Becoming Vegan is a Learning Process

It can be hard to go on the Internet to interact with other vegans, especially when vegans have a habit of scrutinizing one another. We tend to rate each other on a scale of “1 to how vegan are you?” Since I became a vegetarian in 2015, I have been on what seems to be a never ending journey of learning about how animals are treated, what I can do about it, and what I shouldn’t be eating. Because I want to create an environment where vegans can be honest with one another about their learning experiences, I would like to share some of mine.

This past summer, I stayed at my parents’ house in California for about a month, which meant I wasn’t buying my own groceries–I would like to note that this was before I had decided to fully go vegan. My parents had stocked the fridge with graham crackers, milk chocolate, and marshmallows, and I began indulging in a daily (very fattening) habit of eating smores everyday. It wasn’t until I spent time with one of my vegan friends, who offered me some vegan marshmallows, that I realized marshmallows may not even be vegetarian. Sure enough, I had been consuming gelatin through these marshmallows for the past month, and no, I haven’t eaten a marshmallow since.

Another learning experience I had came recently while browsing through my newsfeed on Facebook. This viral article kept popping up, titled something like “10 Everyday Products You Didn’t Know Weren’t Vegan.” Several of the items I already knew weren’t vegan, such as gummy bears, but then, somewhere on the list was candles. I was less surprised to find that some candles contain beeswax, but I was disturbed to find that some also contain animal fat. The article recommended purchasing soy candles. Well, lesson learned: I will be buying soy candles from now on.

My most recent vegan learning experience came today while I was wrapping up my previous blog post about Starbucks drinks. One of my favorite drinks to get at coffee shops is a chai latte. I realized that chai lattes were not mentioned on PETA’s list of go-to drinks and found myself a bit concerned. I decided to Google the drink myself, and when the link to the Starbucks’ page for a chai tea lattes’ ingredients popped up, I was dismayed: Chai tea lattes contain honey. While honey is a debetable topic among some vegans, I choose not to eat it (Try agave; it’s awesome!), so no more chai tea lattes for me.

In conclusion, I am not the perfect vegan, and I never will be. I am not ashamed that I have made mistakes, and if you’re vegan, and you’ve made mistakes, neither should you be. I have friends that have been vegan, or vegetarian, longer than I have, and I have found myself informing them about certain items as well. So at any stage in the game, we are susceptible to error. The least we can do is try to make a difference, and when we find out we have made a mistake, move forward.

The featured photo was taken by Climate KIC. Find more of her work at unsplash.com.

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