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

I’m Vegan and my Children ARE NOT

Yes folks, you read that right. My daughters are not vegan and that’s ok. My household is not a vegan one. My husband eats meat and my girls eat… a varied diet. I mean, they’re kids. They go through phases of foods they like and then hate, willing to try and not try. It’s all trial and error, and they each have their own preferences just like anyone else does. I’ll admit it took me a while to accept my girls eating dairy, and rarely eating meat, and sometimes it’s still a struggle but in the end, they will make their own choices when it comes to food.

The girls eat a mostly plant-based diet since that’s what I cook at home. They love tofu and almost every fruit they’ve tried. There is the rare occasion where I’ll make pizza and get regular cheese for them and the hubbs. Because, honestly, vegan cheese is nothing like dairy cheese. And there are probably a few times a year that the girls will eat meat, and that’ll usually happen at a family barbeque or some special event at school. There are many birthday parties they will be going to and the last thing I want is to tell them they can’t have any treats or cake because they’re not vegan. Their diet doesn’t need to be so strict.

Like I said before, my kids go through phases with food. When my oldest was 2 years old, she never ate meat, even though she was offered at every meal. Her favorite food for almost a year was a peanut butter sandwich. But she’ll try meat now when she sees her father eating it, the same with my toddler. I forgot how tricky toddlers are with meals. One day she’ll love oatmeal and literally the next day will not eat it. But she loves fruits, both of my girls do. Since I’ve become vegan, there are lots of foods that we’ve tried that we wouldn’t have otherwise. We love to try new vegan restaurants and go to vegan food festivals as often as we can. My husband even went vegetarian for a year and vegan for 3 months (something he claimed he would never do. Love you baby!) So when I actually think about what my girls eat, I would say they have a healthy diet.

I have been vegan for almost 6 years now, a decision I made happily on my own. The last thing that I want is to force a vegan diet on my daughters and they, in turn, never want to be vegans when they get older. I have had many talks with my oldest daughter about where meat, cheese and eggs come from and she knows I went vegan because I love animals so much. In my opinion, being vegan seems like the most natural and logical way to live. And it was hard for me to accept that I had to let my daughters choose for themselves, the same way I did. It’s only fair. What you eat is a very personal choice. And while I can guide my children with what I serve them at home, in the end, they will be making their own food choices. I’ll love them no matter what.

-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

How Being Off Social Media is Improving my Mental Health

If you’ve been following my blog, then you know I’ve been taking a social media break since the beginning of this month. My original goal was one month, but it’s been going so well I think I’ll make it a bit longer. I’m writing this post as an update on how my break is going. So let’s get started.

I’m less anxious. While I’m a self-proclaimed bitch, I’m also a very emotional person, especially after having my daughters. While on social media, I would feel bad about not being invited somewhere, worried that someone doesn’t like me, beating myself up for not having as nice a body as another mom and countless other things. But deleting social media apps from my phone has helped me to not worry about things that are out of my control. I’m not constantly seeing the problems my online friends are going through, I’m not worried about how many likes or comments my posts are getting, I’m not worried about posting every meaningful moment in my life. I’m not focused on what I don’t have but feeling grateful for all that I do have in my life. I’m simply living, and I feel much lighter.

Enjoying a visit from my older brother.

I’m more present. I’m paying more attention to my family and my friends. I feel better about not being rude by picking up my phone mid-conversation to check something on social media. I would always check my phone, while watching movies, during dinner and even at red lights, and that’s still something I’m working on. But having social media off my phone makes it easier since I don’t really have much to check.

Having fun with my silly girl.

I have more time to do things I actually want to do. I could spend hours on social media, flipping between apps, watching videos and so much more. It was easier to pick up my phone than it was to crack open the book I’d been wanting to read or to study for my personal training certification. Not to mention how long it would take to snap a decent picture of a great vegan dish I just made and also posting the recipe. It was eating up all my damn time. So it’s safe to say I’ve been enjoying all the extra time I have.

Hiking to the top of one of the Supersition Mountains with the hubbs.

When I get back to social media, I’m not going to put the apps back on my phone, I’ll just check on my laptop. It’s a vicious cycle for me. After my breaks I feel like I have so much to catch up on and wind up spending so much time on social media and then realize it’s too much and need another break. So my hope is to keep social media off of my phone indefinitely.

I also need to work on not using my phone as much. I began replacing social media apps with games and other apps on my phone since I still had the urge to check my phone. But this was still a huge distraction.

My friend recently sent me a fascinating New York Times article about creating a healthy relationship with your smartphone and it’s something I’d really like to do. I don’t want to rely on my phone as much as I do. I want to enjoy my time with my husband and daughters, and time out with friends. I want to live a happier life, and I honestly feel I would be if my phone wasn’t constantly in my hand.

For now, I feel so fucking free being off of social media. And I would recommend everyone take a break every now and then. It’s an unhealthy escape from reality. My life is pretty awesome, and I’m happier living in the moment instead of posting it on social media.

My babies ❤️

-Toniann

Take a Damn Social Media Break!

The first month of 2019 is almost at a close and I’m trying to think which of my goals for this year I’ve been working on. And I’m sad to admit I haven’t been putting in as much work as I had hoped. The only consistent thing is my blog here, and I am very proud of that. Now there are many excuses I can make as to why I haven’t been working out more, eating better and being more present with my family. But one of the biggest culprits is social media. It’s so addicting!

There are so many benefits to social media, but constantly scrolling is tiring. I’ll have days where I post multiple times a day and then I won’t post anything but I’m always scrolling on Facebook and Instagram. There are mornings where I spend at least 20 minutes scrolling social media before I even get out of bed, then checking throughout the day. And it wears on my mental health. I start comparing myself to everyone I see. Why don’t I have as great a body as that mom? I’d love to go on vacation there. I need to try that new vegan restaurant, that food looks amazing. Fuck, that moms house is immaculate, how does she do it? And I fall down this rabbit hole, and I start to feel bad about myself.

But the truth is, social media isn’t reality.

It’s something I have to remind myself of constantly. We are all in control of what we post and how we post it. Editing pictures to look better, posting about how amazing things are when they’re actually in the shit. I try to be real with shit I post on social media, but I’m guilty of trying to make things seem better than they are. If I post a gorgeous picture of my girls, know that I took at least 10 and I yelled at them to look at me. “SAY CHEESE FOR GOD SAKE!!!!” It’s exhausting.

I’ve taken a social media cleanse before. I never even tried before then, but I always thought to myself it would be a good idea. And there were many times were I used social media less, but I was never completely off. But last year, I had a little breakdown, where many friend and family relationships were deteriorating. People were showing their true colors and it all happened within a short period of time. And I remember deleting Facebook and Instagram from my phone and I told my husband, “if people want to know what the fuck is going on with me, they can call me or text me, fuck this.” And I was off social media for over a month, no posting and no checking at all.

And it was so fucking liberating!

My husbands birthday was during that month, his 30th, a big milestone. I was able to completely be present for that time, no social media distractions. I started working on my Plant-Based nutrition certificate. That was my most successful social media cleanse. I’ve tried to do more cleanses recently but I keep convincing myself that I might miss something. Or that people really want to see what’s going on with me. But its all bullshit isn’t it? The people who truly care about you will make time for you, will take time out of their day to check on you. And when I took my social media cleanse last year, there were only a handful of people that did that.

So the time has come for me to take another social media cleanse. I need to start taking better care of myself. I need to be more present with my daughters and my husband. I need to start working on my goals for this year without the distraction of social media. I think everyone would be better off if they took breaks from social media. I’m going to be off of Facebook and Instagram for the whole month of February, maybe longer. But I will still be posting weekly on my blog since this is more of an online journal right now than it is a social media page since I only have about 10 followers. And I’m excited to focus on the more important things in my life.

I’ll leave you all with this: don’t let social media steal your joy, it has for me countless times. Unfriend, unfollow or mute any people or accounts that bring negativity into your life. No one needs that shit. I’ll post a picture below with 7 steps to doing a social media cleanse. And I challenge you all to disconnect from social media and reconnect with the people in your life who matter most.

-Toniann

Getting My Tubes Tied at 27

Yes, you read that right. My baby factory is closed, no more babies for me. I’ve got two beautiful girls already and I am completely happy with that. I felt like writing this post because I’ve had many negative reactions when people find out my tubes are tied, and I wanted to write this to explain why I did, and why it’s no ones fucking business.

“Oh, but you’re so young!”

I know, 27 is a young age to have gotten my tubes tied. I got my tubes tied at an age when many women I know have not even had their first kid. But, I had my kids young. If you know me or read my first blog post, you’ll know that I got pregnant with my first daughter at 20 and had her at 21. And there was actually a time when my husband and I thought that having just one child would be more than enough for us. But I got pregnant at 26 and decided then that I didn’t want anymore children.

I remember telling my midwife while I was pregnant with my second daughter that I wanted to get my tubes tied: “Since I’ll already be open during the C-section, can you just tie my tubes?” And she only asked me one time if I was sure and I told her “Yes, I’m sure.” I signed some paperwork and got my tubes tied right after I had Emilia.

I had two C-sections, two major surgeries with enormous risks. I had a traumatic delivery with my first daughter, I lost a lot of blood and almost died. I’ll go into more detail about that in another post. But I’m relieved that I won’t have to worry about another C-section in the future.

“But you make such beautiful babies!”

Emilia & Isabella

I mean, of course I do, but that’s not reason enough to have more children. Honestly, I didn’t want the hubbs and I to be outnumbered. And…

HAVING CHILDREN IS A BIG FUCKING RESPONSIBILITY!!!

I mean, we’re in charge of raising two tiny humans that we will eventually send out into the world. I’m trying not to raise little entitled assholes but raise kind, strong and independent women. That takes a lot of work, especially since they are both very different and one thing might not work for the other. Not to mention the financial burden and the physical and mental strain of being pregnant.

There are times when I feel sad that I won’t have anymore babies but I know that getting my tubes tied was the best decision for me. Having children was a decision my husband and I did not take lightly. And neither was the decision not to have anymore. We’re trying to be the best parents we could be and two is the perfect number for us.

Parenthood is no fucking joke.

-Toniann


Why I Became Vegan

This is always the first question I get asked by people when they hear I’m vegan. I don’t mind it as long as people don’t use it as an opportunity to talk shit and try and make me feel bad. It’s happened a lot but I always try and think that I was once in their shoes. But I’ll discuss that more in a bit.

First, let me start off this by clarifying that vegan and plant-based are not the same and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Veganism is a lifestyle where you do not eat or use animal products. It also extends into not supporting businesses that test on or exploit animals for entertainment. While it is very difficult to live a life without harming animals in some way, it is still worth it to vegans to try and live their life that way. Now plant-based is just a diet. Of course plant-based falls under the vegan umbrella since there is no consumption of animal products but it ends at that: diet. I’ll include a link at the bottom for anyone who’s wants more details on this but on to my story.

I grew up in a Puerto Rican household where most of our dinners contained meat and breakfast was not breakfast if there weren’t eggs. I loved it all: meat, cheese and eggs. And being from the Bronx, NY, the best fucking breakfast of all was the bacon, egg and cheese on a roll. And I was that person who thought vegans and vegetarians were crazy. So when my cousin became vegetarian, I shook my head in disbelief, and I felt bad for her. Why would anyone deprive themselves of such wonderful food? And if you had told me then that I would be vegan years later, I probably would’ve told you to fuck off, then I’d eat a cheeseburger. So why the hell did I go vegan?

Simply put, I went vegan for ethical reasons.

It started in December 2012, when I went vegetarian. One night, I was preparing dinner, which included chicken legs, and one of the legs was broken. Did this chicken break its leg trying to escape from its horrible fate? Probably not, but I thought of how scared it must have been, crammed into a cage with so many other chickens destined to die and wind up on someone’s plate. I started to realize that this leg was a part of a living thing. A being with the same desire to live as I do. And I teared up at the thought as I continued to prepare dinner.

Usually when I had these thoughts, I would quickly push them aside. Meat tasted too good to worry about it. But I couldn’t shake that damned broken chicken leg. And of course later on, we were watching a movie and in one of the scenes, the character was walking through Chinatown and passed a barrel of frogs. I’d passed one of these same barrels as a teenager shopping in Chinatown, watching many frogs trying to leap out and hop away but that never happened. I looked at my husband and I asked him “what would you think if I became vegetarian?” And he told me “I don’t care what you eat or what you don’t eat, but don’t expect me to go vegetarian, that will never happen.” He went vegetarian for a year, a few years after this conversation but that’s another topic to discuss later.

That night I text my cousin, the same one who I gave shit to for being vegetarian years before, and told her I was thinking of becoming a vegetarian myself. She was so supportive and I leaned on her and continue to lean on her throughout my journey. (I love you boo!) I quit meat cold turkey and for me it was easy, I really don’t miss it. I believed then and now that killing an animal for my own pleasure and convenience is not a way I want to live.

But I had no intention of becoming vegan. I thought it was too extreme and too difficult to even try. So for the next few months, I was happily a vegetarian. Of course all my family and friends gave me shit for it but I knew I was doing the right thing for me so that’s all that mattered. In April of 2013, I was looking up recipes and I came across a tofu recipe that was prepared vegan and it seemed simple enough. Then I thought: if I care about the lives of animals, then that naturally extends to veganism. I was still contributing to animal suffering by drinking milk and eating eggs and cheese.

So I started to do my research on how to become vegan. I learned A LOT and realized that there are so many things that I was eating that have animal products. Like some brands of salt and vinegar chips have milk in them. Seriously, why the fuck is there milk powder in salt and vinegar chips?! Anyway, I first stopped drinking milk and eating eggs and cheese, but it took longer to find products that didn’t contain animal fat and other by-products. But I did it, I’ve had a few instances where I ate something that I didn’t know had milk or some other animal ingredient in it. And I recently had a super drunk night out with the hubbs where I ate pizza. But other than that, I shouldn’t have any visits from the vegan police.

I’m coming up on my sixth veganniversary this April and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Becoming vegan has been such an incredible adventure for me. Discovering new foods that I would have never tried if I was still eating meat. The shit I get from people just comes with the territory. And while many people think being a vegan makes me soft or weak, I think otherwise. I believe it takes a lot of courage to go against the grain and to stand up for what you believe in. Being vegan is my choice, one that I made happily. And the only regret I have with being vegan is that I didn’t do it sooner.

And for any of you who are interested in learning about becoming vegan, I’ll include some links at the bottom.

-Toniann

My gorgeous pregnant ass enjoying a vegan slice of pizza from Lazy Moon in Orlando, FL back in May 2017

https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/how-go-vegan

https://features.peta.org/how-to-go-vegan/

https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/why-go-vegan

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-24031/veganism-versus-a-whole-food-plantbased-diet-whats-the-difference.htmlh