Vegans Say What?: What Prompted the Switch?

Here at Don’t Fear the Vegan we hear so many stories on what lead people to their vegan journey and they always warm are hearts. We also have found over the years that those with stories rather than whims are the ones that tend to stick with the lifestyle rather than getting burned out. As Vegans we feel it is important to share our stories so others that are considering going down the path know that it doesn’t have to be an overnight transition.

Way back when, my mom gave us a copy of the Mad Cowboy and after reading we went vegetarian.  We continued eating dairy and eggs for four years until my daughter was born with a dairy allergy that was discovered when she was four weeks old. She was getting sick due to the dairy I was eating, that she was getting via my breast milk. I quit immediately as well as eggs which I was allergic to but had still eaten in baked goods figuring they probably weren’t good for her either.

After nursing for three years (that’s a whole other story) I broke down and ate cheese on occasion when eating out despite the fact that it made me violently ill and was followed by a tremendous feeling of guilt even though I still didn’t call myself vegan or have any idea of the horrors of the dairy industry.  Cheese is like CRACK!  The fact that my three-year old would question why I would eat cheese and say things like, “Mommy, cow’s milk is for baby cows!” made it more clear.

One of the moments of clarity for me was right after we moved to Seattle and were so excited to find out about the vegan grocery store Sidecar for Pigs Peace. When we went in, Doh the manager was working and we started talking. Then out of nowhere like she was a priest that I was confessing my sins to, I began to tell her how we were raising our daughter vegan even though we add been unable to commit to a full transition to a vegan lifestyle. She smiled and said, “Everyone’s journey is different.” That night I went home and began researching the dairy industry and it changed my life forever. I try my hardest with my interactions with others to be as patient and remember that no one wants to be bullied into anything. The simplest statements can lead to change.

Did you go straight to being a vegan or was there a transition? If you were vegetarian first and went to vegan later what prompted the change? If you are vegetarian now but considering vegan what is your biggest hurdle? What would you recommend to people who are attempting to transition from vegetarian to vegan?

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5 Responses to Vegans Say What?: What Prompted the Switch?

  1. First of all, can I just say – Doh is AWESOME!
    I struggle with exactly what to say to people, I have a lot of “almost-vegan-some-days” friends and I just want to shake them some days and say “Decide already!” – on the other hand, I am appreciative of their efforts, because truly everything helps!

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  3. alan says:

    I began as vegetarian in high school. My first year of college, I went vegan. My wife tried to do the same. For both of us, a major reason was the abuses in factory farms. Unfortunately, we quickly fond out it was impossible due to multiple food allergies (eg soy (tofu), nuts, wheat gluten etc). This ruled out the vast majority of vegan protein options for.

    Our solution was to get a some hens. They are treated as pets, have 1/3rd an acre to roam free on during the day, get a variety of treats, if they get sick or hurt they go to a vet. As long as the eggs are not fertilised, they have no potential and will simply go rotten. Since the chickens are free to do their thing and enjoy life, and the eggs have no future, we don’t have problems using these eggs which are essentially a waste product.

    In learning about how to care for the chickens- organic farming techniques, I’ve also come to realise that sometimes the vegan foods we depend on can be harmful to us and/or the enviroment. With Soy for instance is is pretty much a given that it is GMO (proven to cause cancer in rats)- unless specifically labelled Organic. Many packaged/processed meals (eg fake burgers or tv dinner style options) travel to and from several locations in their production until finally to the grocery store- all this travel spewing pollution into the air; plus, there is waste to deal with- only some of which can be recycled, (wrappers/paper contaminated with food cannot be). Even fruits/vegs we eat out of season require transport over long distances, resulting in excess pollution.

    Finally, many foods, including Soybeans, depend on slave labour (or in the US migrant immigrant labor, which really is treated not much different than actual slave labor). There’s articles about this online if you look, but what had the strongest effect on me was that stories my wife told me about how her grandparents and their friends in downstate IL and TN who grew corn mostly would torture, rape (incl young children), and even murder some of these people who were too afraid to go to police for that would mean deportation. Plus, they’re exposed to deadly chemicals that are sprayed on our food- if we’re worried about these chemicals in small amounts on the foods we eat, shouldn’t we worry about the workers that get thousands of times more of that poison on their bodies in the course of a day’s work?

    One additional point- as the price of food continues to rise, but emplyment is at an all time low, and even those with work are often earning less than they they used to, our choices are becoming limited. I would love to buy nothing but locally produced organic food (which can cost A LOT more, for example, CAFO raised milk from hormone injected cows is $2.30/gal at Aldies. But a carton of say Ricedream (32 oz) which is about 1/4 a gallon, costs $4- almost double the gallon of milk. I’d have to spend $16 on Ricedream or a similar product to provide for the same number of breakfasts and cooking ingredients as I could get from 1 gallon of milk). With $200 of food stamps as the monthly budget for two adults, for 1 month, it’s simply impossible to eat the way we want to with all of of the food we want and keep a balanced diet without aggravating my wife’s allergies. We get food pantry items as well, but we get little choice about what we get in the box. About half of it is edible (but rarely organic). The rest, due to being too stale or our having allergies to it, goes to the chickens or pet rats. Any meat they give us goes to the dog or cats (cats simply cannot go vegan, and many dogs can’t tolerate soy, so many people with either of these pets must still buy animal products in the form of pet food.)

    All of this is not to say that its too hard so lets just give up. The chicken eggs work within the frame work of why I went vegan in the first place- the animal abuse in factory farming. Since they are pets, I’m not opposed to using their eggs which otherwise would be waste. We’ve discussed what to do in the rare case that chicken was injured and had no chance of survival, and agreed we’d use the meat. For other foods… until we find solutions for the many evils that plague our food system, I’m focusing more on a local-vore, organic, diet with minimal use of animal products (like eggs). This means I only buy fruits and vegs that are in season and grown locally. I avoid packaged meals where the ingredients were grown all over the country, shipped to a plant to make the food, then shipped back to the stores, polluting all the way. If ricemilk is out of budget, I might be able to afford locally raised cow milk in 1/2 gallon cartons when on clearance/sale for $4. I get to know other local farmers and if for instance, they raise milking goats (with lots of space to roam and play and eat a variety of grasses/weeds), and they milk in such a way that the kids get to nurse first, and then milking is done afterwards- well, its less milk produced per goat but its humane, and I’d be comfortable trading eggs for some milk.

    Basically, what I’m getting at is that 1) not everyone can do a vegan diet due to allergies; 2) most cats/dogs cannot eat vegan (I’ve heard some dogs can, but it just gives ours diarrhea and weight loss). and 3) eating vegan solves only a fraction of the problems plaguing the food industry…. its a first step, but not the last step…. there are still issues of pollution to transport foods, issues of slavery and migrant worker abuses, issues of the poisons being sprayed on our crops and the over reliance of mono-crop farms that is ruining our environment and our agricultural system.

  4. I was first a vegetarian for 2 months after watching “Food, Inc.” then I watched “Forks Over Knives” and became Vegan. Love it! Easiest thing I have ever done! Very rewarding… Went to the Dr. and he did the blood work and took me off of all my medications. I am working great inside and out! I have also lost about 70 pounds since January 2012 (now almost Aug 2012) with simply eating Vegan diet, no sugar, no sodas, and all Vegan. I just go about my daily activities and the weight has fallen off and my health is perfect. People usually say they can’t give up meat or dairy. Well, okay, but with the Vegan substitutes you will not feel like you gave up anything! I keep telling them this is not a diet I am on, it is simply the way I now eat…it is my food diet not on a diet. My friends and family say don’t lose any more weight but I truly have no control over that. I eat, believe me! But I am not gaining weight or trying to lose it. What is not suppose to be on me is simply vanishing… More restaurants and offering vegan dishes and I even found many vegan restaurants available when I visited Dublin, Ireland! It is doable wherever you are! This way of life is a commitment to yourself for yourself. You cannot talk yourself into it. You have to simply make the decision and then honor your decision. There are many DVD’s available that if you watch them you will surely choose the Vegan way. When I see a hamburger or chicken sandwich all I can think of are the horrid conditions of these creatures that I saw in the above listed movies. I just cannot participate in their abuse and killing any longer. For me it was an emotional decision and the physical effects of weight loss and health were simply a by-product or icing on the vegan cake! Check out the stores in your area, many offer Vegan choices. Trader Joe’s, Home Economist, Earth Fare are just a few options around me. Even Walmart has ‘some’ things available…

  5. Jen says:

    I never really had the intention to go vegetarian – let alone vegan. I lived with my dad and stepmother (a Vegetarian) for a few years but never thought about becoming vegetarian myself. It was simply not an option for me (especially after one of my mentors at the personal trainer academy taught us that the human body needs far more animal protein than suggested by the German Society for Nutrition in order to be able to shed fat).

    One day I was sitting on my sofa surfing the web and I stumbled upon a PETA documentary (I don’t even remember the name) that was narrated by a German singer. Thanks to Youtube (you know they always have these little links at the end of the videos) this one video let to another, and to another, and to another. All of a sudden I realized I would never be able to eat animals again…even if I wanted to. Never before did I realize how much animals suffer just to become a cheese burger or steak. I NEVER thought about that.

    A few weeks into my being vegetarian I already felt better. I suffered from depressions almost my whole life and I kind of felt a little bit more at ease with myself. But there was still something in my head that made me think something’s wrong. Something just doesn’t fit.

    I did a little research and read about calves that are taken away from their mothers just so we could have some milk and little chicken that get shredded. After all the pictures I’ve seen and articles I read I still didn’t consciously decide to become vegan. It just happened. I stopped eating eggs, made pasta with tomato sauce instead of cheese covered lasagne, and stopped using milk in my coffee. It seemed so natural to me.

    A few weeks later my husband and I were watching TV and I turned around and said: “You know what? I think I’m vegan.”

    This was about 4 or 5 months ago and I feel better than ever. I lost 30 pounds (to be fair I have to say those were pounds I just recently “added” to my body – American food portion sizes are waaay bigger than German portions), my depressions are almost totally gone, and I have a weird feeling of inner peace I never experienced before in my life. But above all I don’t have the feeling I am missing out on something, I restrict myself, or there are things that I am not “allowed” to eat. I enjoy ever meal, I rarely have cravings for sweets or other unhealthy stuff, and I am a much happier person than I was before.

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