chicken. Everyone somehow assumed it would be bacon but they were wrong, it was totally chicken. It didn’t matter, I didn’t want meat in my diet anymore and I wasn’t about to back down from my new beliefs. As my health started to struggle I was able to step away from eggs and gradually cheese. I gave up most of the foods I grew up eating and was consuming all those foods I never thought I would. Thinking back it was really easy to quit all these foods once I had made up my mind. Quitting these was similar to when I realized I had a gluten intolerance. If something isn’t good for you, if it doesn’t benefit your entire body, mind and soul, then simply, let it go.
This lesson is basically everything minimalism is all about. Letting go of things we used to deem important in order to get clear about what we really want for ourselves. I used to think I needed new shoes, the best styles in clothes, brand new furniture and a big house. As I learned to live without pepperoni pizza, deep fried chicken and turkey on Thanksgiving, I also learned to pass up SALE signs, let go of cute shoes and stop caring about the name on my clothing tags.
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The day my frustration finally mounted I threw my hands up and said, “OK FINE! I will try meat again. I’m giving this one month and if I don’t get better then I’ll go to the doctor.” A big thing with holistic nutrition is all about listening to our bodies, knowing that we are capable of fixing a lot of our ailments through diet and knowing that every single part of us is connected. It was time I listened to my body instead of just going by what everyone else has told me.
After just 3 short days of eating 1 egg and one small serving of meat per day I was able to see great improvements in my health that had been previously declining. There was no doubt that there was some benefits in that egg and that meat that I wasn’t finding with a plant based diet. This didn’t really feel like a win. It felt like a fail; a fail that I was pretty exited about because for the first time in a long time I was feeling healthy again.
I had to find a way to keep my morals and still take care of myself. There was no way I would ever go back to where I had started: eating 3 servings of meat per day and I also wouldn’t go back to where I had been: being in pain every time I bent over, constant muscle tension and really nasty looking skin.
This helped as our family started our downsize. I was able to let go of certain things that our bigger home had allowed me to have and compromise for the sake of my family and my marriage. I let go of some dreams, said goodbye to beautiful rooms and big giant bathtubs and said hello to more family time, less housework and a stronger family unit.
When I started veganism, I was sure that it was something everyone could do. I believed our bodies would thrive eating this way. Everything I learned and studied told me so. I had science backing me up, experts and testimonies from thousands of vegans. As I stared researching ex-vegans I found tons of science, experts and testimonies all backing up every other diet. I found myself with no other choice than to accept the fact that what worked for some just didn’t work for me. I knew people would judge me, but I also knew they would never be me. They wouldn’t feel the pains I felt or experiences the stresses I faced when striving to eat a vegan diet.
This was a huge reminder when it came to minimalism too. At first I felt like I couldn’t call myself a minimalist unless I was living in a tiny house or only had a backpacks worth of clothing. Just like I thought I couldn’t have compassion for animals and still have a diet that consisted of eating meat. It’s not always easy, but I had to remind myself that there is never one way of doing anything. Everyone’s story is different. Quitting veganism reminded me of that. It reminded me to have compassion for myself and for those around me. I also learned to embrace where I’m at without feeling obligated to be somewhere else.
[clickToTweet tweet=”It taught me to embrace where I’m at without feeling obligated to be somewhere else.” quote=”It taught me to embrace where I’m at without feeling obligated to be somewhere else.”]
Who would have thought that these two seemingly different things could so easily go hand in hand. Something to take into consideration when you come across a minimalist in a mansion or an animal love with a drum stick. A world with more acceptance is really a world I want to be a part of.