So here it is, our second installment of the weekly vegan stories. Every week a new story will be posted. This week we hear from Jennie, who started the blog, That Vegan Girl.Thanks for sharing!
I went vegetarian the summer after my younger sister was born, when I was 8 years old. A girl at summer camp introduced me to the idea that it was possible to not eat meat, and I never looked back. When I arrived home six weeks later and informed my mother that I was now a vegetarian, she phased out the meat on my plate slowly, after realizing that I meant what I had said. 15 years later, I still have not relented.
I think many people are shocked that at such a young age, a child can conceptualize the fact that the Chicken McNugget in their Happy Meal was once an animal. I find it hard to believe that more children don’t become vegetarians. Without ever having to see graphic images or hear slaughterhouse horror stories, I decided animals were more important than just another ingredient in the soup de jur. They were my friends, and as anyone who has attended kindergarten knows, we don’t eat our friends. In my opinion, children are inherently less set in their stupid than adults.
In my late teens I was introduced to the concept of veganism by a group of the most aggravating, pretentious, and ridiculous people I believe I’ve ever met. I was turned off. In retrospect, I perhaps should have looked beneath the surface more, but damned if I would be told being a vegetarian for a decade wasn’t ‘good enough’. High school was a tough time for my vegerianism. The novelty value had faded long ago, and having myself lumped in with people I quantified as arrogant assholes wasn’t appealing. I became that vegetarian; the one who says it’s no big deal if you eat meat around her, and agrees with you that a meatball sub does sound quite good. I never gave up, but I lost the why. Enter a string of non-veg Significant Others, and suddenly I realized me being a vegetarian was just like saying I don’t eat peas because they’re gross – it no longer meant anything.
The summer before I turned 21, I was fortunate in two ways: I began dating a vegetarian for the first time in my life, and I was lucky enough to be introduced to two vegans who were not self-important, overbearing jerks. They were kind enough to share with me the why behind their choices…and to feed me. And after finally admitting that my reasons for maintaining as a vegetarian were purely selfish (and induced by an addiction to cheese), I was shocked to find myself defending the concepts behind veganism to Alex, my new boyfriend.
Three-quarters of the way back from an end-of-summer road trip to northern Idaho, Alex turned to me and said, “I think we should go vegan.” After a couple of minutes of watching the sporadic lights of the countryside fly by my window in silence, I looked back at him and agreed: on the condition that vegan yogurt didn’t taste like lightly flavored pond scum. We picked some up at a grocery store in town and opened it in my kitchen, found some spoons, and dug in. It tasted exactly like yogurt is supposed to, and suddenly we were vegans. No last hurrah, no nonsense. Just a commitment.
When I think about all the vegan foods I could have picked, I can’t help but think how lucky it was that yogurt was the first one that came to mind. Had it been cheese I would have said no way. I’m equally sure I would have made it here eventually, either way. I’ve been very lucky to have the support of both my significant other and my family on my journey to veganism. Two years in, the road is far less fraught with difficulty than I ever could have imagined from the ‘other side’.