My vegan story – one year after deciding to go vegan
My vegan story started when I made the decision to go vegan just over a year ago, on August 14, 2016. But I’ve only been fully vegan since January 1, 2016. It’s been over a year now since I started transitioning to veganism. But, if I really think about it, my vegan journey really goes back quite a bit further.
A short-lived resolution
One evening in elementary school, I found a tree frog on my windowsill. I picked it up, and as it sat in the palm of my hand, I could feel its little heart beating. I was profoundly struck by the idea that this animal wanted to live, and had interests of his own. As he hopped back to the window sill, I made a little vow that I would not eat any living thing again, and I sat down and wrote an essay about it.
My newfound vegetarianism lasted until breakfast the next day, when I told my dad I wouldn’t eat sausage.
We had a little chat about eating animals. Dad worked in water rights with the Department of Ecology. He had a close relationship with many of the native reservations in the area, and he was quite taken with native spirituality. He explained that we needed to thank the spirits of the animals we ate, because they had sacrificed themselves for us. Even as a 7-year-old, I was seriously sceptical of this, but I agreed to eat my sausage, and I never stopped thinking about animals in my food.
That was the end of my attempts to become a vegetarian for a while. But every single time I ate meat, I couldn’t help but think about the animal that had died. Fortunately, as a family, we rarely ate meat in any sort of quantity. We definitely didn’t eat meat at every meal, or even every day.
In university I was a part-time vegan. I couldn’t get over the feeling that being vegan was somehow offensive, so I ate animal products when people served them in their homes.
My casual reducitarianism ended in graduate school. While studying Latin American history, I convinced myself veganism was selfish and there were bigger issues in the world. But I still never really felt completely comfortable eating animals or using the products made from them.
The tipping point in my vegan story
In fall of 2015 I was on a running vacation in Vancouver with a close friend who is vegetarian. We were at dinner one night and I ordered a duck dish. Having been vegetarian most of her life, she’s never eaten duck, and she asked me what it tasted like. I started to explain how delicious and nutty it was – and as I was talking something just snapped in my head. I felt strange the whole walk back to the hotel.
When I got back to my room, I spent most of the night watching YouTube videos about veganism, particularly vegan philosophy. I came across one particular interview with Peter Singer that somehow grabbed me. His rational approach resonated with me, and I found myself incapable of defending animal consumption.
A few videos later (I discovered Bite-Size-Vegan and Gary Yourofsky the same night), and I knew that being vegan was the moral choice. My vegan story had begun.
How I transitioned
The rest of the trip I ate vegetarian and decided to gradually transition to veganism. When I got home, I told my husband about my decision. We decided to stop buying animal products if I could find vegan replacements for them. We switched to soy milk gradually (by mixing it with cow’s milk until we got used to the flavour – it sounds weird, but it worked!). I stopped buying anything with leather or wool.
For the next couple of weeks I ate plant-based at home but mostly vegetarian at restaurants. By September I was not eating eggs, most milk products or meat, but I still had a wedge salad for dinner once a week with bacon and blue cheese dressing (I seriously need to make a vegan version of that!).
In October I figured out I could order the wedge salad with candied pecans instead of bacon. It was delicious and satisfied my salty/sweet tooth. I didn’t miss the bacon at all. I knew I was ready to delve a bit deeper into the vegan lifestyle.
Going “full vegan”
January 1 I decided I was ready to make the step of being a full-time ethical vegan.
I haven’t intentionally eaten animal products since, although there are the occasional slip ups. I’ve ordered veggie burgers that have come with mayo, even though I ask for no sauce. If it happens I just scrape it off and eat the burger anyway. Still, ritual purity is not interesting to me. I really have a problem wasting food. So if it’s just a trace of something, I’ll pick it out and move on. And before you call “hypocrite,” I’ll also eat a meal with human hair in it after I remove the hair. I’m not a purist regarding animal OR human products in my food, it’s just not my thing.
I also still own items that contain wool or leather. Getting rid of these things is an important part of many a vegan story, but I’m not there yet. I stopped buying animal byproducts like wool and leather a year ago, but the items I have are still useful and I can’t afford to replace them. But I look forward to doing so!
Why I’m vegan
I’m vegan because I know it’s the most consistent way for me compassionate and ethical.
The exploitation of animals needs to end, and I want to do whatever I can to make a difference.
I’ve been so grateful for the support of other vegans, particularly in the online community. In spite of the drama, vegan YouTube has been part of my vegan story since the beginning, and I’m so happy that I can actually be a part of it.
A big thank you to all of you! I wish you all the best on your vegan journeys!