Many people who ask me with interest about the vegan diet, ultimately give me that wistful look of having a dream they think is unlikely to ever come true, saying, “I wish I could be vegan, but I just can’t seem to give up eating ________.” They feel that the idea of being 100% vegan is something that is just too hard, and that they’ll never be able to succeed.
But herein lies the question: Do you have to be 100% vegan to make a difference in your health, the lives of animals, and the environment? The answer is, “absolutely not!”
While I do believe that being 100% vegan is one of the best things you can do for your health and one of the most compassionate acts you can make toward our fellow earthlings and our planet, you don’t have to be 100% vegan to make a big difference.
Every meal you choose to eat that has no meat and no dairy will most likely be better for your health, will help to save a life, will help avoid further suffering of animals, and will make our environment cleaner. (For details on how, read John Robbin’s epic book, The Food Revolution.) Like a smoker that can’t quit seem to quit, he will benefit by cutting back on smoking, even if quitting altogether is what’s ideal.
The more you can have meatless meals, the more you can choose fruits and veggies over fast food and processed foods, the more you choose to cut back half (or all) the cheese on your pizza or the butter on your bread, the more you will make a difference in your health, the lives of animals and the environment.
So, if the idea of being a vegan sounds great but you’re overwhelmed by the thought of it, don’t think that you can only benefit by going 100% vegan. Try going vegan on Mondays. Try going vegan on weekends. Try going 20% vegan, then 40%, then 60%... My husband is about 80-90% vegan, yet enjoys superb health and is still making a huge impact on the lives of animals and on our environment by making it this far. It’s something to be very proud of!
One of my biggest motivations in teaching others to go vegan is a statistic that PETA has on their website:
Every vegetarian saves 100 lives each year by not eating meat.
If this is true, you can save 10 lives every single year just by going 10% vegetarian or vegan! 20 lives each year by going 20% veg! 50 lives by going 50% vegan! Multiply your veggie percentage number by the number of years you expect to live, and you can see what an amazing impact you can have! Imagine how high your number could get! Imagine how much healthier you’ll become along the way!
And then, if you find yourself thinking wistfully about all the lives you’re saving, but wish you could save even more … teach it to others.