I’m a terrible salesperson. My little experience includes selling Santa village and cat knicknacks at Hallmark and classified ads at an alternative newspaper (my best client was a dominatrix).
I answered features editor Beverly Godfrey’s solicitation for co-workers to take the Veganuary challenge, but I’m never going to push eating vegan on anyone. In fact, I wasn’t aware that Veganuary has been around since 2014 until I researched it. It’s a nonprofit organization based in the UK that encourages the public to eat vegan in January.
I believe that what people want to eat is their choice. Whether they want to eat fast food for three meals a day or exclusively raw food, that’s their business. The one piece of wisdom I advise is that people should think about what they’re eating, what’s in it and where it comes from.
Back to Veganuary. This isn’t my first foray into eating vegan. I hesitate to label people in general, but since that’s how we often understand others, I guess you could say I’m pescatarian. I eat dairy, eggs and seafood. I will eat other meat if I’m in a situation where it’s the only option or it would offend the cook if I didn’t. I don’t stand my ground and refuse to eat it.
For maybe a year or two, I ate what I called a plant-based diet. It wasn’t motivated by animal cruelty or the livestock industry’s harmful impact on the environment, not that I support either of those. My husband and I started tracking what we ate using an app to lose weight, and we learned a lot about what’s in our food and what we’re putting in — and not putting in — our bodies. I gradually transitioned to a diet of mostly plants, no dairy or meat, and limited oils and salt.
I hesitate to use the term “diet” because it wasn’t a gimmick, at least for me. Diets don’t work if you’re trying to lose weight or otherwise improve your health; it has to be a lifestyle change. Eating a plant-based diet made me feel better and healthier. My blood pressure and cholesterol levels were incredibly low, and I had more energy.
So, if it’s so great, why don’t I eat like that now? Well, a number of factors: job changes and the resulting stress, anxiety and lack of time; influence of family members; feeling ridiculed by others; and the pressure of living in an area where residents are heavily reliant and supportive of the livestock industry (I lived in Nebraska for a while before I moved to Duluth). All excuses, but that’s the reality.
I still, however, have many resulting eating habits from my plant-based days that I don’t even really think about, like how I only consume nut milk and nondairy mayo and butter at home.
As I take the Veganuary challenge, I’ll document my experience with weekly columns in the News Tribune. It’s not a New Year’s resolution for me, but an experiment that will hopefully have positive long-term effects. I have past experience to draw from, but hearing what others do is interesting and inspiring as well.
Are you participating in Veganuary? Is it a resolution? Something you’ve always wanted to try? A workplace or family challenge? Let me know at email@example.com or 218-723-5334. We’re all in this together.
Katie Rohman is managing editor of the News Tribune.