Celebrating Two Very Vegan Years

I’ve noticed that while I talk about a lot of things I enjoy (and like to critique), I talk far less about a very important part of my life: veganism. Apart from my last post – really, a rallying cry – calling for vegan heroines and novels, I tend to keep my being vegan almost a secret to others, unless circumstances force me to mention it. However, about a month ago, I hit a huge milestone in my life, reaching my two-year anniversary of being vegan – my veganniversary, if you will. I’m incredibly proud of this, and, as a result, want to talk more about my vegan journey/transition.

Prior to 2015, my heart belonged to bacon. Never could I imagine giving up bacon, milk, scrambled eggs, or chicken nuggets, all of which I considered my favorite foods. In my mind, anybody who purposely eliminated those things from their diet and life were crazy. How could you give up something with such a delicious taste? I spent a large majority of my childhood at my grandparents’ house, which may or may not have led to an addiction of sorts to eggs. Not the healthiest of foods, but in those days, I did not really care – the taste was all that mattered.

During the summer of 2015, my life was changing a lot. I had just completed my first year of college, my mom had a job,  my parents were in the middle of getting divorced, and I was volunteering as a teaching assistant for a course taught at a women’s prison. Additionally, I was incredibly active on social media – Tumblr and Instagram in particular – leading me to be inundated with messages of social justice. I noticed some people in my internet-circle regularly posting – both pictures and text – about veganism. The food looked delicious, and the things they said made a lot of sense to me. At the time, I respected those people, so I decided to hop on the vegan bandwagon – at least for a little bit.

For the next few months, I had a routine: I’d eat vegan/vegetarian everyday except Sunday, the day I usually went out to breakfast with my dad. I made black bean burgers and bought a lot of meat alternatives. Though some of my meals were not as good as the meat I had grown accustomed to, I realized I wasn’t really missing out on anything food-wise. Most of the food I had been making for myself were already vegan – or at the very least, vegetarian – and I found it easy to find veg alternatives.

During finals week of my sophomore year, I made a decision: I was going to go vegan for real. No more cheat days. No more giving into a craving that would lead to me thinking, “Well, you messed this day up already, may as well eat more animal products.”

I was ready to become a new person.

I remember being very worried as that first week was about to come to a close. At the time, I was a teaching assistant at my school’s Learning Center, and we were having a party to celebrate the end of the semester. Immediately, I assumed there would be nothing for me to eat. I’m already incredibly picky, and the thought of others selecting food for me stresses me out a bit. The Center’s director told us she would be getting Chipotle, but I was only vaguely familiar with the place and didn’t bother looking it up. When the food arrived, to my surprise, there was tofu! And beans and rice! I hadn’t had tofu before, and this was before I became obsessed with the soy-based protein, so I was excited to try it.

Though the tofu – in the form of sofritas – was way too hot for me (I’m a classic example of a white person who can’t handle heat), but I was happy! With that meal, I went an entire week eating nothing but vegan food!

Suddenly, being 100% vegan wasn’t some unattainable goal – I knew I could do it.

It hasn’t always been easy. I’m from a small town where meat and dairy reign supreme, and the idea of veganism and vegetarianism is met with skepticism. Not to mention, my dad and brother seem to eat absolutely nothing but meat, meaning a lot of jokes were made at my expense. Being in my dad’s house all the time made things difficult, as the smell of meat and eggs cooking began to repulse me.

But I did it. I survived two years as a vegan in that environment, and now I live with my boyfriend, who doesn’t make fun of me for eating tofu and glady eats it with me. We live in an area where vegan options can be bought and consumed just a few minutes away. We get to live in a space where the smell of meat doesn’t permeate the whole house. It’s nice.

While I’ve certainly made mistakes along the way, I’m proud of my vegan journey. I’m more conscious of the way I eat and have lost weight, an unexpected perk. My veganism inspired a train of thought that led to my senior thesis, and, overall, it has made me a more compassionate and caring person.

I love being vegan, and I’m certain it was the best choice I ever made.

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