Tomorrow will be my first Thanksgiving as a vegan–or a vegetarian for that matter. That’s right, I went from full-fledged (Adventist-approved) meat-eater to vegan–cold turkey (forgive the pun).
Unless you’re vegan or considering it, you’re probably asking the obvious question: “Why?!” There may even be some vegans out there wondering why I wouldn’t make more of a gradual transition. Well, there’s a lot involved, but the short answer is that when God calls us to do something, He wants a total commitment.
Let me give you some background.
About two or three years ago, I started to feel a tug on my conscience that I should maybe give up meat. I acknowledged the conviction but immediately started making excuses. “But Lord, I’m in a hurry, and I have to eat. Is it my fault this restaurant doesn’t have any vegetarian options?” I also started trying to bargain. “OK, Lord. I’ll get a bean burrito for lunch, but I may get a cheeseburger for supper. It’s been a long day, after all, and I’ve been really good.” It didn’t take long before I wasn’t even trying. I had silenced the Holy Spirit.
Fast-forward to this time last year. The convictions started to come back, only this time much stronger. The other difference was that, this time, dairy was on the chopping-block as well. “Really, Lord, you want me to be vegan? Me?!” I tried to pretend I didn’t receive a clear “Yes, you!” in response, but not wanting to challenge the voice of God I let my defenses down just a little.
I was led to documentaries like Food Inc. and Adventist health seminars. It wasn’t long before I started feeling guilty praying over my meals if they contained meat or dairy. Even then, I was reluctant to surrender it fully. I got through Thanksgiving and Christmas having eaten as much meat and dairy as I could handle. It seemed I was once again silencing conviction.
Then it happened. I woke up on December 31, and the first words that popped into my head were very clear. You. Are. Vegan. Did I hear that correctly? As I thought about it for a moment and analyzed my feelings, I knew I had. That was it–no turning back.
This last year has had its challenges. I can’t say I’ve never passed some of my old favorite restaurants and thought the air smelled particularly good. I can’t even say I haven’t unknowingly eaten something that had dairy in it. (Potlucks, for instance, are tricky all of a sudden.) But I can say I haven’t had to deal with intense cravings or feelings of regret. I’m not saying the Lord doesn’t often call us to struggle as part of the surrender process, but for some reason when I made the decision to follow through, he took away the struggle.
I guess what I’m really getting at by telling you all this is that life’s too short–and eternity too worthwhile–to trade it in for temporal “happiness.” If you feel the Lord calling you to do something, don’t waste time like I did trying to grasp heaven with one hand and the world with the other. I’m sure I missed out on a lot of blessings by waiting so long to say “yes” to the Lord–like knowing I could have lost those 60 lbs (and counting) a year or two sooner. I’m also learning vegan cooking can be much more diverse in variety and flavor than I could have ever imagined. Looking back, the diet I used to think I couldn’t live without was actually rather boring.
I have many other stories about changes God has brought to my life during the last year or two, but I’ll save those for another time. Whether this Thanksgiving finds you eating lots of real turkey–or Tofurky–I think I’ll just stick to veggies, potatoes and some vegan loaf–enjoy the time with family and friends. Just be open to whatever the Lord may call you to do. You won’t regret it.