Dear Diary

RAOP Goes Vegan

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Okay, so before you click “close window” and write me off forever, hear me out on this one. I’m coming up on my 25th birthday, and for the last year I’ve been in a really strange, unnatural mode of thinking. Essentially, sometime around my birthday last year, I decided to stop caring so much. I decided that I would only look out for myself, that focusing on my career made more sense than focusing on relationships, and that I would do what I wanted when I wanted because I was a strong independent woman.

What I didn’t realize is when you don’t care anymore, nothing really matters all that much.

When August first came around this year, I had a massive wake up call. Why on earth was I actively trying not to care about the things that mean the world to me? I’d lost sight of my morals, my hopes and dreams, and my outlook on love and human connection. I was jaded, tired, and somehow along the way I’d managed to become the sort of cold and detached person that I always swore I’d never ever be. I decided that this month, I was going to get back to my natural state- to caring.

For me, part of “caring” has always meant looking out for the welfare of animals, and doing my best to help out. Growing up I volunteered at the Humane Society, and in more recent years I have fostered dogs for the local rescue where I found my pup Honey. A lesser known fact perhaps is that I’ve been a vegetarian almost my entire life! My parents aren’t big on eating “animals that have families”, so my sister and I grew up never tasting a burger, steak, bacon, or ribs. I ate chicken, turkey, and fish like my parents until my teens, and from that point on I’ve been totally meat-free. In my mind, it just doesn’t make sense that something should have to feel pain, fear, and die for the satisfaction of a meal in my belly, and though I often miss the taste and tradition that comes along with meat, for me the guilt just isn’t worth it.

As much as I’m a really great vegetarian, veganism is a whole other ballgame. A few years ago I took on the challenge of eating animal-product free, and I managed to last almost a whole year before a pint of Ben and Jerry’s half-baked got the best of me. Fast forward a few years, and I’m just as into B&J as ever, plus I’ve developed a pretty serious passion for artisanal cheeses (hello smoked cheddar!), which makes veganism feel more impossible than ever. That said, as much as I’m a huge supporter of small, local, ethical eggs and dairy, there are some facts I have a hard time ignoring as an animal lover, and as I head into a new year, I want to know that I’m doing the most I can to minimize suffering in the world every single day. For example, even on small farms dairy cows are kept pregnant over and over again to continue producing breast milk (just like we would have to be). Their calfs are often taken from them before they even get a chance to feed them a single time, because that milk is to be sold to humans of course, and once separated the babies are locked into confined spaces for a very short time until they can be slaughtered for veal. Until I find a dairy farm that doesn’t subscribe to these practices (I would LOVE suggestions!), I can’t help but feel pretty conflicted when I bite into a slice of brie.

So, I’ve taken the plunge. Starting August 1st I’ve been eating vegan, and though I am certainly not promising to never go back, I’m really loving the effect this decision has had on me and the way I eat already. Instead of dialling up takeout or dousing noodles with butter, cheese and truffle salt every night, I’m actually taking the time to plan meals and get back to cooking again, a passion I’ve totally lost touch with over the past few years. I’m also revisiting some of my favourite vegan baking recipes from my plant-based days, and though I’m a lot more hungry (which I didn’t know was possible to be honest), I’m much happier with what I am choosing to ingest.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of my favourite vegan tips, tricks, recipes and restaurants, and you can follow along with the hashtag #RAOPgoesVegan. I’d also love to hear some of your suggestions too!

7 comments

  • This makes me so happy! Congrats on taking the plunge and I wish you the most ease on continuing with your vegan journey 💖

  • I love your decision! Go girl! And to help out those crazy artisan cheese cravings I recommend Miyokos Creamery! http://miyokoskitchen.com/products-miyoko/ Good luck fighting those crazy cheese cravings!😘💛💛💛

  • I’m so happy to hear about your journey! I’d been vegetarian for 4 and a half years before becoming vegan and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. And honestly, it becomes so easy once you fully commit (and it takes about 3 weeks to get over the cravings – cheese has the same substances as addictive drugs…it literally is addictive! Plus there are soooo many good options out there now..I live in Chicago so I’m not sure what the situation is in Canada, but my favorite brands are So Delicious Dairy free (srsly their ice cream is AMAZING) Field Roast has the most amazing cheese slices called CHAO that taste just like grilled cheese from my childhood! If you’re really into artisinal cheese, Miyoko’s Creamery makes the most delicious artisinal cultured nut cheeses that have even fooled omnivores!
    I’ve found having a supportive community is essential in staying vegan. It’s hard to live in a world of naysayers and people that are suddenly super concerned about your protein intake. I’m a part of a group on Facebook called Power to the Veg! and it’s been so extremely helpful and comforting having a rally of like-minded people keeping each other going for the common good.
    whoops, didn’t mean to rave on forever, but if you can’t tell veganism is super important to me! I’m so glad to see people in positions of influence not being afraid to speak up for what they believe in!
    xo
    maria anne

  • congrats on taking the plunge! I’ve been vegetarian for the past 7 years and I was vegan for a couple months. I fell off the bandwagon with veganism, but lately I’m trying to be more plant-based in my diet and I’m restricting my dairy intake much more (I’m wayyy too familiar with the artisanal cheese struggle hahah). I look forward to reading your vegan tips! xx Rebecca

  • Wood and water does incredible cashew based cheeses 💗 available at the big carrot, yam chops, wholesome market… They have the best texture of any non dairy cheese I’ve ever had. So delicious! And Pleasant Ville Creamery delivers their magical vegan ice cream right to your door!

  • This is wonderful! Congratulations on getting to this refreshed place in your life. This is really similar to my story and was really comforting to read. I too got to that point in my life and have since been Vegan for a year. It’s one of the best decisions and most revitalizing changes. Good for you, girl!

  • I think this is great 🙂 love your blog… And insta hihi.. I too am so conflicted about being vegetarian instead of just trying veganism for longer than the month that I did it because of the truth about the dairy and egg industries that I can’t forget about and just ignore. I’ve given myself the goal of converting to veganism (as I’m already cruelty free for almost everything but cleaning products because I still love with my non-vegetarian parents) within the upcoming school year so I’m really going to make an effort to learn as many delicious recipes as I can! Good luck!

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