From Omnivore to Meat-No-More: An Interview With a Crabby Vegan

We know not everyone who reads this is vegan – in fact, not everyone who writes this blog is vegan (namely Meg). But, whatever my eating habits may be, I do want to understand more about food and what it means to people, whether they’re vegan or not. After all, it’s our goal to create an ice cream that anyone, no matter their diet habits or restrictions, will enjoy, so you’ll see interviews with people from all different backgrounds here to help round out our foodie education.

For anyone who hasn’t tried a vegan diet, it’s probably pretty difficult to understand exactly what that would entail. Well for all of the omnivores out there, next time you’re at the grocery store, try looking for strcitly vegan foods. There are some obvious “no-nos” if you’re vegan – stay away from the dairy case, and the deli – but take a look at the back of that box of cookies, too. That long list of ingredients probably includes a whole lot of non-vegan stuff that vegans have to watch out for. That pasta? Might have some of those ingredients too.

Brian, a fellow Cincinnatian and blogger, has made the switch from omnivore to vegan, and he’s run into more challenges than you can find in the grocery aisles. He blogs about what it’s been like for him to shift to the vegan diet, why he did it, and much more – but I’ll let him tell you more about it for himself.

Q: For those that haven’t read your blog yet, give us a little background. When did you become a vegan? 

Brian: I became vegan in April of 2010. I changed over from a full on Omnivorous lifestyle. I literally changed overnight from eating meat, cheese, drinking milk, and avoiding most vegetables like the plague. I tend to overdo things, so instead of trying to phase into it, I stopped all animal based products when I returned from a trip to Colorado. From the next day on, I began the process of figuring out what exactly I got myself into.

Q: What was the inspiration behind making that change? 

Brian: My wife was 4 months into Yoga certification training, and had already given up red meat, and was moving towards a vegetarian diet. She had been enlightening me to the concept of “Ahimsa” and bringing to my attention the real workings of the meat and dairy industry. I’ll admit, I was pretty sure those industries were not squeaky clean, but I’ve always been of the mindset that meat and milk come from a grocery store, and thats about all I needed to know.   

Q: Have you faced challenges with adhering to a vegan diet?

Brian: I have and continue to face them. When I started, I had no idea what I was doing, so I was first challenged with what I could eat. I spent about two weeks eating PB&J and pasta. Granted, PB&J is probably the worlds perfect food, but I was sure I could not keep eating it. Over time we learned how to cook and shop, and have begun to amass a library of things to make. But it is still a challenge, as food in general is not a simple as it once was. 

I was surprised at how little I missed milk, and how much I missed things like hot dogs and hamburgers. I’ve been seeking to replicate and find the perfect substitute for them, but realize that those are not going to leave me satisfied, and I need to find other things I love, instead of trying to reproduce the old desires. 

Q: Have you experienced any positives associated with veganism?

Brian: I feel healthier, and I dont have diners remorse. I did in fact love fast food, but would literally feel ill at times after picking something up that sounded good at the time. In December I had noted that I had lost 30 lbs since adopting the new dietary lifestyle. I have a greater appreciation for Organic food, and am now seeking out how we can eliminate preservatives and artificial ingredients completely from our diet. I’m better educated about what goes into food, and the myths of why we need dairy. I feel at least I am not contributing to industries that are preying on the fact that our nation is and will continue down a path of gluttony. Oh and I’ve met some cool chicks.

Q: Are there things that you miss aside from certain foods that you miss about being an omnivore?

Brian: I travel quite a bit, and I miss being able to go out to dinner, and order a meal without just settling for the one thing on the menu that is or can be easily veganized. I miss going to my wifes inlaws for Sunday dinner and having to eat “around” the items that were cooked. I miss the convenience.  

Q: What’s one thing someone who is vegan should know about those who aren’t? 

Brian: I think that most people who are not vegan have no idea why anyone would want to become vegan, nor would they be aware of the ideals that the vegan has adopted. So I treat anyone who would challenge me with smiles and respect. They don’t know me or anything about me, so I will give the benefit of the doubt, and happily explain my position. I don’t judge, or pass judgement. This is my choice, my life.

Q: What’s one thing that someone who isn’t vegan should know about being vegan?

Brian: I’ve learned to view this like anyone else who has a personal lifestyle that may not align with mine to simply respect another persons lifestyle. And we aren’t all flaming liberals. But most of us probably are.

Q: What would you like people to know about the vegan lifestyle?

Brian: I think you can guess the theme of my comments, and it is really about respect first. I’m not a preacher, and tend not to bring my personal opinions on how others choose to life their lives. I realize just because everyone does something, doesn’t imply that it is right, but since I tend not to try and sell my lifestyle, I just ask that others do the same. I would offer to others that I am just like them, I just choose to make different decisions when it comes to dining, shopping, etc. Its hard to pick us out from a crowd. We are like real people.

Q: Are there issues concerning the vegan lifestyle that you find surprising? exciting? confusing? 

Brian: I have a friend who eats meat/dairy but does so in a somewhat responsible manner. He buys his meat from a local farm, drives almost an hour to another farm for his milk, and pays upwards of $4 for a dozen of organic eggs, that I suspect are laid by chickens hanging out by the pool, and reading trashy romance novels. OK, the meat still results in the death of the animal. The milk? Well I didnt ask if it was given up freely by cows who who got pregnant because they were promiscuous. But if the chickens are really living the good life, why not enjoy their product? But then is that exploitation the problem? 

Am I really making a difference by avoiding the whole wheat bread from Subway because it has honey? Is this better for me than the vegan choice of Italian? Would honey as a sweetener server me better that high fructose corn syrup? 

A friend of mine has been vegan for 20+ years but he eats honey. Perhaps by some he would have to give back the vegan membership card. 

Q: Anything else you’d like to add? A favorite vegan dish you can find here in Cincinnati? A favorite recipe? 

Brian: I could go on and on here, but since we are head there tonight, I should point out that I love Skyline, as it was probably the only place that I continued to frequent before and after turning vegan. I was happy to find out there pasta is vegan, so having a 5-way with veg chili (no cheese) is one of my fav’s. Besides that, Melt, Amma’s Kitchen, and now Shanghai Mama’s are our current fav’s in the city.

To read more about Brian’s experience, keep up with him on his blog: http://crabbyvegan.blogspot.com/

He’s also listed on our blogroll at the bottom of the page, and he’s on twitter! @CrabbyVegan

I’ll write again soon! Enjoy the weekend! Love.

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