Vegetarian to Vegan-Part 1
My Vegetarian to Vegan Story.
“Don’t you miss burgers? What do you even eat? How do you get your protein? Wait, so you don’t eat fish? I could never do that; I love meat too much. That’s why you’re so skinny.”
Over the past 12 years I have heard those questions and comments quite often. I am still shocked to find out how uneducated people are when it comes to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. So, I’ve decided to throw in my two cents about my experience as a vegetarian recently turned vegan.
I wanted to clarify the difference between vegetarian and vegan before I talk about my journey.
- does not eat anything that was a living animal
- avoiding all meat, but eating fish does NOT equate to a vegetarian…that is a Pescatarian (fish were living animals)
- still eats or drinks products indirectly from animals: eggs, milk, cheese, gelatin, etc.
- does not eat anything that was a living animal
- does not eat or drink any products indirectly from animals: NO eggs, milk, cheese, gelatin, whey, casein, etc.
- some stricter vegans will not consume honey or cane sugar (because of bone char)
It all goes back to the end of my 8th grade year. My younger sister (who was in 6th grade at the time) and I were starting to feel guilty about eating animals. We have always been around animals, since day one. After watching some really gut wrenching PETA videos about the meat industry (specifically Meet your Meat), we decided to change our lifestyle. How could I consume these products knowing what I knew and seeing what I saw in those videos? I have a pretty sensitive conscience, so I knew that it was the right thing to do when I became a vegetarian.
“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.”
My sister and I did not live in a household that enforced this way of life. At the time, none of our family members were vegetarian (my mom is now). Of course at such a young age, it was a little bit challenging to get our family to understand. We were not doing grocery shopping or too much cooking for ourselves, but thankfully our family did work around our differences. Once I was able to drive, got a job, and enough money to do shopping, we started to cook more for ourselves.
Living in a non-vegetarian household has been the hardest part. Other than that, I found that being a vegetarian has been extremely easy. I honestly believe that it is one of the best decisions I ever made for myself. There are so many vegetarian friendly “meat” products and a lot of restaurants offer vegetarian options as well. Plus, most places are willing to make a dish vegetarian; you just have to ask. Once Pinterest came around, I was able to find so many delicious vegetarian dishes to try out.
Over the past few months I have transitioned to a vegan lifestyle. I always thought it was amazing that people were able to live a vegan lifestyle. Since so many products are made with poultry or dairy, I thought that being a vegan would be a challenge. Plus, it seemed like it might be an expensive lifestyle. So, I had an interest in it and respected anyone who was willing to be a vegan. I thought that maybe in a few years, when I make more money, that I would give vegan-ism a try. However, here I am today having been a vegan for a few months now.
My sister (Leila) decided to live a vegan lifestyle for the month of March. She found that it actually was not as difficult as she thought, so she has stuck with it. She decided to continue because she knows how most of the industry farm animals are treated. She thought it would be hypocritical to be against animal abuse, but still consume products that derived from abused, innocent creatures. Since we both live together, I started to think about it and I started to feel guilty. A YouTuber couple I follow, Carli Bybel and Brett Cap, were transitioning from meat-eaters to vegan, just like that. Seeing them transition into vegans so quickly, gave me the motivation to finally commit.
However, I sadly fell off the vegan lifestyle when teacher appreciation week came around. Students were bringing me homemade desserts: cookies, candy, chocolate, cake, you name it, I had plenty. I ate these and I felt extremely bad about myself. Here I was being selfish. I wanted to have the short-term enjoyment that came from eating all those sweets. Then I thought about the pain and suffering that the creatures had to endure. It made me realize, it’s not that enjoyable when you have that on your mind. So since then, I have committed to being a vegan for good. There is no, “I’m going to try this” because trying means I am expecting to not make it through.
This is my lifestyle and I’m proud of it.
I will be honest that at first, being a vegan can be extremely challenging. Luckily being a vegetarian, I was already aware of so many great products out there. I just had to become more conscious of food labels. My first grocery trip as a vegan took me about two hours as I had to check each ingredient if the package didn’t already state, “vegan”. Now, that I know which foods are vegan, my shopping trips take less time. I typically shop at Sprouts and they have LOTS of vegan friendly options when it comes to queso, shredded cheese, cream cheese, ice cream, and even eggs. It is a fairly easy lifestyle when you shop and cook for yourself. Yet again, Pinterest has been a hero. I have been able to make pizza, sour cream, cookies, cake, burgers, and so much more. You can substitute lots of different items for many dairy products, plus it ends up being better for you!
The hardest part for me is going to other peoples’ houses and to restaurants that don’t have vegan friendly options. For example, sometimes there might be dinner rolls. A lot of bread is vegan, but can be made with eggs or milk. I can’t eat the rolls without the food label or that person telling me the ingredients. However, I still don’t see that as a reason to give up on vegan-ism.
Do I miss eating certain foods?
Yes, I sometimes miss the fact that I can’t have a Butterfinger chocolate bar or indulge in a cheat meal Domino’s Pasta Bread Bowl. However, when I get those thoughts, I think deep down about what is more important to me. I choose cruelty free and a healthier lifestyle over my short-term cravings, desires, and selfishness. When you put things into perspective as I do, then you start to have the will power to overcome those thoughts.
In all honesty, I could go on and on about this topic because I am extremely passionate about it. I am going to split this into a two part blog. In my next blog post on this topic, I will answer those FAQ I receive. I will also discuss how to begin a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle if you are interested.
Are you a vegan or vegetarian? What was the process like for you? Still unsure of the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle? I’d love to answer any questions you might have. Comment below or tweet me: @LokalLifestyle #ChooseYourLifestyle