10 Months Vegan — Q&A
Updated: Mar 20, 2022
Yup, still vegan! Here’s an overview of the most common questions I get:
Is it hard to be a vegan living abroad (in the Foreign Service)?
Yes, but. It’s hard to be vegan if the general population of a given country has never heard of veganism and supermarkets don’t stock vegan products. In Armenia, for example, there are only two or three restaurants that serve some vegan dishes, and I haven’t been able to find soy milk in the supermarket for a month now. On the other hand, diplomats and expats are generally well educated and open-minded about it, and my community here is supportive.
Do people judge you for being vegan?
Yes, although the extent of it I will never know, because I don't ask and it doesn't matter. There is definitely that idea that vegans are weird and difficult. People can hardly say the word “vegan” without making it sound like a strange disease. Still, I’m surprised to find that most people—even the critics—are quite interested in veganism, and since I love to debate and explain stuff, it all works out in the end.
Do you miss eating meat?
Do I sometimes miss ordering a Big Mac at McDonalds? Or my husband’s rib-eye dinners? Heck yeah! But no, I don’t miss meat in general. Definitely not the sad supermarket chicken, the low-grade beef, the tasteless pork chops, or the lord-knows-whats-innit sausages. That’s the whole reason I became vegan in the first place: I didn’t enjoy most types of meat and I didn’t think it was good for me.
Is it expensive to be vegan?
Of course not! Is a pound of dried beans more expensive than a pound of meat? No, exactly. Fresh produce doesn’t have to be expensive either, as long as you eat seasonal as much as possible and focus on nutrition rather than just preference; if I’d eat fresh berries in the middle of the winter every day, it could get expensive. But I eat a wide variety of fruits and veggies, including things I avoided before, like cauliflower and broccoli. It’s all about finding recipes that fit your taste. Then again, I’ve become pickier when it comes to food quality, so I definitely haven’t saved a lot of money, either.
Is it hard to cook vegan meals?
Google “vegan recipes” and you’ll find a ton of them—many of them really good. Now open a few and you’ll see that it’s definitely not harder than other kinds of cooking. Sure, you might need to buy a few new products, or a food processor if you didn’t have one before, but that’s it. I will admit, though, that it’s a big change at first. I suggest easing animal products out of your cooking over a period of weeks or months: start with meat, then cheese, then eggs, then milk, then butter, etc.
What do you eat?
My breakfast and lunch haven't changed much. For breakfast I eat soy yogurt with granola, and toast with peanut butter. For lunch it's usually soup, salad, or veggies with hummus and crackers. For dinner, I eat about twice the amount of veggies I ate before (looks like I'm finally hitting that recommended amount!) Also, I eat way more beans and lentils now. I put them in curries, soups, chilies and tacos. And I eat new stuff like millet and buckwheat–or at least I'm experimenting with it. So far, my kids like it more than I do. I make various veggie burgers and bought a hot air-fryer that I use all the time to make regular and sweet potato fries.
What do you do when someone offers you something that's not vegan?
It’s rare that someone tries to force a certain food on me. Most parties and events are buffet-style, so nobody who doesn’t pay close attention really knows what I eat. But if the situation calls for it, I’ll eat animal products. The worst that can happen is a mildl stomach upset, which I sometimes prefer over offending someone or missing out on a special dessert or something.
So you’re not really, truly, 100% vegan?
Right, but who cares? I don’t see any reason to be militantly vegan. It would just annoy people and make my life a lot harder. Because I move a lot I get confronted with new foods and products all the time. If I'd try to be totally vegan, I'd have to do endless amounts of research to find out what's in that bread, chips, baked goods, pasta, hummus… the list of things that potentially aren't vegan is long, even if the ingredients on a product don’t include (recognizable) animal products. For me, the point of being vegan is to focus on eating fresh, unprocessed food—not to spend all my time on it.
Are you afraid of being vitamin deficient?
Not really. I’ve always made a point out of eating a wide variety of foods and I continue to do that. There’s no way I’m getting less vitamins than the average person does, even now that I'm avoiding animal products. Also, I found that a lot of the warnings about veganism aren’t true (anymore). You don’t need a bunch of milk to get your calcium; there are plenty of other natural sources and plant-based milks are fortified with calcium too. You don’t need protein from meat because you can easily get it from beans and nuts. It's not as easy to be protein deficient as the fitness world would have you believe (maybe because they want to sell protein powders and drinks, just a guess). You won’t get B-12 deficiency if you eat or drink things fortified with it, which many vegan products are.
Are your kids OK with being vegan?
My kids, who are 1 and 5, never noticed we changed our diet. I’m aware that they'll become more aware of what we eat at some point, but so far they like my cooking. My son is actually becoming a bit of a health-freak because we talk about healthy food so much. Before putting anything in his mouth he’ll check with me if it’s healthy or not (if I say no, he’ll often still eat it though).
Are you going to be vegan forever?
No idea. I think I’ll always prefer plant-based, unprocessed foods over animal products and processed foods. I’ve never been a fan of cheese, and I doubt I’ll ever go back to eating meat every day; it seems as unappealing to me as ever. But you never know. Depending on my kids, the countries I’ll live in, the quality of food I have access to, and the development of my own tastes, things might change!