Cyra’s Handy “FAQs About Veganism” Sheet
* When changing one’s diet, it’s important to consider the health impacts. I’m not a doctor, so I do not have medical advice to share.
- What one puts into and onto one's body is a very personal choice, influenced by many many factors, including one's geography, cultures, health, philosophies, lifestyle, spirituality, economics, politics, and many more.
- There are so many different vegan folks and we have different reasons for practicing veganism, so I can’t speak for anyone else. For me, veganism is one of the many tools I use as I work to make the impact of my consumption and resource use less harmful and more helpful to others. Some folks working toward similar goals use different tools, and some folks who use similar tools, are working toward different goals. For instance, I share a more similar worldview and lifestyle with some people who hunt than I do with some people who are vegan.
- My relationship to veganism is unique to me, and if you would like to incorporate aspects of veganism into your life, you will have your own relationship to it. Enjoy!
How do I start?
- One size does not fit all! I found a method of switching to veganism that works for me. If you try a method that isn't working for you, feel free to try something else.
- I understand veganism as a journey, not a destination. In the mid-90s, I started replacing red meat, followed by all meat, and then slowly over the course of many years I replaced more and more animal products in my life and continue to make adjustments. Over time, my palate changes, my body craves different foods, and I have different access to vegan information, restaurants, and products, so the way I practice veganism changes over time.
- Other folks do veganism differently. I know folks who heard a compelling argument for veganism one day and the next day, they replaced all animal products in their lives and have been happy with that overnight decision ever since.
- Some folks choose to live a vegan lifestyle with permanent exceptions (for instance, dinner at the grandparents’, a ballet dancer’s favorite pointe shoes, honey, etc).
- Some folks are not vegan at home where they can source their food in a way that feels appropriate to them, but are vegan outside the home where it is harder to determine how food is being sourced.
- Instead of “eliminating” things from my life, I find replacements I prefer.
- Some alternatives are new processed foods meant to resemble non-vegan foods, while others have been around for thousands of years, despite being unfamiliar in the contemporary mainstream US.
- If you hated the veggie burger at your local supermarket in 1998, that doesn’t mean you hate veggie burgers, it means you hated that specific veggie burger. Different products are available all the time and sometimes I have to try a few to find the types I like (just like before I was vegan, there are some foods/brands I like and some I don’t).
- People often become disillusioned with veganism after they mistakenly think it will be a great way to stop ordering delivery pizza every night, when in fact, going vegan and not ordering pizza every night are two different lifestyle changes, so trying to do them both at the same time, may not work for everyone.
- If I ordered delivery pizza every night, I would find vegan pizzas that can be delivered.
- If I currently spent very little on food, I would not walk into a specialty store and put every fancy thing in my cart. Instead, I would check out books and websites about eating vegan on a budget.
- If I had a full carton of milk to eat with my cereal this week, rather than tossing it out, I would finish the carton of milk and then when I go to the store again as I normally would, purchase a milk alternative to try with my cereal the following week. If I didn’t like one milk, then I would try another.
- If I ate a sandwich for lunch everyday, I would look into vegan sandwich options.
- If I was a “meat and potatoes” eater, I would look for that style of vegan food, rather than all of a sudden deciding I’m a salad person (and vise versa).
- If I loved boots, I would look for vegan boots, rather than switching to sneakers (and vise versa).
What should I eat?
- There are so many different vegan options, it’s impossible for me to list individual items you might like, but if you have specific things you are trying to replace, I’m happy to help, so ask me, but be specific! For example:
- If you are looking for sandwich fillings that aren’t soy or gluten based, I might suggest loading up on locally grown organic veggies at the farmers market, a nut or seed butter, different types of hummus, or avocado.
- If you are looking for a gluten-free protein bar without nuts or chocolate, I might suggest The GFB: Oatmeal Raisin.
- If you want an all-vegetarian local sit-down lunch spot in boystown in Chicago, I might suggest Chicago Diner, but if you are in the same neighborhood at 1am with your cousin who wants meat at every meal, I might suggest Pick Me Up Cafe (or searching https://www.happycow.net/).
- If you are looking for vegan groceries in Madison, I might suggest Willy Street Coop.
- Whenever changing your diet, it’s important to consider the health impacts and make sure to get the nutrients and balance you want.
- Consulting a vegan doctor and vegan nutritionist may be healthy options.
- There are books and websites that suggest vegan meal plans, recipes, and foods for different nutrients.
- Since I’m not a doctor, I don’t have any medical advice to share.
What will people say?
- As more and more people incorporate veganism into their lives, it becomes harder to stereotype vegan folks, but there are still many misconceptions about veganism.
- Vegan folks deal with questions and comments about their choices in different ways.
- If someone is clearly trying to get a rise out of me, prove how superior their lifestyle is (or terrible mine is) based on an article they just read, or if they dramatically exclaim things like “I could never do that,” I don't take it personally, because I am comfortable with my choices.
- I believe that me just being my happy vegan self is powerful, so I need not be dragged into other folks’ insecurity, anxiety, or aggression.
- If someone seems genuinely interested, I share with them the amount of information I choose, just like I would discuss other areas of my life.
Whether you incorporate aspects of veganism into your life or not, I hope this was helpful
in thinking about how each of us can make different choices in the way we consume!