Being vegan is great. In a perfect world, everyone should be vegan. The Earth would be cleaner, everyone would be healthier, and animals would be happy, but the world is an imperfect place and veganism is for the morally resilient, which I admittedly am not. My misguided attempt at being an ethical eater was doomed from the day it started, considering that my willpower is just as weak as my affinity for chocolate is strong. Discovering that my toothpaste contains glycerine, an animal product, did not exactly point my moral vegan compass in the right direction.
I decided to give veganism a go last semester after reading an article about the mistreatment of dairy cows. From my understanding, it would be easy given that I’m already a vegetarian; I figured that vegans are basically glorified vegetarians, and I love vegetables anyway. When I first began, I didn’t know how much I was underestimating the struggle of completely ridding my life of animal products, so props to you, vegans; you’re the real MVPs.
In the end I don’t regret trying it; I might even try again. I learned a lot about veganism and myself too, and I think everyone should at least give it a shot. So, for those of you who are curious about trying or maybe just want to live vicariously through my feeble attempt, here are some things I learned along the way.
1. I Really Love Dairy Products
While I really do cringe every time I think about those poor dairy cows, I also can’t imagine a world without cheese or chocolate. It was torture watching my friends bake and devour a chocolate cake right in front of my eyes. If I’m being honest, I think that was the moment I began to give up. It wasn’t all bad, though, I discovered coconut milk ice cream, my new favorite dessert, and I’ve been making efforts to slowly phase all of the dairy out of my life since then. Vegan cheese doesn’t taste anything like cheese, but it’s still pretty good.
2. I Really Hate Salad
I think that the vegan challenge would have been much less of a challenge if I actually enjoyed eating salad. It would have made eating out at restaurants so much easier. Salad and I have been enemies for as long as I can remember, and I thought that going vegan would give me an opportunity to make amends. Maybe they aren’t as bland and watery as I remembered. But after a few very unfulfilling bowls of lettuce, I decided I was right the first time. I’m never eating salad again.
3. Everything Good Has Eggs in It
Cake, fried rice, French toast; literally everything delicious. I no longer buy eggs from the grocery store but it’s hard to get them completely out of my diet. I’m sorry, chickens.
4. Being Vegan Goes Beyond Food
Animal mistreatment doesn’t end at the slaughterhouse, it’s also found in your toiletries and clothing. Most makeup, shampoo, and toothpaste are tested on animals and contain animal products, which meant that I had to replace everything in my bathroom. I didn’t actually do that, though, because I’m lazy and that would be awfully expensive for a one-week challenge (plus who wants to go through all the trouble of trying to find a good new brand).
#SpoonTip: Check out veganstore.com for a great list of vegan alternatives
5. Always Check the Labels
Like I learned from my toothpaste slipup, a lot of unassuming products aren’t vegan. It’s important to read every label for sneakily hidden animal ingredients such as vitamin B12 or cochineal, a very common extract used in red dyes (including food dye), which comes from processing cochineal bugs. That’s just gross.
6. People Won’t Know How to React
Every time I would tell someone I was trying to be vegan they would get this uncomfortable look on their face, followed by “You’re crazy,” or, “Are you going to lecture me about animal rights now?” After the unnecessary comments followed the not-so-funny jokes. Something about having a vegan friend makes everyone think they’re hilarious, saying things like “Wouldn’t your vegetables taste better with bacon?” Once a friend of mine served everyone dinner and on my plate he put a sole leaf of lettuce. It was hilarious…