Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The 17 year vegan

This past January was my 17th anniversary of becoming vegan.

The final step for me was Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream. I had one more pint of it and then was ready.

For vegans, the world was completely different from today. For starters, there was no vegan Amy's mac-n-cheese. There was no Eat Pastry cookie dough and no Mercy for Animals. No vegan food blogs and no cool kale tshirts. There might have been some type of vegetarian festival happening somewhere but certainly not in my part of Virginia. (In fact, there was an annual animal conference in Norfolk, VA!)

The cowards who abuse and torture animals were still pretty much free to do so. It's only been in very recent times that felony charges have been brought against workers in the animal production world for cruelty to animals.

My reasons for becoming vegan were not radical, although many thought my decision to become vegan was radical. I simply had learned enough about what happens to animals that made me realize that I did not want to be part of anything that involved harming another living being. My thought process became one that surrounded the idea that every action I took would be one that would do as least harm as possible to other living beings.

I asked a lot of questions. I went to a lot of potlucks. I read a lot of books. Believe it or not, there was no internet (in my life at least) at that time. My learning about how to be a healthy vegan came from interacting with healthy vegans.

It's not perfect. And it grows. The vegan I am today is different from the vegan I was back in January of 1996. I know that although Pepsi and potato chips are vegan, I don't want to consume them all of the time. I have learned that veganism is a path, and my path of veganism does not have to look exactly like yours. I have learned that people go vegan for different reasons, and those that remain vegan for the most part are those who chose veganism because of the animals. I have learned that my veganism threatens other people, even though it really doesn't have to. And one of the big things I have learned, and experienced, is that becoming vegan is like becoming reborn in the food world. I have enjoyed so many different types of foods that I doubt I would have even considered trying had I not become vegan. The African Peanut Stew I made the other night is a great example.

I learned that I can get along with pretty much anyone out there, that we all have more in common than not. I also learned that harsh words, judgements and unkind actions towards me are unacceptable. One does not have to agree with me or even like me, but I don't give permission to those people to treat me any less. This includes everyone. I am not a Focus on the Family type of vegan or activist, meaning that I am not going to attack you just because we disagree. I am also not going to simply shut up. 

So at 46 (very close to 47) I am just as excited to be vegan as I was when I was 29 (yes I was 29 at one time). I  can only imagine what the next 17 years will bring for veganism and for animals who are tortured, beaten and live in fear just to become food. Or those who live their entire lives in a cage so that humans feel better about the medicines they pump into their bodies. Or the animals who die every day just because some coward has the capacity to kill them, usually without any consequences.

Meanwhile, I will continue on a path of compassion, tolerance, love and bridge building. I will continue to try to be a voice for the voiceless, all of the voiceless. I will continue to learn. And I will definitely continue to engage other in this world of blogging.

Thank you for reading. Will you please pass the kale?


  1. 17 years is awesome!
    Even in the six years my family and I have been vegan things have changed!! Its crazy! Although I cook about 80% of our food from scratch, I'm not going to deny it isn't nice to now be able to walk into any major supermarket and buy something quick and easy for the oven, or to at least have the choice to scoff some junk food fro time to time.
    Great blog BTW xx

  2. Happy 17 years. I pretty much learned how to be a vegan through internet & blogs so it is hard to imagine starting without it, kudos!

  3. Beautiful post, Dan. It made me inexplicably happy.