How do you know someone’s a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you!

Somehow, being mindful about what you eat has turned into a joke. Being vegetarian or vegan sometimes means wearing battle armor against the mocking words of others who use words like “hipster” and “millennial” with a sneer. Those who laugh at your decisions, make assumptions about your life, and try to point out what they see as flaws in a plant-based lifestyle. There are many paths to changing your diet, so I want to share mine.

For six months, I’ve proclaimed myself as a vegan. For two years and five months before that, I stated I was vegetarian. The declaration of my diet follows offers of food I no longer eat, my declining, and the puzzled look I’d get for saying no.

“I’m vegetarian” or “I’m vegan” would often come across as an apology, even though not a single part of me is apologetic for my choices.

Let’s take a step back.

Starting in high school, I’d get migraines once a week. They came and went for the next eight years, becoming debilitating. I would wake with a headache, become nauseous upon sitting up, and know the rest of my day would be spent at home. This kept me from weekend plans, nights out with friends, and set-aside time to spend with my significant other. In college, I’d end up missing classes. Years later, I would leave work early to have any chance of being able to drive myself home before the pain turned my vision into a blurred, impressionist landscape.

In 2013, a pregnant coworker began suffering from migraines. When reported to her doctor, she said his answer was automatic – stop eating pork. She did, and her migraines subsided. We chatted afterward, wondering what made pork the culprit – what was being done to our food to mess with our bodies in this way? I brought this finding to Matt and discussed my own battle with migraines.

Matt and I became vegetarian October 1, 2013. Within a month, my weekly-to-bi-weekly migraines faded from my life.

Sweet potato sushi at Genki Ya in Boston, MA.
Sweet potato sushi at Genki Ya in Boston, MA. | December, 2013

I knew changing our diets would be a challenge, but I had no idea how our lives would change. We realized our favorite restaurants no longer had options for us outside of side dishes and salads. Meals out with friends became everyone fussing over what Matt and I could eat. Our diets became the focus of our lives. We had to learn new recipes, how to cook differently, and find new restaurants to frequent.

We visited Seattle in November of 2013 and Boston the following December. Traveling brought a new challenge of not having your own stocked kitchen or the knowledge of local places to go to. We embraced the opportunity for adventure, and ended up finding lovely spots in both cities.

Over the next two years, we had constant questions from family and friends.

So do you eat a lot of salad? Yes, but I happen to like salad.

What will you eat for the holidays?  Everything else (mashed potatoes, cranberries, stuffing made without meat, cornbread, etc.).

But where do you get your protein? From things most people eat every day like potatoes, beans, spinach, nuts, peanut butter, seeds, tofu, etc.

Dinner at Napasorn Thai Restaurant in downtown Orlando, FL.
Thai noodles with tofu, fried veggies, and curry at Napasorn Thai Restaurant in downtown Orlando, FL. | March, 2014

Over the next two years, I became more and more aware of veganism. I started looking into it because I was nearly there – I had been told I was lactose intolerant when in high school and had adapted as such. I avoided milk, ice cream, and took Lactaid pills that supplied my body with the enzyme required to digest dairy. As quickly as my lactose intolerance had come on, nearly every diary product, no matter how processed, began making me sick. The list even included cheese and cream cheese. I was miserable.

So I started reading and listening to ideas on veganism, the human body, and nature in general. The more I learned, the more these things struck a chord of truth with me.

Then came the information about the meat and dairy industry. I couldn’t get through meals without feeling a pit in my stomach. The horrors of the food industry began to lead into the fashion industry and my world view began to shift.

On March 13, 2016, I turned twenty-seven and made the switch to veganism.

Birthday Cake at Dolce Vegan Bakery & Cafe in Atlanta, GA.
Birthday Cake at Dolce Vegan Bakery & Cafe in Atlanta, GA. | March, 2016

I again had to re-learn how to cook for myself. The inconvenience of vegetarianism made me laugh – how easy it had been, if only I had realized! I’m still finding places to eat out at, still learning new recipes, and still get anxious about figuring out what to eat while traveling.

I’m working at living a more conscientious existence with not only what I eat but with the items I purchase such as makeup, clothing, and home goods.

My journey to veganism started with a health concern, with wanting to take my life back and live as fully as possible. Now I have so many reasons to continue forward with kindness and awareness for what I eat, wear, and decorate my home with.

These past six months are only the beginning. I plan on sharing reviews of vegan-friendly restaurants in the Seattle area (I’ve found it quite difficult to find any reviews or lists myself) and ethically made clothes, make-up, and other products that I’ve fallen in love with.

Will this blog be strictly vegan? No. But my life includes veganism in a big way, so it will be a frequent topic.

Anyway. That’s my story and if you’ve hung on this long, thank you and I appreciate your attention.

Now go eat your vegetables.

KMH

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