I am usually introduced to people as “the vegan.” Not the mother, the writer, or the friend, but by the fact that I don’t eat animals or animal products. I get it. Vegan is the new “it” word and now you are actually meeting one. I am a majestic cheetah who you’ve read about in your school books, but now are face to face with one in real life. Well here are the ten things that I am sure you want to know.
My disclaimer: These are my answers based on my sassiness and personal experience. Like any group, I am but a mere member and I don’t represent everyone.
1. Why did you become a vegan?
I first tried eating a vegetarian diet my senior year in high school because I loved animals and I thought it would be cool. Unfortunately, I wasn’t doing it the healthiest way (I mean cheese fries are technically vegetarian), and I gave up after my freshman year in college.
Several years after college I was sitting at work, bored out of my mind, and my inner voice told me to go to PETA’s website. I watched their video “Meet your Meat” and instantly went vegetarian. Two years later I got accepted to intern at the Farm Sanctuary where I would have to abide to a vegan lifestyle so this was the perfect time to make that switch.
2. What is the difference between a vegan, vegetarian, and a plant-based diet?
A vegetarian diet is a diet which does not include eating animals. A plant-based is a diet that does not include animals but also does not include animal products like eggs, milk, and honey. Veganism is a lifestyle in which someone eats a plant-based diet, but they also refrain from using animals in any form such as wearing leather, using personal care products that are testing on animals, or attending forms of entertainment that use animals such as zoos.
3. Where do you get your protein?
Ask any vegan what question they get asked the most and I can promise you that it will be this one. You would think that people are dying left and right from protein deficiency that the mere mention of veganism causes people to become so concerned with my intake. My answer to this question is this: plants! One cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein, and most varieties of beans contain 15 grams of protein per cooked cup.
Did you also know that adult women only need, on average, about 46 grams of protein per day while adult men only need about 56 grams? I didn’t either until I googled it because I, like most people, don’t think about my daily protein intake. That is until you tell people that you are a vegan.
4. What do you eat?
I think the easier question would be what I don’t eat! I eat all the time and if I am not eating, I am thinking about what I am going to eat next. Beans, kale, apples, flax seeds, spinach, oatmeal, rice, tacos, pizza, popcorn, pasta, ice cream, cookies, donuts, mac-n-cheese, vegan chicken and beef, banana bread, tamales...hold on I need a snack.
5. Do you ever miss meat?
Nope! I currently live in Chicago which has tons of veg-friendly restaurants and grocery stores, and I am less than an hour away from every vegan form of my favorite comfort food. Whether I want vegan soul food or rice and beans, plantains, and tamales, I can either buy it at the store or make it myself in the kitchen.
6. If you are going to eat fake meat why don’t you just eat the real thing?
I choose not to eat meat. I never said that I didn’t like the taste of it. Plus have you tried “crabcakes” from Sophie’s Kitchen, vegan chicken from Gardein or a veggie burger from Hungry Planet? If not, try them, and you may start asking yourself, “Why am I eating animals when I could be eating these amazing plant-based substitutes instead?”
7. Do you only date other vegans?
There was a point in my vegan journey where I said that I would only date vegans. It just made my life easier. I didn’t have to explain why I don’t eat fish (“Yes, they are animals”), they understood why I read the packaging on everything, and when someone else is giving me shade about my lifestyle, I at least have an ally in my partner.
What I have learned about dating vegans are that vegans can be jerks too! Now when I am accessing a potential partner, a vegan is on the preferred list, but it is not a requirement. As long as they are veg-friendly, then that works for me.
8. Why aren’t you skinny?
I haven’t been asked this question directly, but I have had people make jokes that I must be sneaking and eating pork chops because there is no way that a vegan has curves like me. *insert eye roll*
The big vegan myth is that all vegans are slim. Because a plant-based diet is starting to become synonymous with healthy eating and because people (at least in America) associate healthy eating with being slim, it’s understandable that people would conclude that I too would be slim.
Personally, I did lose a ton of weight when I first went 100% vegan, but I was also breastfeeding my son and walking several miles a day while carrying him in an Ergo, so those three things lead to my weight loss. Seven years later, my body has gotten used to this diet so now I am at a weight that is healthy for my body.
9. Is your kid vegan?
The same month that I became pregnant with my son is the same month that I went vegan. For the first two years of his life I was a stay at home mom who was solely in control of his diet, and for those first two years of life, he was 100% vegan.
He is now seven; I co-parent him with his father, and he is in grade school. He eats burgers, eggs, and chicken. He also eats tofu scramble, vegan chicken, and almond milk. To him, it’s all food. He also knows that he is an omnivore and that mommy is an herbivore and we also have these really interesting conversations about why we love some animals and eat others.
10. Are you a perfect vegan?
Ha! I’m not a perfect anything so why do people (including other vegans) expect vegans to be? I have eaten things I didn’t realize had animals products in them. I have eaten things that have had some milk or eggs in them (this usually comes in the form of my son pushing a cupcake in my mouth telling me to try it. It is hard for me to say no to my son — or a cupcake). I do my best to live my life so that I cause the least amount of harm to animals.
Do I do a perfect job? No. Will I continue to strive towards doing better? Of course!