How and why did you go vegan?

I have been eating a vegan diet for 48 days now, but I have been a vegetarian for 15 years. I became a vegetarian for two reasons: First, I didn’t like meat. Second, and this is the main reason, I love animals. I grew up on a farm in Canada and was always surrounded by animals: dogs, cats, a sheep, a goat, cows, and horses were the domesticated animals that were always around. Wild animals I’d regularly saw included deer, antelope, rabbits, foxes, coyotes, porcupines, skunks, gophers, numerous breeds of birds, etc. I loved them all!

The event that was the catalyst for me becoming vegetarian was when, during a blizzard, a calf was abandoned during a blizzard. We brought this little, half frozen calf into our house and dried it off with towels and warmed it up with a hair dryer. We spent hours trying to rub life back into this little guy. Then we took a break for our supper: beef burgers. As I was biting into my burger, I heard a noise in the other room where the calf was…he was walking around! And that was it…I couldn’t eat meat anymore. I could no longer make any sense at all of caring so much for an animal with the knowledge that it would be slaughtered.

About 6 years ago I went vegan. I can’t remember what changed in me that I decided to go vegan, but I didn’t find the transition too difficult, although I relied a lot on convenience food. It was during these 6 months that my husband and I decided to move to Ireland (he’s Irish). After we moved and settled in, we took a short trip to Italy, and my vegan diet went out the window. I struggled to find anything to eat and got drawn in by the pizza. I didn’t know enough about vegan alternatives and it was just easier to give in and return to a vegetarian diet.

This January, I read in a magazine about a challenge called Veganuary, where you try veganism for one month. I asked my husband (an omnivore) would he take this challenge with me and, after a lot of persuading, he agreed. Together, we got very creative with our meal. We started eating more raw foods and increased our intake of good food like vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans. When the month was up, my husband has started consuming milk and eggs again, but I have remained vegan. I am hoping to remain vegan because I feel better in doing so. I feel good in knowing that I am not consuming any animal products. I also feel better physically and mentally as I feel lighter and more energized. I have become more aware of my connection with animals over the last few years and, for me, a vegan diet fits right with this.

While my diet is vegan, I’m not sure everything I use is. By that I mean, I’m not sure that other products I use are purely vegan…I suspect there are animal products in the glue of labels of items around my house and I haven’t been as diligent as I should be with products such as makeup, lotions, etc with regards to ingredients containing animal products. This is the next stage for me…one that will require a lot more effort and work and, unfortunately, I’m guessing more money as completely vegan household products seem to be twice as expensive.

How do you cope/thrive in a non-vegan world?

Thank goodness for the internet! The internet has saved me this time around because there are wonderful blogs out there now about vegan cooking, baking, and nutrition. So many delicious, healthy recipes that are simple to make!!! This has made the world of difference to me in comparison to the last time I tried eating a vegan diet.

The other major difference is I had one month where my husband was vegan too, which meant we were both looking for new recipes and were working as a team. While he has gone back to eating eggs and dairy, our house has remained vegan bar the one carton of milk in the fridge which my husband uses for tea, coffee, and cereal. While I would love it if my husband was vegan also, he is doing what’s best for him now. He is a great support to me and loves vegan cooking and baking.

Barriers and complications still exist for me. For example, as previously mentioned, while my diet is vegan I’m not sure my entire lifestyle is. I’m slowly beginning to look at the products I consume, such as make-up, lotions, shampoo, etc, and am going to try to make sure this is all vegan also. This is going to be harder (less convenient for me) and more expensive. Money is extremely tight at the moment so I am going to have to do a lot of shopping around to try and find affordable vegan items.

Another barrier is that, while my husband and I rarely eat out, we do like to go out for dinner occasionally and we haven’t done so since I became vegan…partly due to lack of finances but partly due to the fact that I don’t know where to go where I could find tasty vegan options. Most vegetarian options include some form of dairy and many also include egg. Again, I just need to do a bit more research. To me, the extra effort and research is worth it because I do not believe that animals exist for our enjoyment and consumption: I believe they are beings in their own right and should be respected, admired, and loved.

Do you want to share your story?
Vegans from different walks of life answer to a set of questions. To know the questions, see this article and email us with your answers.