A proud failed vegan!

Hey, everyone, I’m excited to be over here at veganish.world! I have been on this veganish journey going on five years. I am a married 38 year old mother with an almost seven year old son in Knoxville, TN. I had previously gone vegetarian when I was 16 and tried veganism off and on. This was in the early 2000s, and it just wasn’t easy. It meant fries and salads at restaurants, and even the salad was off the menu if I wanted to stick to being fully vegan. Morningstar Farms products all had milk and egg in them still. Gardein didn’t exist. The tofu choice was a box of Mori-Nu silken tofu, I’d never seen nutritional yeast in person (I had heard about it “surfing the web”), also I’d heard of Veganaise but in my part of the world, these weren’t accessible. So I threw in the whole veggie towel by 20 and never thought I’d look back. However, I still had a soft spot in my heart for veganism so if I could I’d check out vegetarian/vegan restaurants. In 2012, I moved to Knoxville, TN with my now husband. Our apartment was only a block from a grocery co-op. Finally, I saw nutritional yeast in person! I even bought some once I tried the vegan mac and cheese at Soul Vegetarian II in Atlanta, GA and decided to make it at home.

So the next few years involved me experimenting with vegan cooking without any pressure of being vegan. We started to reduce our meat consumption with no goal in mind. My husband and I aren’t picky eaters and neither of us have to have meat with our meal. In early 2018, I made the decision I wanted to give veganism another shot. Actually, I wanted to give being mostly vegan a shot. I thought I’d still eat meat and other animal products for special occasions. I remembered how hard veganism was and how the pursuit of perfection made me abandon the whole thing. It made me realize simply because I might not be able to be “perfect” didn’t make reducing animal consumption not worthwhile. My husband was fine with the change at home, he was free to eat whatever he wanted anywhere, but he didn’t want to bother with buying his own non-vegan products so he was vegan at home. I didn’t throw anything out, we ate whatever was left, and the last thing to go was milk for my kefir. I was a little afraid my kefir grains would die without dairy milk and for a while, I just wasn’t okay with that. One day, I decided I was okay with that and braved switching them over to homemade soymilk. Those suckers are still alive today! I make kefir every week and usually have soy kefir smoothies on weekdays.

A few months into my veganish journey, and my husband decided he didn’t want to eat meat again. A few weeks into his vegetarianism, he accidentally got a beef and cheese chile relleno at work. He somehow missed the beef part. He struggled with eating it even though he’d only been vegetarian for a few weeks. He aims for vegan when possible but working in an office setting, sometimes vegetarianism is more feasible. He’s had a few imbalanced meals along the way. Bosses bragging about all the “vegan” options when it’s rice and non-starchy veggies, possibly sauteed in butter, at the office lunch meeting has happened a couple of times. I guess they think we vegan/veganish eaters survive on all carbs and little protein! These days he keeps nuts and protein bars in his desk drawer.

As far as my child goes, he is mostly vegan. He is autistic and has no concept of veganism or animal welfare. I do not control what he eats at school, and while I pack his lunch, I do not forbid any food. I can’t imagine tasking school staff with that anyway. He doesn’t like dairy cheese anymore, while he does love vegan cheese. He likes some vegan chicken nuggets but the more realistic vegan chicken products aren’t his favorite. He likes Impossible burgers, Morningstar buffalo chik’n sandwiches with Follow Your Heart vegan blue cheese dressing, and vegan corn dogs. He likes all kinds of tofu. He loves Silk, Kite Hill and So Delicious vegan yogurts. He has always loved beans. If we go to an Asian restaurant, I can count on steamed edamame being a hit. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Yves vegan bologna sandwiches, DIY Lunchables with Ritz crackers, vegan cheese and vegan pepperoni, and mac and cheese with Daiya cheddar sauce, peas and Lightlife bacon are staples for school lunches. We make sure to include a good source of protein with every meal, which we also do for ourselves, and give him a comprehensive kid’s multi-vitamin at night. Here’s where I don’t worry about being a “perfect” vegan. His current liquid vitamin has non-vegan vitamin D3 and I’m okay with that. I don’t think it’s going to make or break anything. I think it’s more important to find a vitamin that he enjoys taking!

So while today I’m more vegan than I thought I would be in 2018, I still don’t feel the need to strive for level 10 vegan. I know real life happens and there will be times when vegetarianism makes more sense, and I don’t feel the need to scrutinize waitstaff about ingredients. If I consume a trivial amount of lard or whey, it doesn’t take away from the major dietary changes I have made. It doesn’t undo anything. As far as I know, all the grocery store items I buy are vegan, or at least big picture vegan, and 99.5% or more of the time, we eat at home. I think that’s great and I don’t see the need to stress myself out any further! And with this outlook, I have easily maintained being 99.5%+ for almost five years! I think the .5% or less has allowed me to not throw the towel in so why change what’s not broken?

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