Have you ever made an enormous change in your life? How did your family and friends react? Did they support you, or did they try to knock you off the path you wanted to follow?
You can’t underestimate the importance of a good support network in your life. When you want to change your life for the better, having those closest to you show their support can make the path much easier. For example, I’m prone to making drastic changes in my life within very short timeframes. The most recent of these changes was to radically overhaul my diet.
Last year I decided to become a vegetarian. That was an easy change for me to make. I already ate a pretty varied diet and I didn’t even miss meat. Vegetarians are well enough catered for in restaurants and cafés nowadays to be considered mainstream, so the impact that this transition had on my social life was minimal. Of course, there were a few twits who insisted in proving their ignorance, insensitivity, and idiocy by describing the flavour explosion of the hormone-laden, antibiotic-ridden, faeces-laced, E. coli-filled hunk of decaying animal flesh they were focused on masticating, but for the most my vegetarianism was a non-issue.
At the beginning of this year, I began my transition from vegetarian to vegan. My first step was to eliminate eggs and dairy from my diet. This was a much bigger transition for me than going vegetarian. The difficult part was not giving up eggs and dairy – that was easy when I shopped and cooked for myself. No, what made it difficult were the social implications of going vegan. The menu options for social vegans are somewhat limited (great, garden salad again…) and as a result I only tended to dine with people at vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants.
Going vegan is not exactly what anyone would call a mainstream lifestyle choice. When I first started out on this path, I only had one or two vegetarian friends, and I didn’t even know any other vegans. To be honest, I expected a hell of a lot of resistance to my choice. Instead, I was amazed at how much support I received, and some of my relationships began to really stand out to me as a result. For example, the rest of my family are still meat-eaters, but instead of making Christmas lunch with an animal as the centerpiece, Mum took the time to find a delicious vegetarian lasagna recipe and put together an assortment of divine salads. Whenever I go to dinner at a particular friend’s house, she calls me to check if all of her ingredients are okay for me to eat, and tells everyone else to bring vegan-friendly food. Another will scour the grocery store to find vegan biscuits I can eat when I visit her. Another messages me details about new vegan places opening in Brisbane. More recently I’ve developed a good friendship with a long-time vegan who shares delectable vegan recipes and sweets with me. Many others take in interest in my journey and regularly ask me how I’m going with it.
I have to admit that I was expecting a pretty lonely ride on the vegan bandwagon. I didn’t expect many of my friends to even understand what vegan was, let alone go out of their own way to cater for me. I was overwhelmed and deeply touched by my family and friend’s enthusiastic support, sensitivity, and kindness. Most of these people aren’t vegan or even vegetarian, which made their actions all the more special. They didn’t make the effort for themselves – they did it because they cared about me.
Having good friends is still quite a new experience for me. I consider myself very fortunate to have awesome veg*n friends who happily share their support and knowledge, and other beautiful friends who are not veg*n but wholeheartedly support my choice wherever they can.
Is your life filled with happy, positive people who encourage you to be the best you can be? Are the people you spend the most time with the people who love you for who you are and want you to achieve your best? Sometimes, being a little bit different can help separate the wheat from the chaff. Leave aside those who seek to leave you disempowered, and nurture those supportive relationships with people who enhance you as a person.
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