The Definitive Guide To Why I’m Vegan (+ An Announcement!)

Although I’ve written about veganism here and there (Stress-Free Vegan Travel) I’ve never discussed it at length. I’m writing about it today because I’m launching a new vegan site for non-vegans. How does that work? Read on …

I also get tons of questions from non-vegans as to why I’m vegan so here’s the skinny (double entendre!).

Over the years my thoughts have changed tremendously. In the beginning I wanted everybody to be vegan. Save the animals, save the planet, save yourselves! Mostly it was save the animals because if air quality and waistlines are any indication we’ve already ruined the planet and ourselves.

Catalyst #1: A Girl

It all began when I was 19 and dated a vegetarian. I’d never been exposed to that culture before. In actuality, I don’t think I ever met a single vegetarian in my previous 19 years of living. And I was a staunch meat eater. “I need my protein! It’s natural! We have evolved to eat lots of animal products. This is healthy.” Sad misinformation, which I still hear to this day.

And so I began incorporating more vegetarian meals into my diet. Some of it I didn’t like at all (most veggie burgers). Some of it I loved (lots of veggies!). Some I was surprised about (Oreos are vegan).

Note: There is actually a lot of accidental veg*an food. Most of it is junk food, of course. Note #2: when you see “veg*an” it means vegan or vegetarian.

Over the next few years, while I still wasn’t veg*an, I came to appreciate it more and more. While I didn’t necessarily like how certain organizations would go about spreading their message, I liked the general message. Whether we like it or not, factory farms are horrible. Factory farms are where you get most of your animal based foods unless you run your own little family farm. According to the WorldWatch Institute, as of 2006, 74 percent of the world’s poultry, 43 percent of beef, and 68 percent of eggs are produced in the diseased squalor of a factory farm. If you live in North America or Europe (and other “First World” areas) the numbers are much greater and increasing every year because we utilize small farming far less than less industrialized countries.

Knowing all of this, and seeing video of the torture, grossed me out.

Catalyst #2: Jessie The Cat

Finding a sick stray kitty after Hurricane Charley in 2004 may have been the biggest catalyst for my change. Here was a small cat who would’ve died if we (my girlfriend at the time and I) hadn’t intervened. I began feeling compassion for helpless living things more than ever. Why would I eat an animal that had to live in a tiny cage in its own filth and excrement before being hung upside down and slaughtered? It just didn’t make sense.

But I still did it.

I mostly didn’t cook with meat because raw meat always grossed me, but I still ate a lot of meat if I’d go out. Burgers, hot wings, and sliced beef sandwiches were a normal occurrence. And cheese on everything. (No milk though, because milk has been nothing more than putrid pus-ridden liquid for me since I was young. Although it was forced upon me for many years.)

The point: I would never eat Jessie and she was/is treated like a Queen. Why would I eat an animal that was treated like garbage? What made Jessie better than other animals besides the fact that she lived with me? Again, it didn’t make sense.

But there was still no big change. Sure I ate more veg*an meals than usual, but I was neither vegetarian or vegan. Until …

Catalyst #3: The 2008 NBA Finals & McDonald’s Cheeseburgers

What do the NBA Finals have to do with my going veg*an? A lot, actually.

My friend Kenny would have people over his house for the games. Each of us would choose a player and for every point he scored we’d have to do 5 pushups. Since I hated pushups and never had any upper body strength I’d choose a player who barely scored, like Kendrick Perkins.

So one game the stakes (steaks?! hehe) were raised. Every quarter whoever did the least pushups would have to eat a McDonald’s cheeseburger. I was fine with this. I actually liked how McDonald’s cheeseburgers tasted. (It was the onions.)

After the first quarter I ate my burger and did my pushups.

After the second quarter I ate my burger and did my pushups.

After the third quarter I ate my burger and did my pushups.

But I was starting to feel less than stellar. Eating garbage food and doing pushups (even if it’s only 15 or 20) doesn’t go well. But it continued …

After the fourth quarter I ate my burger and did my pushups.

I don’t think I made the declaration out loud, but right then I decided I was done with meat. I was grossed out beyond belief. It took years of being more and more grossed out to finally push me over the edge, and the combination of the garbage McDonald’s meat and pushups did the trick.

How I Did It

At the time I actually made the decision to go vegan, but there was a little issue at hand. I loved cheese. I get this a lot. “I can’t go vegan, I love cheese!” I know!

And I had a lot of food with cheese at my house. I couldn’t just throw it away. So over the next month or two I slowly made my way through all the food in my house that had animal products. Whether that was a jar of spaghetti sauce or frozen fetuccini alfredo (yuck!) it’s not respectful to the animal that died for it to just throw it in the trash. I ate it until there was nothing left in my cupboards or refrigerator that had animal products.

I haven’t looked back since.

But Wait, There’s More! (From Junk Food Vegan To Health Food Vegan)

I would say 98 out of 100 vegetarians I meet are junk food vegetarians. Everything with cheese and butter. Lots of soda. Lots of pre-packaged garbage. I have no problem with this because a lot of people don’t care much about their bodies. I’m appreciative of their willingness to sacrifice their health to save a few hundred animals every year by not eating them.

I would also say that at least half of the vegans I meet are junk food vegans. You’d be surprised how much vegan junk food there is out there. Veggie burgers, veggie wings, the aforementioned oreos. Lots and lots of trash. Again, I’m all for this. If it’s about saving the animals and the planet, veganism works well even when you’re treating your body like a garbage disposal. :)

In the beginning this is exactly the type of vegan I was. Lots of veggie burgers, lots of crap. I did eat a lot of veggies, more than ever, but it still wasn’t an extraordinarily healthy diet.

Then my cousin gave me the book The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health and everything changed. I won’t get into the details, but if you’re interested about living a long healthy life this is a fascinating (and well-cited) read.

Almost immediately after reading The China Study I quit eating pre-packaged garbage and other junk vegan foods. I began cooking for myself more and more, which was a fun learning experience. I bought vegan cookbooks and searched for vegan recipes and just tried stuff out. It was an outstanding time of personal growth.

Note: I’m not saying I don’t eat any junk food. When I’m out and about and have to eat at a restaurant the options are usually limited to a veggie burger and a salad. I’ll take that no worries.

Why I Won’t Try To Force You To Give Up Meat (Plus Announcing NoMeatMondays.org!)

Click the image to check out the site!

I know preaching the benefits of health or saving animals or the world doesn’t do much. Most people don’t care enough to make a massive change to their lifestyle. As easy as the change has been for me I will readily admit that it is a massive lifestyle change.

But small changes are easy and more people are willing to make small changes than big ones.

My goal is for small change scaled far and wide.

If you don’t eat meat for just one day per week it does a world of good (no pun intended). Not only will this small change result in massive change when it’s scaled, but it’s actually very easy.

To make it easier, I have enlisted the help of vegan cook (and RidiculouslyExtroardinary.com reader) Robin to create one new easy and tasty meatless recipe every Monday at NoMeatMondays.org. The tagline of the site is “Because You Can Eat Burger Any Other Day” so feel free to do that. Give yourself, the world, and of course, the animals just one day of positive food eating per week. I promise you’ll feel great about this decision to eat No Meat on Mondays.

To join us subscribe to the site by clicking here and check out the recipes Robin has already created here.

{ 61 comments }

David Cain

Awesome site, nice job Karol. I like this approach — that it’s not all or nothing. If it had occurred to me that veg*anism didn’t have to be all-or-nothing I would have done it much sooner. In fact that’s what it took: I decided to eat 100% vegan temporarily as an experiment about a month ago, but I know now that I’m never going back.

But if I’d believed that it was necessary to do it permanently and 100%, I never would have considered it, and I think why most people steer clear. No Meat Mondays is an awesome idea because it keeps it accessible and easy and will make an enormous difference to the quantity of meat consumed.

Karol

Thanks David. A lot of people are in that boat. They’re interested or curious, but not willing to make such a huge jump. Congrats on testing it out and then going all in. :)

I’m hoping it does, indeed, make a huge difference!

Mark Cancellieri

Karol,

Are you suggesting that we *didn’t* evolve as hunter/gatherers? I don’t know what you consider “lots of animal products,” but I think it is clear that early humans would eat meat when they could get it. And fruits and veggies and nuts, etc.

Karol

Our DNA hasn’t evolved since the times of 30 year average life spans. The book Transcend by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman discusses this in depth.

Grzegorz Moniuszko

This “no meat Mondays project” sounds like great idea. I already don’t eat meat on Fridays but adding next obligatory day shouldn’t be a problem. Idea is, as I mentioned, very good but the book you recommended is probably not. I have read some reviews and I found that the data from original manuscript do not support thesis announced in the book. Much better choice (in my opinion) is something created by Dean Ornish. He collected data from many studies and well documented that plant based diet is very good for our vascular system. He also wrote about some other benefits but precisely informed that they are not really proven statistically (usually: to small N, no control etc.). And Ornish is not strictly veg*an (like our ancestors who eat meat anytime they can, which was not so often those days).

Karol

Hey Grzegorz, I’m familiar with Dean Ornish’s work. Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman’s work is also very good. At this point it doesn’t matter so much, as the research is all out there if anybody is actually interested in living forever (or a long time). :)

Philip Powis

Great site Karol…I actually just gave it a shout out on my blog…I’m not generating much traffic yet but at least my friends on facebook will see it :)

Karol

Thanks Philip!

Jen

What a great idea Karol and thanks for sharing your own journey. I am a vegetarian again (though I don’t eat much dairy/eggs) for the past two and a half years. It had always been in the back of my mind to do (I was a vegetarian for a few years at Uni) but rescuing our cat was also one of the big catalysts to making the move back. I had a similar thought process to you… having her in my life made me think about how we treat animals and why we rever one and eat another. I definately credit her with helping me make that shift. :) Look forward to reading your new site.
Jen

Karol

Thanks Jen! I feel a lot of “animal lovers” become non-killing animal lovers after they actually care for an animal themselves. It makes sense when I think about it now.

Tanja

Oreos are vegan? I guess they’ve changed. I remember years ago when I started on my vegetarian journey discovering that the delicious little oreo cookie had beef fat in the ingredient list. I guess I haven’t gone back to check the package since then! Not that I’m going to now.

I probably qualify as one of those junk food vegetarians, because I do love me a veggie burger (preferably tempeh), one with avocados and onions and a slice of red cabbage leaf and some awesome vegenaise spread over the gluten bun. Yum!

Looking forward to the new site. I’m always looking up new veggie and vegan recipes online and I’ll add it to my bookmarks. I’m not vegan but I lean really heavy in that direction. I did vegan for a year (lost a ton of weight which was awesome) but I missed sitting down to a cheese pizza. So now I call myself a strict vegetarian with strong vegan leanings. Your word veg*an is a hell of a lot shorter! :)

Karol

Hi Tanja, I’m pretty sure it’s just the regular Oreos. I don’t know, but eating 34 chemicals (or whatever is in an Oreo) doesn’t exactly contribute to the good life anyway. :)

I like veggie burgers as well. But I don’t buy them for home. I only eat them when I’m out with friends and my choice is eat a veggie burger or eat nothing. More and more I am seeing veggie patties that actually resemble health food (like lentil patties), so that’s fun. :)

aliZa

This evening I’ve just found your site from watching Hilah Cooking show on how to make vegan chlli.
I, myself have been a vegetarian for a while last year but I quit because I’m tired of finding vegetarian restaurant to eat.
But you and your blog changed my thought for re-considering being a vegetarian or a vegan again.
I find other parts of your blog really interesting, too, especially the part of freedom stuff. So I decided to subscribe to your FF project.
OMG! I wanna I love you and I hope that you could make it through in your roller coaster journey.
Thanks for making such an inspiring site!
ps. I live in Chiang Mai, Thailand and I’ve seen your photo taken in cooking class in Chiang Mai. I wonder if your facebook profile picture is taken in elephant nature park in Chiang Mai, or not? Luv

Stephanie

Thanks for posting your personal experience! I appreciate the fact that you mentioned eating lots of junk food in your first attempts at vegetarianism. I did too and joke that I became a “carbetarian”. While I am no longer vegetarian, I am much more conscious about what I eat. I have done low-carb, slow-carb and I am coming around to Paleo because I totally will binge on beans and cheeses. :) I know that sourcing ethically raised meats is definitely more costly, which means I will be eating less of it and that is okay for me.

I got into a debate once about with a vegan friend about meat who was encouraging me to buy some soy chorizo rather than cook the real thing. Ethical feelings toward animal slaughter aside, he was telling me that it is healthier for the planet to eat some stuff that comes out of a cardboard box in the freezer section. I just can’t buy into that when the raw product has to be shipped halfway around the world and processed in a factory that uses lots of natural resources in order to form it into a product that looks like real chorizo. It just doesn’t logically add up for me… not when I live in a state that has lots of local grass fed meat for sale.

As far as The China Study, I see that cited a lot by vegans. I started researching soy more and basically came to the conclusion that American vegetarians and vegans often aren’t eating the same soy products as the Chinese. The fermentation of soy is something that most products in China go through while we eat more non-fermented products here in America. I am admittedly a “soy hater” in terms of people claiming how healthy it is in the American diet… right along with their soda and french fries. ;)

I am not aiming to live forever or even until 100, just trying to get the best out of my time on this earth. It is definitely sad that many people live their own lives so unconsciously that a massive lifestyle change is nothing but scary in their eyes. I’m glad I am not one of them! =)

Karol

Yes, the soy chorizo is actually better for the planet. Unless maybe it did have to fly from overseas to get to you (although I wouldn’t imagine that to be the case). :) You’d be surprised how much waste a cow creates!

The China Study advocates very little, if any at all, soy. It’s about whole plant based foods. So soy isn’t an issue in that regard.

Stephanie

That brings a good point on each person’s value system. Do you care at all if your food is grown locally? Does organic matter to you? If you are a vegetarian who eats pre-packaged foods, what about the energy and materials it takes to get your food to the table? Do you recycle every bit of that packaging?

The issues of the food supply chain are so complex that there are multiple angles each of us could take on what we think is “better for the planet”. Every last bit of a cow can be used, including the waste. Native Americans used to use cow dung for firing pottery and now companies are finding ways of using cow dung to put power back on the grid.

My point is to highlight that each one of us has our own value system. I recycle, take re-useable bags to stores and use my dollars to support local businesses whenever possible. And I still eat meat. I don’t feel that there should be an automatic opinion on who is a better planet saver on that mere issue alone.

Sebastian

Regardless of who is a better planet saver – only one of them though will make a creature suffer.

As mentioned in the article, the planet (and us) may already be f*cked.
What we can do still is make sure that we don’t make someone live a horrible life and die a painful death.

Karol

True that Sebastian. :)

Lisa

Hey Karol,

I’ve been reading your kickass blog for ages but this is my first comment. All I have to say is YES YES YES. Hooray for Meatless Mondays! (Although you should probably give credit to Paul McCartney, since he came up with the concept, no?)
I was a vegetarian for 17 years, a vegan for 3 of those, and am now one of those annoying omnivores that won’t touch meat that isn’t locally sourced, organic, and produced in an ethical a way as possible (ie., still 99% vegetarian, and annoying at dinner parties :) ). I, too, was a junk food vegan, and wound up anemic and 10 pounds heavier. These days I’m cooking almost exclusively from Veganomicon (highly recommended) and loving every minute of it. Even my meat-loving hubbo and kid dig the homemade seitan. And if they can eat vegan a few days a week, anyone can….it really is the most responsible and well-scaled choice for change-averse omnivores.

Karol

Hey Lisa, thanks for reading and making your first comment. :) I didn’t realize Paul McCartney was behind meatless mondays. I did realize there was another site with meatless mondays which almost made me decide to renege on the idea. Then I figured, “ehh, what the hell!” And it only took a year to launch. :)

Drew Costen

Hey Karol. I really WANT to go completely vegan, partly for ethical reasons, partly for the health reasons. My problem is that I’m a super sensor (seriously, I’m like Wolverine without the healing factor), and that includes my sense of smell and taste. Unfortunately, a large number of vegetables I’ve tasted make me feel sick, sometimes to the point of needing to vomit, and the textures of a lot of them don’t help either. I’ve never been able to figure out how to get around this roadblock. There are a few vegetables and legumes and such that I can stomach, but not a huge variety that I’ve discovered yet. Of course, my love for the taste of most meat isn’t an advantage here either. Not sure what to do honestly.

Mike

I’m so glad to hear of someone else with this issue!

I’m seriously beginning to think I’m going to starve to death because the taste of meat is becoming less and less appealing to me as I age, yet the taste and texture of 98% of vegetables is so overpowering and revolting to me, that I usually vomit before I can even swallow. This has been going on since the age of 4 (actually younger, but that’s a long story) and has never gotten any better.

What do folks like us do? The only advice I ever generally get is to “keep eating the veggies – you’ll get used to them”. While I appreciate the words, it’s akin to asking someone to just continue having the flu for an extra few weeks and just “deal with” the endless barfing. It’s goes against our genetic makeup to willingly make ourselves physically sick over and over and over again.

I don’t know what the answer is. All I know right now is…I don’t have a good answer, and I can’t seem to find anyone who does.

Karol

Stick to the vegetables that don’t gross you out and make an attempt to add new ones in very small doses in larger meals?

Mike

Thanks Karol,

At the moment, that’s exactly three items: petit pois peas, corn (full of starch and not that great for me anyway) and cut, canned green beans (but required to be smothered in butter to be able to get them down). I can occasionally get chopped carrots down, but they must be cooked to the point of being limp, and also require copious amounts of butter. Even then, I’ll still gag on them at times.

That’s not much to work with. Clearly it’s a long road ahead.

Like a lot of things in life, I think I’m ultimately going to have to devise something original and unique for myself on the dietary front, as “off-the-shelf” solutions rarely seem to work for me, no matter what the particular topic might be… :)

Brigitte

This is an awesome project!! A few years back, I started tracking my diet to assess the mix of nutrients I ate. Even though I felt like I ate a healthful balance (no simple carbs in my house! or chips! or soda!), I was shocked to see how out of whack my intake was.

Since then, Lucus and I made an effort to eat vegetarian dinners, in order to increase our veggie consumption and bring our diet into balance. Most Americans eat a light to non-existent breakfast, followed by a big lunch and a bigger dinner. We basically wanted to reverse that — fill up with protein in the morning and take smaller meals throughout the day. It worked, and we were both amazed how we didn’t need to snack throughout the day any longer.

But the one thing that shocked us was how hard it was to find vegetarian recipes for dinner that weren’t junk — so many were, as you mentioned, loaded with butter.

I’m really looking forward to the recipes on No Meat Mondays.

Karol

Thanks Brigitte. And awesome that you tracked your diet. A lot of us (including me!) assume (or assumed) we eat well until we see it on paper. :)

Peter

Mark,

He’s suggesting that even though we did evolve as hunter/gatherers that doesn’t mean we are _required_ to continue to eat meat. People often use this line “we evolved this way” as an argument against veg*anism.

Farnoosh

Karol, thank you for writing this. I went vegan first last August; I missed plain yogurt (Persian food culture) way too much and I had cravings; I gave up after a month but it was fun. I am a health nut so I’d say I eat more raw foods vegetables and Oolong tea than anyone I know – never ever fast food, never any sodas, only certain dairy (plain yogurt, some cheeses) and I loved my Indian food. I did have meat and sea food (sushi!) cravings for a long time so from Sept/Oct until end of 2010, I gave in to my cravings because I think abstaining from cravings just creates too much stress …. On Jan 1, 2011, I decided to give it a second try – I went on my vegan diet purely for my own health reasons and exploring the best way to feel; call me selfish but I do not have the grand reasons you have and like you, I don’t begrudge anyone who feels whatever cause (or lackthereof) in their diet … Anyway, so I went vegan Jan 1st and since then, I have not had a single – not a single – craving! It’s been amazing. I eat mostly green smoothies, green juices, raw salads, and considering a raw vegan diet in April …. One other reason for going vegan for me: It pushes me to explore the world of exotic and rarer vegetables and recipes (although I hardly cook so as long as someone does it for me)…. Well, a longer comment than I intended but thank you for sharing this. :)

Karol

“It pushes me to explore the world of exotic and rarer vegetables and recipes” – Great point Farnoosh! Although I mostly cook basic meals, I’ve become a much better cook as I’m not afraid to branch out and try things when I feel like spending a bit of time in the kitchen. I also make an attempt to try new veggies when it’s convenient. :)

Congrats on retrying your vegan diet this year!

Arvind Devalia

Karol, thanks for writing this and for your new campaign.

I have been a vegetarian most of my life and can vouch for the health benefits. Most people are intolerant to lactose and don’t even know it. I used to get upset stomachs all the time and overnight I became healthy when I gave up milk.

Over 10 years ago, I was in a burger place and had a moment of consciousness when I looked at my chicken burger and asked myself why I was eating such junk. In that moment I became a vegetarian once again:-)

Here’s to more and more people waking up the benefits of a meat free diet – even if only one day of the week.

Try it folks – you know it make ssense!

Karol

:) Thanks Arvind. “I was in a burger place and had a moment of consciousness when I looked at my chicken burger and asked myself why I was eating such junk” – I’ve actually heard similar stories dozens of times, and mine is sort of similar. Funny how that happens, huh? :)

Kenny Eller

Nice job Karol! Subscribed!!!:)

Karol

Thanks Kenny!

Kellie Kowalski

Love your vegan origin story Karol! And the site; the recipes look great.

When I went vegan, it was only supposed to be a 6 week experiment. I had read The Engine 2 Diet and figured I’d give it a whirl. I had never cooked before either, and I pretty much taught myself using vegan cookbooks & food blogs.

Almost 2 years later, I’m still vegan. I could never go back.

Karol

Thanks Kellie. This is why 30 day or 6 week or whatever length (1 day?) experiments are so good. They help us realize what is possible with a very small initial commitment.

steve loya

Hey Karol. Wonderful job with this post man! I really appreciate your story, and it parallells mine in ways, though I’m still not a total vegan. It’s been gradual for me as well, and I first remember when i got married a couple of years ago, and even when we were dating, my wife was slow to come around to my vegetarian ways. I didn’t force anything on her, but simply set an example by walking the walk. For a while, when she started going more vegetarian, we were both eating lots of the prepackaged and processed vegetarian foods. Recently, my wife made a huge step in her life by quitting her crap retail job and going to school for integrative nutritian. It’s amazing how much more we’ve changed because of this, for the better. I think folks are starting to catch on and are becoming more mindful about their eating. You see it, in very small steps at the grocery stores, though we’ve got sooooo much progress to make, as a society. Anyhow, we just started a vegetable and herb garden earlier this month, so again, small steps. Once again, awesome post and looking forward to Mondays!

Karol

Thanks for sharing Steve. RE: veg & herb garden, I would love to have one of those. My Mom always had a huge garden growing up and it was fun to go outside, grab some herbs or veggies and make dinner with them. (Well, it was fun to go outside and get the stuff, I didn’t actually cook it.)

Daija

Thank you for sharing this. After being Vegetarian for 13 years (I grew up on a farm turned factory) I started eating meat again – I now blame this on the junk food which I think caused a lack in nutrients. I did not know that this is a common phenomenon under Vegetarians. Currently I am a Flexitarian eating meat/fish once a month and have a “vegan days” twice a week. Your website is a great inspiration, and I think it is key to encourage small steps. Thank you for sharing and I am curious to read more about your habits.

Karol

Thanks for sharing Daija. Fascinating that you grew up on a farm turned factory. I would like to hear more about this. Do you mean it turned into a factory farm or an industrial factory?

Anilia

You know, when I went raw vegan I got the “why did you do THAT?” question a lot, and couldn’t articulate it well. I was in that “everyone should stop eating meat” phase for a while. It all started for me several years ago, with a chicken sandwich moment (the breast was as big as my hand…seriously) similar to Arvind’s.

Because of confusion I went back (b/c of hitting the weights etc)… but before I did so I saw The Beautiful Truth, Capitalism: A Love Story and Food Inc, which all scared the living daylights outta me. But your post makes me want to just give up meat totally now and figure out how to work out hard core and eat a vegan diet at the same time.

Karol

It’s possible. And instead of pointing you to well known vegan workout superstars, I’ll point you to my friend Nick, who has been vegan for years and years: http://nick90x.tumblr.com/

Philip Powis

any other recommendations Karol on inspiring blogs for getting in great shape? I’m not in the worst shape by any means, but I’d love to be rockin’ it like your buddy Nick here. For me its more about my energy levels. I just feel spent at the end of every day and I don’t feel like I’m maximizing my potential. I’m 29 year’s old and sometimes I feel like 50! I think a lot of that is due to the stress of my day job and then not being active enough. I’ve been in better shape before, but in my current “routine” i’m having a hard time building myself up enough to take the plunge and get started. Just looking for unique perspectives on this, and I’m finding your site here has a lot of them :)

Karol

http://www.nomeatathlete.com – I don’t follow any other veg*an fitness sites, but Matt will probably have a lot of good recommendations.

Michael

Great post Karol. While I’m not officially a vegan or vegetarian, my diet has all but become that. Although I will still occasionally eat a burger or a steak when eating out, I gave up fast food three years ago after being loaned a copy of Fast Food Nation by a vegan friend. My main motivation for eating vegetarian is that it’s just easier and I’m a lazy boy. I think if I had tried to switch over all at once, i would have failed miserably. For me the key has been making slow adjustments and being willing to experiment. I’ve taught myself to cook and find it a pain to buy and handle meat, not too mention it’s more expensive (did I mention I’m cheap too?). I read blogs like Stone Soup and Hilah Cooking and simplify where I can. By the way, I really enjoyed the vegan chili episode you did with Hilah. I’ve made it several times and it’s replaced my old chili recipe.

Karol

Giving up fast food is a huge step! Congrats on that Michael. And thanks for trying out my chili recipe, glad you like it. :)

Jackie V

This is amazing!!! I absolutely love it – I’m all about small changes. You are making a HUGE difference.

jenny smythe

Hi Karol! I’ve learned so much about veganism through you. I never knew how delicious vegan cupcakes could be! And Korean Vegan is da bomb! Thanks for sharing and educating us. I’m gradually making the change and I am more conscious now of what I eat because of the information you have provided and simply because of the fact that I am so damn curious about Vegans! You are the only one I know. Thanks Karol!

Karol

Thanks for bringing cupcakes to our Korean vegan meetup! There are a lot of vegans out there, especially in Chicago. It shouldn’t be difficult to meet more. :)

paurullan

Great post and great history!

And even we have never met in person for me you are like that 19 year old girlfriend: more impact than what you can see ;)

Karol

Thanks Pau, that means a lot to me. :)

Jen Gresham

Oh my goodness, I’m so excited about this announcement! First, thanks so much for sharing your story to veganism. I am like you were in the early stages, loving animals, wanting to change for their sake, and yet finding it hard. Certainly I have managed to progress to at least one day of veg*anism every week, and often more than one day. But I’d like to get to the point where meat is something I eat rarely instead of the other way around. What’s been holding me back is having a staple of veg*an recipes that I love that can start to replace my meat favorites.

When we meet veg*ans, it’s easy to feel unworthy. How come they can do it and I’m struggling? It really helps the psyche to know it’s all part of the process. I’ll get there. Thanks and good luck!

Karol

For some people it’s an immediate thing, and for some it’s a process. Either way, no worries. When the time is right it will happen, like it did for Farnoosh. :)

As for vegan recipes: start with just one you like. Make it until you know it backwards and forwards (because then experimenting with it is fun). Then add to the repertoire.

Jia Jun

Great to hear that Karol! I having less and less meat since I was secondary school too, due to the awareness of respecting the animals, and self research that proves myself Veg is much more healthy, and the misinformation about we NEED meats had removed. It’s hard to change people’s mind, even though they know meats isn’t good, or showing them how cruel and how many problems causes due to the slaughter on animals to produce meats, on how much pollution it cause, on 90% of amazon forest cleared since 1970 is used for livestock pasture, on many things.
Some people might know about the truth and facts, but they still loves meat, so they just ignore it and self hypnosis.
It’s kinda hard to go full veg, when I’m hanging with all meat lovers. ><
I'll keep changing myself to less and less meats, this is a promise to myself.

Karol

Keep changing and challenging Jia Jun!

Harry

I never ate much meat, unlike my fiancee, now wife, who is from Argentina. But during our recent across-Americas nicycle trip (alaska-patagonia), we not only met some great veg*ans, but also noticed the environmental problems first hand: miles and miles of covered chicken farms in Peru, clear cutting of mountainsides in Colombia for corn/cattle, shiploads of corn coming from Europe to feed chickens in Guyana (!). It is more hidden in teh US, but the movie Food Inc did a great job in uncovering.

Since Mexico we became pescatarians (only fish) and never felt better and looked younger :)

Why don’t you jump ahead and start MeatMonday, monday being the only day some people should eat meat? Then the next step is not so big!

Cheers, Harry
ps: Don’t understimate the impact of genetic Monsanto soy by the way, it is everywhere in South America and the Amazon is being cut for it. Even though we eat no meat ourselves, I guess a case can be made that a local grass eating South American cow (non-industrial) is better for our health as well as for the planet than a monsanto-soy-burger..

Kristin

Karol, as a fellow vegan (going on 5 years this August), and some one who has based her career around spreading the good, vegan word, I 100% support your new cause. Perhaps you could partner with MeatFreeMondays: http://www.meatlessmonday.com/ … also, I’m starting a vegan food-focused cross country road trip this fall. I’m promptly going to read your Stress Free Vegan Travel Post. :)

Karol

A food-focused cross country road trip sounds outstanding! Let me know when it starts and if I can be of any help.

Philip Powis

If you end up doing the cross country trip, I bought this book for my wife for Christmas called “Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods” and it’s pretty awesome:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0470371080

You might want to check it out for some ideas.

Kristin

Thanks, Philip! I’ll definitely check it out! :)

Rosa

I am not a vegan and will probably never be, but reading about veganism has made an impression on me and I have cut out animal products whenever possible. I eat meat/products maybe 1-2 times a month.
Like you said Karol “small changes are easy” and sometimes are the ones that have the biggest impact :)
Even though I will not be participating (I don’t like to have a schedule of what I can and can’t eat), Kudos to you for offering information and inclusion!

Chelsea

Wow great post!
I have been a vegetarian for two years and I now feel ready to go vegan (I watched Earthling).

I can really relate to your experience: I always loved animals as a kid but it still took a long time before I put two and two together. However, when I heard that people eat dogs (and dolphins?!) in some countries, I had had enough. I would never eat my dog because I know she has a personality. Other people can not see this just by looking at her. So who is to say that other animals do not have a personality! I decided to do a one month vegetarian trial and I couldn’t deal with eating flesh again.

I hope to read more soon!

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