This week marks my 3rd veganniversary. Three years ago I decided to remove all dairy, eggs, and aquatic animals from my diet. I had eliminated land animals back in 2011 making the change much easier. But still, going vegan was a pretty big deal.
The vegan I was in 2013 is not the vegan I am today. I have grown so much on this journey. Here are just a few things I’ve learned:
#1 Everyone finds their “line”.
Many vegans will not eat processed sugar because bone char is used in its production. Many vegans won’t drink beer or wine if the refining process uses animal products (most commonly isinglass or egg whites). After long consideration, I decided my “line” is that as long as a product does not contain animal products I will not abstain from using it. This was my own ethical decision and each person has to do what feels right to them.
#2 There is something known as a junk food vegan.
Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org says if you tell him you’re vegan, it simply explains what you do not eat. If you say you’re on a whole foods plant-based diet, he will know what you do eat. You can be malnourished and/or overweight even as a vegan if you replace your old foods with new, processed foods. Oreos are vegan. Jus’ sayin’.
#3 You never know where your vegan journey may lead you.
Victoria Moran’s book Main Street Vegan was the book I credit with convincing me going vegan was easy. Little did I know I would attend her Main Street Vegan Academy in November 2014 and become certified as a vegan lifestyle coach and educator. That certification has led me to work on some great projects like the rollout of the film PlantPure Nation, it prepared me to become a Humane Educator with the Ethical Choices Program, and helped me to gain the knowledge and confidence to pursue my own vegan career. By the end of 2016, I will have a Professional Plant-Based Cooking certification from the Rouxbe Cooking School.
#4. There is a community of vegans who are amazing!
I never knew I’d get to meet such amazing people. Some are in my local community, most are in other parts of the country, but whenever we get together, we enjoy that common bond. They’re comprised of doctors, lawyers, writers, entrepreneurs, and almost every single profession you can think of. There is always that one thing that binds us together; we share one compassionate heart for animals.
Three years ago, I didn’t know anyone in my city who was vegan. The spirit of “if you build it, they will come” led me to create Triple Cities Vegans and Binghamton Vegan Drinks. Through these two groups, I’ve made many friends and I look forward to strengthening our little corner of the vegan world with them.
#5 Never let perfect be the enemy of good.
There is no such thing as a perfect vegan and trying to be one will only lead to frustration. Whenever I inadvertently “screw up” I forgive myself and remember that every day I’m doing right by the animals and our planet.
And that’s a pretty big deal.