So you don’t know me, and I don’t know you… So let’s get to know each other 🙂 I’ll try to be as un-boring as possible (be patient, I’m as new to blogging as I am to veganism). Just a bit about me, and a bit about what brought me to this day…Day 1 of veganism.
So what brough me here? It certainly wasn’t a vegan lightning bolt or sudden valor on my part… this has been a loooooooooooong time coming.
I’ve been an off and on (mostly on) vegetarian for the past 10 years…wow, that makes me feel old (but not too old 😉 I just turned 25). My story of vegetarianism is pretty simple. Once upon a time, I was 15 years old, my mom and I were driving along the highway and we passed a semi-truck full of pigs on their way to slaughter. I really don’t want to get all gruesome about animal suffering and such so I’m gonna keep it simple: it made me sad. I felt sorry for the pigs in that truck. I thought about what they might be feeling. How their lives might have been different if they weren’t in that truck. From that day forward (apart from some short off the “V-Wagon” times) I stopped eating meat.
So why did it take me 10 years to go vegan? Probably for the same reasons that keep everyone else from going vegan: too busy, too much work, never given a concrete reason why dairy is bad, fear, laziness, don’t know how to cook, too hard, I love cheese, my partner/friends/family/etc will be inconvenienced etc etc etc… One or another of these reasons stopped me from going vegan. Maybe they’re stopping you. I’m not going to try to convince anyone to go vegan or anything else. I just want to share my experience in going vegan DESPITE all these reasons. (Except one…I did get a concrete reason why I should shun dairy…more on that later).
So there it were. I had all those reasons (and probably more that I’m not thinking of at the moment). So why the hell am I vegan now?
Well, in a sentence: due to a series of seemingly unrelated circumstances… it all just fell into place, and more importantly it just feels right. So what the hell does that mean? In more concrete terms, here is the play by play. Sorry if it’s boring, but I think it’s important to chronicle how your average Joe (me) gets from point A to point B.
So two months ago on a glorious May 14, I graduated from college. Yay me! But don’t get too excited for me just yet, I’m going back to grad school in the fall, but that’s besides the point. So after the past two years of pouring all my attention, energy, intellectual focus, and hours into the black hole of school, I was pretty beat. I had the whole summer ahead of me… I made it my goal to morph into a 1950’s housewife: Learn to cook, attend to a laundry list of neglected household projects, spend time at home doting on my wonderful dogs and cats, and not least of all, spend more time with my wonderful and so supportive fiancée who has diligently picked up all the household slack while I’ve been getting my education.
So that’s what I did. My cooking improved and I got stuff done around the house. I’ve always been interested in veganism and kind of figured that eventually it would just “happen” to me, I put vegan cookbooks on my amazon wishlist and tried my hand at some vegan baking. My birthday came around and my family, looking for gift ideas, consulted said wishlist and I found myself with 3 new vegan cookbooks and a book of vegan lifestyle (100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes by Kris Holechek, Vegan Comfort Food by Alicia Simpson, Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskovitz, & The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life by Melisser Elliot). I started reading. Two days later my fiancée and I went to the home of another couple, friends of ours (vegans) for dinner and were introduced to another vegan couple. I’m being surrounded by vegans. I was curious and strangely wistful about their vegan-ness and we talked a little about it. I found myself saying what I always say…”Well I feel like it will happen eventually…” “I’d be vegan but _________”…
The evening was fun and I went home. I continued reading my new vegan books. I came across something in one of the books that is totally common sense yet somehow, I had never known. A concrete reason (for me) why I really didn’t want to eat dairy.
I had heard murmurings about why one shouldn’t eat dairy…something about how it supports the veal industry…something about rennet… what?? Okay, but how are those things connected? I didn’t know. Now I know, so here it is: Cows don’t just produce milk. They must be impregnated to induce lactation. Wow. Duh. How did I never know that? So what happens? Dairy cows are repeatedly impregnated so they will continue to produce milk. When the calves are born, they are taken away from their mothers at less than a day old. Male calves become veal. Female calves become dairy cows like their mothers. After 4-5 years, dairy production wanes and the formerly dairy cows become meat cows and are sent to slaughter. It’s sad, I know. I’m sorry I have to write about it. There’s plenty of videos and literature documenting terrible animal abuses happening within the meat/dairy industry and if you’ve never seen any of it, I think in the name of being an educated consumer they are worth watching once. I will really try to stay away from gruesome depressing descriptions of sad animal stuff. I intend to keep an upbeat focus on the positive experience of being a new vegan. However, sometimes we need real reasons and motivation to support a change such as adopting a vegan diet, I know I did.
So suddenly I found that my enthusiasm for dairy was kind of dampened… The next morning I dutifully ate my greek yogurt and it tasted the same, sort of. I’m not going to lie to you, I like the flavor of yogurt. I’m not going to tell you I hate the taste of dairy. I’m going to tell you that I love it. Cheese tastes good. I’m sorry! I’m Danish/Norwegian, it’s practically written into my DNA. However, I will tell you that, that morning, eating my greek yogurt that tasted the same as every other day I ate it, I just couldn’t enjoy it anymore. Knowing that I took something that wasn’t meant for me just sort of ruined it for me. That milk was meant for a baby calf. I stole from a cute little baby calf. I’m sorry little calf.
As I pondered the fact that I was a milk-stealing-mean-girl, I had a thought. Maybe I’ll go vegan.
Immediately all my reasons flooded my brain “My fiancée eats meat, he won’t like it if I go vegan”, “What will I do when I travel?”, “I’ll have to give up cheese”, “What if I inconvenience people”, there were probably more secondary reasons but those were the main ones.
I had a second thought…
Maybe I’ll go vegan for 30 days, the whole month of July.
This was starting to seem more reasonable. The date was June 28. That meant I had some time to read a little more, maybe plan some meals, figure out what I need nutritionally, and eat up all the dairy in my fridge. I get paid on the 1st so it’s perfect! I’ll have money and I can do some vegan shopping. I can talk to my vegan friends between now and then and maybe get some tips. Yessssss…. hmmm… Yess I think it can be done.
So what happened to my reasons? This post is getting mega long so I won’t go on and on…just short and sweet.
Reason 1: My fiancée is an omnivore. He eats meat.
Question– Will my becoming vegan ruin our life? Bring catastrophe and doom down upon our normally peaceful loving existence?
Answer– No. In the end, he doesn’t care what it eat. We don’t even eat the same things now. I’m a vegetarian. He’s a meat-eater. When I cook, I was cooking two different versions of whatever I was making anyway. We don’t even like the same snack foods and neither of us like to share. We literally have “his” and “hers” shelves in the pantry.
Resolution– I said, “Honey, I think I’m going to go vegan”. He said, “Ok.” He says I’m slowly creeping my way down the food chain, which I actually think is kinda funny.
Reason 2: I travel a lot. I can’t maintain a vegan lifestyle in unfamiliar lands.
Question– What will I do? What will I eat? What if I stave? What if I’m miserable?
Answer– There’s this thing called the internet. Maybe I can utilize this strange device to help me find vegan resources and restaurants in far away places.
Resolution– I’m not traveling now at this moment. Nor do I have any travel plans until late August. Which gives me plenty of time to get acclimated to veganism, get a little bit ahead of the learning curve I’m facing, and plan for the trip. And I mean really, it’s a vacation. The word vacation is synonymous with fun. A little meat & dairy abstinence isn’t going to ruin a vacation!
Reason 3: I’ll have to give up cheese
Question– OMG how can I live without cheese? HOOOOOOW??????!?!!?!?!?!
Answer– Ok settle down, let’s take it down a notch. Yes. You will have to give up cheese. You don’t have to cry about it. No one died, except maybe the cows who made the cheese (yeah I said it).
Resolution– There is such a thing as vegan cheese. I’ve not really tried it yet, but I’ll give it a go. I’m sure I’ll blog about it for the benefit of all those who like me, may be a little apprehensive to wade into cheese substitute territory. And another thing, my taste buds may like cheese, but my intestines are not really on board for the dairy. So it’s probably for the best. Furthermore, my lovely vegan friend Sunny, told me a very interesting thing about cheese and dairy: it’s a known carcinogen. Bad cheese, you lure me with your siren song of cheesy savory goodness, then you fuck up my intestines and give me cancer. It’s not ok cheese. This is why we have to say goodbye.
Reason 4: What if I inconvenience people?
Question– What if my veganism is a huge pain in the ass for everyone to accommodate?
Answer– I think it may take a little getting used to for relatives and friends. I tried to lessen this by telling everyone I know that I am “going vegan on July 1”. Now everyone has advance notice and you know what? People were supportive, nobody freaked out! People may need a little help in learning what I can and can’t eat but hey, guess what? I can cook now. I can bring a vegan dish when I visit my soon-to-be-inlaws or to a friend’s BBQ. It ain’t no thang.
So there it is. The long story as to how I came to today. Day 1: Veganism. Maybe it wasn’t that dramatic or exciting a story. That’s my point though, it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to be struck by the almighty hand of veganism to be vegan. Sometimes just a weird little string of events like the ones I just described can just fall like little puzzle pieces into a new vegan life. You can say, “hey I think I want to be vegan” and do it. There are so many resources out there from some super seasoned vegans. I’ll do my best to point you in the right directions as I find them myself.