Trying to Go Vegan During Quarantine

Before quarantine, I had been a pescatarian for nine years, and not eating meat was second nature to me. However, I got sick of knowing that my lifestyle could be kinder to animals, as I still ate fish and animal products. So, I decided to make the transition to eating vegan.

I believe that I should spread the most compassion and positivity to everyone that I can, so practicing a lifestyle of kindness and going vegan was a no-brainer for me. I planned on eating more tofu, cooking more for myself, and balancing my diet. I was extremely excited to venture on this new route that would not only better myself, but would better the world around me. 

However, I did not expect to be so busy during quarantine. I was only eating fruits and vegetables and not focusing on whether my diet was balanced or not. I started getting headaches and feeling dizzy, and then I realized that I was starting to become anemic, as my diet had been extremely deficient in iron. I started taking a multivitamin with iron in it every day, and that solved my anemic symptoms. 

As time went on, though, I did not improve my diet. My main source of protein became tofu, but that quickly changed, as there was a tofu shortage in my area because of the coronavirus pandemic. The entire vegan products section was sold out in the supermarkets. Rather than find a new protein source, it became a lot easier to eat some of the mac and cheese my dad made for our family. Before I knew it, I was eating a more poorly balanced diet than my pescatarian diet, and I felt physically and mentally awful. I was filled with so much anxiety about not doing the most good I could for the planet that I forgot that I was neglecting my own health. And I was wondering why this was such a big deal in my life when there was a pandemic affecting the entire world. It seemed like there were more important things that I should be worried about.

But then I realized that having a lifestyle of kindness and doing the most good are important to me now more than ever because that is what I can do to try to make life even slightly better for the world in such a trying time. Consequently, I really wanted to continue not eating any animal products. Doing this when living in a house of carnivores is not easy, as all the food they cooked had either meat or animal products in it. Cooking vegan meals was up to me, and I convinced myself that I simply did not have the time for it. I was too busy with work and school to make myself the food my body needed. 

I was neglecting my basic need of nourishing my body not because I was too busy, but because I perceived that I was too busy. This was because I was prioritizing school over my own health, which is so unhealthy. I needed to make sure I had the food that my body required before I even thought about my schoolwork, as if I did not first take care of myself, there was no way that I could properly do my schoolwork without letting it affect me negatively.

So I started being patient and more kind with myself, acknowledging that my path to veganism is not a perfect transition, especially when faced with a tofu shortage. If I show myself kindness, then I will feel better. And if I feel better, I will be in a better position to help others and spread kindness. Similarly, if I do not take care of myself properly by feeding my body the nutrients that it needs, then that hurts myself and those around me. If I do not first take care of myself, then I cannot help anyone else.

A way that I have been more patient with myself is that I have been focusing more on making healthy meals for myself than I have been focusing on schoolwork because there is nothing more important than consciously taking care of one’s health. Everything I cook for myself is plant-based and vegan. However, every now and then, I will run out of vegan food to make and will end up making eggs for breakfast. I’ll admit that this process is not perfect, but I’m trying my best.

If you are considering going vegan, consult your doctors and a nutritionist via telehealth appointments in order to make the transition the safest, smoothest one possible. Be patient with yourself and know that you have the best possible intentions to improve your life, the lives of animals, and the planet. It’s okay if you can’t stick to a strict vegan diet right away, so don’t beat yourself up if you eat food that contains animal products. By taking care of yourself in this way and transitioning yourself to a lifestyle of kindness, you’re doing the most good you can for yourself and for the planet.