The Social/Personal Challenges of Becoming Vegan, Part Two
Over the next several blogs, one of our colleagues, Peg Haust-Arliss, LCSW-R, will be writing about overcoming the challenges associated with becoming vegan. In the previous blog, Peg began giving strategies for overcoming the social and personal challenges specifically. Here, she continues with these strategies.
6. OWN YOUR FEELINGS: Please remember that it is 100 percent NORMAL to feel intense pain when it comes to animal cruelty. You are not over-sensitive, irrational, or weak. You are having a natural response to suffering. Your eyes and ears are open; that is all. This willingness to see and feel is what will change the world!
7. SELF-CARE: Take care of yourself, inside and out. Make healthier food choices, incorporate daily physical movement, feed your spirit by doing things you love, have fun with family and friends, create goals in all areas of your life and make plans to achieve them, take time to rest and get adequate sleep. Nourish the mind, body, and spirit. You have to take care of you FIRST so that you can BE THERE for your friends and family the way you want to be. This is not selfish; it is necessary.
8. NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS AND CONNECT WITH YOUR KIDS: Pizza date night is a fun way to connect as a couple. Experiment with vegan cheese recipes and toppings. Garlic Cashew Cream is to live for! It’s also a great opportunity to connect with your kids. Think of it as a teaching moment. Kids are naturally open and curious. Engage them and influence them positively, so they can build good habits for a lifetime. Gently teach compassion through modeling, by introducing fun new foods, and spending quality time with you. Cook together, eat together, and show them the importance of treating their bodies well.
9. CONNECT WITH LIKE MINDS AND POSITIVE PEOPLE: Surround yourself with like-minded individuals. It may initially feel very isolating or challenging, especially if you live in a small town or rural area. But, these days, if you look up local groups and meet-ups, you will probably find others not far away. Stay clear of blatantly abusive, negative, or unsupportive people as much as possible. You deserve respect.
10. CULTIVATE EMPOWERING EMOTIONS: We could choose to focus on all the pain and injustice or the difficulty of change, but this only leads us to feel sad, angry, anxious, and hopeless. It’s normal to feel any of these emotions, but it’s not sustainable. If you burn out or become bitter, you can’t make a difference for yourself, the animals, or the world. To cultivate and sustain more empowering emotions, an easy place to start is to understand The power of thoughts, beliefs, focus, and language. As a psychotherapist, I help people understand that it is our thoughts, perceptions and beliefs that spur our emotions. Our emotions are powerful and determine how we experience daily life. So when it comes to a vegan lifestyle or plant-based eating, a shift in mindset and consistent building of emotional muscle will take us far. If you get stuck in limiting beliefs, thoughts, and emotions, you will have a hard time of it. It’s not about denying reality or “what is.” It’s about remembering there are always two sides, two directions, and an opposite of everything. All possibilities exist, but YOU DECIDE what you focus on. Your choice will determine your experience. As Henry Ford said:
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right.”
So, choose wisely. Your experience of plant-based eating and vegan living can be either:
• Difficult or doable
• Unsustainable or sustainable
• Boring or fun!
• Unhealthy or healthy
• Extreme or natural
• Expensive or cost-effective
• Restrictive or abundant
• Depriving or thriving
Stay tuned for Peg’s next blog, in which she addresses the challenges of facing judgment from other vegans. In the meantime, check out Badass Power Cookie, the best vegan protein cookie out there!
Peg is an author, therapist, vegan health and lifestyle coach, and the proud owner of Fear To Freedom Holistic Psychotherapy. Her thriving private practice is located in the beautiful Finger Lakes area of upstate New York, where she offers in-person and online individual therapy and coaching, VIP Day Breakthrough Sessions, and Coaching Programs based on her book: Anxiety Breakthrough.
Peg resides with her husband and their four very adored and entertaining fur kids. She is passionate about animal rights and is on the board of ARAUNY, Animal Rights Advocates of Upstate NY. For fun and relaxation, she loves cooking, physical fitness, music, wine touring, spa days, walking the dogs, very amateur photography, and spoiling her husband, family, and friends any chance she gets!
Download free excerpts of her book and connect with her on social media, all on her website at FearToFreedom.com.