Ask A Vegan: What was the hardest thing for you to give up, and are you still missing it?

For most people, cheese seems to be the hardest thing to “quit”.  And for good reason.  There are many studies that present evidence that cheese has addictive qualities, which is one reason so many people have cravings for it.  And although cheese was one thing that I ate on a daily basis before going vegan, I would have to say cheese was not the thing I thought most about.

I have a pretty big sweet tooth.  Ask my boyfriend.  And because of that, I’ve become my dentist’s best friend.  It wasn’t uncommon for me to eat a pastry at Starbucks every day.  The main reason being, I work there.  But when I went vegan, it meant that I was no longer going to pick out day old pastries from the bin in the backroom.  Every once in a while, I would gaze at a doughnut and remember how it would taste in my mouth.  But within seconds of thinking that, my brain would also switch to the process of making that doughnut.  It wasn’t just a vision of a machine squirting out dough.  It was how the milk was taken to make that dough.  It was how these dairy cows would rarely, if at all, get to see the light of day.  How they are constantly impregnated, then have their babies taken from them.  How these baby calves are either thrown back into the dairy industry or stuck in veal compartments where they are not allowed to move (literally) until they are killed, within months of being born.  And how these dairy cows are killed for meat after 3-7 years, when their typical lifespan is 20-25!

Because I work around these pastries on a daily basis, I have the opportunity to eat whatever I want.  But for me to do that, would mean I would be okay with the idea that animals are ours to do with as we wish.  Which strikes me as an incredibly arrogant, speciesist way of life.  Does that mean I am depriving myself?  Absolutely not!!  There are tons of sweets you can eat as a vegan.  In fact, one of the most popular vegan foods in the past few years have been vegan cupcakes!  You can find chocolate (Endangered Species, Newman’s Own), cookies (Newman’s Own, Oreos), and tons of dairy-free ice cream in most grocery stores.  And if I feel like something a bit more fancy, I’ll take a trip to my local health food store, which usually has some kind of delicious cupcake or confection.  And of course, I try to eat any sweets in moderation…as much as possible 🙂

What it comes down to in the end, is this:  I don’t look at it as giving up anything.  It’s not mine to take to begin with, therefore I don’t feel deprived.  There’s a tasty substitute for just about every animal product out there.  Just experiment to find your favorite, or make your own–that’s half the fun!