Turning Vegan When Making a Choice Not to Eat Anything that has a Face
The year was 1988. George H. W. .Bush became the 41st president of the United States. George Michael’s “Faith” was No. 1 in the Billboard top 100, while “The Cosby Show” was the No. 1 show on television, and “Rainman” was No. 1 at the box office. This was also the year that I went vegan. The way that both my twin sister and I felt that we should not to eat anything that has a face. In 1988 the concept of veganism was foreign to just about everyone in the world. When telling my parents that I was going to become vegan their first reaction was “what is that?” After explaining what vegan is and how different it was from being a vegetarian they both thought that it would be a phase and would last for two weeks.
My twin sister and I were born vegetarians. Our parents owned a vegetarian restaurant before we were born so for them to raise us without intaking meat was quite easy. However, during our childhood both my sister and I were on the heavier side. At the age of 11, I had heard about the concept of being a vegan in a “Teen” magazine. I researched what this actually entailed. I found out that being a vegan meant eating no animal flesh nor anything that was produced by an animal i.e. eggs, dairy, honey, etc. Ultimately I refer to it as not eating anything that came from or had a face.
For me, this transition was quite easy. Looking back I feel that I was destined to become a vegan before I knew what a vegan was. I never liked eggs and always took the cheese off of my pizza. I even used orange juice in lieu of milk in my cereal (I know sounds gross but delicious on non-sugary cereals). Though this transition was quite easy for my sister and me, it was everyone else around us who found this lifestyle change to be strange. Back then there was no local Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe’s in our hometown. The grocery stores did not have a “”natural foods” section nor carry milk alternatives. My mom had to order tofu from the small, independent vitamin store, along with powdered soy milk.
What I have come to learn over the past 33 years is that people usually become vegan for one of three reasons- health, animals, or the environment. There is no right or wrong reason for becoming a vegan- it is a personal choice. The good news is that if one chooses to become vegan or eat a vegan diet a few days a week, the selection and availability of grocery items and restaurants now compared to 33 years ago makes it an easy transition. What society used to think of as a vegan meal (brown rice, tofu, and vegetables) has grown to include just about anything one can imagine (vegan parmesan chicken, vegan broccoli beef, vegan mushroom risotto, etc.). Businesses are becoming aware of the change and have adapted their business models to include milk alternatives (coffee shops) and meat alternatives (fast food restaurants).
My daughters were both born vegan. They understand why they were raised eating items that do not come from animals. Both are old enough now to make the decision to change, however, they think for themselves and have concluded that eating anything from an animal is wrong and nothing that they want to be a part of. What I found to be the success of this thought process is honesty. From a young age my daughters were taught what an egg actually is and what is in milk. My parents taught my sister and I to look for certain “animal” words before we could read (such as lard or gelatin). In turn, my husband and I emulated what my parents taught me and we taught our daughters to look for keywords before they could read (eggs, milk, beef, etc.).
Though I feel the vegan lifestyle is the best dietary choice for me, I understand that being a vegan is not the best choice for everyone. However, incorporating more vegan items into a general diet can result in a healthier lifestyle.