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Thread: I want to go vegetarian/vegan, have a few questions

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    Cavy Slave Kenna18155's Avatar
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    Question I want to go vegetarian/vegan, have a few questions

    Hey there! I've been thinking, and I've decided that I want to become a vegetarian or, optimally, a vegan. Tonight I went to a dinner theater, and was served a small chicken with mashed potatoes, etc. I realized that, because of me, an animal died. If I hadn't attended that show, a bird may not have lost its life. This realization, among others, have given me a strong desire to become a vegan or at least a vegetarian. I have a few problems to face, though.

    1) My main problem--my family. I come from a very, let's just say, rural family. They go hunting all the time, and have always made fun of me for not wanting to (for obvious reasons). I don't even want to think about the backlash I'll get for being a vegan or vegetarian. Of course, I'll deal with it if it means saving animals. I don't live with my dad full-time, so I may even be able to semi-conceal my choice to go vegan, and he may not notice. I think my mom would be pretty okay with it, so I don't worry too much about that.

    2) Animal product substitutes. I LOVE homemade hot chocolate. However, it uses milk. Cake mixes use eggs. So on and so forth. What substitutes can I use to eliminate or at least reduce my use of animal products?

    3) Diet changes and transitioning. I can imagine transitioning to a vegan diet will be difficult. I have been drinking milk very rarely and drinking water instead, so no milk might be semi-easy. What tips can you give me to lowering and eliminating my consumption of animal products and meat? Will I need any special diet supplements or foods to get the nutrients I won't be getting from animal products?

    4) Exceptions. Does the no-animal-product rule apply strictly to all, or can there be exceptions? For instance, if I have a pet hen that lays eggs, is it wrong to use the eggs? I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

    5) RECIPES! Please link to your favorite vegan recipes!


    Thank you in advance. Any additional tips or info you can supply is greatly appreciated.

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    Cavy Slave dani_starr's Avatar
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    Re: I want to go vegetarian/vegan, have a few questions

    Oh yay, another person is considering joining the dark (enlightened) side. You are welcome, we have (vegan) cookies! (Such as oreos and nutter butters- which are one this awesome "I can't believe it's vegan! list http://www.peta.org/living/food/accidentally-vegan/ )

    I've been vegan for about 4 years now, and was vegetarian for a couple years prior, so hopefully I can help I also did it for animal rights reasons, so I can empathize with how you feel.

    I'm just going to answer part of your questions now, as I am super tired from work, but I will go into depth and answer more stuff later tomorrow.

    Milk is one of the easiest things to eliminate from your diet. The most popular are soy, almond, and coconut milks, but there are also hemp, cashew, rice, etc. You can typically find at least soy milk, if not almond milk as well, at Walmart, Target, King Soopers, Safeway, etc (depending on where you live). Whole foods, Trader Joes, and Vons as well, but typically it's cheaper at Target (usually has a 2 for 6 sale) and Walmart.

    For cereal, drinking, smoothies, hot cocoa, and desserts, vanilla/plain/sweetened is the way to go. If you are making something like mashed potatoes, unsweetened is the way to go. The dollar tree by me carries cartons of unsweetened soy milk, and some even carry "Just Mayo," a vegan mayonnaise.

    A good first step might be seeing if your mom would mind getting a carton of soy/almond/coconut milk for you to try. Don't be discouraged if you don't like a certain one, there are tons of options and you are bound to like one. None of them are "gross," though, I'd say. There is an AMAZING "egg nog" (it's called "soy nog") by So Delicious and also by Silk that is out right now (I found it at Whole Foods and at Target). It's soooo good!

    You can easily replace a non cow dairy milk listed above for homemade hot chocolate. If you use a premixed hot cocoa blend that contains milk, just use cocoa powder and sugar instead.

    This brings me to to touch on the surface of your 4th question. There is no one rule that everyone must follow. In my opinion, it's all about reducing suffering.

    I buy the cheap bleached sugar, flour, (that could be bleached with bone char) etc. and things that say "may contain: eggs, milk, shellfish, etc." (which is mostly to cover their butts in case someone with a food allergy gets sick anyways). Animals aren't being slaughtered for bone char to bleach sugar and flour, and it's far better to make veganism seem easy and convenient, then to be a purist. My co worker refuses to buy something unless it says certified vegan. I believe this hurts the whole veganism cause, as it makes it seem hard and inconvenient. That .01% of possible animal product is not the reason why animals are being enslaved and slaughtered for human consumption. Buying a pretty much 99.9% vegan product is far better than not only boycotting the animal based products, but also boycotting the 99.9% vegan products, as it would show there is no demand for such products. If I go out to eat somewhere and order a veggie burger, I ask for no butter,cheese or mayo, but typically, I leave it at that. The bun may have traces of animal ingredients, and the veggie patty may have traces of dairy and eggs, and just be a vegetarian patty. But how does it help animals as a vegan, if I refuse to order (and therefore show a demand for) the only veg option on the menu, due to possible traces eggs and dairy? I also don't ask if my fries are fried in a separate frier at a fast food place, as typically they are not. How does it help animals if I won't order something due to possible contamination of a non vegan item from frying in the same oil? It just makes veganism seem hard, and inconvenient.

    As for having a pet hen laying eggs, that's up to you. It's definitely not defined as part of veganism, but it's certainly far better than eating eggs from "free range" factory farms. It's all about reducing suffering. I will tell you though that vegans who refuse to eat eggs, but keep hens as companions, crush up their eggs so the hens can eat them for the protein? Or is it calcium? It's something that they lose when they lay an egg.

    Something else that you may or may not be aware of, is that veganism is a lifestlye, not just a diet. You do your best to avoid animal products, entirely. For me, this means buying cosmetics, house hold cleaners, tooth paste, deodorant, etc. that is not tested on animals (such as cute guinea pigs . I don't worry too much if something says it's vegan ingredients or not, but will buy something that has something like moroccan oil over egg whites if it's advertised on the container.

    Some easy to find brands that are certified cruelty free:
    Laundry Detergent- ECOs (Earth Friendly Products), 7th Generation, and Method (Target generic brand)
    Household cleaners- Earth Friendly Products, GreenWorks, 7th Generation, and Method
    Deodorant- Tom's of Maine, Mitchum (doesn't say cruelty free on the packaging, but is listed on the http://www.leapingbunny.org/indexcus.php )
    Tooth paste/mouth wash- Sensodyne, Tom's of Maine, HELLO brand (target carried it, not sure if they still have it)
    Make up- E.L.F, Hard Candy, Wet N Wild, etc.
    Face wash/acne stuff- Alba botanicals is awesome
    Body wash/lotion- anything from Bath and Body Works store, lots of other brands, just look for "not tested on animals, certified cruelty free, bunny logo, etc.)
    Shampoo/conditioner/hair care- Organix, Paul Mitchell
    Contact solution- Clear Conscious (this is the ONE thing that I haven't got in awhile, and get the bad brands of (like Renu or Opti Free, or generic walmart brand :/, just because I forget every. single. time I go to whole foods and I didn't like it last time too much. My sister uses it though, so it probably is just me. If you wear contacts, I may be a hypocrite, but it's far better to get one item that could/probably is tested on animals, then to not be vegan at all because you can't stop using one product. I feel bad, but contacts are obviously important, and I plan to switch, once they make a better formula. )

    The only vitamin that you can't get (or at least, it's pretty darn hard to get unless you are eating a ton of B12 fortified foods) is B12. It's easily bought at natural food stores. Everything else can be acquired through a good diet. A multi vitamin is always good as well though, in my opinion.

    That's just the tip of ice berg, definitely not drop everything cold turkey (pardon the pun) over night as that is definintely a great way to get sick. I'll write more tomorrow.

  3. "Thank you, dani_starr, for this useful post," says:


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    Cavy Slave Kenna18155's Avatar
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    Re: I want to go vegetarian/vegan, have a few questions

    Wow, I never realized there were so many foods I already eat that are vegan! Your post inspired me to do some research and label-checking, and it surprised me how many things use animal products. I checked, and Burt's Bees lip balm isn't vegan . I'll try to give it up, but my lips get horribly chapped to the point of major pain, and BB is the only balm that helps. I'll try to drink even more water than I do now and see if I can stop using it.

    I really think I'm going to go through with this. I used to love the frozen pizzas you get at Walmart. Today I heated one up... I couldn't eat more than a few bites before I felt like I'd throw up. I truly think I'll drop meat permanently from now on. I'm still unsure about animal products, but I'll do my best to use as few as possible and none if I can.

    I still face the issue of my parents, though. I can really see no way this will go over well with them. I just know I'll

    a) get made fun of
    b) be told it's "just a phase"
    c) be told a vegan lifestyle is "too high-maintenence/expensive"
    d) be told it's unhealthy

    Ugh, what to do...? Do you have any tips for talking to my family about this? Any way to at least figure out their opinions on vegetarians or vegans before I bring up my decision?

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    Cavy Slave Kenna18155's Avatar
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    Re: I want to go vegetarian/vegan, have a few questions

    Update: After some thinking, I may have found the way to talk to my mom about it. I've always been pretty skinny and overall unhealthy. A few years ago, my mom mentioned possibly trying a gluten-free diet or exclusion diet to see it it helps. I did research and found that vegan diets are actually healthier than ones that include meat and dairy. Perhaps I could introduce the idea as a way to eat healthier?

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    Cavy Star Fay's Avatar
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    Re: I want to go vegetarian/vegan, have a few questions

    I can't recommend things to eat because I don't currently live in the USA but what I would suggest is to start by becoming vegetarian. Get yourself familiar with your options as a vegetarian and get used to those changes. It will also be easier for those around you to get used to the idea of you not eating animals which will make transitioning to vegan seem less extreme to them. Once you're comfortable with those changes becoming vegan might be simpler and less overwhelming. That's not to say you can't go and be vegan straightaway but it might be easier to take out one thing at a time out of your diet.

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    Cavy Slave jinxie's Avatar
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    Re: I want to go vegetarian/vegan, have a few questions

    Family - Honestly I would tell your loved ones your decision and leave it at that. People will try to "discuss" things and argue with you about things they obviously have not researched and it can become a big deal when it really isn't. Sometimes it is best not to humor them with a response. They need to know you are serious and there is no way they will change your decision. I am from a family of carnivores and I dont judge others for their choices, I just pick and chose what I can eat and apologize if I can't try something. I will still discuss with family about deer hunting etc. even though I personally would not hunt deer myself. My family shockingly accepted my choice better than I thought they would. They actually go out of their way to accommodate me now (which I always tell them not to). It's complete strangers that find out I am vegetarian that seem to have more of a problem with it (haha).

    As far as vegan rules go I am not a vegan, so can't give the best advice but that it is up to YOU to decide what you want to eat and use. The true vegan rules are no animal byproducts AT ALL. I would do the research about the ethical reasoning for these products and see if it is in line with your views. Honey is stored by bees to keep them alive during the winter. Most factory-style bee farms will kill off most of the population before winter. That said, I personally eat a teaspoon occasionally of local honey from a bee-keeper to help with my immune system and allergies, and in the future I want to own some free-range chickens. This is my personal view however and I am in no way saying one is right over the other. You decide for yourself.

    I would also personally stay away from mock meats at first, turning vegan/vegetarian is an awesome time to expand your palate and enjoy so many new flavors and vegetables and grains, mock meats are really imitations and won't live up to your expectations especially this early. Although the morningstar spicey black bean burgers are awesome with salsa and lettuce on top. I never knew I even liked black beans until I became vegetarian. Heck, I never even knew I liked spicy food until I started putting peppers in everything.

    Since I am not vegan I have found it really easy to get all my nutrients without even trying (i keep my food journal and the numbers always come out good). I know vegans have a bit more work involved but I have considered it for years. I think a lot of vegetarians end up going vegan in the end so you may find it easier just to start out vegan I don't know. I use dairy as a crutch sometimes and I wonder if it would be easier if I had just started out vegan. Hope some of this helps you!

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: I want to go vegetarian/vegan, have a few questions

    I can help you with recipes if you need some good ones! My son is allergic to dairy and for a while couldn't have egg either, so I have a tried a lot. My favorite vegan cheese is Daiya, but I would wait at least 2 weeks before eating it so you don't compare it to regular cheese. It makes good grilled cheese and pizza, but only the shreds.

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    Cavy Slave Kenna18155's Avatar
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    Re: I want to go vegetarian/vegan, have a few questions

    Making progress!

    I'm slowly weaning myself off dairy and eggs, as well as meat. At school, I normally gobble down my chocolate milk, but I only drank half yesterday. Today, two sips and I was done. I've started getting fruit juice as well and drinking it instead. I unfortunately had to eat some pulled pork today to get the minimum 3 food groups so I didn't have to order a la carte. (Too expensive for my family.) The only vegan items on my plate were broccoli and apple juice, so I had to eat s bit of the pork .

    However, I'm very proud of myself! A local restaurant has chicken noodle soup that I usually jump at the chance to have. My mom texted me today asking if I wanted any... I said "thanks, but no." I DID IT! Their soup is (was?) seriously like my absolute favorite food ever, and I turned it down!

    Hopefully my turning it down will help when I decide to talk to her about my choice. I hope so, that is.

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    Cavy Slave LoveMyHerd's Avatar
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    Re: I want to go vegetarian/vegan, have a few questions

    Good job MaKenna! Your making progress! I'm doing the same things!

  11. "Thank you, LoveMyHerd, for this useful post," says:


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