I should be a vegan. So should you. It’s better for your health, and better for the planet. And its kinder to animals too. So what’s stopping us?
When I asked my Facebook friends why they hadn’t gone vegan yet, I got some very specific responses:
Bacon, eggs and chicken wings.
Sirloin, pork chops and ice cream.
Steak au poivre, coq au vin and sole meuniere.
Chocolate! My life’s blood.
And, of course, there’s a joker in every crowd:
Why would I want to be a vegan? Nobody gets out of this world alive. Pass the arsenic, please.
In my own case, it comes down to the three C’s — cheese, chocolate, and chicken. I can’t imagine enjoying life without them. So maybe I should have a better imagination? I could, for instance, imagine the cruelty to animals that my diet encourages. But it’s much easier to enjoy my lunch if I don’t.
And my eating habits aren’t really all that bad. I almost never eat meat, and I don’t eat much dairy. I’m not a true vegan. But I’m vegan-ish.
Isn’t that enough?
Well, no. If everyone actually went vegan, it would drastically reduce pollution and climate change, help prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimers, and eliminate a world of animal suffering.
You’d think that balancing all of that against my desire to have a slice of pizza or a chocolate-covered Oreo would be a no-brainer.
With this in mind, my friend Mike and I recently decided to try to go vegan. Not forever. (We know ourselves too well to try to pull that off.) But just for one day.
Mike makes terrific vegan soups and stews. I create great salads. We‘d sussed out some good vegan restaurants in our area, and our fridges were well stocked with crudités and fresh fruit.
Just one entirely vegan day. How difficult could it be?
Every day, we started out with good intentions. And every day we failed.
I’d spend the morning noshing on fruit, or carrots with hummus. I’d lunch on curried cauliflower, or black bean soup. Delicious! Then I’d arrive at work. “It’s Deb’s birthday, Roz!” a co-worker would announce. “Do you want a piece of chocolate cake?”
Of course I wanted a piece of chocolate cake.
Or I’d be a successful herbivore all day, until I stopped by my sister’s house. “Want to stay for dinner?” she’d ask. “Larry is making three-fish chowder.”
I love Larry’s three-fish chowder.
Mike’s nemesis? Ranch Dressing. “And once you’ve had a little ranch,” he told me, “it’s easy to have some cheese. Before you know it, you’re eating a chicken wrap.”
You wake up in the morning and vow: Today is the day! I’m really going to do this thing. You stay Plant Strong, Just Saying No to the many non-vegan choices that are offered to you. Then, one too-tempting nibble of this or tiny taste of that and — bam! — you’re merely a vegetarian. Or, worse, a carnivore.
But I’m not a carnivore! I’m a failed vegan. Isn’t there a difference?
Here’s today’s philosophical question: Is it better to have tried to be a vegan and failed than never to have tried to be vegan at all?
After months of attempting to achieve just one vegan day, Mike and I realized last Thursday that we’d actually done it. We’d both managed to overcome all temptations and enjoy a day of nothing but delicious, nourishing plant-based food!
We decided to celebrate our vegan day with a trip to the café at Barnes & Noble, where we’d enjoy soy milk lattés and read expensive art magazines.
We grabbed a table, stacked our magazines thereon, and went to the counter to order our lattes.
“We’re all out of soy milk,” said the barrista.
“You’re kidding me,” I said.
“That’s impossible!” said Mike.
If you drink Barnes & Noble coffee black, it tastes like sludge. But add a splash of milk and the day was shot to hell as far as being vegan was concerned.
So what did we do? Because today is World Vegan Day. I’d like to say that Mike and I realized that we’d finally managed to reached our vegan tipping point. Wreck our vegan day by polluting our coffee with a dairy product? Hell no!
But I’m going to be honest. We ordered skim milk lattés.
“Tomorrow is another day,” we promised ourselves.
Today is World Vegan Day. I don’t know what you’ll be up to, but I will, once again, be trying to go vegan. If only for a day. Wish me luck.
Roz Warren is the author of “Our Bodies, Our Shelves: A Collection of Library Humor.” This essay first ran on Women’s Voices for Change.