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What It's Like to Go Vegan and How You Can Do It, Too

What It's Like to Go Vegan and How You Can Do It, Too

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Welcome to #MyVeganDiary, a series focused on living a vegan lifestyle. Follow along for Mixed Makeup producer Carly Rivlin's cruelty-free tips on everything from beauty and skincare to recipes and more. Hello there. I'm Carly, and I'm a beauty junkie from New York — oh, and I'm also a vegan. I became a vegetarian two years ago and that lasted about a year before I made the vegan switch. I don't have a "vegan birthday" or anything like that because it didn't happen over night. My timeline is measured in "about" and "arounds." My transition was gradual and I wouldn't have done it any other way.  It was perfect for me.

Eat 🍌🍉🍓 not 🐮🐷🐔 (a statement I very much live by) #vegan my favourite shirts by @inthesoulshine 💛

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I went vegetarian after being ambushed and forced into watching a documentary on the meat industry. I don't know the title; it was a foreign film with no dialogue. I called my mom immediately after and told her I was done with red meat for good. About two weeks later I called her again: this time I was done with white meat. I realized how easy it was to stop eating meat all together.

Fast forward about six months and that's when the whole vegan thing took flight. I give big credit to YouTube for it, too. There are so many educational videos and vegan vloggers out there who share their knowledge and personal experiences and make veganism less extreme as people think it is. They're normal people living normal lives who just wake up every day and make the conscious decision to not consume or use animal products.

It took me about another five months to fully become vegan. I gradually cut out the animal products when I was ready, and it was in these months that I also became comfortable and confident in myself as a vegan. It can be awkward in the beginning, especially when you say it to people you've known for a while. It's also a big commitment.

My first few months were filled with self-doubt: I thought, "What if I'm not strong enough to do this and I give up after a month? What will people say about me if I end up reverting back to who I was before?" Saying it out loud made it real and it was hard to say in the beginning. There are even times now where those awkward feelings come back.

Being vegan is one of my favorite qualities about myself. I love that every decision I make stands for something so much larger than who I am. I love that no living being has to suffer for me to live my normal life. I used to feel like a hypocrite – running around professing my love for animals, but then going in on a cheese pizza – but I don't anymore.

I don't miss any animal products. My taste buds have completely changed and the foods I crave are my favorite vegan foods. Granted I wasn't a big meat eater before, but I was misinformed about what my body needed, so I ate that way anyway. When I do get that craving for a burger or bagel with cream cheese, it's not a big deal. There are so many vegan alternatives out there, I never feel like I'm missing out.

This vegan series is kind of an online diary for me to show you that veganism isn't scary and you can do it, too. You can add in some vegan alternatives in your life or even go full vegan if you want. As I've learned, veganism is something to embrace. Even the tiniest of decisions can make the biggest difference for your health, for the animals, and for the environment.

Thinking about making the switch to veganism? Here are five things you should always remember:

Take it at your own pace.

Some people wake up one day and are vegan. Some people do it gradually. Both are great. Think of it as a marathon and not a sprint. (Too cliché?) As long as you find your way to veganism, it doesn't matter how you got there.

Remember what brought you to veganism and latch onto that.

If it's important to you, that's reason enough. And don't think that one reason is more justified than another.

Continue to educate yourself.

It's easy to forget or lose motivation at times. Keep growing your knowledge and learning about this amazing community you're a part of.

Veganism doesn't have to turn your world around (unless you want it to).

There are some crazy vegan stereotypes out there. Trust me, I know it. But that's just one fraction of vegans. Not everyone only eats fruit or screams at you on the sidewalk for wearing leather or lives in the wilderness. You'll be the vegan you want to be.

With so many vegan alternatives and products out there today, it's easier to take baby steps. I'll admit, it does take some extra thought and Googling, but you probably already use vegan products and don't even realize it.

You will mess up, and that's ok.

Just remember that one screw up doesn't negate all the good you've done. It doesn't mean you're not vegan anymore. Take it as a learning experience and grow from it.

Stay tuned for next week's post to see how veganism changed my life — especially my skin!

Are you vegan or thinking of making the switch? Share your experiences in the comments!

Main image: In The Soulshine

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