Two years ago, I made a promise to myself. Being involved in so many school activities, it was often very hard to practice vegan (or even vegetarian) eating with such limited options throughout the day. So, I committed myself to annually practicing Veganuary

Veganuary is an initiative to try to support vegan eating by challenging carnivores and vegetarians alike to eat vegan for the month of January. January wasn't a super busy month for me, so I decided to go for it. I found it a great way to start off the new year, and I have learned something new about being vegan each time I try it.

As I've switched from being vegan to eating meat many times over the years, I've had many instances where I have to tell someone that I am beginning my vegan journey. With this, I've seen a huge variety of reactions from all kinds of people, both good and bad. Here are some of the most common ones. I'm sure anyone who has taken on a dietary change can relate.

1. "I could never do that!"

Elyse Carley

Yeah, I can see restrictions like family dinners and required events being a problem, but... being vegan doesn't have to be a lifelong journey! It's actually pretty simple to do for just one day and has many noticeable environmental impacts. Try it out.

2. "Why would you ever do that?"

Is this being said genuinely like "Oh, that's cool! Why did you decide to pursue being vegan?" or is it more like a "Why would anyone ever want to be vegan?" Let me know, because I get mixed signals when these kinds of questions come along. I'm not exactly sure what the tone of the conversation is here...

3. "Where do you get protein though?"

beer, Vegan, smoothie, Probiotic, Kefir, Drink, milk, strawberry
Vy-Anh Nguyen

Ahh, the age-old question asked daily to both vegans and vegetarians. I definitely heard it all thirty-one days of January, so I can't imagine what it's like for full-time vegans. Basically, to this I answer: PLANTS HAVE PROTEIN, TOO.

4. "Cool."

I'm fine with this reaction. Sure, I don't get to explain anything, but sometimes that's for the best. Surprisingly, this response was common and most people are pretty indifferent on the subject.

5. "I want to go vegan now too!"

vegetable, salad, chicken, meat, chickpeas
Rita Cliffton

It's really cool to know that someone else is getting joy from what you're experiencing, and that you can share your experiences with them to help them in the future. Even though I might not be the most educated on the subject, it's so awesome to hear what I'm doing is actually directly impacting someone else. Go for it, I now have so many cool new recipes for Meatless Mondays.

6. "..."

Some people do just sit there. Stare. And say nothing, which makes me feel very uncomfortable. So, if that is a tactic to get me to stop talking about being vegan, it works. Good job, I guess?

7. "But you're still eating plants and plants are alive!"

vegetable, pasture, cucumber, courgette
Kristine Mahan

My least favorite reaction by far. What I am supposed to do with this? How am I supposed to react?  Is this a joke or is this person being serious? So many unanswered questions...

From my experience with being vegan, one lesson has stuck out above the others. Don't be afraid to do something you're passionate about because you're afraid of the reaction you're going to get from others. While some reactions I received during my experience could be analyzed as "harsh joking," none of them were extremely negative. In fact, the majority were positive! This is surprising, as I live in a town where I've only ever met two other vegans in my life.

The majority of people will most likely not care too much about the decisions you make as an individual, so always feel free to do what you desire. Above all, never be afraid of new experiences–whether it be going vegan or dying your hair–because you're scared of the backlash. After all, the best way to learn is through experience.