Being a vegan means deprivation. And in the beginning it seems like a very long path ahead.
Now before anyone gets annoyed at that statement, I am not talking about the reality of being a vegan I am talking about the conception that normal meat eating creatures have about becoming a vegan. That conception that vegan = deprivation is probably the biggest challenge people face when becoming a vegan. All you can think about is how deprived you are going to be. What you are going to miss out on. How difficult going out to a restaurant with friends will be. How will you hold a BBQ in the summer without looking like a total freak? Then throw into the fact that there is also a low fat issue and life becomes even more of an arduous ordeal because you can’t even deep fry everything to mask the bland taste of vegetables. It feels like life is going to become one long pathway of blandness, of taste buds that are deprived of all indulgences. It is awful, heart wrenching and almost impossible to grasp.
And, to be completely honest, if I didn’t have to pursue this lifestyle because of health, in those initial phases I would have given up and gone and got a Green Chicken Curry with a side of hot chips and contemplated how close I came to the precipice of a tasteless life.
For Vegans who have genuinely embraced their lifestyle for whatever reasons, I think it might be hard for them to understand these feelings of deprivation. Unless you are a a canned soup and hot chip type of vegan, then undoubtedly the way you feel, eating the way you do means that after a while there is simply no other choice. I can remember sitting next to a friend who was a vegan as she ordered a Salad and said “yum, I am looking forward to this!” Now if it had of been a Thai Beef Salad or a Salt and Pepper Calamari Salad or a Grilled Chicken Caesar salad I could have understood. I can remember thinking that food had become for me like religion, sex and politics and people should just keep their feelings to themselves. So as she tucked into her Salad and I tucked into my Chicken Parmigiana we both were polite enough not to say anything and we probably both felt sorry for the other.
Sometimes I cringe when I tell new people in my life that I follow a Vegan lifestyle with no saturated fat as I know they will casually try to start looking for my hairy arm pits and cheese cloth skirts. I then get the comments of “How do you get enough protein?” “No meat? You don’t eat meat? There is nothing like a steak. No meat? What about a bit of chicken?” “Oh each to their own, so many food fads out there now” and it goes on and on and on. I have not yet got to the stage where I am comfortable telling people who are not dear to me that the reason I eat the way I do is because I am holistically managing my Multiple Sclerosis as it was the only medically proven evidence based solution I could find to giving me a chance of a long and healthy life and as a result it is imperative that I avoid all saturated fats. Then I suspect that people would start to leave me to sit alone to eat whilst they all looked at me very strangely and said “what did she say? No meat? She really eats no meat?”
So for someone who thinks that having Eggs Benedict with a full cream capuccino was about the ultimate start to a Saturday morning, initially it was very hard. Thoughts of deprivation are completely normal. As you progress though you develop new tastes and cravings and after a while, to go back would be depriving yourself even more.