Xavier Jared


Two brothers on personal development, philosophy, and being awesome

Giving Up Cheese


“I would like to go vegan, but I could never give up cheese.”

I hear some variation of this justification every time someone is telling me about their diet choice. It follows the pattern “I couldn’t do (some big thing) because of (one really small component)”. Talk about throwing the baby out with bathwater! The world isn’t black and white, it is not an all or nothing proposition. Have you tried cutting out milk? Eggs? Leather? If you think being vegan is all about not eating cheese, you have kind of missed the point.

Raw vegan cheese, made from cashews. Recipe over at rawmazing.com.

That is logical gymnastics though. More importantly the justification follows another pattern: assuming that your current state is the correct one with which to evaluate the choice. It assumes that your needs, desires and abilities are static as of this moment and unable to change, which is certainly not the case. When you embark on something new, you can’t help but be changed, and even your most deeply held attitudes and feelings are up for review.

“I’d like to start running, but I’m too fat.”

“I’d like to sing but I’m tone deaf.”

“I can’t dance, I’ve got two left feet.”

“I’d could never be an early riser, I feel terrible in the mornings.”

In all of these justifications, you are not starting something, because you can not already do the thing you will learn by starting! Running can help you lose weight, singing teaches you to hear pitch, dancing teaches coordination, and learning to get up early trains your body to feel fantastic in the morning. If anything, having two left feet is more of a reason to start dancing than not, since you have so much to learn.

Cashew Sheep Cheese
A vegan cheese sheep, also made out of cashews.
I didn’t know such a thing existed either.

If you asked me three years ago whether I could give up eggs, I would have answered a definitive “never!” What I did not realise was that I was evaluating the question based on my current situation, without adjusting for how my outlook, tastes, and being would change as I investigated a vegan lifestyle. I wanted to go vegan, but simply could not imagine a world without eggs or dairy. Once I started dabbling in vegan recipes, not only did I start finding replacements (did you know you can scramble tofu for breakfast?!), but my tastes started shifting. There wasn’t a definitive line in the sand: one week I felt like eating eggs less than normal, and within a few weeks they were cut out altogether. The process of becoming a vegan by doing, without hard lining, changed my habits, without requiring sacrifice.

Don’t let false justifications stop you from trying something new. Change isn’t permanent, and it also isn’t atomic—not everything has to change at once. The first time I went vegan I was back eating eggs within a month, and today I’m still not as 100% vegan as I could be. Change is a process, not an event.

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