Being vegan can be a very controversial topic. It’s also very confusing to many people. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to answer the questions, “Well, if you’re a vegan, do you still eat chicken? what about eggs?”, I respond “no”, and the questioning continues on and on. Until something clicks in the prosecutor’s mind that makes them believe that the only thing I eat are leaves. The topic can get very frustrating, especially if you’ve been on some type of predominantly vegetarian diet for several years.
I must admit that sometimes I avoid telling people that I’m vegan, so I can avoid similar conversations like the one above. Sometimes it’s just easier to be referred to “the girl who eats weird food”, or “the health nut”, without having to explain the extensive parameters of being a vegan. I could talk about diets and food for literally days, so explaining my diet during my 45 minute lunch break at work does not allot me enough time to even finish my carefully prepared vegan cuisine. What a waste! I guess what I’m trying to say is that you have to learn how to choose your battles. I tend to only preach veganism to people who genuinely seem interested, and to brush off the foreseen argument with people who are looking to somehow skew my views on how I live my life.
What many people do not understand before investing in veganism is that it’s not only a diet, but also a lifestyle. If you’re truly trying to avoid using animal products, then there are several other factors than what you’re going to have for dinner. You have to begin to question other things like, what company produced the shampoo you used this morning, and do they test on animals? And, if your shoes or other clothing items are made from animal products, such as leather. These all can be easily overlooked, but should be taken into account considering the path that you are considering.
PETA’s website (PETA.org) is an excellent resource for individuals looking to pursue a cruelty-free lifestyle. Here’s a link of a listing from PETA’s website for fifteen cruelty-free companies. I’ve shopped from a handful of these product lines, and would highly recommend them to everyone. Not only are their products cruelty free, but they are also just really nice high quality products. So, get out there, and treat yo self.
If you’re unsure about a product being cruelty free, then check the labeling on the product. It will usually say something like “Product not tested on animals” or it’ll have a little picture of a rabbit with some words about being cruelty free. There’s also normally a 1-800 number on most products that you could call. PETA also has a list for companies that do test their products on animals, so don’t worry about calling if you don’t have too. The work is already done for you, just check out this link. Here you will find several downloadable PDF files with listings of companies who do not test on animals, who do test on animals, and companies who are working for regulatory change.
Food product packaging can also be very misleading. I encourage everyone to read the labels and nutrition facts on anything that you plan on consuming or putting on your body. If you don’t know what something is in the ingredients list, then that’s probably a sign that you shouldn’t be eating it. My recommendations are to eat foods with five or less ingredients, eat plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, and to cook 90% of your meals at home. Switching from pre-packaged prepared foods to home cooked meals is a challenge, but it will be well worth it, trust me. Here’s one more link from PETA.org. It’s a detailed list of ingredients that you will find on nutrition labels that are not vegan friendly.
I hope that this is useful, and provided some insightful information while on your journey into veganism.