Veganniversary

Nine years ago today, on my eighteenth Easter, I began the transition to a vegan diet. It’s always tough for me to know what to say when people ask me about when I became vegan. I probably wasn’t actually fully vegan until a couple of years later. More like a vegetarian, trying to make it to vegan. But I still want to give myself credit for those years I spent figuring things out. I’m not sure if other vegans count that transitional period as part of their vegan life or their pre-vegan life. I suppose some people might not have stumbled so much in the beginning like I did either.

My point is that I think intentions matter. I’m not trying to justify the support I gave to a monstrous industry out of personal weakness. I’m just saying that as an online community, vegans can be pretty ruthless to one another. I use to be one of these more ruthless vegans. I couldn’t help but lash out at vegetarians or vegans with “cheat days.” When it comes to such a serious and heart-rending issue as the lives and wellbeing of billions of animals, it’s only natural to get a little heated. However, it is also easy to turn a blind eye to our own past failings.

This post isn’t about calling out other vegans or myself. It’s about reminding myself and other long-time vegans out there not to forget where we came from. After nearly a decade adapting to this lifestyle, it can be easy to forget how impossible the change once seemed. Even though now it can be frustrating to hear people asking you the same ridiculous questions that they always have, keep answering them kindly. Keep being patient, even when you’d rather scream. A kind, thoughtful answer may not make the questioner go vegan, but a harsh response is guaranteed to turn them away from the idea entirely.

If you’ve read my other posts you may wonder why I even bother to care anymore. After all, I’ve said many times that I believe it’s too late to save the planet and life on earth as we know it. So why continue being vegan? Why do I care if other people go vegan or not? The simple answer to that question is suffering. I have always been sensitive to the idea of suffering. The mere existence of it is what caused me to lose my faith in a loving, all powerful god. And if there is no god to protect the innocent, I will. Or at the very least, I’ll do my best not to contribute to their suffering.

The crazy thing is that it doesn’t even feel like a conscious effort any more. I think one of the hard parts about going vegan is making that mental connection each time you decide what you’re going to eat or buy at the store. In the beginning making the right choice causes you pain because it makes you reflect on your impact in the world and the immense suffering and injustice that exists all around us. It is tempting to turn away, fall back into old habits, avoid thinking about it entirely. However, once veganism has become that comfortable, familiar habit, these painful feelings are reversed. The other day someone asked me if I would ever eat meat again. The idea alone left a bad taste in my mouth. I can’t even bring myself to look at the meat section in the grocery store. Those “foods” are a painful reminder of the atrocities humanity perpetrates on our innocent brethren. To eat a piece of meat is to eat a piece of flesh. It would be a willful decision to cast aside everything that I believe in in a way that it never was before going vegan. It would be simply impossible for me, painful even.

This drastic shift of consciousness that a vegan lifestyle elicits can make it hard for us to relate to the meat-eating masses. It’s tempting to try to forget that I was once one of them. When people ask me, I want to tell them that veganism was never a difficult choice to make, that it was always easy. But I am always honest instead. I tell them that it was hard for a long time. I tell them that I initially transitioned for selfish reasons, not out of a moral obligation to the animals I was eating. I tell them about the foods I miss eating and haven’t been able to replace. I let them know all of this. But I also let them know that despite all of that, becoming vegan was worth it. Becoming vegan was the best decision I ever made in my life. I would say I’m proud of that decision, but it just seems ridiculous to take pride in not harming others when that should be the default.

So if you are reading this post and you are not vegan, know that I don’t harbor any hatred or resentment towards you. I certainly don’t consider myself better than you, like a lot of people assume vegans do. What I hope you take with you from reading this is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Choosing a salad instead of a steak at a single meal is a reason to rejoice. Deciding not to add cheese or a creamy dip or adding a non-dairy creamer to your coffee or switching to a plant based milk at home, these are all wonderful, meaningful steps to take that make a difference. And I don’t mean make a difference for the world necessarily, I mean they make a difference for the animals. It may seem like an abstract statistic when we think about meat and dairy sales, simple facts and figures. An output two digits smaller than the year before may seem utterly insignificant, but just remember that those numbers are lives, sweet, precious babies, like the pets your have at home. And these small choices make a difference to them. So just do your best. Do whatever you can, no matter how small. If a mentally ill, eighteen-year-old can go vegan on Easter and still being going strong nine years later, anyone can do it.

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

Vegan 2020

Check out this documentary and find out how the vegan movement has advanced in 2020. Fascinating information about the role animal agriculture has on pandemics. An educational film for nonvegans and an inspiring look at how far we’ve come for those who are already vegan.

My Vegan Dog: Food & Treats Review

When I adopted my sweet daughter Sybil in December of 2016, she was basically a sphere. Her plump little body was unstably supported on her short little legs. She could hardly fit in my lap when I first picked her up in the shelter. The shelter workers even seemed concerned about her weight and informed me that her previous owner told them “she loves table scraps.”

Upon her arrival at my home, I assumed it would be no problem getting her to eat. However, Sybil seemed to be totally uninterested in any type of dog food that I offered her. I began to wonder if her previous owner only gave her human food. I knew that dogs were omnivorous and could live and thrive on a plant-based diet. It had been my intention since deciding to adopt a dog to feed it vegan dog food. So I ordered the most affordable brand I could find online.

I could not have been more excited when the Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula canned and dry food I ordered her from Amazon arrived. At first I was skeptical of whether or not she would be accepting of this new food. But since she already wasn’t eating normal dog food I figured it was worth a try. To my surprise and delight, Sybil seemed to love her new food!

After only a few months on her new diet I began to notice miraculous changes in Sybil’s health. She rapidly began to shed her excess weight and is now a lean, energetic, and extremely mobile pup. Sybil also had terrible dandruff when I got her from the shelter. Now her coat is sleek, shiny, and free of that pesky dry skin. It’s hard for me to say, but I can’t help but think she even smells better now.

It is a bit pricier than average dog food, but I would definitely recommend switching your pets onto a vegan formula. There aren’t many studies out there yet surrounding this approach, but from my experience I truly believe it can drastically improve your dog’s health and longevity. Knowing that even the best, prime cuts of meat are detrimental to human health, it makes me shudder to think what the meat byproducts and random garbage ingredients in normal dog food is doing to our pets.

Sadly Sybil’s sister is an obligate carnivore, which means she must eat meat to survive. I try to give her the highest quality cat food I can. However, it can be difficult due to her picky pallet. I hope to one day feed her a natural raw diet, but it will always weigh heavy on my heart that cats require their owners to purchase meat products. Maybe eventually there will be a compassionate alternative. Until then I will do my best to keep both of my babies healthy and happy.

Surviving Holidays with Non-Vegans

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While most people welcome a chance to relax and enjoy time spent with family and friends during the holidays, for a vegan these can be trying times. I would hope that other vegans have a more pleasant and supportive experience with family members in regards to their lifestyle choices than I do. But I wanted to write some helpful words of advice and encouragement for those struggling to be understood by a less than understanding family.

When you are just starting out on your vegan voyage, the holidays can be hard enough just due to the temptations that abound. (I decided to go vegan when I returned from a vacation, and that day just so happened to be Easter Sunday.) However, once you have been vegan for a few years, the challenge instead becomes sitting at a table covered in body parts and watching those you love devour the innocent, poison their bodies, and decimate the planet. Good luck keeping your appetite at all.

The good news is that both of these issues can be ameliorated in the same way! The best thing to do to keep yourself sane and kindle some warmth in your soul during the holiday months is to find some new vegan recipes to try out. For someone like me who isn’t the most capable cook, it can sometimes be difficult to find recipes that don’t include dozens of expensive/uncommon ingredients or intricate instructions. Some of the simplest, quickest, and most delicious recipes that I have found recently are from The Minimalist Baker. This blog even has a special collection of recipes just for Thanksgiving that you can find here. (I am definitely going to recreate a few of these babies to enjoy this year!)

Creating your own buffet of vegan delicacies is a great way to eliminate the temptation of all the non-vegan dishes and desserts that will be right under your nose (and if your family is anything like mine, you may be pressured to take part in.) This is also a great opportunity to emphasize to those you love just how achievable and maintainable a vegan diet truly is. Some of my relatives regularly eat vegan alternative products just because I’ve shown them that they are so damn delicious!

Apart from the food itself, holidays as a vegan can also be difficult due to being misunderstood or even mocked by family members. Going vegan can turn a gathering that was once associated with warmth and togetherness into something dreadful and frustrating. Even after all these years my family never seems to get tired of poking fun at the vegans. (I’m lucky enough to have a vegan sister to share the harassment with.)

I don’t believe my relatives intend to be hurtful, but this just further emphasizes their lack of understanding. Somehow they still don’t comprehend how important this aspect of my life is to me. It makes me feel as if they haven’t even heard any of the things I’ve said on the matter. I truly hope that other’s have a more positive experience with this than I have, but I know there are certainly vegans out there that know this struggle all too well.

The best advice that I can give is to persevere.

It is highly unlikely you are going to convert anyone to a vegan lifestyle during a holiday feast or find anything other than aggressive opposition to your attempts for that matter. I have learned to just try my hardest to represent a happy, healthy, vegan lifestyle the best that I can, but not to press the issue too violently. I answer any questions openly and honestly. I try to stay positive and not let my disappointment, frustration, and anger get the best of me. I avoid letting myself get sucked into the negative spiral within my mind that any outright opposition to veganism tends to initiate in me. I try to keep my heart open and focus my mind on all that I am grateful for, because there is so much. I also try to think of who I was before going vegan and try to empathize with my unfortunate family members who still haven’t made the connection and are lost in the fog of carnism.

Finally, I would just like to extend an invitation to any vegans out there that need emotional support and encouragement for the upcoming months. Please feel free to contact me. I would be more than happy to help in anyway that I can. You are strong. You are compassionate. You can get through this.

Good luck, dear ones. ♥ 

 

 

The Frustration of Veganism

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You often hear people discuss the “challenges” of becoming vegan such as limiting yourself, constantly having to read ingredients, not being able to eat at certain restaurants, expenses, etc. However, no one ever mentioned to me the most difficult part of veganism: other people. The constant battle that you face everyday is having to justify yourself to ignorant, inconsiderate, and often down-right rude people.

Before becoming vegan, I was, of course, exposed to the classic holier-than-thou vegan stereotype. I never thought much of it, but after becoming vegan myself, it is infuriating. As a vegan, you are questioned and criticized at every turn (at least if you are from an area like I am.) But if you even attempt to defend yourself, then you are just some “crazy” tree-hugger that thinks you are better than everyone else.

You are expected to have endless references from which you acquired your knowledge, yet no one else seems to need any kind of justification for their false statements about meat and dairy and protein and whatnot. I would have hoped that by this point in history that people would know that just because something is widely believed, does not make it true. I just cannot for the life of me understand what these vegan critics want from us.

Vegans are the victims of endless jokes and ribbing that we are supposed to just brush off. Well, I am fed up with it. This is not just some silly game to make ourselves feel important. Why would so many people make such a drastic change from the ordinary just to feel superior? We are clearly standing up for the things we believe. I am sorry that that seems to threaten so many people out there. If you don’t want to lend a hand in saving our environment, your own body, and millions of innocent lives, then that is your problem, but don’t you dare try to make me feel silly for doing so. Even if the world is too far gone to save, I will not be a part of its destruction and it sickens me that so many people would rather do that than open their minds to a new way of living and admit that we as a species have been selfish and careless.

Time to stand up for our Mother Earth, my loves. ❤

Do Not Buy These Products!

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I am not certain how other grocery stores around the country (or world) are set up, but the ones in my area seem to be purposefully misleading. The stores that I frequent generally contain all of the strictly vegan food products that I buy in a designated area. It is sometimes labeled the organic section. This is very convenient, but can also be quite frustrating.

Frequently, I still find myself scanning over many items among the selection that are not vegan or not even vegetarian. These items such as “organic eggs” or “grass-fed beef” are set among vegan products as just another “healthful alternative” to more commonplace foods. However, as we vegans know, this is not the case. Despite packaging labels like “free-range” we know that these foods are still contributing to the abuse and subjugation of our animal friends and that meat and dairy, no matter how it is raised or processed, is still unhealthy for the human body.

The brand Go Veggie!, shown above, is one example of this misleading situation. For the first few years of exploring the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle, I saw this green packaging, suggestive brand name, and lactose free label and bought this product countless times under the impression that it must be a vegan cheese alternative. However, after finally reading the ingredients on the back of the package, I saw that these “cheddar flavor slices” did contain a small amount of dairy!

I was alarmed and outraged. It seems like brands such as this one are purposefully trying to obtain more customers by deceiving them. Not only that, this cheese tastes awful! It is not nearly as close to the taste of cheese as are true vegan alternatives such as Daiya. Upon further investigation of the Go Veggie! brand, I found that they do produce actual dairy free cheese products, so I am not entirely sure why they are even making this alternate, non-vegan, merely lactose-free option. This company just does not sit well with me.

The point is, never let yourself assume that a product is vegan just based on its packaging or placement in the grocery store. As much as we’d all like to stop obsessing over endless lists of ingredients, unless it specifically says it is vegan, there is a good chance that it is not. Don’t let these bullies push their products on us unknowingly. Make sure your money is supporting true vegan brands.

Stay vigilant, my friends. ❤

One Week Down

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Overall, I would have to say that my first week back at college this semester went pretty well. I made some new friends and managed to break out of my shell more than I ever had in my past years on campus. I hope that the rest of the year continues to go this smoothly. I know that I haven’t posted much this week, but I will try to manage my time better in the weeks to come so I will be able to post more. Hope you all had a good week as well. ^_^

Stay positive, dears.

The Stress of College

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I am now more than half way through my first week back at West Liberty University. I am now only taking classes corresponding to my major or minor. I thought that this would give me some sense of relief from the overwhelming stress that I usually experience during the school year. However, I have had no such luck. I have barely been given any assignments thus far and already I am feeling myself caught in the undertow.

I think for many people, college is merely a mental challenge. I, on the other hand, have no problem keeping up with the material or scoring good grades on exams. The thing that makes college a challenge for me is the futility of it all. Luckily, I have been able to receive a full scholarship, but nonetheless, I still sit idly by year after year and watch hundreds of dollars disappear along with countless hours of my life. I just cannot seem to justify this to myself. Yet, I allow it to continue for lack of a better alternative.

I believe for truly intelligent students college can be emotionally exhausting. It is quite difficult to keep yourself interested in something that you feel is a scam and is not really aiding your development. There is no guarantee that a college degree will get me a job and certainly no guarantee that I will be happy with a job in my field even if I do get one. I mean, how are we supposed to know what type of job that we want to have for the rest of our lives straight out of high school? I don’t even know all of the jobs that are available, let alone what it would be like to work at any of them. Even in the best case scenario, college will hand me straight into the working world where I will toil the majority of my life away for just a bit more money than it takes to merely survive. I don’t want that. It is a devastating idea.

But what else am I supposed to do? I don’t have enough faith in my ability in anything else to give up a full scholarship to pursue. I don’t even have time to consider any alternatives because my college classes take up most of my time and energy. I feel as though I am trapped in a raging river heading toward a future that I cannot bear. There must be something better I could be doing with my precious youth. I don’t want to wake up one day full of regret, but what can I do?

Somedays I drown in the thought that I have nothing left to look forward to in my life and that my best days are now behind me. I wish that this country’s education system would have given me more of a chance. I have always felt as though I had something special to offer the world, but maybe I will never discover what that is.

Let me know what your college experience was/is like. How do you deal with such hopeless thoughts? I would gladly accept any ideas or advice.

Stay strong, sweet ones. ❤ 

A Daily Dose of Play

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Most people understand that for their animals to remain healthy and happy that they must make sure they get enough exercise. Whether it be going for a walk, playing fetch, or chasing a string, animals need physical exertion to be a part of their day to day routine.

What many people don’t seem to understand though, is that we are also animals. I believe that this means we also need to get a fair amount of exercise. For the past few years I have been running close to nine miles everyday. Granted, that may be a bit excessive for most people, but it has completely transformed my life. 

I feel more alert, stronger, and happier. Daily exercise is almost a form of meditation in a way. The hours I spend at the gym, listening to my favorite music, helps me to clear my mind and burn off all of the stresses of my day. My body and mind feel refreshed and renewed. Now instead of a lethargic and tired, my body feels awake. It is a high-functioning, synchronized machine. Daily exercise has allowed me to be more positive and optimistic than ever before. Also, after 20 years, I can finally say that I love my body.

So, let your inner animal out! Give yourself at least an hour of some type of physical activity every day. I promise you will not regret it!

Stay active, dear ones.

 

Vegan on the Go

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Sometimes, when you are on the go or in a hurry, veganism is not the most convenient diet. It is hard enough to find vegan options in a restaurant, let alone a fast food place. There is always the option of ordering a salad without meat or cheese, but in my experience, a good percentage of the time you will be thoroughly ignored and receive the salad with no alterations whatsoever. Then there are some who may consider just an order of french fries. However, many fast food restaurants fry these in meat greases. Also, french fries are not very nutritious or filling. Even the veggie burgers that are served by Burger King contain egg ingredients.

The struggle to find vegan options from fast food restaurants can be a blessing and a curse. It does prevent you from eating poorly when you could be eating something a little better for you. However, sometimes a quick bite of food is necessary. So, after years of irritation, I have finally found an option that has worked for me, and it is my hope that it can work for all of you other vegans out there as well. 

When I need a cheap morsel of food in a hurry, I will occasionally go to Taco Bell. For merely two dollars you can get a delicious and moderately healthy little meal! On their menu they offer a very yummy black bean burrito. It does come with cheese on it, but you can ask them to exclude that part. (I have yet to get one that still had cheese as I have with salads.) I also ask them to add guacamole, which is a wonderful replacement. 

Mexican fast food can be a delightful option for vegans trying to get a quick meal. There are only Taco Bell’s near my hometown, but I am sure any such fast food restaurant would have similar options. I hope that this can help some of you out. Now instead of greasy fries or a limp, unappetizing fast food salad, you can get a delicious, nutritious bean burrito!

Enjoy, my vegan darlings. ❤