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I should be a vegan.  So should you. It’s better for your health, and better for the planet. And it’s kinder to animals, too. 

So what’s stopping us?

When I asked my Facebook friends why they hadn’t gone vegan yet, I got some very specific responses:  

            “Bacon, eggs, and chicken wings.” 

            “Sirloin, pork chops, and ice cream.”

            “Steak au poivre, coq au vin, and sole meunière.”

            “Chocolate! My life’s blood.” 

And, of course, there’s a joker in every crowd: 

            “Why would I want to be a vegan? Nobody gets out of this world alive. Pass the arsenic, please.” 

In my own case, it comes down to the three C’s—cheese, chocolate (because of the inevitable non-vegan additives), and chicken. I can’t imagine enjoying life without them. So maybe I should have a better imagination? I could, for instance, imagine the cruelty to animals that my diet encourages. But let’s face it—it’s easier to enjoy my lunch if I don’t.   

And my eating habits aren’t really all that bad. I almost never eat meat, and I don’t eat much dairy. I’m not a true vegan. But I’m vegan-ish

Isn’t that enough? 

Well, no. If everyone actually went vegan, The Vegetarian Times tells us, it would drastically reduce pollution and climate change, help prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, and eliminate a world of animal suffering.      

You’d think that balancing all of that against my desire to have a slice of pizza or a chocolate-covered Oreo would be a no-brainer. 

With this in mind, my dear friend Mark and I recently decided to try to go vegan. Not forever. (We know ourselves too well to try to pull that off.) But just for one day.        

Mark makes terrific vegan soups and stews.  I create great salads. We’d sussed out some good vegan restaurants in our area, and our fridges were well stocked with crudités and fresh fruit.

Just one entirely vegan day. How difficult could it be?   

Every day, we started out with good intentions. And every day we failed.  

I’d spend the morning noshing on fruit, or carrots with hummus. I’d lunch on curried cauliflower, or black-bean soup. Delicious! Then I’d arrive at work.  “It’s Deb’s birthday, Roz!“ a co-worker would announce.  “Do you want a piece of chocolate cake?”

Of course I wanted a piece of chocolate cake. 

Or I’d be a successful herbivore all day, until I stopped by my sister’s house. “Want to stay for dinner?“ she’d ask. “Larry is making three-fish chowder.“ 

I LOVE Larry’s three-fish chowder.   

Mark’s nemesis? Ranch Dressing. “And once you’ve had a little ranch,“ he told me,  “it’s easy to have some cheese. Before you know it, you’re eating a chicken wrap.”  

You wake up in the morning and vow: Today is the day! I’m really going to do this thing. You stay Plant Strong, Just Saying No to the many non-vegan choices that are offered to you. Then, one too-tempting nibble of this or tiny taste of that and—bam!—you’re merely a vegetarian. Or, worse, a carnivore. 

But I’m NOT a carnivore! I’m a failed vegan. Isn’t there a difference? 

Here’s today’s philosophical question: Is it better to have tried to be a vegan and failed than never to have tried to be vegan at all?

After months of attempting to achieve just one Vegan Day, Mark and I realized last Thursday that we’d actually done it.  We’d both managed to overcome all temptations and enjoy a day of nothing but delicious, nourishing plant-based food!   

We decided to celebrate our Vegan Day with a trip to the café at Barnes & Noble, where we’d enjoy soy milk lattes and read expensive art magazines. 

We grabbed a table, stacked our magazines thereon, and went to the counter to order our lattes. 

“We’re all out of soy milk,” said the barrista.

“You’re kidding me,” I said. 

“That’s impossible!” said Mark. 

If you drink Barnes & Noble coffee black, it tastes like sludge. But add a splash of milk and the day was shot to hell as far as being vegan was concerned.   

So what did we do? Because today is World Vegan Day. I’d like to say that Mark and I realized that we’d finally managed to reach our Vegan Tipping Point.  Wreck our Vegan Day by polluting our coffee with a dairy product?  Hell no! 

But I’m going to be honest. We ordered skim milk lattes. 

“Tomorrow is another day,” we promised ourselves. 

Today is World Vegan Day. I don’t know what you’ll be up to, but Mark and I will, once again, be trying to go vegan.  If only for a day.  Wish us luck.  

 

Join the conversation

  • John F Mensi November 6, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Throughout my adult life, I never ate foods solely because they tasted good. I always factored in the impact that eating them would have in other ways. In addition, I fully recognized the effect of cultural indoctrination in making our decisions with what we deem suitable to eat.

    Yet, like Roz, I had difficulty in relinquishing the hold some of these foods had on my life. I didn’t realize what a product of my environment I had become. I was fully prepared to surrender myself to the addiction-like relationship I was engaged in with foods I had already deemed unethical.

    A good measure of rationalization and feigned ignorance kept my food attachments safe — for nearly twenty years. However, I slowly began to take a skeptical view of my palate pleasure, which eventually led to a burgeoning sense of betrayal by a society that refused to accommodate for matters of conscience in regards to what it ate.

    So, although it felt like an unjustifiable leap into an extremist stance, I felt compelled to at the very least take a cursory examination into whether the reasons for veganism really were valid and based on scientific grounds, or whether veganism was just another feel-good philosophy created by well-meaning but naive idealists.

    What I discovered was that the basis for veganism was not only sound, but practical, reasonable, and feasible — feasible even though for nearly fifty years animal foods had been an integral part of my daily life. The paradigm shift happened for me because I couldn’t perpetually ignore the onslaught of overwhelming evidence in favor of veganism.

    Evidence of animal sentience and intelligence, of animal emotions and personality, and their right to live a full, autonomous life. Evidence of colossal animal industry inefficiency and pollution. Evidence of healthier food options. And even more important, evidence that people could change even deeply embedded habits which they imagine unthinkable to eradicate completely.

    When these realizations eventually overtook my sense of entitlement to certain foods and my fear of loss that would accompany their elimination, I decided (albeit skeptically) making the transition. I finally did and can report in retrospect that my fears were unfounded, that my choice was substantially supported by good reasoning, and that my enjoyment of foods remained unabated throughout the process.

    The conclusion I came to in the end was that some endeavors are so virtuous as to be worthy of serious consideration by everyone. And if what they find after thorough examination is a moral, wholly beneficial set of principles behind that which is being considered, then they owe it to themselves and also those affected by their food choices to make a change for the better.

    People can change. All it takes is time, effort, and insight.

    Take care of yourself, Roz. Good luck.

    http://www.whyveganism.com/

    Reply
  • Rebecca November 5, 2014 at 9:49 am

    A few years back, I tried to give up dairy products for a week. I suspected my chronic nasal congestion was caused by dairy, and I wanted to see if I could clear it up through diet. I couldn’t even make it ONE DAY without some sort of dairy!! At that point, I hadn’t drunk cow’s milk for years because it grossed me out, but cheese, butter, sour cream, ice cream?? Bring ’em on!!

    Then one day I happened to see an Oprah Show that featured Michael Pollan, Alicia Silverstone, and excerpts from the movie “Food, Inc.” I went to my local library and got a copy of the film, and at the same time picked up a book a friend had recommended – “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer. I watched the movie, read the book, and BAM! Over the course of a weekend, I not only gave up dairy, but forswore forever buying or consuming ANYTHING that comes from an animal. And, yes, my chronic congestion cleared up immediately, as did my joint pain. I even lost 28 lbs. without trying. It’s now been almost five years, and I can say this is the best thing I ever could have done for myself, and hopefully the rest of the world as well.

    All that to say – it is much easier to change your eating habits when you first change your mind. Finding the key that unlocks the door – that’s the thing. Best wishes, Roz – I hope you find yours!

    Reply
  • Roz Warren November 5, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Great comments, thanks! I’m going to check out vegan ranch dressing and chocolate. Mark and I both made it through the day — and for two additional days as well. Yesterday we were merely vegetarians. But today is a new day.

    Reply
  • Salvatore Monella November 4, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    I have to wonder what you people think being vegan is about. It’s not a diet. It’s not a fad. It’s about how we see our relationship to animals. Eating vegan is not the least bit hard. I am ex-hunter whose family owned a dairy farm. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

    For the record, chocolate is by definition vegan. When you see phrases like “milk chocolate”, that means that the chocolate has been adulterated with milk. That’s why it says “milk chocolate”, and not just “chocolate”.

    Cheese is something that we vegans eat too. Only our cheeses comebfrom various plant sources… instead of coming from animals who are repeatedly raped & impregnated in order to make them lactate, and have their children taken away from them (and killed so the babies don’t consume the milk).

    Going vegan is super easy when you see what your purchases do to animals. Go watch a documentary like Earthlings and tell me how much harder being vegan is.

    Reply
  • Alina November 4, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    I’ve been a vegan for a year and a half and have no intentions to ‘go back’. In fact, it’s easier than ever to be vegan nowadays with so many alternative vegan products, including ranch dressing, coffee creamers, ice cream, delicious meat substitutes like Gardein and Beyond Meat, etc. That’s even before you begin discovering amazing ethnic cuisines that focus on plant-based ingredients! Good luck to you on your 1-day vegan journey, I hope everything comes together for you and your friend!

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  • Tanysha November 4, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Its easier to be vegan once you realise it isn’t about you. Its about the animals. Its not a sacrifice you’re doing – giving up your choice to eat animal products, its a gift to those unfortunate animals who can’t defend themselves against the cruelty inflicted upon them. If you can do it for one day I challenge you to do it for a month. That’s all it takes to overcome the physical addiction to cheese (casein in dairy products is actually an addictive substance) after that it’s all in your mind.

    Reply
  • Sarah Brunton November 4, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Hi I’m a vegan and I just wanted to say well done on trying to go vegan I really hope you stick with it as it is really one of the best things you can do for you, the animals and the planet. Here’s a few links for you to check out to help you on your vegan journey. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ce4DJh-L7Ys , http://documentaryaddict.com/forks+over+knives-9636-doc.html , http://www.vegansociety.com/ , http://vegankit.com/be

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  • Jennifer Mora November 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    You can eat chocolate and be vegan. Go to http://www.foodispower.org and see the listings of fair trade and slavery free chocolate. There are two things that really could help you in this “game” of going vegan for a day, really for life, and that is first to learn about the sources of your “food”. You will not die for it. If you are serious about doing this exercise you will need to do it. The other is to reconnect with your natural disgust with animal products. Not all chicken or cheese is delicious tasting. I cannot tell you how many times I bit into gristle or rubbery tendons and grossed out or smelled rotting cheese and realized that this is how some of it is to be consumed, moldy and rotten smelling. Dr. Milton Mills’s presentation called Meat Eating and the Biology of Disgust is excellent.

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  • Kelly November 4, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I don’t think I could even make it for one day!

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  • Michael Harren November 2, 2014 at 7:05 am

    I applaud your efforts and persistence. I went through a similar process before I went completely vegan 6 years ago. I forced myself to watch the film Earthlings and told myself that if I couldn’t stomach it, I had no business eating animals or animal derived products. At that point, I kept on with the occasional slice of cheese pizza for a while, but could no longer separate myself from the violence I was participating in. Ugh, that sounds way more preachy than I intended it to, but it’s my preachiness at myself, I don’t intend for it to sound judgmental toward people who aren’t vegan. Anyway, during that period someone said something to me that turned out to be true: “eventually your tastebuds will catch up with your ethics.” Don’t give up, and maybe take some time to really research what happens to animals we eat and take products from. Good luck! OH! It’s really easy to find vegan chocolate.

    Reply
  • Angela Weight November 1, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Great piece! Congrats on one successful vegan day. My sister is vegan, a terrible cook and hyper critical of any food the rest of us make. I really hate when it’s her turn to host Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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  • Ruth Curran November 1, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    I am so in awe of your efforts. I love my dairy…cheese, cottage cheese, chocolate, butter, ice cream and don’t have the backbone to even try…. I don’t consider what you have done a failure :)!

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  • Leslie in Oregon November 1, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Doing what you believe you should do to the extent it is reasonable for you…bravo to you, Roz!! For me, it is a process, and I’m still at the stage of learning how to eliminate processed (including restaurant) food, minimize my consumption of meat, processed sugars and other carbohydrates, salt, “bad” fats and wheat and maximize my consumption of plant-based (other than wheat) food. That is requiring me (or my husband) to learn how to actually cook! AS far as ever becoming a vegan: I doubt that I will ever choose to go entirely without yoghurt or goat cheese. But who knows? My tastes have certainly changed already.

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  • Roz Warren November 1, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    I managed to spend World Vegan Day being Vegan. Haven’t checked in with Mark yet, but I’m guessing that he did too.

    Thanks for all the great comments.

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  • Cathy Chester November 1, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    I just tried gluten free and so far it’s not working out. But I’m eating healthy and cutting back portions and carbs. Vegan? No thanks, it’s not for me. But I admire you for doing it Roz!

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  • Elin Stebbins Waldal November 1, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    More power to you, truly I have great admiration for people who succeed with being a vegan. I changed a number of things about how and what I eat after I was introduced to a concept called “Eat Clean.” I can’t believe the difference it has made in how I physically feel, something I attribute to the near elimination of all cow related dairy, sugar and processed foods. Good luck with your endeavor to embrace being a vegan, even if only for a day at a time!

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  • Lois Alter Mark November 1, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    I totally admire your efforts and your intention but there’s not even a little chance I could do this.

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  • Sandra November 1, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    If being vegan is best, I’d give you, and myself, credit for any steps in that direction. Life is a process, and I keep trying to head in the right direction, even if I wander a bit. I’m mostly vegan, always vegetarian, and accept that in myself.

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  • Nancy Hill (@Nerthus) November 1, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Oh my God Roz, there is synchronicity in the air. I just finished a post about a weird veil between the worlds dream I had last night about trains and cows and slaughterhouses and sustainability… I set it to publish tomorrow as I’ve already published today for Nablopomo. I didn’t know it was World Vegan Day, but thank you for publicizing this! I was a non-red meat eater and nearly vegetarian for over a decade. I need to write about this. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for this post!

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  • Mister Wonderful November 1, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Wonderful!

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  • Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs November 1, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    I do love my veggies, but a vegan I could never be. Haven’t even tried. One reason: cheese! (I’m not all that hot for chocolate, but my husband sure is.)

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  • Roz Warren November 1, 2014 at 11:47 am

    As of this moment (almost noon) on November first, both Mark and I are still Vegans. Today. So far.

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  • Kim Tackett November 1, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I made it for three months a few years ago. My doc suggested it as a way to lose weight. I gained weight. I will opt for vegan-ish.

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  • Ellen Dolgen November 1, 2014 at 10:32 am

    I cut out the cream in my coffee last year – but I do like my yogurt and cottage cheese….BTW you can get chocolate w/o dairy in it!

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  • hillsmom November 1, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Miserable dreary, rainy, depressing day here, but made bearable by a crumbled sausage and egg, farm-fry. 😎

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  • Carol Cassara November 1, 2014 at 9:10 am

    As i always say, “what’s in a name?” LOL

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