I became a vegan in January 2014. It was not a New Year's resolution; that’s a coincidence. What happened is that I came across a viral video exposing the process of killing pigs and chickens for human consumption. I cried and it made me sick. I could not watch the entire video. My sister and I were hosting a party that night so she was out picking up the food. I called her to request some vegetarian options because I did not want to eat meat that day. I talked about the video with my husband and he asked, “what are you going to do about it?” I called my sister back to finally insist that she supply vegan options.
From there, it was almost like a “coming out” process to inform family, coworkers, friends, and even servers at restaurants of my recent decision. I did not want to associate myself with the intense community of Peta protestors, animal activists, or the all-natural extremists. I wanted my participation to fall under the radar in a peaceful manner. Yet, refusing a plate of chicken alfredo at a family gathering or hotdog at a friend’s barbecue raises suspicion. Believe me, people ask questions! “Are you sick?”, “Are you on a diet?”, “Would you like ice-cream instead?” When you decline multiple offers, something's gotta give.
And the beginning was the easy part. I read the labels on everything I bought. I tried new recipes, which expanded my acquaintance with foods. When I wasn’t going to be home for a while, I packed my purse with snacks and water. At work, I prepared my own meals (I work at a restaurant). This was too good and easy to be true. People who surround me daily took note of my dedication but were almost waiting for me to say, “it’s over and I give up.” After 2 months, I began to feel the same way.
Some days I felt really sick, like no matter what I ate, I felt nutritionally incomplete. There were days that I was on my college campus for 9 hours snack-less and had to survive off peanuts from the vending machine. Research and exploration eventually helped me here. Through research, I found a vegan multivitamin to take on days my diet was not broad enough to satisfy my nutritional needs because I was running around like a maniac all day. I explored my campus’ cafeteria, which surprisingly had vegan options! They were not always very wide-ranging or appetizing but it helped on days I forgot a lunch. And honestly, some days I resorted to vegetarian options. This felt like a step in the wrong direction and made all my attempts in the right direction a waste of time.
Little did I know that food was only the first step. After 10 months, I became increasingly curious about what materials my clothes were made of, the make-up brands I used, what house products I bought that were actually cruelty-free… and the list continued to grow. My awareness naturally changed all my shopping habits. What I didn’t know in the beginning is that this is not an “under the radar” type of lifestyle. I now support Peta, I advocate for animals and if this has made me a modern day hippie indeed, so be it!
One year later, I have tasted meat again (unknowingly!), overlooked milk and egg products in my food (sometimes out of convenience), but if this lifestyle is undoubtedly life changing, then it is safe to assume it does not happen overnight! Take my experience, it is not a one-step instant-vegan road. Out of passion, in 2015, I will continue on.