6 Things Being Vegan for 6 Years has Taught Me

Last week was my sixth veganniversary! I feel so proud of myself for having come this far and I’m excited for what’s to come. Looking back, I would have never expected that I would become vegan but it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Check out my post on Why I Became Vegan if you’re curious on why I made the transition. This week I wanted to share 6 things I’ve learned since becoming vegan 6 years ago.

1. There are many different types of vegans.

You have your ethical vegan, like me, who is vegan for the animals. The ethical vegan will avoid animal-based products like wool and leather while also avoiding businesses that exploit animals for entertainment (i.e. circus, zoo, aquarium etc.) You also have your environmental vegan who is vegan to reduce their carbon footprint in an effort to save the damn planet! Then there’s your raw vegan which follows a strictly plant-based diet that contains foods that haven’t been cooked over 115 degrees F. I’m sure I’ve missed a few types here, but these are some of the well-known vegan types. When I first became vegan, I never knew there were so many different kinds of vegans. But they’re all awesome in their own way.

2. Not all vegans are created equal.

When you become vegan, you will meet types of people who believe being vegan means all-or-nothing. Its expected when you hear it from non-vegans. “Does your car have leather seats?” You’re not vegan. “The house you live in was made by clearing land that was a home to animals, you’re not vegan.” Those are some of the things I’ve heard personally from people, and from former vegans. But there is also a lot of judgement from inside the vegan community. I mean, a shit-ton of judgement. Don’t drink almond milk because almonds require a lot of water to be produced. Oh, you eat Oreos? The sugar in that isn’t vegan. That company also produces non-vegan products, you should only buy from 100% vegan companies. You chaperoned your kids trip to the zoo? Definitely not vegan. Wait, your kids aren’t vegan? Well, you shouldn’t even have kids since our planet is overpopulated and having children is destroying the earth.

JUST. FUCKING. STOP.

I’ve learned that you will never be vegan enough for some people. Being vegan is more about doing the most good for animals and less about personal purity. But hey, if you wanna go live off the grid on a deserted island and only eat coconuts while making your own clothes, more power to you.

3. Sometimes you don’t want to tell anyone you’re vegan.

Everyone knows that vegans never fucking shut up about being vegan. I mean, I’m writing a blog about it right now. But there will come a time where you don’t even want to tell anyone you’re vegan. Why, you might ask? Well, people bombard you with questions about being vegan. And while I have met some people who were very polite about it, I’ve also met some rude people when they find out I’m vegan. People have flat out told me I was wrong for going vegan, as if my decision somehow effects them in any way. People think vegans are easily offended, try telling a non-vegan that you’re vegan because you love animals. “Don’t tell me I’m not an animal-lover because I love eating steak!” Then there is the all too famous question: “where do you get your protein from?” There’s protein in plants people! Sometimes it’s exhausting to deal with people who want to put you down for being vegan. So, I’ve come to the point where if someone doesn’t know I’m vegan, I try not to tell them until it’s absolutely necessary, like if they ask why I won’t eat something.

4. Going out to eat is STILL difficult.

While over the past 6 years of being vegan, more and more restaurants are including substantial vegan options, some restaurants are still way behind. So any outing, not just to a restaurant, requires planning ahead. Being a mom, I’ve made it a habit to pack snacks for my girls, but I also need to pack snacks for myself. And if we’re going to a non-vegan restaurants with some friends, I make it a habit to eat beforehand so I’m not starving. And I also research their menu for any possible vegan options. Most of the time, the only vegan option will be a side salad (make sure to tell the server no cheese!) and fries. Oh, and alcohol, but of course that can be dangerous.

5. Veganism is becoming more mainstream!

There are many people who believe that going vegan will not make any real difference. The animals are dying anyway, so why not eat them? But that’s not the case at all. We have the power to change which products companies produce based on what we spend our money on. So, the more vegan products that are bought, the more that will be made. When I first went vegan 6 years ago, there weren’t as many options as there are now. There are so many new vegan companies out there and even non-vegan companies are producing vegan products. And like I said in my last point, more and more restaurants are providing vegan dishes to keep up with the demand. It’s safe to say I’m fucking excited for what’s to come for veganism in the future.

6. Some people will never go vegan no matter how hard you try.

This is the probably the saddest and most frustrating thing I’ve learned since I became vegan. When I became vegan, its was like a veil was lifted and I finally saw things for how they are. The cruelty animals face everyday is horrific. The effects of animal products on the human body is scary. And even with all that information out there, people still will not go vegan. WHY?! This is something I’ve struggled with for a while, trying to convince so many people to go vegan to no avail. But I’ve learned that going vegan is a decision that people have to come to on their own. Most of us grew up eating meat. We were once in their shoes, and it just requires patience and understanding sometimes, no matter how difficult that may be. And in my case, I never had the intention to go vegan, yet here I am. While it would be wonderful if the whole world was vegan, that’s not the case now. All I can do is be the best vegan possible and be here for anyone who wants to do the same.

Well, there you have it. 6 things being vegan has taught me over the last 6 years. Its been an amazing journey. I’ve had some slip-ups, but I’m still going strong. Being vegan was the best choice for me and I’m happier living my life this way. I’d recommend the vegan lifestyle for anyone. To my fellow vegans: what are some things you’ve learned since you made the switch? Drop a comment below. I hope everyone has a fantastic day. And happy veganniversary to me!

About to demolish some vegan cupcakes. Can’t wait to have some more this weekend!

-Toniann

5 Tips to Help You Go Vegan

Happy Monday everyone! For those of you who don’t know me, or have not read my blog name, I’m vegan. I became vegan in 2013, almost 6 years ago next April. Check out my post on Why I Became Vegan if you haven’t already. But for this weeks post, I’ll be sharing some helpful tips for anyone who’s thinking of going vegan.

Do Your Research!

Going vegan requires a lot more research than going vegetarian. At least that was the case for me. Vegetarian simply means not eating any kind of meat or fish. But going vegan means not consuming ANY animal products. It can be overwhelming to find out how many of your favorite products have animal ingredients in them. Again, why the fuck is there milk powder in certain brands of salt and vinegar chips?! SALT AND VINEGAR! I’m still outraged by this, but let’s move on. Research vegan companies and companies that don’t test on animals. Find out which products are accidentally vegan, you might find that some of your favorite snacks are already vegan. It can be intimidating at first, once you see an actual list of non-vegan ingredients (especially ones with the overly scientific names), so be thorough in your research.

Start Slow

Now, if you want to be a badass and go vegan overnight, more power to you. I know there are some people who’ve done it, not personally as I have literally no vegan friends in real life, but I couldn’t do it that way. If you still eat meat, start by cutting meat out first. There are tons of meatless Monday recipes online. Then start cutting out eggs and dairy. OMG, but cheese! Yes, yes, I hear your cries. I was once a lover of cheese and an egg over easy but you can live without it. Try vegan alternatives like cashew ice cream and faux meat products. Just remember to go at your own pace.

Experiment with New Products and Recipes

This one is probably my favorites. I always stuck to the same foods when I used to eat meat. But now that I’m vegan, I have tried so many new foods that I wouldn’t have thought to try otherwise (I’m looking at you quinoa). And I’m always trying to veganize some of my favorite childhood dishes, and so are many other vegans out there. There are many non-vegan companies that are creating plant-based products to keep up with the vegan demand. I definitely enjoy trying new recipes and I’m always on the lookout for new vegan products, especially dairy-free ice cream. So next time you’re out shopping for groceries, take a look at some vegan alternatives and try a new recipe.

Watch Some Vegan Documentaries

Whatever your reason is for wanting to go vegan, there is a documentary you can watch for it. Want to go vegan for health reasons? Watch What The Health. Want to go vegan for the animals like me? Watch Earthlings. And if your an aspiring environmentalist, watch Cowspiracy. Those are just to name a few, there are so many documentaries out there shining a light on how truly horrible the meat and dairy industry are. They’re really not for the faint of heart, but trust me, ignorance is not bliss when it comes to consuming animals.

Stand Firm in Your Reason for Going Vegan

Going vegan is hard. It’s really one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life. And while it was a huge challenge in the beginning, it’s gotten easier with time. There will be lots of criticism from friends, loved ones, and some random person you just met that finds out you’re vegan. There will inevitably be some slip-ups, but that’s not reason to back-track. I had a really drunken, super fun night out with my husband last year and I ate a slice of cheese pizza (or 2 or 3, I can’t remember), but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to go back to being vegetarian or eating meat again. Don’t forget, we’re all human. Just keep reminding yourself why you wanted to become vegan in the first place.

I hope these tips help some of you to go vegan, if you’re not already. It does require a lot of research and maybe a lot of time for some people, but it’s so worth it. Many people believe that going vegan means you’re sacrificing so much or going without, but that’s not the case. Going vegan gives you an opportunity to try new foods and new products without the guilt. If you love animals, value your health and care about the well-being of our planet, then go vegan. You won’t regret it.

-Toniann