I tried to fail at being vegan successfully, I really did. Somewhere along the line, though, I did not triumph with my failure and as a result, I’ve got no book deals to speak for, I do not have a thriving yoga clothing line sporting pithy quotes and my student loans are still not freaking paid off. The lack of perks from quitting veganism successfully has been really disappointing. I expected more from veganism. Somebody should really answer as to why I failed so spectacularly to quit at quitting my veganism more profitably.
I started out with the best of intentions. I created the most green smoothie-saturated Instagram page that I could. I posted Ball jar after Ball jar of all the juice cleanses I was supposedly on. I had memes with inspirational quotes. I posted pictures of myself doing the Warrior and Tree poses in beach-y settings, like, a million times. It’s November and the soles of my feet are still burned from the sand. I made sure that the world knew that I was juicing until my stomach sloshed. It was working.
Every time I got 20 new followers, I’d spritz myself with an organic hydrating facial mist sent to me by one of the companies that was mailing me packages and I’d post a Mayfair-filtered picture of my smiling, radiant profile. I’d hashtag it “blessed,” “love,” or something similarly vegan-aspirational. “You’re glowing,” my followers gushed. “You look ah-may-zing!” they wrote. That’s all fine and good but we know that the real attention – and money – is with quitting and everything seemed to be shaping up just right for my eventual triumphant public break-up with veganism.
The narrative of the particular success trajectory I was on dictates that I could only expect a financial windfall of a failure if, after capturing enough followers, I then went through a period of deep internal struggle. Within a few months, I had amassed 25,000 followers and my numbers were steadily climbing. It was time to nurture some serious tension between my public persona and my private life in my story arc. I was game.
The big schism was supposed to be around the development of mysterious ailments brought on by my vegan diet. I had ‘em all figured out. Vague things. Disagreeable things. Psychological things. The plan was to say that they were stomach-related. Headaches. Inflammation. Anxiety. I could have had carpal tunnel, too. The idea was to drop hints like an invisible trail of breadcrumbs that would eventually lead to my bank account. My smile had a twinge of sadness to it now, one that you would only really notice in retrospect. I found the perfect filter for subtle melancholia. My posts became a little disjointed and lacked that spark of a few weeks prior; my photos became more haphazard and less inspiring. I kept this going for a few weeks. My followers still loved me. I was still “radiant.” I was still “OMG beautiful.” But what was going on behind closed doors, hmm??? My plan was humming along perfectly. Like my success coach advised, I’d fall asleep each night with visions of lucrative book deals and Today show interviews dancing through my head.
Finally, it was time to come clean about the challenges I’d concocted and this was when I could get really creative and dramatic.
The morning that I took down my Instagram account still gives me chills to remember. I did my best at being eerily silent for a day or two. Then I reemerged. I had a new account that was a play off my old name but it was scrubbed of veganism. I posted that I was so scared but I needed to be honest. I had broken up with veganism. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done but I needed to be honest with my friends, my followers, the people who trusted me. I posted a picture of my feet in the sand with a vintage-y filter that I’d taken over the summer. I struck an exquisite balance between being mysterious and giving just enough information so as to maintain intrigue and not lose too many future brand affiliation opportunities. I wanted to be vegan, I told my followers, but I created permanent damage after six months of my very strict animal-free lifestyle that included all kinds of random restrictions that had nothing to do with veganism. Please understand, I implored. This is very hard.
I waited. And waited. A few people expressed disappointment. A few people cheered me on. I hadn’t broken the Internet yet, though. That was okay, I reassured myself. I hadn’t brought out the big guns yet. Success at pretending to fail to thrive as a vegan doesn’t happen overnight.
I posted more. I said that my skin had turned orange-y, pink-y, green like a nuclear sunset and it was really gross and sad and I couldn’t take selfies for a whole week. My eyebrows became sparse. My stomach was weird. I hardly recognized my hair anymore. My fingers tingled. I became allergic to air and afraid of birds. My toes suddenly became double-jointed. I’d loved being vegan and then this happened. I was living a dangerous double-life in a way that people are supposed to love to read about. I hit all the right notes, especially when I wrote about The Cravings. I was building momentum to the juicy/lucrative part like a steam engine going up a money mountain but…
It didn’t go anywhere.
I wrote about a cleanse that made me accidentally flush my liver down the toilet. Was it too gross? I wrote about the time, in a juice-fueled moment of mania, I almost put my own thumb down the juicer chute, mistaking it for a piece of ginger and it went nowhere. No bites. I would have killed for just one death threat. That was going to be the big news hook, too. I posted pensive portraits on the rooftop of my building, the clouds looking appropriately moody. Other than my mother telling me I should smile more often, there were virtual tumbleweeds rolling around after each of my stunning revelations. Where the hell was everybody?! Didn’t they care about my financial well-being and my plans for the future? I was led to believe that 98% of the population was going to eat this sh*t up with a spoon. I was deceived.
I expected a windfall. I expected an adoring fan-base. I did everything by the rule book. I presented a clear case of not thriving as a non-vegan: Why wasn’t my failure succeeding??? Where were my seventy million Instagram followers? Where were the marriage proposals from swarthy Saudi princes? Where were the messages from the Dr. Oz producer? Where was my book-turned-into-movie deal and where was my fame, damn it?!
I still have no answers for why I failed to thrive as a failed vegan. It was not for a lack of effort, though, I can assure you. Ultimately, this endeavor wasn't about book deals or paying off my student loans: it was about fame, attention and building a better future for myself. Veganism was a huge mistake and waste of my time in that regard and I’m still paying for my naiveté. Speaking of, I’ll be having a big sale on my super-cute OmniMORE, Namasteak and #MeatyGirl yoga tops next week. Check back.
P.S. - I am still available for brand affiliations, interviews, guest blog posts, etc.