One Year Later

This month makes one year that I’ve been vegan. I have stuck to it completely, unlike this blog (oops).

There were a couple accidents in which I inadvertently ate something non-vegan, but I don’t count that as it was not my choice. It has gone by so quickly. How could I not continue to be vegan. I am actually somewhat of a selfish person. However, being vegan is probably the most unselfish choice I have ever made.

I can’t foresee ever choosing to eat animal products again. I’ve been exposed to far too much information. I overloaded myself with information on purpose to keep myself motivated. If I were to eat animal products, I would not be able to forget the connection between my food and the animal’s life. No taste is worth it.

I have been an unhealthy vegan for this first year. My goal for this year is to continue being plant-based of course, but to also focus on the “whole-foods” part that some follow. We shall see.

Vegan Popularity and Social Anxiety

When you find out about something new, you start seeing it everywhere. It’s hard for me to figure out sometimes if it’s because you’re looking for it now, or if you are seeing it more because it’s more popular, and hence, the reason why you found out about it in the first place. Veganism is definitely an example of this for me.

I had heard about vegans before this year of course, but it wasn’t until I went vegan that I began seeing it everywhere, and from what I’ve read and experienced, it seems that the amount of those interested and living it is increasing.

It is very difficult to find information on the amount of vegans in the United States and beyond. I’ve read that the Generation Y (Millennials), which is the generation I belong to, has more vegans than generations in the past, and I’m sure that’s true, but I can’t find any hard evidence.

Recently, I attended a documentary premier (PlantPure Nation) in Houston. Houston, fourth largest city in the U.S. with a population of over 2 million, and over 6 million if you count the surrounding areas, sounds like a rather populated city. Imagine my surprise to attend this movie premier, showing in only one theater, on only one screen, in the center of town, at a perfect time of 7:30pm, and to not have that movie theater packed. It sucks really, for lack of better words, and also as a way to really describe the suckiness of it.

So what is it? Does Houston really not have enough vegans to fill a theater of 300 seats? Or is it something else?

I have a confession. I’m afraid of other vegans and of new people. I’m afraid to be an activist. I’ve never been the type to make my presence known, as I don’t want to offend anyone, and try to live as peacefully and aware as possible. However, I wore my recently bought, and first, vegan t-shirt, in hopes that the t-shirt would make it easier for me to engage in conversations, but alas, it barely worked.

For one, there just wasn’t many people there early. The theater has a bar area, and there was only a couple people in and out before the movie, so I just sat and talked to the bartender (not about veganism, but just everyday conversation). For two, once a few people came around, I just didn’t know what to say. My t-shirt got me one conversation, but it was short-lived. In general, I have difficulty initiating and holding conversations with a new person or group of people, regardless of whether we have the same beliefs.

So, yes, the theater was half-full, and yes, no crowd showed up early to really have a stance or a true networking event, but was it because people were afraid like myself to let their presence be known? I hope so. I hope there are more vegans out there in my amazing city that are just as afraid as me to connect with others in real life. But how the hell do we connect if we’re so afraid?

My first t-shirt, by the way, says “Vegan Mofo” across the front in big letters. Not sure why, but that is the shirt that spoke to me above all the other choices on Etsy.

Obsession

Are vegans obsessed with veganism?

When a person becomes vegan, whether it be overnight or over a period of time, a new world opens up that you did not know existed in any dimension. It’s literally a loose connection that is suddenly connected and ignited like twisting an inactive lightbulb into it’s place only to have the entire room illuminated, allowing you to see things that you didn’t know were there before the light appeared. It’s probably like finally hitting your stride in mediation, from what I’ve read.

It’s fair to say that a “before and after” event such as this would be life-changing. Once the connection is truly made, a feeling of time lost appears, in which a thirst for more information occurs. It’s like learning how to live daily life again, in a kind of way. Especially if your life is centered around eating like mine was and is still. It is kind of a big deal!

You have to relearn what to have for breakfast, lunch, supper, and snack. You can’t just grab the same ole, it has to be completely new because most products have a touch or more of animal products. You can’t just pull into a hole-in-the-wall restaurant or drive-thru or your previously favorite restaurant and feel confident that you will be able to eat more than a basic salad and raw carrots and celery as your main and only dishes (I’m talking to you B-Dubs).

So, others may view you as being obsessed, because you must eat, live, and be vegan as it consumes your daily life in every way. Especially if you are a passionate person. I wanted to be as agreeable as possible, and not offend anybody as I always have been, and how I thought I would continue being in my early stages of veganism. But the more I learn about veganism, the more I want to tell the world and share the knowledge and hope that others can make the connection as well. The problem is, many are like me and know that once you make it, there is no return, therefore they put it off as much as possible or completely. I get it. I did the same. But look at me now, an “obsessed” vegan.

Perfection

It’s okay to not be perfect. I’ve eaten food thinking everything was vegan, and then later found out that it wasn’t. Or, sometimes decisions are made only to be questioned later.  This has most often occurred at restaurants, of course.

On one of my first trips back home for a wedding, I ended up eating at a Mexican restaurant at which I frequently visited for years before becoming vegan. I ordered the vegetable fajitas and asked them to not cook it with butter. I ate it, along with plenty chips and salsa. I consumed 8 ramekins of the salsa at a minimum because I was so hungry from not being able to eat much at the wedding (and from all the free wedding drinks)! I later found out that both the beans and the salsa (the salsa!!!!) were drenched in lard. Who puts lard in salsa? Therefore, I went out of my way to avoid eating any animal products at the wedding only to have a PIG FAT FEST afterwards.

Another example: I ordered a veggie burger when I was out eating in Houston with my visiting family. I asked questions ahead of time, and found out I couldn’t eat any appetizers due to the milk and eggs in the batter of all of the fried foods, but could have the burger (no mayo) and fries. I patiently waited for my burger and fries, getting hungry, watching everyone eat a bunch of appetizers like fried pickles and fried mushrooms. Finally, all of the main dishes started coming out. But then, the owner came to the table to let me know that the burger bun and the spinach aioli dressing that goes on it were both not vegan. The burger bun was made in house (so it was the only bread available) and contain both eggs and milk, and the aioli was made with butter. She said they were remaking the burger without the aioli, but what did I want them to do about the bun situation? I wavered for a bit because at this point I was so ready to eat, and I had “burger” on my mind. I ended up getting the bun. I beat myself up about this for a while, but all I can do is bring my own bun the next time I go to the restaurant.

Another example: I went to a crawfish boil for the last time this year. First point to make is that a strict vegan wouldn’t go to a crawfish boil. This has been a difficult situation to avoid as I’m from Louisiana. I’ve been to about 8 crawfish boils since becoming vegan, and it’s been terrible and it sucks, and I’m now trying to quit as much as possible. I obviously haven’t eaten any crawfish or vegetables boiled with crawfish, but it’s the mere fact of participating in this ritual. Anyway, I’ve learned to request that the veggies be boiled before the crawfish, that way I can eat more than just crackers at the crawfish boil. So at the last boil I went to, my friend boiling went through all of the trouble of boiling the vegetables first (even though he only was boiling one sack of crawfish). My partner even had picked up what she thought was vegan sausage for the boil. I looked at the ingredients, saw there was egg in it, so I threw it away (because nobody else wanted it of course). Boiling is a long process, so we all sat around, drinking, talking, and waiting. Finally, the veggies were ready! I even had brought peanuts so I could have hot boiled spicy peanuts! I went look in the pot and my friend had put regular sausage in the pot with the veggies 🙁 I was incredibly sad to see it, as I thought my friend would have understood why that was not ok, especially after he saw me throw away the non-vegan sausage. Again, I had to make a decision. I ended up eating the veggies, but I won’t ever allow that to happen again. I’m going to watch everything going into the pot. When he boiled a few weeks after, I stayed home. Again, I will try my best to not go to crawfish boils as much as possible.

I do consider myself a strict vegan, and I know situations demonstrated above in which I bended would be considered not strict (and not vegan). Veganism isn’t a cult or religion or the law. You can decide how you want to live your life and you shouldn’t have to fear the vegan police. I do the best I can. There have been times when I haven’t asked whether fried restaurant foods (like fries, tator tots, mushrooms,etc.) are fried in the same fryer as meat and seafood, because there is nothing else for me to get on the menu that would be satisfying. This is definitely an ethics issue that I struggle with. Sometimes I might mess up, but overall, my “little protest” is saving the lives of animals and reducing animal exploitation overall. Before becoming vegan, I was eating an abnormal amount of meat.  One thing I will never bend on is eating a slab of meat. That will never happen on purpose.

Some vegans are very aggressive and I get it. Once you go vegan and do research, it begins to pain you about all of the violence against animals in the world and you become less tolerant of the mass murder around you. However, at the same time, this aggressiveness can scare off potential vegans from becoming vegan. This is honestly the daily struggle.

Veganism

I live a vegan lifestyle. Wait, don’t leave yet! I know it’s the dreaded word. I used to feel the same way. I heard the word vegan and I shut down and ran away. I couldn’t understand how someone could be so dumb to deny themselves delicious, life-altering, and deeply satisfying food. It was mind-boggling and I felt sorry for their lack of understanding of living a good life.

I have long considered myself a foodie, and others also have recognized my knowledge and passion for food. When I first made the change about three and a half months ago, my coworkers and friends laughed because surely I must be joking. Once they realized I was serious, they kind of backed away because surely I must be a having a mental breakdown or have been abducted by aliens or influenced by a cult. Finally, after a few weeks, it was accepted, but understood by everyone that this was a quick experiment, and it would be over soon, even with my insistence that I didn’t feel that way.

My family has taken it the hardest, but it’s understandable as they live in and I was raised in Southern Louisiana, where animal-based food is ingrained and celebrated in the culture. I moved to Houston over 6 years ago, so they blame the “big city” life for the change. My grandpa said my little personal protest won’t help anything, and how can I turn my back to the way I was raised, but he and other family members have now accepted it, even though they don’t understand it.

Every since my grandpa mentioned it being my “little personal protest” I realized he’s right. I know he meant one person can’t affect change, but I have to admit that I haven’t been extremely vocal about it (in order to not offend anyone or make anyone feel uncomfortable). However, it gets harder literally every day to hold in my relatively new realization and not tell the world about it in hopes that I can affect a greater change, even if it is just one person.

Hence, if this blog can reach just one person through a google search of a random topic, and change that person, this would be the ideal purpose of me taking the time to write this blog. It takes a lot of buildup to make the change, but once the connection is made, it can’t be undone (or rather, you don’t want it to be undone).

Refresh Reboot

This blog is for those who have a desire to continuously grow, learn, and develop on their life journey. This means to question everything, be open to change, and hold ideas to be theories rather than absolute facts.

This is what is means to refresh and reboot. Continuously refresh your beliefs and experiences, and if an idea strikes you so incredibly…you then can reboot.