One of the greatest parts of becoming a part of the vegan community is how welcoming and friendly other vegans tend to be. We're all coming to the cause for different reasons, but we share a passion for animals and a love for the world around us.
Recently, I met fellow blogger Lindsay Wolf on the message boards of The Kind Life. Not only is Lindsay's Kiss Me, I'm Vegan! blog absolutely adorable, but I instantly felt like I could relate to her. And even though we barely know each other, she still agreed to answer the VTB questionnaire [complete with a Chicago Diner shout out!]:
VTB: What made you decide to go vegan?
Lindsay: It's a bit of a story, especially because veganism wasn't something I was seeking out at all at the time. I was happily living in the dark about so many atrocities going on around me, and it took a random scene from a film to jump me out of that place. Back in 2007, in an attempt to show me a crazy movie ending, my husband played for me the end of Fast Food Nation. It was the point in the film where cows in a slaughterhouse are forced onto the kill floor to be slaughtered for meat. I was an emotional wreck, my shirt soaked with tears, and I could barely control the shame and shock overcoming me, as I watched what was horrifically occurring onscreen - scared, innocent animals screaming out in fear and desperation, trying to do everything they could to save their own lives, were being violently killed for their flesh. In that moment, the lightbulb of my conscience lit up deep inside, and I knew in my heart that my life would never be the same. I realized that if I called myself an animal lover, I needed to mean it fully, and that meant no longer eating the flesh of animals. Boy, was I in for the ride of my life!
VTB: Was it a gradual process for you or an immediate lifestyle change?
Lindsay: It was definitely gradual. I started with baby steps - cutting out all land animals, but still eating fish, eggs, and dairy. After about a year, I decided to forgo meat entirely by giving up fish, but I was still very hesitant about going all the way to becoming vegan. How could I part with cheese? No more omelets? What about whipped cream?! Fear was a huge deterrent for me - I had already given up what I felt was so much that I was afraid to give up everything completely. Little did I realize what I would be receiving in return.
After a few months of researching a vegan diet, as well as learning about what dairy and eggs really are in terms of health and animal welfare, I decided to start taking vegan "breaks" - I would spend a day, or a few days, eating only vegan food. It's almost comical when I look back on those days - I was having a secret love affair with veganism! I was still so scared to jump into it completely, because I knew it would be something I'd have to do with 100% of me (as my dad likes to say, I'm a "hurricane" when it comes to my passions in life - once I decide to do something, I give it my entire focus and effort). But as the months went by, I started longing for the vegan days more and more. After simply dipping my toes in the waters of a vegan lifestyle, I was beginning to get hooked. By October 2008, I was a full-fledged vegan. And now, I can proudly say that I live as cruelty-free a lifestyle as I possibly can - I am vegan in all aspect of my life, not just in my dietary choices.
VTB: What sort of changes did you notice in your body and in your life from going vegan?
Lindsay: Well, I was super sensitive in the first few months of living vegan. It's really hard not to be, when you've chosen to live vegan as a way to honor animals. To me, it seemed like a completely hopeless situation at first - the realization that animals were being tortured, neglected, and abused, without me wanting them to be or being able to save them, all over the world and all the time. I would even say I felt sad about the whole thing for a little bit, BUT - the good news is that as I learned more about vegan cooking and animal advocacy, I felt stronger and more convinced that I could be the change I wanted to see in the world, as Gandhi so eloquently put it. There's something so beautiful that happens once you educate yourself enough to learn that the simple act of living vegan and sharing it with others can create positive change in the world for both animals and humans alike.
Physically, I would say I felt lighter, healthier, and had a lot more energy - but my biggest challenge when I first started was tackling eating healthy as a vegan (which can be an especially difficult task when you've fallen head over heels for vegan baking!). Now, after two years of living this way, I'm finally learning how to eat a balanced, healthy, wholesome plant-based diet. But it definitely took time.
VTB: What was the hardest animal product for your to give up eating? And have you found a viable replacement for that food?
CHEESE. Especially the stinky, old kinds. I was addicted. Literally
. I mean, cheese - and all milk products - by nature has addictive elements in it, because milk is designed to be a delicious, soothing, and nurturing food for a baby. So saying goodbye to cheese was really hard. But once I really took the time to think about the fact that I was stealing milk from a baby and contributing to the veal industry every time I ate dairy, I didn't want to be a part of it a moment longer. And yes, I have found more than one viable replacement thankfully! Daiya
vegan cheese rocks my socks. Dr. Cow
Tree Nut Cheese is the bomb. And I love me some We Can't Say It's Cheese
non-dairy spreads by Wayfare foods. Besides that, I make a mean
raw homemade cashew cheese.
VTB: What's your favorite vegan product or recipe?
That's like asking your soulmate what their favorite thing about you is! There are just too many amazing vegan foods and products out there! Hmm... For recipe, I would have to say Bryanna Clark Grogan's Breast of Tofu - funny name, but one AMAZING dish! You can find the recipe here
. I love it because it shows someone who has judgments towards tofu that tofu can be absolutely fabulous and comforting when cooked right. I'm even able to make a yummy gravy out of her marinade. For favorite product, I'd have to say Field Roast
sausages - they are absolutely amazing and can be thrown into almost any savory recipe.
VTB: How do family and friends feel about your choice?
Lindsay: My family was a bit weary at first, but here's the cool thing - since my going vegan, my mom and husband have gone vegan, my mother-in-law is almost vegan, my stepmom has stopped eating land animals, my brother is vegetarian, and my sister has stopped eating meat, fish, and eggs! I swear - if you keep being a positive influence to those around you, there's no limit to how much people may surprise you.
Friends were a little different - I had a few who took my choice to mean that I was threatening their personal way of living, and when they couldn't see that I was still the same, loving, happy person I always was and that the change I was making in my life had nothing to do with them, some of us had to part ways. But going vegan showed me that your true friends are the ones who won't allow their judgments to get in the way of a friendship. And it just so happens that many of my friends now are actually new ones I've made who are also vegan - I've found an amazing vegan community in both NYC and now here in Los Angeles that gives me so much support and love.
VTB: What's the craziest vegan recipe or product you've ever tried?
The Radical Reuben at Chicago Diner
in Chicago was by far the craziest dish I've ever had, in that it tastes JUST like a reuben. It was kind of scary, actually! But soooo delicious... :)