The Cruelty-Free Review

A review of compassionate products, foods, and recipes

The Transitioning Vegetarian-A retrospective

on April 11, 2012

I am going away from reviews this week because I wanted to share some thoughts on my transition from vegetarianism to veganism. A few weeks ago I told Robert that I wanted to be vegan by my one-year vegetarian anniversary in July of this year. It sort of came out of the blue, but it was inspired by some recent recipes I had made that were really, really good and convinced me that veganism was not out of the realm of possibility. Since then I have been gradually decreasing my animal by-product intake.

Today while at lunch with my favorite vegan Barb at one of Denver’s best veg/vegan restaurants, City O’ City, I had my real ‘Ah-Ha’ moment. We ordered seitan wings (a mix of BBQ and Buffalo) to start and a seitan ‘sausage’ and pepper pizza with Diaya. As we discussed our summer plans (protesting the circus together in her town, leafleting for Mercy for Animals in mine), I realized that I wasn’t hesitant about taking my bites. A year ago if you had put faux wings and pizza with faux meat and cheese in front of me I would have nibbled a little bit to get the taste and make sure I liked it before digging in. Not today. Thanks to the gradual phasing-out of non-vegan foods, I tucked in eagerly and wasn’t a bit surprised that I loved what I was eating.  And that’s because those foods that I thought I would never eat are normal to me now.  Tofu ricotta? Bring it on! Seitan burritos? Better than Chipotle, IMHO.

I know that there is a misconception that all vegans/vegetarians are snobby and carry a holier-than-thou attitude. And that is very true of some of them. But coming from a situation where I live with an omnivore, I think that I have developed a more respectful approach to cooking for one. If Robert wants meat, I will make it for him. I might make a comment about how his steak looks like a sheep heart, but still, I’ll make it. Likewise, he respects my decision and doesn’t protest to being a guinea pig when I decide to try something new.  He knows why I’m veg and why I want to go vegan, and he would be the first to admit that some of the vegan meals I have made are pretty damn good (Hint: I will be posting a recipe for Vegan Habanero Key Lime Cheesecake soon that he couldn’t get enough of!) This has made it much easier for me to make the change. If he decides to follow suit one day, then great! Otherwise, I will never think less of him or think that I’m a better person because of what I eat. He quit eating chicken cold turkey (no pun intened) about two years ago after reading Temple Grandin’s book Animals Make Us Human and her depiction of the treatment of factory-farmed chickens. He uses only cruelty-free non-food products. He 100% supported my decision to leave biology class during the cat dissections. He adores our cats. And don’t get me started on what he thinks of Michael Vick. He loves animals. Guilt-tripping him won’t work, and I don’t believe it is an effective method to try and convince others to choose a plant-based diet.  I am proof that you have to discover it on your own terms and in your own time.

I still have a ways to go before I’m completely vegan. I am not a wasteful person so the foods I have already purchased that aren’t vegan will be used. But I am really looking forward to what new vegan favorites I will discover and I truly hope that I can reach my goal. Vegetarianism and veganism is not about depravation. It is about realizing that with and open mind and empty stomach (channeling some Iron Chef there!) good animal-free  food is still good food-even if it is made with a product that sounds an awful lot like Satan 🙂



2 responses to “The Transitioning Vegetarian-A retrospective

  1. Barb says:

    What a great, thoughtful post! (and not just because you say I’m your favorite vegan…)

    I’m reminded of one day you and Robert were at the house, we were going to the big cat rescue then you and I were making a vegan dinner (it was Robert’s first, and maybe yours?), and you said something to the effect of “I’m too picky about food, that’s why I could never be vegetarian!” 🙂

    And I totally agree with what you said about gradual changes, that’s how I did it and it’s totally what I recommend to anyone who asks.

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