Two years. I can’t believe it’s already been two years of being vegan. I don’t even really know what to say. I could go cliché and say that if I could do it, you could too. Or I could go into detail about why I went vegan, but I feel like I’ve already covered that. I did have a post I wrote about my 1 Year Veganversary, but apparently I didn’t post it, and after re-reading it, it didn’t really say much except for, ‘wow! I can’t believe it!’ So, I’ll spare you. In case you’re wondering (although I’m pretty sure I’ve written this out somewhere else) here’s why I went vegan:
New Year’s Eve 2015, I decided to make my New Year’s Resolution to be vegetarian. There wasn’t really anything specific that triggered it, I just wanted to do something different that year. (Usually me and my family just made stupid resolutions, anyway) I was ‘successfully’ vegetarian until about June or July. By that time, it had gotten to be 40+ Celsius, and, me being the idiot I was, I was on the subway and didn’t eat breakfast or drink any water. Guess what happened next. I started getting dizzy and had black spots dancing at the edges of my vision. I got home okay, (luckily) and chugged some water. That incident didn’t do very well for quelling my mother’s concerns about it being an okay/healthy diet. And, while now I know why that happened, at the time I somewhat agreed with her. So, after that, I decided I’d be pollotarian (someone who only eats poultry), but was still curious about vegetarianism, and I had ended up stumbling across a Reddit thread that said something like, ‘If you want to go vegan, watch the following documentaris’. Being a curious person, I decided to check out the documentaries. The first one I watched, Vegucated I didn’t really like, because they were coming at veganism as an aid for weight-loss. A few months after that, I watched Earthlings, and well… let’s just say that one stuck. Even though I still didn’t really know anything about the products, or this or that, I just couldn’t continue non-vegan after that. It was pretty much an instant resolve to stop, which was a bit hard because I still lived with non-vegan family. So I started researching, anything that related to veganism, I read. That was back in Feb. 2016, and I’m still going.
I’ve learned so much within just the past two years, it’s crazy. It seems all that was so long ago!
I do still have some non-vegan items, and while I’m not proud I still have them, I’m not ashamed to say I’m not 100% vegan yet. (But, I mean, is that really a thing?)
During the first year I went vegan, I had focused on just switching over my diet, because while I wanted to immediately change everything overnight (… can you tell I’m an ethical vegan?) that was neither practical nor possible. I didn’t have thousands of dollars sitting around to allow me to switch over everything I own, so I decided the best place to start would be the kitchen, and I could continue to replace other aspects each year/couple months, once I found out more information, had the means to do so.
And, I’d like to say, if you’re thinking about going vegan, but think doing something like the above (not immediately getting rid of every non-vegan thing in your house) would mean you’re not a ‘true vegan’ – don’t even go there. You are 100% a true vegan as long as your heart is in it. Don’t worry too much about being perfect.
It’s not a cult. No Vegan Police are gonna show up and haul you off to jail. Relax. Change over in your own time, as long as you’re committed to doing so, you’ll get there eventually. And, by you even just thinking about changing already puts you on the right path. It’s about getting on the right path, not being dropped at the end of it. Life is a journey and all that crap.
Also, unless you were born with literally all the knowledge ever, you’re going to make some mistakes, or use something that you’d think would be fine (like, say, a plastic bag, or your phone) only to discover later that it’s actually not vegan. And that’s fine. You’re not gonna throw your phone off a bridge – that’s just not practical. There are, unfortunately, some items you use/have to use in today’s society that aren’t vegan.
That does not mean you are a lesser vegan, or aren’t a real one at all. It’s about trying.
Hell, the definition is even: Is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
So, again, relax. As long as you’re trying, and not eating straight up flesh you’re doing fine.
During this second year, I focused my efforts on beginning to switch non-food items, like toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, etc.). I even discovered some ‘hidden’ food items that weren’t vegan I was unknowingly eating. Lays plain (original) potato chips, for instance is made with pork enzymes, and food dyes such as Red #40 is made out of crushed cochineal beetles, and the others (Yellow #5, 6, Blue, etc) are tested on animals. Sad to discover, for sure – especially because Lays doesn’t have the information readily available on their website. The only reason why I even found it was because I was doing research for the vegan cookbook I’ve been working on, and stumbled upon a comment on some vegan forum somewhere. From there, I had e-mailed the parent company (Frito-Lay) about multiple products, and only after asking about it, was I linked to this list* that has all the chips that are made without pork enzymes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s disappointed to learn some of the plain chips contain enzymes.
Things like this always bring about the same question to me: how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?
Obviously, pork enzymes is pretty bad, as well as food dyes tested on animals, but should I be expected to contact the parent company every time I’m faced with a situation that is a bit unknown? Of course, I contact the company as often as possible, so that I’m making the best decision, or, if I don’t know, and aren’t able to get an immediate response, (say, for example at a family gathering, where I wasn’t expecting to have said item called into question) I’ll always just pass. Or, if it’s something they bought/cooked ‘specifically for me’ I’ll research, call the company (stay on hold for as long as it takes), or (if I’m not able to get a response, or get an ‘I don’t know’), I’ll take the item home (if able) and continue researching until I get an answer.
It sucks to do that for sure, having to stop the fun of the party or make that person worry when they thought it was fine, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some of you reading this might think that’s rude and will say to just accept it, even if it’s questionably vegan, but I say: why would I put something in/on my body if I don’t know what’s in it, whether or not I was vegan? I don’t think I’ve ever done that, I’ve always asked what’s in something, not even just because I had an allergy, but because I honestly am confused why people would just accept something. There could be literally anything in that, and you don’t know. I’d much rather not eat/use it, and offend the person for a minute, (or, better yet, share the new information so they can avoid the mistake in the future) then have something that I use/is in my mouth when I find out it wasn’t vegan. It’s just… ‘safer’ to not accept it.
If they get offended (which, c’mon, really?) just apologize and tell them you appreciate the gesture, and (if it was a ‘hidden’ ingredient like the food dyes, or something else) tell them they were so close/on the right track! It’s not their fault companies don’t list everything on their packaging (going back to the Lays Original, no where on that bag does it say it contains pork enzymes), so please, please don’t get mad/upset at them for not knowing. Try to remember that not only is it not their fault, but also, would you have known that before you went vegan? No, so don’t go shaming them for not doing hours upon hours of research. Also, some items do say Cruelty-Free or Vegan and have the food dyes or honey, so they might’ve assumed (the same way I’m sure you do sometimes) that if it says vegan right on it, it’d be safe.
Going back to the how far down the rabbit hole thing, I really think it depends on the person. Same as how some vegans eat honey, while others don’t. (I don’t, in case you wondered) It’s all about perspective, and, while it might seem blatanly obvious to some, others either don’t see it that way (and never will), or, haven’t done enough research to know, so they eat/use it unknowingly.
Bottom line: It takes time to learn what’s vegan and what’s not, so don’t be ‘that guy’ and be an asshole because they don’t know something. Instead, why don’t you try helping them discover information. For example, if your non-vegan friends come over, get them to try some vegan food. Don’t force it down their throats, but maybe make it a rule: when you come to my house, you eat vegan. That’s a very reasonable request, and if any of your friends cause a fuss, then tell them they’re not welcome in your house. It’s not that hard. Or, (if you’re okay with it) tell them they can bring their own non-vegan dish (that’s already cooked, unless you don’t care about having non-vegan food ‘contaminate’ your kitchen). It’s your house, you can set the rules, and if they don’t like it, or (for some reason) aren’t comfortable with that, well, then maybe they shouldn’t come over?
You know, as a living, breathing vegan that you don’t need animal products to survive, so if they really can’t eat those 2 out of how-ever-many-meals-you-eat-in-a-lifetime vegan when they come over, then that’s definitely a problem. Also, don’t be afraid to bring subjects like this up with your friends. Don’t attack them, obviously, but ask them their views, and if they’d be okay with it. Present your point of view, and why it’s important to you, for example, to keep your kitchen vegan.
That said, again, it’s 100% up to you, what you’re comfortable with. No one can (or should) tell you what you’re okay with.
It’s been awesome so far, I’ve discovered so many new, amazing products. Nooch is now a staple in my kitchen, when only two years ago I didn’t even know it existed. Same with black salt, and a bunch of other products. I even went to my first vegan festival this past year! That was such an amazing experience, I’m definitely going again this summer. If you haven’t seen it, you can read my review of it here.
I’m super excited to discover even more vegan products in the coming years. I can’t wait to see what else they come out with!
*That list is just the Canadian one, this is the US one, and I haven’t been able to find one for other countries. I recommend getting in contact with them to see if there’s one available for you’re country. (I know usually, UK and Canadian products are produced pretty similar in the ways that they’re produced, so if you live in the UK, I’d suggest using the Canadian list if there isn’t a UK one)
Want to learn more about veganism? Check out The Veg Life, for awesome recipes, product reviews and more!