Hopefully your eyes have finished rolling back in your head and retuned to the optimal position for reading. I know, sober and vegan, it’s two parts of a trifecta that may only be completed by being a religious fanatic. Which I am not.
This is not meant to make anyone feel guilty or to push a way of living, it is just my story. I had dabbled with plant-based eating prior to getting sober, but it hadn’t stuck and I had been back on the meat train for awhile. A couple of months (exactly sixty days, I was counting) after getting sober I decided to give up eating animal products all together. And it helped!
It was very much like the dissolution of shame that occurred when I stopped drinking. The shame I hadn’t known was there when I was drinking had also been present around my eating choices. It rounded-out a sharp edge inside of me that I hadn’t known was there .
I wasn’t particularly struggling (I was struggling) in sobriety any more than the average person who is a couple of months sober, but without that blanket of suppression, the dark shade of booze haze, without the buffer of alcohol keeping me impervious to my conscious, I had to feel what eating meat was doing to me.
I hadn’t realized that switching to plant-based eating would make me feel so much better emotionally.
I was doing something better for my body by cutting out the animal products, but it was also larger than that. It was something bigger than me, which is what people in recovery need. We need something else to focus on, a way to get out of our minds. Learning how to live plant-based was the perfect project (for me).
Even if you have no interest in giving up meat, maybe this can be a tender encouragement to keep self-improving. When we investigate other areas of life where maybe some shame or guilt is hiding and then sweep those corners out, we are left with even more cleared counter space for happiness. I believe that continued growth and care for ourselves is the most “painless” way to stay sober. People who get sober often have tendencies that need to be occupied by “good” pursuits. Obsession isn’t the answer or self-flagellation.
No one is perfect, it’s not even healthy to be perfect, but finding new ways to make our lives lighter is exactly the point.
The object is not to remove joy from our lives, which is oddly how many, many people see it, but to fill ourselves up through positive choices. We don’t give our bodies and minds enough credit and if anyone should, it’s people in recovery. Once those animal products are out of your system, it’s shocking how little you want them.
Think about this, you’ve already crossed the threshold of being weird, of not going along with society’s little plan for the world by giving up booze, why not try on the “vegan” or “plant-based” label while you’re at it? You’ve already done the hard part of integrating back into the world socially as a sober person. And it is hard. You already have the skills to blaze your own path, you already know how good it feels to go your own way, to do something good for your body. Now get a taste of what it feels like to do something incredibly helpful for the environment. Plus think of all those fluffy, feathered lives you’re saving?
I felt similarly when I leased a hybrid car, like I had a sort of guilt-pass. I forgot my reusable bags and will undoubtedly leave the store with some plastic, but at least I drove here with a lowered carbon footprint? Maybe I didn’t meditate today or do anything huge to support my sobriety, but at least I didn’t contribute to animal cruelty? See where I’m going with this… people with addiction issues tend to be very hard on themselves.
The more we build ourselves up with “kind” choices, the better we feel about our imperfections.
Eating plant-based has also kept my body feeling better, which is one of the huge things that encourages us in early sobriety; seeing our bodies de-puff and transform daily is really helpful. Those physical changes taper off though, so improving my eating a couple of months in gave me a renewed sense of health and made me feel EVEN better. I don’t think anyone should quit a bunch of vices simultaneously, it can be too much, but this unplanned boost to my sobriety two months in was huge.
I am incredibly satisfied by my plant-based life. I have also noticed, that it’s a very common thing for people to abstain from alcohol in the “clean eating” community. So maybe you even meet some new friends in the produce section who don’t look at you like you’re crazy when you order tea instead of wine at dinner. Just so many reasons. Okay, I’m done, go live your best lives my friends!