Many are coming to understand that veganism, more than a mere dietary choice, is a way of thinking and living.
Here are three reasons you're already thinking like a vegan.
1. You love animals
You have great admiration for animals you know personally: your cat is more zen than you could ever hope to be and your friend's dog is always 'in the moment'.
At some point in your life you felt a moving connection with your companion animal or someone else's. A profound connection that's most easily described as 'love', but which, in a way, goes beyond that overused word; it's a pure, reverent kind of love that does not care about reciprocation.
You have found that in observing animals? - ?wild or domesticated, in real life or even through a screen or window? - you are bearing witness to a complex inner life.
When you see a video of a human intervening to save a beached shark, your heart swells with relief and pride in the human race. Even though you'd instinctively swim in the other direction if you ever saw a shark swimming alongside you.
2. You're frustrated by the lack of action against climate change
You fully understand that the clock is ticking and we have to come up with quick and powerful solutions in order to fix the damage we've already done as a species.
You wish your fellow human beings would show a collective sign of care for their planet, our shared home.
You can’t even fathom the catastrophe that awaits us if we don't get our act together.
3. You're exhausted by all the suffering in the world
You sometimes avoid reading the news because you know it will sadden you.
You despair that peace seems so elusive in the world and you dream about a future when things are different.
You dread to think about animals being abused and kept in cages.
Likewise, you're disgusted to hear about your fellow human animals suffering starvation or abuse.
In trying times you empathize with yourself and feel lonely or misunderstood.
You feel all these things because empathy is hardwired into us. It's at the heart of the human experience; when we fail to address the feelings it invokes in us, we dehumanize ourselves.
Vegans aren't special
You're thinking and feeling like a vegan because vegans are not special.
Vegans are just ordinary individuals who seek to be true to their feelings, even if that means going against the grain. And anyone can choose to do so.
They've unlocked a profound connection with themselves and their world by deciding to live according to the values they already had. By turning pain into purpose.
"When you stand with yourself in a self-compassionate, kind, loving way, life opens up and then you can turn towards meaning and purpose and how you bring love, participation, beauty, contribution, into the lives of others."
These words are uttered by psychology professor Dr. Steven Hayes in his 2016 TED talk, How Love Turns Pain into Purpose. Hayes terms the ability to engage with and actively respond to one's emotions 'psychological flexibility':
"Basically, that means allowing thoughts and feelings to show up, then gently attending to what helps move you in the direction you value."
Move in the direction you value
If you're already thinking like a vegan, try living like one for a month or two and see if you develop a better relationship with yourself.
It might seem impossible at first, but it's easy when you know how. You’ll soon find that there's much more to be gained than sacrificed.
If you're looking for guidance, search Facebook for a local vegan community. Vegans love sharing tips and almost all started out non-vegan, so they'll know where you're coming from.
No one expects you to do it perfectly from the offset. But you'll learn a lot along the way, and one day soon you'll look back and be proud that you were brave enough to take ownership of your values in a world that doesn't encourage it.