I’ve personally had some meat cravings, and I’ve also had cheese cravings big time. Non-vegans often wonder how I dealt with these, or will cite these cravings as an impediment to their own transition to a plant-based lifestyle.
And yeah, I get it. Cravings are tough. That said, people are tough, too. Most of us have conquered cravings in our lives, whether it’s avoiding a candy bar that we know would derail our goal to be healthier, or turning down a sexual advance because we’re in a monogamous relationship, or simply not hitting snooze for the bazillionth time because we really do need to go to work.
As the conquerors of hundreds, or even thousands, of cravings in our lives, why should this one type of craving be insurmountable?
While I did find food-related cravings tough to confront at first, ultimately I found them to be much easier to deal with than other, more vague cravings, because there was usually a straightforward solution.
When I found myself being really sad about ditching crab meat, I dug a little deeper: what was I really missing? The creaminess of crab bisque and the umami flavor. Now I can whip up a great soup that embodies everything I used to love about crab bisque, with the added benefit of not hurting any crabs. (I recently visited an area that was home to a lot of blue crabs, where I learned that people will rip their claws off while the crab is alive, let the limbs regenerate, and then rip them off all over again, for as long as the crabs are able to survive… at which point I felt really bad for ever ‘missing’ crab meat. I’m sorry, buddies.)
When I found myself feeling really sad about ditching cheese, but before I had figured out what vegan alternatives I could use to replace my desire for ‘creaminess,’ I would go online and look at pictures of rescued mother cows and calves. I would remind myself that if, due to my own selfishness and lack of creativity, I ended up eating more dairy cheese, I would be committing really horrible acts against these families. It was enough to shut off those urges and give me the space to find awesome vegan alternatives.
And, ultimately, the effort needed to control these cravings wasn’t really that significant — since, as I discussed in the ‘something helpful’ section here, deciding to become vegan was actually much less work than the effort I had been exerting to talk myself into continuing to consume animal products.
Other people may have different craving-combating solutions that work better for them. But ultimately, people are pretty capable of controlling their cravings, as long as we put our minds to it. If we resign ourselves to letting our cravings control us, rather than taking control of them, then our lives will be a pretty passive and painful ride indeed.