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Dealing with Overwhelm

As veganism is a lifestlye, not a diet, it can seem overwhelming when first embarking on this incredible journey. Maybe you never learned how to cook or you’re really attached to products or clothing with contain animal products. The good news is, all change requires some discomfort, so you can let go of the feeling that you can’t do this. Ah, don’t you feel a bit lighter now?

Humans don’t like change, we’re still wired to always be on the lookout for danger, changing anything activates that feeling. Diving into the unknown wakes up that protection, makes our inner voice say “what a minute, we’ve survived to this point doing what we’ve always done, no need to rock the boat.” If you’re reading this, you’ve likely decided you are ready to rock the boat, to embark on a new life. I’m glad you’re here.

What causes overwhelm? Let’s address 3 big ones

  1. Not having enough knowledge or feeling like you don’t know enough

  2. Lack of support

  3. Changes in your body

1. Some of you may be brand new to veganism and so you really do need to do some research, that’s wonderful! When you know you want to take on a new project but you don’t know how to do it, or what is involved you do some research. Start by looking at websites of farmed animal sanctuaries, these sites offer tips, information, articles, and stories about their residents. It can help you make a deeper connection if you are putting names and faces to the animals while reading their stories.

Sometimes, we have a lot of information but doubt ourselves. This is normal, even if it’s not true. Trust that you have enough information to get started and keep learning along the way. Veganism isn’t about being perfect, perfection in anything isn’t possible and we don’t live in a vegan world. That doesn’t mean people who willing use animals can call themselves vegan, but it does mean if you accidentally eat or buy something that isn’t vegan, or, you thought something was vegan and later find out it isn’t, you don’t have to “start all over.” You’re still vegan, keep going.

2. When the people around us don’t understand why we’re doing something, they can inadvertently (sometimes purposefully) make it difficult for us to change. I remember when I first stopped using animals people would constantly try to catch me doing something that wasn’t vegan. For example, if I showed up in a new pair of sneakers, before they even said hello, I would hear smugly, “nice sneakers, are those leather?” It was almost as if they would feel that they had won something if I had said yes. (They weren’t leather by the way.)

How do you break through this? Find your community elsewhere. When you connect with others who are making or have made the same changes you are, it is comforting to be with others who get “it” and you. Having a community where you share this bond will also make it easier to interact with those who don’t understand. Look for local groups that meet in-person (once it is safe to do so) and/or online communities (there are a ton of free Facebook groups), find your people. Humans are communal, we need that connection, seek it out.

3. Being gassy can be so embarrassing and uncomfortable, and if you haven’t eaten a lot of fiber before going vegan, you will undoubtedly experience some discomfort this way. However, that’s no reason to give up! You will get through it, give your body a week or two to adjust and drink plenty of water. There are also over the counter aids you can take to ease the gas.

You may notice you are gaining or losing weight, if this is undesirable to you, know that this still marks a period of adjustment. As long as you are eating enough calories and a variety of foods, you’re nourishing your body and your soul with every meal.

Think about a time in your life when you made a change that really mattered to you. What worked and kept you on your chosen path? What didn’t work?

*** It’s just as important to know what trips you up as it is to understand what keeps you going.***

Finally, compassion is a cornerstone of veganism and it’s not just for the animals. Have some compassion for yourself and those in your life. This is a learning process, even when you’re 20 years in, you'll still be learning. I know I am. You can do this and I am really proud of you.

Tell me in the comments one thing you do to show yourself compassion.

If you would like to hear me talk about these concepts, check out my latest Fireside Chat here:

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