Why I’m Vegan Instead of Vegetarian
Here in Ohio, everything is covered in cheese. Most people say they would never stop consuming it. I used to be one of those people.
Then one day, I randomly stopped.
When I decided to go vegan overnight in early 2017, I gave up meat, dairy, eggs, and all other animal byproducts. It was weird. But it became my new normal.
I’m typically an all or nothing kinda guy. If I want to start going to the gym, I need to go every day to build the habit. If I find a new band I like, I listen to all of their music. If I’m gonna stop eating meat, I might as well give up all animal byproducts.
“I could probably be vegetarian, but never vegan.”
I hear that statement a lot. In my opinion, being vegan is pretty simple, but being a vegetarian would literally be one of the easiest things to do.
It also depends how hardcore you want to be with it. There are no rules. It’s your life, you get to decide what you want to eat.
For me, if you’re thinking of going vegetarian, just go the extra step and be vegan. You’re not missing out on anything. But there are plenty of people who keep it flexible and choose one of the many types of vegetarianism:
- Flexitarian – Not really vegetarian, but they mostly keep their meals plant-based. I guess you could call this the lazy vegetarian route. Like you know what you’re supposed to do, but you don’t really want to spend much time thinking about it.
- Pescatarian (or Pescetarian) – Also technically not a vegetarian, also incredibly simple to do. Some people think you have to eat fish, so they choose this route.
- Pollotarian – I’ve never ran into someone that goes by this label, but I think a lot of people are actually this. Still not a vegetarian by any means, but I guess they just avoid red meat and seafood. Literally the easiest thing to do.
- Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian – Now we’re getting somewhere. This is probably the most typical vegetarian. They don’t eat any meat, but they still eat eggs and dairy. It’s like they’re so close, but they just can’t give up the holy grail: cheese! Plus eggs are the only place you can get protein…
- Ovo-Vegetarian – Just like the last group, they’re almost there, but these peeps finally gave up all dairy products. They’re still eating those egg things though.
- Lacto-Vegetarian – This is the opposite of the Ovo group, this crowd gave up eggs, but they still consume dairy. Milk for strong bones bro!
- Vegan – Lastly, the community of people you’ve probably heard of, the ones that gave up all animal-related products.
None of these are inherently right or wrong. Again, it’s up to you to figure out what works for you and your body and your situation. Despite any ego or negativity you might have assumed I had while reading those descriptions above, I don’t hate people that choose a path that’s different than mine.
The main purpose of this website is to document my vegan journey, show others how easy it is to be vegan these days, and to discuss various topics that come up often, like this one.
I’m no expert, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a nutritionist. I might talk about health-related things, but do your own research and try your own experiments. What works for me might not be the best thing for you.
And I don’t even know if this is the best path for me. I just keep learning every day and trying new things. But after two years of being vegan, I feel fine. I feel normal. I can’t imagine going back to meat or dairy.
“Why do you make it seem like being a vegetarian is simple?”
Because it is. Almost every single restaurant these days has a vegetarian option, or several. Again, it goes back to the level of complexity you want to make for yourself.
Some people are vegetarian, and order a salad with eggs and cheese on it. But when the waiter brings it over, they discover it has chicken on it. Me personally, I might explain the situation and order a new one. Some vegetarians will eat it anyways, saying, “Well, it’s just chicken, and it’s just this one time, it will be ok.” And some people will just pick the chicken out of the salad (which I might also do) and throw it away (which I would hate to waste) or give it to their friend they’re eating with. No right or wrong option, to each their own.
As a common vegetarian, you’re mainly just saying no to meat, poultry, and seafood. Everything else is fair game. You don’t have to worry about what products were used to make your food, as long as it doesn’t clearly have a steak on top of it, or a pile of shrimp next to it, or shredded chicken stuffed inside of it.
Almost all major ingredients are vegetarian: butter, cheese, milk, salt, sugar, eggs, flour, yeast, nuts, chocolate, baking powder, fruit, spices, honey, baking soda, wheat, herbs, cornstarch, oils, and of course veggies. You’re pretty damn safe ordering food anywhere or eating at a holiday party at anyone’s house if you say you’re vegetarian.
Being vegan is also pretty easy, you just have to do your research, plan ahead of time as needed, and realize that just about any type of food you love eating can be made with non-animal ingredients. Seriously. But when it comes to eating out, it’s gonna be a little tougher than being vegetarian.
“How can you enjoy normal foods as a vegan? Sorry, I’m not giving up pizza!”
Don’t worry, I never gave up pizza. Now that I think about it, I don’t eat it that often. But I do eat it more when I travel for some reason, even though there are plenty of vegan pizza places around here.
Anyways, you just have to ask the pizza joint if their crust and pizza sauce are vegan. Or ask them if either of those things has milk, butter, eggs, or cheese in them. It’s mildly annoying at times, but you get used to asking restaurant employees these types of questions. And it’s 2019, they’ve probably seen just about every dietary restriction walk through their doors. You’ll be fine.
With pizza, I just get no meat and no cheese, and then I load up on the veggie toppings. Simple. If you encounter a hipster pizza place, they might even have vegan cheese or vegan meat alternatives. One of the best pizzas I’ve ever had was in Iceland. It had vegan mozzarella, vegan chorizo, and bananas. Pretty random, pretty amazing.
And don’t think it stops there. I still eat: tacos, burgers, pasta with meatballs, popular Asian dishes, subs, pancakes, cheese, cookies, donuts, chips, and more. I’m not saying all of this is extremely healthy, but there are vegan options just about everywhere, and I believe a lot of it (maybe most of it) is way healthier than the original versions you’re used to.
Over time, you will see me post all of these foods on the blog, and where to find them in various cities/countries around the world. As of right now, I’ve had vegan food in 7 countries, over 20 states, and more than 50 popular cities. I’ll share everything as fast as I can write all the posts for each place!
“I still think it will be too hard to jump straight to veganism.”
No worries. I understand your fear and reservations. I used to say I could never go full on vegan, but maybe vegetarian might be possible. Well I’m proof that you can warp to the next level without a cheat code. But if you aren’t ready to fully commit just yet, go the vegetarian route first and see how you handle that.
Maybe you’ll be able to do it for a month straight with no problems. Maybe even three or six months. If so, upgrade to veganism for a week and see how you feel. You might surprise yourself.
Another thing for me was that I started to wonder what it would have been like to go from a typical meat-eater, to being a vegetarian for a few months or a year, then try to transition into being vegan. I kind of think I would have been so used to eating eggs and dairy (and maybe seafood if I was one of those flexitarian-vegetarians) that it might have been harder than just going all in from the beginning. Who knows.
Again, we’re all different, we learn different ways, we have different priorities, we handle challenges differently, we have different morals & beliefs, and we’re all in different situations with different circumstances. There’s no shame with any of these paths, whichever one you take. Or if you start off on one and then switch gears and head down another. The only rules are the ones you set for yourself.
Regardless, I enjoy everything available to us at this time.
I’m sure people have been eating similar to this for a long time, but it would have been a lot more difficult 100 years ago for all sorts of reasons. Even 20 years ago, being a vegan would have been pretty tricky, especially if you were trying to eat at restaurants, or if you were in a small town, or you traveled a lot.
Those examples still contain obstacles these days, but they are much easier to maneuver around. You can order vegan food online and have it shipped to just about anywhere, or grow an indoor garden if you live in the city, or use food review apps or food blogs (like this one) to find new places to eat while on the road.
It might take a few extra minutes to order at a place where the staff isn’t up to speed yet (you might actually be helping them understand all of this for the first time, they might even appreciate the free education), or a bit more planning when you’re on the go, or just using your brain to think before you consume.
I think this is a good thing. We all need to be more intentional… with what we eat, but also with everything in life.
So what do you think? Are you a vegetarian that’s ready to give the vegan path a try? Are you a carnivore that is curious about becoming a vegetarian? Maybe you should give it a try for 24 hours. See how that goes. Then try three days. Then a week. Then maybe a month. It doesn’t matter how slow you’re moving down any course, as long as you’re moving. Stagnation kills.