I've been wanting to do a blog like this for quite sometime and having just watched "Earthlings", I am filled with the "piss and vinegar", so to speak, to do so. The purpose of this blog is to share my frustrations and triumphs as it relates to my everyday struggles with being a vegan as well as share delicious recipes and experiences with anyone who cares to read this.
Being vegan or some sort of vegetarian in South Florida is not easy by any means. Having opened it's first "mainstream" all vegan restaurant just last year, Palm Beach County is not exactly at the forefront of of the Vegan/Animal Rights movement. Miami-Dade and Broward Counties aren't quite the new age, "Green", tree hugging havens either, but I suppose due to their abundant populations are a step or few above Palm Beach County in their "vegan friendly" environments. The point is, vegans around my neck of the woods are extremely, grossly outnumbered. Until recently I was only friends with a vegetarian or two, and I certainly didn't know any vegans. Luckily, by some sort of miracle, my sister now joins me in the kingdom of herbivores.
Deciding to become a vegan was a decision I made about three and a half years ago when I decided to become a vegetarian for the second time in life. The first venture in vegetarianism was a choice of picking up on the right "trend" and "fitting in". Of course I cared about the suffering of animals but was I at all educated thoroughly on the matter as I am now? Of course not. I was 17 years old and I just wanted to be like two of my closest friends (one of whom also did it for trendy reasons, just like all of her other decisions in life; Safe to say, we are no longer friends) and I figured I could eat all the cheese and eggs I wanted to and there would be nothing wrong with that. Needless to say, this only lasted roughly 6 months before I gave into those carnivorous cravings, not to mention was in a relationship with a very controlling person who constantly threatened me if I did not drink milk (I have NEVER liked the taste of milk, blech!) and thought vegetarianism to be "unhealthy".
I always knew that vegetarianism would be something I would eventually revisit. I couldn't ignore my love for animals and the guilty feeling (or indigestion) in my stomach whenever I devoured a fried chicken sandwich. As a result, one year (2007) for my New Years resolution, I decided to become a vegetarian, but this time, it would be different. I started out by eliminating beef and pork from my diet and in the meantime started to research the healthy way to eat and live a vegetarian lifestyle. By the time I eliminated chicken and seafood about 3 months later, I had come to the conclusion that the only way to truly have a compassionate diet was to adopt a vegan lifestyle. I had been boycotting products tested on animals and fur and leather products when I was 16 years old, but giving up foods that I thought made me happy like cheese and ice cream?? (I am an emotional eater after all) Could I do it? I had zero support from anyone around me, many who thought my vegetariansm would be "just a phase" and my own boyfriend constantly putting down any new thing I tried, insisting I would fail (this ranged from losing weight to finishing college; what healthy relationships I had).
So one week I tried to go cold turkey, still not fully grasping proper nutrition, and spent way too much money at Whole Foods on food which most of ended up in the trash.
Three years later, here I am finally in a place where I understand my place in the vegan circle of life. I know that this commitment takes experimenting and baby steps for me to find my comfort zone. I learned the proper nutrition and I also learned that no human being is a perfect vegan and we have to pick and choose our battles as they come. I accept the fact that I will be teased and ridiculed for my lifestyle choice but as a result of this choice do not have a guilty heart and I will educate those who tease and ridicule when they decide they also want to make that change. I am married to an omnivore who supports all my decisions and who I hope will one day make that change as well. Being vegan makes me special and I love it!