I wanted to share yet another story of how your podcast has helped another person become vegan. I am a university student and when I was extensively researching veganism last year, I ran across your podcast and was immediately impressed by the information you offered.
I grew up very omnivorous; my favourite foods growing up were cheese, milk, and sourdough bread. My family did eat fairly healthfully but not vegetarian. None of my friends were vegetarian (as far as I know), but one of my friends was a committed vegan. I knew her in high school; she was vegan for ethical reasons and most people, myself included, thought she was a wonderful person but somewhat crazy and “extreme.” Like most Americans, I was firmly committed to my eating habits and never imagined I could become vegetarian, let alone vegan.
My biology class last semester focused on microbes and human disease. In conjunction with the spinach crisis, the class touched on treatment of livestock and the routine feeding of antibiotics and growth hormones. I had never thought about or learned about these issues. When I spoke to my professor, she did note that one could buy hormone-free or organic meat. Nevertheless, I knew my university dining hall was not spending the extra money on these special meats.
Concerned about the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and hormones, I investigated animal agriculture for the first time in my life and was shocked by what I found. Going vegetarian was quite easy; all I did was request “no chicken” in my stir-fry and indulged in extra ice cream, feeling happy that I wasn’t eating a caged, tortured bird. The dining hall labeled all dishes that were vegetarian (often cheesy lasagna or potatoes) with a “v” so it was easy to find things to eat. I enjoyed surprising people when they found out I was vegetarian.
Despite the pleasing surge of complacency, I still felt uneasy with my (rather high) dairy consumption. I investigated matters and found out that some of the veggie burgers I’d enjoyed in the college café had cheese as a binder. I stopped eating the veggie burgers. I put soymilk in my coffee. I avoided the obviously cheesy casseroles and pasta dishes. My diet had become mostly animal-product-free; however, there was one area where I strayed: dessert. Puddings, cookies, cakes, and (plentiful) non-vegan chocolate still tempted me. I could buy vegan cookies from a local health food store, but that put a strain on my budget. I kept eating the non-vegan treats and labeled myself vegetarian and thought of myself as an aspiring vegan.
Now, thanks to the influence of your podcast, amazing recipes for delicious cookies that I’ve found in VegNews and Vegetarian Times, and a resolve to stop being hypocritical, I’ve made a commitment to veganism. Instead of gorging myself on Hershey’s Kisses (which don’t taste all that great anyway), I enjoy a small square of Green & Black Mint Dark Chocolate. Rather than eating a dish and wondering whether there is any butter or cheese in it, I ask or eat something that I know is vegan, like brown rice and beans—a new favourite.
Thanks again for everything you do. Please know that you are making an impact in people’s lives and I truly appreciate your work.
~Caroline in Davidson, NC