Vegans love to talk about WHY they are vegan, but I thought it would be a fun twist to talk about the stuff that’s not why I’m vegan. Not to be confused with “the reasons I’m NOT a vegan,” which would be someone else’s post. ;o)
These are NOT the reasons why I’m a vegan…
Moral superiority or hipster cred.
I didn’t go vegan to seem cool and I don’t say “I’m a vegan” because I think I’m better or more awesome than anyone else. Also, I couldn’t stick with something this life-impacting just to try to be someone I’m not. Veganism might be a fad for some people, but I don’t see myself ever going back. And while some outspoken vegans may have a different persona, I think you’d find most vegans are fairly normal, standard people.
I enjoy being difficult.
Despite how fun being difficult is (just kidding), if I could make it easier to be a vegan and interact foodwise with other people, I would.
I don’t want people to dislike or avoid hanging out with us because we’re vegan. I get that it complicates things. In a perfect world it would be easier. Which is why if we’re dining with non-vegans, I usually try to suggest places that have both regular and vegan options. Before going somewhere new, I do tons of research online to scope out what I/we can eat. Sometimes this has failed me, but usually my preparation comes in handy. In terms of eating at someone’s home, if they don’t want to prepare a vegan meal (understandable), I could at least offer to bring a vegan entree.
I like to eat gross food and pretend it’s good.
If what I was eating tasted gross, I wouldn’t still be eating it. If being vegan wasn’t working out, I would make changes. Likewise, if a recipe is underwhelming or off, I either adjust it or don’t make it again. If a vegan restaurant isn’t delicious, we don’t go there again. (Luckily, we’ve found many that are amazing.) I’m not that good at pretending, so if everything I was eating was bland, tasteless, or gross, I’d quit. I like food too much to not like what I’m eating.
I’ve heard vegan food generalized as “OK, but not as good as ‘the real thing.’” Before I went vegan, I had the idea that such food was unsatisfying, plain, veggie-heavy, overcooked, etc. Before that, I didn’t even like the idea of vegetarian restaurants, because, as an uber-carnivore, I assumed all they served was food I didn’t like.
I’ve eaten bad vegan food and I’ve eaten amazing vegan food, just like I’ve eaten bad “regular” food and great “regular” food. One of the most surprising things I’ve discovered is that vegan food is EASY to make delicious. The fact that there are restaurants that still make bad vegan food is mind boggling and seems wrong (I’m not talking a standard restaurant with one vegan dish – the worst vegan food I’ve had is at couple vegan restaurants) mostly because I worry someone will eat food there and then judge all vegan food as mediocre based on that experience.
I like the title “vegan”.
This one is hard to pick apart because the word vegan is probably said in our house ninety times a day. Just look at how many times it appears in this post! I use it a lot because it is the term that most accurately describes what I eat. It is also part of the name in my Instagram feed – where I am unabashedly pro-vegan because if you’re there, I assume you’re not opposed to seeing vegan food and hearing if it’s delicious or not. I originally started @vegandrle to help feel inspired by my journey. It worked. But in real life with people I don’t know – or don’t know very well – it feels hella awkward to whip out that label. The word “vegan” is loaded and I never know what ideas people already have – if they don’t like it, if they’re curious, if they think it’s unhealthy and unwise, or if they straight-up hate kale pushers.
Saying “I’m vegan” can be scary. Implied in my hesitation is that I want people to know I’m not that kind of vegan. I remember how I used to feel about veganism. Even though I had occasionaly dabbled in vegetarianism, when the idea of going vegan came up I usually recoiled. “It would be WAY too hard: milk and eggs are in everything.” “I could never give up cheese!” “I don’t think I like vegetables enough.” Etc. None of these were incorrect by the way – except the cheese part, which was less difficult than I expected because I found substitutes that worked for me. Speaking of…
I never liked meat or cheese.
There are many vegans and vegetarians who found the transition easy because they’d never really enjoyed meat or dairy. Although I wish it were so, that was not me. I never liked seafood of any sort and didn’t always enjoy eggs, but I loved meat. And cheese. I ate it a lot. A celebratory meal out meant steak. A savory treat during the day was something with cheese. My coffee wasn’t sweetened but it always had creamer in it. I’d be lying if I said the transition away from these favorite foods was a piece of cake: but it wasn’t impossible. I do still sometimes try to make mock-meats that are attempting to be close to “the real thing,” but what I realize is that I don’t actually miss the meat itself anymore.
I assumed when going vegan that I would never eat anything like cheese again. Out of curiosity, well before going vegan I had tried dairy-free cheese at least twice. Either I picked the wrong brands or the good brands hadn’t been created yet, because those cheeses were awful. But now I’ve discovered that, while asking cheese made from cashews or tofu or oil to taste like cheese derived from cow’s milk would be absurd, they can be very enjoyable – and brands are getting better and better. Again: they’re not going to taste just like cow cheese. But I have found these substitutes to be quite delicious. I know that sounds like vegan mumbo-jumbo. Or that I am just kidding myself. But, again, if I didn’t enjoy something, I wouldn’t eat it.
I like sitting around eating fruits and vegetables all day.
I wish! Although I’m not nearly as picky of an eater as I once was, it still doesn’t come naturally to me to eat an entire bowl of berries or munch on kale throughout the day. But I truly believe that incorporating more fruits and vegetables is an incredibly healthful move, so I push onwards. That’s not to say that I never enjoy what I’m eating. See above.
I like spending a ton of money on food.
Beans and rice. Beans and rice, dudes.
I write that somewhat in jest because I can’t think of a single meal I’ve ever made that was just beans and rice. But it is the most common retort of a vegan or vegetarian person when people say that being vegan is too expensive (or ask where they get their protein).
True, it does sometimes feel like there’s a “vegan tax” when dining out. Say you order a salad and have to remove the meat and cheese and egg – no one is going to give you a 50% discount on your lettuce pile. (But they may give you avocado in exchange. Hopefully without charging you $3.) And vegetarian and vegan restaurants are sometimes a bit more costly, although it seems about on par with what we used to spend for a nice, non-veg meal out.
Also true, vegan faux-meats and faux-cheeses can be more pricey than their animal-derived counterparts. Of course this varies wildly depending on brand or store (our local Safeway is anywhere from $1-3 more per “vegan item” than Whole Foods!) But if you use these in moderation, it seems unlikely you’d notice that much of an increase in your bill. Enjoy some faux-meat with your beans and rice. Yum. Plus, tofu, tempeh, plant milks, etc., are generally very reasonably priced. And there are a surprising number of “regular” foods that qualify as vegan. Think: tortillas, hummus, a lot of breads, some cookies, many chips, any bean or legume, grains, virtually any spice, all of the produce aisle…
I like to lecture people and want to ruin their fun.
As if lecturing anyone about their personal choices ever worked. It definitely wouldn’t have worked for me. I had to come to it naturally, of my own accord. Had someone come to me and told me I HAD to go vegan, I would have rebelled and had another bacon cheeseburger. (For real.)
I suppose the more time you’re with me and have to interact with me, the more I’m going to want to sneak in (OK, not always subtly) facts about where our food comes from (because how is this not common knowledge?!). But in general, I’m not going to mention factory-farming or the evils of the dairy industry unless directly asked.
This is, by the way, not true on online forums which are sometimes a free-for-all for vegans trying to outdo each other in vegan-awesomeness. I can’t stand that kind of judgement and I’ve had to leave some of those groups. And no one likes the vegan police.
I think PETA can do no wrong/I want to throw red paint on your fur or leather.
Uhm, no. Just no. Please don’t base all of vegetarianism and veganism on this one group. Thanks. Also, I couldn’t imagine ruining someone’s clothing just because I disagree with it.
I think I’m healthier than everyone else.
Hilarious! And completely not true.
I could probably go on, but you get the idea. Ultimately, I want to expand the dialog of veganism in an attempt to make it more main-stream and to help it be viewed as less extreme and more of a viable option – and maybe even less daunting or annoying. Feedback? Thoughts? Concerns? Let me know.