It recently dawned on me that my adventure into a vegan diet drew many parallels with my switch from Windows to Linux. Both endeavors forced me outside of my comfort zone allowing me room to experiment in environments where complacency used to rule. This new experimentation lead to learning more about myself and about the systems I interacted with daily. In the end, both Vegan and Linux were about discovering complementary aspects to my life and not about finding alternatives or limiting myself.
Anyone making the change from Windows to Linux has inevitably learned that some of their favored applications don’t have native Linux support. My first foray caused me to leave Microsoft Office and WinRAR behind in favor of open source solutions such as LibreOffice and 7Zip. I didn’t immediately use these programs however. There was a period of researching and testing applications that lead me to better understand the programs and what I wanted my choice application to do. Starting a vegan diet is very similar insofar that some of your previous food choices aren’t available. Through research and trying different foods I found new cornerstones to my diet. Some of these foods, like tofu and almond milk, are now permanent additions as I prefer them to their alternatives.
Not every food has a direct correlation between non-vegan and vegan though. While tofu and tempeh are the go-to foods for protein, many people are put off by them either due to texture or taste. In these cases we have meatless meat products like veggie sausages, luncheon meat, and burgers. These are pre seasoned, pre shaped vegan products that emulate common meat products, though one shouldn’t expect a perfect emulation since there isn’t any actual meat. As I’m sure most have figured it out, the Linux parallel to this are products that allow the use of Windows applications. WINE, one such application, is the most widely used but it is far from perfect. Most of the commonly used Windows applications will run with WINE but don’t expect every program to run 100%. This is usually a last resort option if the user cannot find a Linux/open source alternative to a Windows program.
I mentioned earlier that these experiences have allowed me to learn more about what I wanted from my applications. Most people I know have fallen into a rut with their software choices, myself include. They usually find something that works and sticks with it for several years. While this usually results in a reliable user experience it also hinders any discovery of fresh ideas. The most extreme example was when I was looking for a digital audio workstation (DAW) to replace my then current Cubase, an all in one software solution. Music creation is an area that Linux has a bit of issue with due to how the audio drivers are handled but I found it wasn’t impossible. I was tasked with finding a slew of specialized programs that work in tandem to create the different aspects of Cubase. Essentially, I created my own workstation environment. This was when I realized how bloated Cubase was compared to what few features I actually used, which lead me to search for cheaper, less featured programs that better fit my needs. As too with vegan food, I have found that I wasn’t completely happy with the foods I previously ate. I was never really a fan of meat as most contained fat or grease in some form. Tofu introduced me to a clean form of protein and I doubt I will ever remove it from my diet as it fits my needs much better.
Aside from the individual aspects, both Linux and vegan foods have given me a better understanding of the larger systems, operating an OS and cooking food, respectively. While Windows has simplified a majority of the user interface to ensure anyone can use it, Linux still tends to be reliant on the terminal. The file structure also requires more of an understanding from the user to utilize it to the maximum potential. While Linux looks overly complicated compared to Windows, I learned more about manipulating Linux in just two months than I did about Windows in ten years. The same is true about vegan as it gave me incentive to actually learn how to cook. Previously, I had relied on processed food that only required microwaving, boiling water, or following directions to cook in a skillet. Moving to vegan food forced me to cook and season my own food and while I’m not experienced enough to create personal recipes I can see myself getting to that point eventually. To a lesser extent, both Linux and vegan can be seen as a shift from corporate products to personal endeavors as both promote a hands on approach to their respective systems.
To reiterate, switching to something different is a new path of discovery, not a choice to find inferior alternatives. Both Linux and vegan have allowed me to find products that I never had any intentions of using, some I didn’t even know existed, and uncover new things. It isn’t that either choice is a decision to give up the established commodities but a conscious decision to force myself to break out of habits, providing fresh views and options.