Challenge yourself

I recently took part in a 21 day vegan challenge in Shanghai. Having never gone a day without consuming animal products, I was a bit intimidated by the idea and spent a lot of time preparing. I started the challenge ready to suffer through it, but then about half way through a quote by the philosopher Seneca came to mind.

We often suffer more in our imagination than in reality
— Seneca

Now I’ve never studied philosophy, but it made me think of challenges and how we approach them. Before the vegan challenge I was hesitant to try following a vegan diet on my own. I imagined a whole lot of obstacles. Coffee without milk seemed dreadful, going out with friends seemed impossible and I definitely couldn’t afford being a vegan for more than 21 days. Fortunately I realized that the suffering and sacrifice I imagined before the challenge far removed from the reality of it. In reality it was ‘doable’. My friends were great and came along to vegan friendly restaurants. A seafood buffet at a work function had more than enough vegan options and I really like walnut milk. All of the sacrifices excuses that kept me from trying something new faded away in reality.

Any kind of challenge doesn’t have to be a life time commitment, but it’s a great opportunity to learn about yourself, your consumption and what you value. When you try to think of changing the way you consume anything, it’s easy to see a lot of obstacles. Challenge yourself, if not in something big, try something small. You could try a vegan challenge on your own, although you’ll soon discovery there’s a community of people willing to support you. You could try a minimalism challenge and see how thinking about what you own and why can teach you about yourself. You don’t have to and shouldn’t wait for others to make a change or to challenge yourself. Look at what’s in front of you and try. I’d rather choose figuring things out in reality, even if it’s challenging, over believing that something is going to be too difficult any day of the week.

Vegan challenge:

Minimalism challenge:

Wardrobe challenge:


Cornelia Blignaut