In May of 2015, I made the decision to become a vegetarian. Little did I know that this would lead to consistently being asked, “Why did you decide to stop eating meat?” This past August, I took this decision one step further and decided to become vegan, which made people not only question my decision even more (I mean, how am I supposed to live without cheese?) but also become a bit concerned (e.g. Am I getting enough protein?). So, here are four of my most frequently asked questions as a vegan:
“Why did you stop eating meat?” I stopped eating meat when I was 21 because I became aware of factory farming. I ate meat my entire life, although I was never a big meat-eater and often questioned how I felt about eating cows, especially because I grew up with horses (How are cows and horses that different?). However, I had concerns that no longer eating meat would negatively impact my health. The year before I became a vegetarian, nevertheless, I went to Vans Warped Tour 2014 and encountered one of PETA‘s tents (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals). PETA brought factory farming to my attention, as well as the unethical treatment of animals that occurs during meat production. After a year of deliberating, I said no to eating meat.
“Why did you stop consuming dairy products?” If you are aware of PETA, you know that PETA pushes veganism. Why? Because PETA recognizes that unethical treatment of animals goes beyond meat production but also occurs in dairy production and during animal testing. When I chose to become vegetarian, my initial plan was to go vegan after one year of not eating meat, but like many people do, I struggled to give up cheese, eggs, and most chocolates (there are vegan chocolates out there! :). However, the decision not to go vegan haunted me for those years, especially as I read information from articles by other animal rights activists. I felt guilty for choosing to fulfill my desire for cheese, for instance, rather than prioritize the betterment of animals around the world.
“Are you meeting your dietary needs? How is your health?” Yes, I am meeting my dietary needs, thank you very much. Because veganism forces me to read labels, and to be aware of what I’m consuming, I am more knowledgeable of the food I consume than I ever have been before. As someone who also experiences problems with hormonal imbalances and acid reflux disease, since I have gone vegan, I have seen improvement with my overall health, which includes a total disappearance of migraines and perioral dermatitis, a significant decrease in acne (I now only get a blemish here and there), a decrease in nausea and stomach pain, and more consistent menstruation cycles. My hair is also the longest and healthiest its been in years, which is just a bonus, and also an illustration of the fact that I am definitely getting enough protein (Guess what? Your hair is made of protein :).
“What health and beauty products can you use?” This is the toughest question because I feel this is the area where I fall most flat as a vegan. When it comes to general hygiene products, like shampoo or toothpaste, as well as beauty products, such as makeup and styling gel, I purchase products that are cruelty-free and free of animal products. However, I fail as a vegan when it comes to getting sick. Most over the counter pills, such as DayQuil or Tylenol, as well as many antibiotics, contain gelatin. Generally, I try not to take medicine anyways, because my body would be much happier without the negative side effects they can cause, but sometimes I become so ill that I do not have a choice. If anyone has any suggestions of how I could bypass using such products when I have a fever, for instance, please let me know in the comments.
If you are considering going vegan, or were just curious about the crazy diet fad that everyone’s been trying out, I hope this informative. I hope to write more posts that investigate other commonly asked questions about veganism in the future, such as, “Where can vegans go out to eat?” Please leave comments with any questions or ideas that you may have. I look forward to reading them. 🙂
The featured photo was taken by Brooke Lark. Find more of her work at unsplash.com.