“My reality is just different than yours”

Does being an Odd Ball frighten you?

Here’s a little scenario I’ve covered more times than I can count since starting on my plant-based journey.

Plants have protein. We don’t need to say this anymore, but it still doesn’t hurt to!

Maybe I just think it’s common knowledge because everyone I know knows it by now! But how about building muscles on a vegan diet? A while back someone asked me: “Of course you have to rely on protein powder because you are vegan”. The reality is that building muscles is hard on ANY diet. Every bodybuilder I know consumes protein powder. Protein is the pillar of muscle building. It allows your muscles to start the process of repairing after being torn in the gym. So every single person aiming to build muscle will maximize their protein consumption. Vegan or not, protein powder is likely to be in the diet (although I know some vegans that are very successful and do it entirely on whole foods).

Here’s the point of the matter: eating anything aside from the Standard American Diet is going to be harder socially. People will question what you do. Curiosity is healthy, judgement is not. When people are curious about your choices, and ask questions with an open heart, I encourage you to help and inform them. They may be trying to transition their lifestyles and the details you give them could be part of supporting their change. But never feel like you have to answer to judgmental comments. You’ll quickly learn the difference. One feels threatening, the other feels like an exchange. But remember that those things are not unique to vegans, or bodybuilders, or health conscious people. Think about being at a party and being a non-drinker. Inevitably the non-drinker finds themselves either explaining, defending or discussing the reason why they are not drinking. Regardless what the reasons are, saying: “I don’t drink because…” will inevitably make the person drinking feel judged. There is no way around this. Their question may have been out of curiosity but it will quickly turn to them defending why they are drinking by telling you your reasons are not valid. Because you are saying you are not doing something WHILE they are doing it. This is simply not conducive to a healthy discussion.

The same thing applies to veganism – the thanksgiving table is not the place to say why eating turkey is non-ethical and disgusting. For the health-conscious eater – a group trip to McDonald’s is not the right time to explain why you don’t eat deep fried food. You make a change; you are excited about it and the main thing is to STAY excited about it. Talking about it to people who will immediately turn defensive because the situation is conducive to them feeling judged by their choices will surely take the wind out of your sails. Give some thoughts to how, when and to who you want to take about your choices.

These social elements need to be included to a transition plan. This is extremely important at the beginning of any change you’ve made because that’s the time during which you are most likely to give up on the change. Feeling discourage by outside factors should never be the reason for not pursuing your goals. Make a plan, consider the outside factors and be prepared. This is how your transition to a healthy lifestyle will stick! If your social circle generally isn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle (working out, being active, eating well, etc.) habits will rub off.

So, either you try to rub off on them or they will rub off on you. We are influenced. We learn from each other. As you embark on you lifestyle transition, give some thoughts to how you can gently influence your surroundings. Be kind but don’t compromise your path.

What can you do today to plan for outside pressures?

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