It has been almost three years since I became a vegan. I became a vegetarian in college and that was 26 years ago. I used to get asked this question. “Why are you a vegetarian”? As a vegan, I get asked “What on earth do you eat”? Most people think that it is one big issue that causes people to “convert” to a plant based diet. It isn’t that simple.
Meat always grossed me out as a kid. My parents used to force chicken curry on all three of us girls. I didn’t find meat particularly tasty. My kid sister had secretly joined PETA when I was in college. She went around pinning “Meat Stinks” buttons on everyones bags and purses. She was a committed teenager and would lecture all of us about the ills of eating meat. As a Nutrition major at Penn State, I watched a documentary in class about the most dangerous jobs in America. On top was the meat packing industry worker. They were dressed from head to toe in white suits and goggles. They had to cut open animals that had just been slaughtered. You get the drift…I haven’t forgotten those gruesome images. We had amazing food at our dining halls at Penn State. There were always two vegetarian options for entrees and a huge salad bar. I just gravitated toward the plant strong options. And viola, I had become vegetarian!
As an adult, I kept reading about the energy it takes for animal farming, the manure waste pools that result with thousands of animals crowded into confined lots, the use of antibiotics and what the animals are fed to fatten them up. Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and the documentary Forks over knives also contributed to my disdain for animal products. My love of cheese and omelets diminished. My friends always lament about cheese…”I can’t live without cheese…butter…”. I really don’t miss the dairy because it is a paradigm shift when you start eating other wonderful foods. I don’t miss it, really. My running buddy and I decided to try eating plant based for a month. I haven’t looked back since then. She lasted three weeks and kudos to her because it is hard work being vegan! It was easier for me because I have a B.S. in Nutrition and have been a vegetarian for so many years.
Now, I get teased relentlessly by haters. I have so many friends and family who criticize me for my decision. Here are some gems that I have heard over the past few years:
“You’re going to die faster than me”.
“Why are you torturing yourself?”
“Animals were meant to be eaten”.
“What will they do with all that milk if we stop using it?” This one is astonishing because it came from my Dad, a board-certified physician. He is convinced that I have become less healthy, lost my looks and am wasting my time. My numbers from annual blood tests are great by the way. There are many vegans out there that don’t know what they are doing and develop nutritional deficiencies. There really is so much ignorance on veganism. I implore people to educate themselves on the subject. There are thousands of blogs and websites on plant based diets. Let me know if you need some references.
Now, I am an easy vegan. I am not militant and I don’t judge. All comments are taken with a grain of salt (thank goodness that’s vegan!). I really don’t care what anyone thinks! Just don’t! I patiently answer all the ludicrous questions because it has become my job to educate those around me. People are clueless about Nutrition, Health and Food Production. I used to think vegans were weirdos, not anymore. I am now eating so many delicious foods that were not on my radar. The food industry has us believing that their way is the only way. It is not. I am not trying to convince anyone to become a vegan. That’s up to you. If you have questions, need recipe tips or resource tips, let me know in the comments section or email me. My kid sister who is now an Allergist, has just started a new blog called thefriendlyepicurean.com. She is mostly plant based and has some excellent recipes. You can also check out my Instagram page, it has many recipes that I developed myself.