10 Ways Veganism Stimulates Personal Growth
by Emily Folk
There are so many reasons to become a vegan, and even more reasons to remain one. The following are just 10 of the many ways veganism has made me a better person — and can make you a better person, too:
1. You’ll Try New Foods
Chances are, your pre-vegan diet was a lot like mine: it focused on animal proteins. A dish full of chicken, rice and a veggie on the side was once your standard. Nowadays, though, your plate — and palate — look a lot different.
As you work to cultivate a healthy vegan diet, you’ll try new foods (https://tinyurl.com/y7k2cq3h) that you would never have included in your diet before — have you ever tried a jackfruit? Or tempeh? This experimentation opened my mind even further to what constitutes a dinner and how to make delicious food, so I guarantee that you’re likely to sample new cuisines and cooking styles and open your eyes to new flavors.
Along with flavors, most vegans find themselves examining the foods they eat in great detail before consuming them. Of course, this is often to discern if an ingredients list contains animal by-products. However, what I learned was how enjoyable it can be to buy straight from the farmer.
Rather than buying from big-box stores, I’ve started buying foods and produce in bulk straight from the farmers, which they often will sell at a discount, especially when you’re a loyal customer. Whatever I don’t have time to use while fresh, I freeze for smoothies and juices. There are also many gardening systems that allow individuals and families to grow their own food (https://tinyurl.com/y876djp9).
3. You’ll Find Yourself Caring More About Health
Many vegans note that their lifestyle switch results in positive changes to their overall health (https://tinyurl.com/nmotdpp), whether that’s the reason they started eating this way or not. I can attest that when I started my vegan journey, after a few months of adjusting to the change in diet, I felt more motivated than ever to exercise and take a holistic approach to my health. There’s no doubt that taking care of yourself will make you a better person overall, and I can attest that it’ll make you feel even better about the switch.
4. You’ll Appreciate Animals Even More
If you’re like me, a love of animals brought you to this lifestyle. And, now that you’re no longer consuming animal products, you can love animals even more profoundly: your way of life no longer harms them, after all. Caring for and appreciating these creatures is good for the soul — for me, I feel more. Being more aware of actively trying to cause no harm to animals has grown my compassion toward all living beings.
5. You’ll Realize You Have Self-Control
There are so many temptations when it comes to sticking to a dietary regimen, as it is. But now, as a vegan, I find that I’m better prepared to pause and consider the food in front of me: if it’s not vegan, I’m not eating it. As I’ve found, you’ll see that the brief moment of introspection will come in handy when you face other temptations or cravings — you’ll know how to say “no” to what you don’t want or need.
6. You’ll Be More Mindful of Other Purchases
Veganism is super important to us in a dietary sense, and that will pervade into other areas of our lives. Many vegans get rid of clothing and accessories made from animal products, from leather shoes to down jackets; hygiene products and home décor can also include non-vegan-friendly elements (https://tinyurl.com/y9rxkym8).
I’ve personally found that veganism has taught me the difference between what I want and what I need. It’s helped me declutter my life and begin moving toward a zero-waste lifestyle by showing me even further how the products we buy and own affect the earth.
7. You’ll Listen to Others
Your beliefs are inherent to who you are, so you’ll respect others with similarly strong convictions. That’s why I found that learning to be a good listener (https://tinyurl.com/ho228zx) is all part of the vegan journey. By opening my ears to other points of view, I’ve found myself able to become more devoted to my passions like developing an eco-friendly lifestyle, volunteering at animal shelters and adopting shelter dogs.
8. You’ll Stand Up For Your Beliefs
There will undoubtedly come a time when every vegan faces a challenge. Whether it’s a family member who’s trying to convince you to eat something or a friend who wants you to try on a fashionable leather jacket, you’ll regularly have to affront non-vegan temptations and propositions. But when you realize you have the power and courage to defend your beliefs, nothing can stop you from being who you are in all areas of life.
As vegans, we get a bad rap for talking about our belief system, but there’s no harm in sharing the knowledge you’ve gained from living a plant-based lifestyle. The majority of my friends don’t follow a vegan lifestyle. However, what they can appreciate is my conviction to my beliefs, and many of them have begun supporting my journey, even if they don’t personally want to take part in it.
10. You’ll Inspire Them, Too
Finally, your conviction will undoubtedly inspire those around you. I’ve seen this first-hand: I’ve gotten my omnivorous mother to try tofu and have friends who follow a Meatless Monday regimen because of me.
In your life, you may see your loved ones become vegans themselves, or they may feel motivated to stick to something with the same gusto. Seeing the effect you can — and do — have on others is a boon to your personal growth because you’ve made a difference just by being you.
Go Vegan and Prosper
Everyone’s path to veganism is different, and everyone’s motivation for continuing is different, too. But the above assets to personal growth show just how valuable your journey can be to you and the world around you. In other words, your lifestyle change has been or will be more than worth your while — and I can promise you that’s an amazing feeling.
About the Author
Emily Folk is a sustainability and wellness blogger who advocates making choices to help you and the planet each day. You can read more of her work on her blog, ConservationFolks.com.