Just About (But Not Quite) Vegan

chanterelle mushrooms, aka vegan crack

Omnivores may dream of filet-mignon and aged cheeses, but my heart goes pitter-patter at the sight of earthy chanterelle mushrooms. (Photo courtesy of my husband, T.)

Guys and gals, welcome!

I’m so happy you’ve stumbled into my little corner of the universe. I hope you’ll feel at home here. Just About Vegan is a judgment-free place for vegans, vegetarians, and curious omnivores alike to find thoughtful advice, recipes, guidance, and philosophical musings on the triumphs and challenges of following a plant-based diet.

But before you read any further, I have to be totally honest with you so you know what you’re getting into. I want you to know up front I’m not a textbook vegan and this is not your typical vegan blog, which is really just a gentle way of saying that I don’t always follow all of the so-called rules, and I’m not going to judge you if you don’t either.

Sure, I don’t use any animal products whatsoever in my home and at least 99.5% of the time I don’t eat them outside my home either. But you’re more likely to find me poring over an issue of Bon Appetit or eating in an East Village gastropub than you are to find me eating steamed vegetables and brown rice.

When my friend’s parents had me over for the holidays and thoughtfully prepared a vegetarian, but dairy-filled meal, did I gobble it up and thank them a million times? Guilty. Do I turn a blind eye to possible dairy or broth in my restaurant food so I don’t have to make the waiter go back to the kitchen 3 times to find out every last ingredient? Yep. Will I very, very occasionally eat an egg or some oysters (more about this later. See here for now: Consider the Oyster) to get my vitamin B12 fix? Mmm hmmm. When I was first going vegan, did I break down and eat a wild-caught crab sandwich on vacation in Delaware because I really, really wanted it? Guilty, again.

I’m telling you this not to show you how much of a rebel I am, but to be honest about the fact that going and staying 100% vegan is hard, especially in the beginning, and in a society that is still very dependent on factory produced animal products.  Most people who try a plant-based diet are “guilty” of the same sort of indiscretions that I am, and many end up berating themselves for not having enough willpower to follow the (so-called) rules. Before they know it, they’ve thrown in the towel and are back to gobbling up cheeseburgers, their foray into vegan eating becoming merely a little blip in a lifetime of meat eating.

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way. That crab sandwich I had on vacation didn’t become a gateway back into meat-eating. Instead, it helped me clarify for myself how I felt about eating crab, and to form my own opinion about what was right for me. (I haven’t eaten fish since.)

Many vegans and “normal” (i.e. meat) eaters alike think very rigidly about consuming animal products, often focusing too much on absolute black and white, either/or categories. Tell your parents that you had a few oysters during a trip to Maine, and they’re likely to raise their eyebrows and question why, then, you can’t just eat Mom’s famous Friday-night meat lasagna with them every week. Mention the same oysters on a vegetarian message board, and within minutes you’ll receive messages from 20 strangers wondering who you think you are hanging out on their boards commiserating about the lack of meat-free options on the Applebees menu when you’re just a measly pescatarian or flexitarian or animal murderer. (Nevermind that the other 99.9% of the time you eat exactly like them and have little in common with someone who bases their diet on fish.)

At least as far as I’m concerned, there is an enormous ethical difference between eating an oyster (which has no brain or central nervous system, cannot move, and has about the same amount of consciousness as a carrot) and eating an animal like a cow who nurtures her young and can look you in the eye. Along similar lines, thoughtfully choosing to eat red meat from a local farm as an occasional treat once a week or so (like my husband does, for example) is in no way the same thing as eating it at every meal without ever considering what it really is.

My core belief is that if more people adopt a mostly, or even partially, vegan diet, genuinely enjoy it, and are able to stick to it for the rest of their lives, then this will have a far more powerful impact than if a small elite group succeed in achieving perfect veganism at the expense of being miserable, alienating everyone else, and making the lifestyle seem intimidating and impossible to would-be vegans who feel they’ll never be able to measure up.

This all being said, my primary goal in authoring this blog is to make a case for the fact that, with the right tools, support, and open-mindedness, going just about vegan isn’t anywhere near as hard as you think. It’s possible for even the most passionate foodie (someone like me) to be fully satisfied and truly happy following a plant-based diet. If you’re a current vegan who is struggling, or someone who eats meat but would like to cut back, then I hope this will be a place where you can come to get advice and support you need to find the same happiness I have in my plant-based life.

 Welcome, and happy eating!


14 thoughts on “Just About (But Not Quite) Vegan

  1. I became a vegetarian over the summer and I try to be vegan as much as I can but it is hard! I have many vegetarian/vegan options on my blog if you need some inspiration 🙂

  2. I completely agree with you! Our society definitely not yet ready to adopt a complete vegan lifestyle, especially when it comes to eating out! I think the main goal is to reduce the amount of animal products being used, instead of completely taking it out because it will be frustrating on yourself and the people around you! Very inspiring! -xx

  3. I love this! I think more people would more people would adapt small consistent changes towards better health and continue down a plant based path if there wasn’t such politically charged all or nothing messaging surrounding the term vegan. We all just do the best we can and strive to do better than we did before.

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  5. Hey there! You started following my blog so I wanted to check out your blog and say, “Hi!” I love, love, love your about page!! When I first went vegan I didn’t feel comfortable around vegans because I knew that I cheated occasionally. Now I realize that most vegans, especially in the beginning, cheat occasionally. It’s just hard, or perhaps impossible (I’ve heard that there’s even animal products in tires!) not to. I haven’t read any of your posts yet, but I’m going to go poke around on your blog a bit now. It’s a pleasure to e-meet you! Celeste “The Honking Vegan” – honk, honk!

  6. This is such a great philosophy! If it’s about changing the whole society, that change will come from making it easier for everyone to do better, not just people who can be perfect vegans.

    • Thanks for your comment, VeggieTravelGirl. Great point! I’ve enjoyed reading about your recent travels on your blog, and how you’ve negotiated finding veggie options in areas where they are not easy to come by. Traveling (especially internationally) is definitely a time when it’s important to be flexible and forgiving of ourselves when the lack of options just makes it impossible for us to be “perfect” vegetarians or vegans.

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  8. Love this blog! this philosophy fits with my way of thinking EXACTLY! which is why I say I eat a plant based diet rather than get into specifics with people…. I eat the odd egg when I know where it came from (someones backyard usually), and I am also guilty of just having the vegetarian menu. I also happen to do my damndest to knock the socks off my loved ones with simple and delicious vegan food in order to change the way people think about food, and I’ll not apologise to anyone for “not being vegan enough” 😀 looking forward to seeing your new blogs!

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