9 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going Vegan
By: Sawyer Cecena
With the impending new year marking roughly four years since my vegan journey began, I recently started reflecting back to what my mindset on veganism had been like in those beginning stages. I personally grew up in a family of hunters and the concept of not eating any animal products wasn’t a thing I’d even heard of until adulthood. It wasn’t until I met my boyfriend that I’d even considered giving veganism a try. And although I’m glad I did, I’ll be the first to admit that there were several aspects of living an easy, cruelty-free lifestyle that I had to learn along the way. Below is my list of nine of those things that I wish I knew before going vegan. If you’ve got any to add, leave them in the comments below!
Did you know that scent is the sense with the strongest link to memory? Which is probably why every time I pass a KFC, I’m instantly hit with a craving for childhood nostalgia. At first, I felt guilty that the smell of fried chicken didn’t immediately make me queasy. But I realized that it’s okay to admit that we once liked these things – or even miss them sometimes.
If you hit up your local grocery store, you’ll find that fruits, vegetables, bread, beans, and rice are some of the cheapest items around. It’s possible to eat cruelty-free and affordably by sticking to the staples and treating the pricier items like meat and cheese alternatives as an occasional treat.
When I first met my already-vegan boyfriend, he got a good laugh when I reluctantly “tried” a vegan chocolate chip cookie and was surprised to find that it tasted the same as the ones I’d always made. Discovering that things like flaxseed and almond milk didn’t taste as scary as they’d seemed encouraged me to be a bit less hesitant about the new foods that I eat.
Nobody is perfect. I was two years strong when I accidentally munched down on an actual chicken strip I’d made for kids I was babysitting instead of the Gardein replacement I’d brought for myself. Gross, yes. But, not the end of the world.
Oreos? Vegan. Potato chips? Also vegan. Skittles? Yep… still vegan. I think this one speaks for itself.
I’d never put much thought into how certain food items are cooked in public places prior to veganism. That is, until pigging out on some french fries at a frequented fast-food joint and hearing a friend of mine mention that they fry their potatoes in animal fat! Remember that just because the food item itself may be cruelty free, that does not always mean it’s prepared that way.
Although cruelty free living is becoming increasingly popular, there are still some unfortunate misconceptions in the world. Be prepared to hear a plethora of unsolicited opinions about your diet from everyone you know. And I do mean everyone.
And that’s OKAY! No two taste buds are the same, regardless of what our diets are. Not liking the same trendy vegan options that everyone else enjoys does not make you a bad vegan or mean that you are doing something wrong. And hey, more for the rest of them!
I recently showed up to a friend’s potluck with a pot of mashed potatoes explicitly labeled as containing soy butter and almond milk. I heard a few hilarious reactions from a few fellow party-goers about my vegan mashed potatoes. But they promptly quit their complaining after trying a bite!