Vegans Say What? The Defining Vegan Moment


Photo by Richard Directo

I love stories, especially others that people are willing to share with me. Everyone I have met that is vegan has a different defining moment that made them wake up and say, “Enough of this, I need to be vegan!”

Mine came the moment I found out that the dairy my daughter was getting through my breast milk was literally killing her. I was already vegetarian and was allergic to eggs, so for me it was the only logical decision. I should also admit that it wasn’t an overnight success for me and in the beginning I did view it more as a diet. The problem with diets are that everybody breaks them eventually.

The more reading I did on health, the more I stumbled onto vegan information and the animal abuse became clear, which lead the change from diet to lifestyle, which for me was huge. In the past I would see a cheese platter at a party and obsess over how badly I missed it. Now I look at a cheese platter and I only see violence and have no interest in indulging.

What was your defining moment when you knew you needed to be vegan? Was it immediate or did you have to work it out mentally? If you are attempting to go vegan what brought you to the place you are currently at?

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16 Responses to Vegans Say What? The Defining Vegan Moment

  1. My “ah-ha” moment was after 16+ years of being lacto-vegetarian, one day I actually read the ingredients on a brick of goat cheese. “Rennet” ? I didn’t know what it was, so I looked it up and was disgusted beyond belief. I thought I was doing the right thing by being vegetarian, but eating rennet in my cheese was unacceptable. After a few hours of research on cheese production which obviously led me to how calves & kids are taken from their mothers so we can steal the milk, I decided then and there I was vegan.

    It wasn’t a diet for me, it was just the next step. I haven’t had any dairy since 2007 and have since become lactose intolerant (I know this because people have “slipped” me dairy thinking they were being clever and teaching me a lesson) and completely disinterested in ever consuming dairy again.

    Thanks for this post! This is a great topic of vegan conversation!!

  2. Dave says:

    My wife & I had been lacto-ovo vegetarians for about 10 years when a story broke locally in Maine about abuses at a local egg factory (see That started a conversation about whether or not we knew where our eggs were really coming from, and that led to more research about egg & dairy farming. We were already planning a vacation to Portland, Oregon, where we decided to try to be vegan for a week. It went pretty well, except for one unsolicited lecture from one of the more militant vegans there. When we got back, we phased the rest of our non-vegan products out.

  3. Brooke chavis says:

    I became vegan about five years ago. My reasoning was solely based on the education i received about animal cruelty in the meat, dairy and clothing industries. My moment of realization was while watching a video documentary online. I didn’t find it hard at all to quit meat and dairy. The hard part is memorizing those tricky ingredients in our foods that are animal by-products. Some of which are in almost everything! Luckily we have internet on the go with phones and tablets and we can do a quick Google search on a questionable ingredient. Im glad im vegan and have a Vegan husband and two vegan kids. We wouldn’t have it any other way!

  4. Thanks for taking time to share your defining moment!

  5. Helen Siwak says:

    I had been vegetarian with salmon for almost 20 years when I found myself living in Greece with a 3x day meat eating boyfriend. I remember the moment that he turned to me and said ‘that’s it, no more eating animals’. We had just watched an episode of Bones. There had been a murder at a chicken processing plant. For some reason watching comedic banter between the two leads about the murder and de-beaking triggered something. He finally understood. I didn’t care what it took but we went vegetarian and upon returning to Canada went vegan. He inspires me. He literally turned his back on his family, his culture and by Greek standards, his manliness. I am thankful everyday for him.

  6. Heike says:

    I was an “almost vegetarian” for 3 years – because I wasn’t able to stop eating sushi. I reduced it to a minimum but couldn’t help myself. I didn’t buy eggs and also reduced dairy products but there was a rest. Over the last months I read a lot about veganism and wasn’t able to imagine that it really will work for me.
    There were two moments, one was nearly exactly what “the valley vegan” said, but I came to it over “sweet whey powder” and found out what rennet is. I was so disappointed because I always thought every cheese is vegetarian. There is also microbial rennet that is used for many types of cheese but I felt cheated anyway.
    The second was with a friend that visited me, she wanted to go out for sushi and we did. The next day she wanted to have sushi again and we went to the same restaurant – and I was unable to order fish. I took vegetarian sushi and I knew that it was over.
    Now I’m calling myself “as vegan as possible” – everything I can decide on my own is vegan (supermarket, clothing, cooking, restaurant) – but when somebody invites me to his/her home for dinner or anything else I expect something vegetarian but not that this person learns to cook vegan for me (although it would be nice).

  7. When we went vegetarian we had already decreased our meat intake to virtually zero, and giving it up completely turned out to be quite easy. Eggs? Eh. It was giving up dairy (specially cheese) that proved a bit more challenging. But as many have already pointed out, once you learn what is in cheese (e.g., rennet) there emerges a tipping point. Again, though, we didn’t really miss it. The only real difficulty was learning how to compensate for the things we “had to give up.” That phrase, of course, is a bit misleading because it implies a sense of lose—which it totally isn’t! We don’t need any of it, and food is even more fulfilling than before. Hurray! Vegan-on!

  8. Like you, my vegan journey began by following a plant-based diet. And I have to admit that I cheated a lot. But then I watched the movie Vegucated. This was the first time I had ever seen footage of the abuse animals suffer on factory farms. This was my defining moment and I’ve been an ethical vegan ever since. Celeste 🙂

    • Isn’t the change crazy, mentally when you go from just a diet to an animal rights lifestyle? A person living the straight edge lifestyle once told me, “Well of course, everyone cheats on diets!”

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