I have made a couple of posts on my blog related to being vegan. If you want you can check out Toronto vegan restaurants, picnic, or bakeries. But I’m not a vegan, my best friend however is. So I thought she would be the perfect person for one of my “interviewing an expert series”. You can check out the other two – about Disney and Sephora on the blog.
Anyways, since Nora has become a vegan I’ve spent a lot more time checking menus to see what options they have for her and reading up on her beliefs but also hearing the way people talk to her about it. Throughout all of this I’ve noticed there are a lot of ridiculous things people say. So I can only imagine how much worse it is for her.
But I know most of that is rooted in misunderstanding. So she’s here to clear some of that up and hopefully educate a few people. You can leave any questions about any of this below.
Without further ado – here’s Nora:
How did you become vegan?
My sister went vegan first and encouraged me to look into it. She recommended I watch Cowspiracy, and from there I went into a vegan-documentary-spiral. Once I saw the footage of animal cruelty on factory farms and actually sat there and processed it, that was it. I have never looked back since!
What was the hardest part about becoming a vegan?
The hardest part was/is social scenarios. Non-vegan/vegetarian-friendly restaurants can be very awkward. Also, in general it’s difficult when people get weird about it. Most people in my life are super chill and accommodating, but every once in a while someone feels the need to get defensive out of nowhere (usually its strangers or people I have just met).
What was easier than you expected?
I transitioned from meat-eater to vegan almost overnight (I tried not to waste anything I already had in the fridge), but I was really surprised at how quickly the cravings for meat and dairy went away. For me it was less than a month, and I didn’t miss dairy ice cream or anything else. I can probably chalk that up to all of the amazing vegan alternatives that are out there – coconut milk ice cream, dairy-free pizza, vegannaise… yum. Also, finding vegan and cruelty-free makeup is much easier than you would think!
How do you eat healthy?
I’ve never been one to eat super healthy or pay a lot of attention to nutrition, and that didn’t really change when I went vegan. I am what they call a junk-food vegan. But luckily, a lot of the quick options for meals when I’m out and about or on campus are healthier than regular fast-food. My go-to meals at school are tofu pitas and chickpea curry, which are probably not not healthy.
How has the cost impacted you?
For me, the cost is about the same. Some vegan alternatives like coconut ice-cream can be more expensive than their dairy counterparts, but all-in-all it pretty much evens out. You can definitely save money if you eat healthy and make meals with beans, rice, lentils, etc. or spend a lot by splurging on all the novelty items like fancy cashew cheeses. I would say that I’m pretty much in the middle and spend about the same as I did before.
Are there any controversial foods or products that you struggle with? (i.e. oysters, honey, silk, etc.)
In short, not really – I still avoid oysters and honey despite having originally had some ethical dilemmas over them. It’s really no big deal for me to cut out those products completely, so I do. Although, I was in a situation recently I was at a restaurant where the only item on the menu that could be made almost-vegan had traces of honey. I was hungry so I got it anyway and only felt a little bit guilty.
How did the transition go with your clothes?
The clothes transition was slower than the food transition because I don’t like to waste things. I don’t really see any benefit to getting rid of the wool items that I had from before I went vegan, so I still wear them. I don’t purchase any non-vegan clothes anymore, but I’m also trying not to buy any new clothing in general (only used – it’s going okay so far and I’m saving money).
There was one instance where I felt I had to get rid of an item of clothing. I had a pair of Blundstones for several years and I really liked them, but after watching videos about the leather industry I couldn’t bring myself to wear them anymore. I gifted them to my mom, who luckily has the same size feet as me, and bought a pair of vegan Doc Marten’s, and I love them.
What are the most annoying things people say to you about being a vegan?
“I could never go vegan!” What do you even say to that??
Same goes for, “I could never give up cheese,” and the classic “Where do you get your protein?”
What are some common misconceptions about being vegan?
Definitely that vegans are deprived of delicious food! I eat food that I love every single day, and I don’t miss non-vegan food at all because there are so many amazing alternatives. Also, that vegans are always very health-conscious. As I mentioned before, health was not my priority when going vegan and I still indulge… a lot.
I think another misconception that I’m a noticing crop up more and more is the idea that veganism is a sort of fashion statement, or that it’s just trendy. I can’t speak for everyone but that’s definitely not what most vegans I know are in it for.
What are your tips to anyone who wants to become a vegan?
Definitely if you’re on the fence, watch Cowspiracy (on Netflix), Forks Over Knives (also on Netflix) and most importantly, Earthlings (free to watch on YouTube).
I also recognize that I am extremely lucky when it comes to friends and family’s support with my dietary choices, and not everyone has that. Luckily, there are so many resources available online that can help coach people through those tough conversations with loved ones, and really any other info they might need. I would recommend Bite-Sized Vegan as a place to start, but YouTube is full of resources (just please stay away from the weird ones who only eat raw food or bananas).
That’s it, I’ve been really enjoying asking my friends about different topics that they’re experts on. I’ve got a few more of these in the works so they’ll be back soon. Again, if you have any questions for Nora about anything she mentioned then leave it below! Thanks for stopping by.