Why I'm Vegan

There was absolutely no transitional period when I became vegan. I'd never even flirted with vegetarianism. Heck, even though I live in Southern California, which is basically the stereotypical motherland of tofu and green juice, I still only know one actual vegan* younger cousin, Alicia.

I'm confident that Alicia and I would FOR SURE be hanging out all the time and driving to do weird vegan things together if she lived in Los Angeles.

Now, something you need to know about Alicia and me is that we descend from a loud and proud meat-loving family. Before I became vegan myself, I noticed at our family gatherings how many negative comments and misinformed opinions everyone always had about the fact that Alicia ate differently than the rest of us. But Alicia just marched on, making her own dips and sides for family stuff and like the lady boss she is, she didn't let the h8rs get her down. I love that. So how did I go from a chicken fingers fiend to a full-on vegan? It kind of all started with a sandwich platter at my Pop Pop's funeral.

A few days before my grandfather's memorial service, my grandmother's friend dropped off a large platter of hoagies so we could stuff our faces in the face of grief. Hoagies are pretty legendary in New Jersey, so I downed as many as my stomach could handle that week. A few days after Pop Pop's funeral, I pulled myself together and flew to St. Louis for a work conference.

Here's me and PopPop in 1997 before my first international trip to Ireland, on which I mostly ate bacon sandwiches and créme brûlée.

If you've ever been to a business conference, you know that the meals aren't made with vegans in mind. We'd start each day with a breakfast buffet of bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, chocolate chip pancakes, and buttery faux fruit pastries. Obviously, everyone pretends they don't see the sad tray of cantaloupe and grapefruit slices. Between meetings, I'd snack on cookies, chips and candy during the breaks and wash it all down with a few cups of coffee with heavy cream. And after dinner, I'd go to cocktail parties and continue to stuff myself with mac 'n' cheese bites, chicken tenders, pigs in a blanket, hamburger sliders and cheesecake bites. I don't drink, so free charcuterie is pretty much the next best thing. Oy. I ate like that every day during the conference and when I got home, I realized that it wasn't just *that* week that I ate and cooked a mostly a meat and cheese diet. Green stuff was always an afterthought...a little pity party on the side of my plate.