10 Months Vegan — Q&A
Updated: Dec 4, 2018
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, and my community here is supportive.
Do people judge you for being vegan?
Yes, although the extent of it I will never know, of course. 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 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 rucola-avocado-artichoke salad every night, it would get expensive. But I eat a wide variety of veggies, including things I refused to eat before, like cauliflower and broccoli. It’s all about finding recipes that fit your taste. Then again, I’m pickier than ever when it comes to food quality, so I definitely haven’t saved 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 cut up veggies, and a (hummus) sandwich. For dinner, I eat about double the amount of veggies. Looks like I'm finally hitting that recommended amount! Also, I eat way more beans and lentils now, putting them in curries, soups, chilies and tacos. And, as the picture shows, I eat 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 to what I eat knows I’m vegan. But if the situation calls for it, I’ll eat animal products. The worst that can happen is a mildly upset stomach, which I prefer over offending someone.
So you’re not really, truly, 100% vegan?
Who cares? I don’t see any reason to be a “militant” vegan. It would just annoy people and make my life a lot harder. I wouldn’t be able to trust almost anything: bread, chips, baked goods, French fries, pasta, hummus… the list of things people claim are not vegan is endless, even if the ingredients on the back don’t list any animal products. The point, for me, of being vegan is to focus on eating fresh, unprocessed food—not to make veganism my life’s mission.
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. 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. You don’t need protein from meat; you can easily get it from beans and nuts and god knows what else. 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, haven’t noticed a thing. I’m aware that this will change at some point, but so far they love my cooking. My son is actually becoming a bit of a health-freak because we talk about 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 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!