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How Vegan Are You?

Before I was pregnant, I considered myself completely vegan.  After being on here and reading more about the choices of other people (this was almost 4 years ago - I now label myself vegetarian - I ate cheese all through my pregnancy), I realize I probably wasn't completely vegan.  I didn't eat dairy or eggs, but in restaurants, I ate bread, baked products, ate chocolate, etc., and didn't read the label on all items I bought.  I actually don't eat dairy or eggs now, but realize I can't truly call myself vegan.  (Yes, I just ate a Reese's Pieces out of my daughter's halloween bag!)

This might sound like an ignorant question, but how hard is it to be a completely TRUE vegan?  Isn't it impossible to eat at restaurants?  Have relatives and friends been supportive when eating out or at holidays?

It's not impossible to eat at restaurants at all!  If being vegan is something you really want to do, then you can do it!  I don't find it hard because it's something I believe in.

Yeah, I think reading the labels on the foods you buy is a pretty big part of being vegan.  Also, I go out to non-vegan restaurants all the time with my family and my boy and I don't have to much trouble.  If you just explain to the wait staff what you need, then it's usually fine.  It's a skill that you need to practice a few times.  But if you put it into perspective, having to ask for something specific at a restaurant every now and then isn't much of a sacrifice if it means you get to avoid foods you think are unethical.

Holidays are fine for me.  I always bring something, or just eat what there is and eat more later.  Really, again, it's not a big deal in the scheme of things.  Lots of my friends and my family make sure there are always vegan things for me, and sometimes I help them by giving suggestions.

I guess, when you are eating animal products, I would revisit the reasons why you became vegan.  There must be something.  Then if you think of those reasons, eating a Reese's pieces seems kind of....not worth it. 

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I'm sooo vegan, I'm vegan!

This pretty much sums it up:

If being vegan is something you really want to do, then you can do it!  I don't find it hard because it's something I believe in.

All "obstacles" are pretty much nonsense when you have the correct mindset.

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I try really hard to be a good vegan, and I think I will be someday when I have had more practice at it, but now I still slip up a lot.  I will sometime buy stuff that I know shouldn't have animal products in it, only to find out later that it does.  Or sometimes I get a huge craving for something and take a nibble of it, even though I know I shouldn't.  Also, I am not super strict when I go out to eat (if I can have a completely vegetarian meal when I'm out, I consider that good) because I get so sick of going to a normal restaurant and getting a salad or something with only half the normal toppings.  I want a full meal, since I'm going to pay full price for it anyway.
So, I guess I'm maybe not as morally strong as I should be, but I try really hard.  Don't be discouraged emiliezeug.  No one is perfect.  :)

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The good thing is that now you have the knowledge to have a greater impact.  I would also go back and watch a bit of "Earthlings" or "Meet your Meat" and think about how milk is milk, whether it's in a glass or a cookie or a chocolate bar.  It won't be long until you're like, "Enough of this," and make a switch to vegan. 

Also, I wanted to add that people will be the most supportive of you if you are giving them the impression that being vegan and eating vegan meals is non-negotiable for you.  If you only eat vegan foods some of the time, then why should they go out of their way on holidays?  They'll think you're being fussy.  But if you're like "I'm vegan, period," then they'll be more likely to know that you are serious and make some considerations for you.

Lots and lots and lots of us here do it, and we have all different backgrounds and family situations and life situations.  Again, the details just become insignificant when you make the commitment.  You just make it happen somehow.

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Maybe it's less important to be able to label yourself "vegan" than it is to work at reducing your contribution to the suffering of animals (I'm assuming that's your reason--I could be wrong).  Do what you feel comfortable with.  Maybe you start by just not buying dairy products and eggs.  Then you start paying attention to the ingredients in processed foods and opt for the vegan item when it's available.  Maybe you ask the restaurant to leave off the cheese or mayo or whatever.  You don't have to give them the third degree about what's in the bread or pasta.
No law says that you must attain vegan perfection overnight.  In fact, you never will.  As is often said here, the only perfect vegan is a dead vegan.  It's better that you do what you can sustain for a long period of time than that you go hard core and give up because it feels too hard.  Similarly, it's better to be almost vegan than say, 'Well, I'm not "vegan" so I'll just eat cheese at every meal.'  Don't let not living up to a label be an excuse for not making the effort.  If you deliberately eat an animal product once a year, you're not, by definition, "vegan" but you're making virtually the same impact as a "vegan."

Here's some food for thought:
http://www.caringconsumer.com/resources_ingredients.asp
http://www.veganoutreach.org/guide/qa.html#isntithardtogovegan 
(Actually the whole Vegan Outreach site is worth reading.)

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i do not find it hard at all.

in terms of eating out: are there certain restaurants people that you generally eat with like to go to? certain places that are around and most convenient? if you are committed to being vegan and find that the restaurant thing is a big deal or you i would encourage you to go to or call the restaurants you frequently find your self in and figure out a vegan meal that you can get there.

with label reading, if there are too many ingredients or ones i don't recognize i just don't buy the product. it's probab;y not good for me, anyway, and i could just make it from scratch if i really want it and can't find a suitable vegan option at the store.

depending on how much you want to change your diet, and easy thing to do is just re-focus your diet on produce. no label reading there!

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I realized that I didn't really answer your questions.  Impossible?  Not at all!  Occasionally inconvenient and/or socially awkward? Yes, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy.  You'll surely hit a few road bumps, but life goes on.  Here are a couple of helpful resources for restaurants:
http://www.veganeatingout.com/
http://www.vegcooking.com/diningOut.asp

The people I care about have always been supportive of my choices.  For holiday meals, bring some yummy vegan dishes that will impress the others and ensure that you will have something to eat. My family now requests the Vegan Green Bean Casserole.  My mom and others I've shared meals with have been cool about making the side dishes vegan when it's easily done. 

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the first time i went "vegan" i didn't know about all the hidden ingredients too! i thought i was vegan because i didn't eat meat or dairy... after reading Skinny Bitch and going vegan again maybe 5 years later i realized animal products r hidden in just about everything it seems which is completely disgusting! i was eating Progresso vegetable soup this one day and looked at the ingredients and it said it had milk ingredients! WTF vegetable soup has animals in it now too? i think i stalked ur profile before and saw that u live in cali like me?!?! so i don't think being vegan will be too hard... cali seems pretty vegan friendly and all us vegwebbers r always here to help... oh and btw i'm not a perfect vegan... i don't think anyone is when it comes to all the technicalities... just be the best vegan u can be and that makes all the difference seriously...

when it comes to eating out... yes i think it is hard... i just try to plan ahead of time and do my best... if i am stuck i just order what i believe to be vegan and live with it... u win some and u lose some... i hate the thought that i'm not always sure exactly what i am eating but just do ur best... i prefer to go to vegan restaurants but of course that's not always possible

my family is very supportive of my lifestyle thank god... if i am over for dinner they make a vegan meal... they know it;s healthy so they aren't upset about it... i'm actually converting some family members :) my sister is vegan, my bro is pretty much vegetarian as well as my gma... holidays r all about awesome sides!!! bring some of ur own and help ur relative (maybe a non vegan ingredients list?)

http://www.veganwolf.com/animal_ingredients.htm

holidays r usually at my gmas so i tell her dishes that i want her to make, bring my own dressing for salad, and some sides... it's not impossible... awkward at times but fuck it... i take compassion for animals over i'm a crazy person any day

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At a restaurant I order the most vegan friendly thing I can.  Like the other day I was at  a restaurant that had vegan subs, but they said they weren't sure of the bread contained traces of milk.  Rather than throw a stink and not give them my business, I ate there.  I think that in cases like that, if vegans are too "picky" I guess, then it shows that there isn't a demand for the attempts they are already trying to make.  Especially at restaurants I don't worry to much about "hidden" ingredients.  If nobody ever buys the veggie options, they aren't going to sell them anymore. I do not, however, eat at places where NOTHING they serve can be made vegan.

i don't really understand this logic. not to bash anyone who subscribes to it, but it's also what PETA writes on their accidentally vegan list. if a restaurant can not provide me with a real vegan option they will not get my business. period. why compromise our own ethics and reinforce that it is ok to not "worry" about little things. it's still animal in my food and i want it out. i would just write a letter to the corporate offices/manager and tell them they have a lovely restaurant that i won't be patronizing until they offer a real vegan option.

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They WEREN'T SURE if the bread had traces of milk?  What?  That's just a shitty restaurant, and I would not go there.  What of people with allergies?  I thought that restaurants were required to have allergy information, but I guess they are more content to lose (or endanger) the portion of their clientele who doesn't eat milk.

If a waiter told me that he or she "wasn't sure" if the bread contained milk or eggs, I'd be like, "Well, can you please find out?"  Because there is absolutely NO reason they shouldn't be able to find out.  If they couldn't, I would speak to the manager.  This should not be difficult.  If it is that difficult to answer a yes or no question, I'm not interested in eating there.

I'm with you hespedal.  Honestly, it is not that difficult.  But if you start making compromises, then you're never going to have the skills and motivation to get vegan food prepared for you.  Really, there's no need to compromise.

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Maybe it's less important to be able to label yourself "vegan" than it is to work at reducing your contribution to the suffering of animals (I'm assuming that's your reason--I could be wrong).  Do what you feel comfortable with.  Maybe you start by just not buying dairy products and eggs.  Then you start paying attention to the ingredients in processed foods and opt for the vegan item when it's available.  Maybe you ask the restaurant to leave off the cheese or mayo or whatever.  You don't have to give them the third degree about what's in the bread or pasta.
No law says that you must attain vegan perfection overnight.  In fact, you never will.  As is often said here, the only perfect vegan is a dead vegan.  It's better that you do what you can sustain for a long period of time than that you go hard core and give up because it feels too hard.  Similarly, it's better to be almost vegan than say, 'Well, I'm not "vegan" so I'll just eat cheese at every meal.'  Don't let not living up to a label be an excuse for not making the effort.  If you deliberately eat an animal product once a year, you're not, by definition, "vegan" but you're making virtually the same impact as a "vegan."

I'm going to start with quoting veggydog's sentiments above - because I could not have said it better myself !!!

In answer to your questions:

but how hard is it to be a completely TRUE vegan? - Although my reply is sort of redundant to what is quoted above - for me, I really don't focus on "true vegan" and try to focus more on what positive change I am able to bring to the world.  I find there are always "grey" areas that I'm not ready to change at this stage in my life (i.e - i watch baseball and football which uses animal skin in their products of play), I don't know that every ingredient of every item i eat is 100% vegan, the list could go on and on.  At various stages in my life, I find myself naturally ready to work on one or more aspects of the varied grey areas.

Isn't it impossible to eat at restaurants? - I don't believe so.  Ultimately - you're always the mercy of the restaurant and have to trust in the information they provide you.  Even then, do they really know every ingredient of every product they use?  I think the answer also varies on the type of restaurant you patronize.  If it's one that's more known as being "veggie friendly" - they might be more knowledgeable of the products they serve.  It also might vary from "restaurant" to "fast food" and even then, from chain to chain and individual store to individual store.  Is it impossible no - it just depends on what you're looking for and what you're willing to live with from the experience.

Have relatives and friends been supportive when eating out or at holidays? - Mostly, yes, and .. no one has ever been argumentative. 

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To me it sounds like they simply read on the ingredient list that came with the bread.....As in they did their best to clean EVERYTHING to prevent cross contamination between products that share the same equipment. The only real way to guarantee prevention of cross-contaminant is to use separate equipment and facilities.

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The only problem I have had is when dining out. I was a cook, baker, and chef for 15 years, trust me when I tell you that the average restaurant worker has NO IDEA what to even look for that might not be vegan! Don't think that a cook that is up to his eyeballs in food orders gives a crap weather the vitamins if the flour in the dinner rolls comes from an animal or not! I don't even try to explain to the waitress or waiter what is actually vegan. If they are not vegan, they are most likely not going to even understand why it might be a real concern in the first place.
If you really want to follow a vegan diet IMHO, you pretty much need to do what I do; eat before you go out, and just have a plain salad. 
Dan

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The only problem I have had is when dining out. I was a cook, baker, and chef for 15 years, trust me when I tell you that the average restaurant worker has NO IDEA what to even look for that might not be vegan! Don't think that a cook that is up to his eyeballs in food orders gives a crap weather the vitamins if the flour in the dinner rolls comes from an animal or not! I don't even try to explain to the waitress or waiter what is actually vegan. If they are not vegan, they are most likely not going to even understand why it might be a real concern in the first place.
If you really want to follow a vegan diet IMHO, you pretty much need to do what I do; eat before you go out, and just have a plain salad. 
Dan

I understand what you're saying, but I disagree.  Many restaurants are becoming more aware of vegetarianism & veganism - and it's also easy to explain.  If I don't have time to check the internet beforehand to find out what menu items are (or can be made to be) vegan, I pick the most vegan-looking thing on the menu, ask the server about it, and then order it without cheese or butter or whatever keeps it from being vegan.  Easy peasy.

Also, I avoid certain "types" of restaurants (you won't find me at a Perkins or TGI Fridays) - but there are a lot of restaurants that have special veg sections on the menu.

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PP i agree with u... unless it's a vegetarian friendly restaurant or u can find the ingredient list online the people usually have no idea what being vegan entails... it's not just no meat or dairy

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At a restaurant I order the most vegan friendly thing I can.  Like the other day I was at  a restaurant that had vegan subs, but they said they weren't sure of the bread contained traces of milk.  Rather than throw a stink and not give them my business, I ate there.  I think that in cases like that, if vegans are too "picky" I guess, then it shows that there isn't a demand for the attempts they are already trying to make.  Especially at restaurants I don't worry to much about "hidden" ingredients.  If nobody ever buys the veggie options, they aren't going to sell them anymore. I do not, however, eat at places where NOTHING they serve can be made vegan.

i don't really understand this logic. not to bash anyone who subscribes to it, but it's also what PETA writes on their accidentally vegan list. if a restaurant can not provide me with a real vegan option they will not get my business. period. why compromise our own ethics and reinforce that it is ok to not "worry" about little things. it's still animal in my food and i want it out. i would just write a letter to the corporate offices/manager and tell them they have a lovely restaurant that i won't be patronizing until they offer a real vegan option.

Here here!

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I'm so vegan that....I'm vegan.
;D

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I only eat things that I or my fellow agorists can efficiently grow ourselves in New Hampshire.  This automatically excludes a lot of tropical fruits, for example - think wheat instead of rice, kidney beans instead of soy, and so on.  I also avoid packaged foods for the same reasons I avoid animal products: government subsidies and/or government taxes, tariffs, regulations, etc.  This also means saying no to alcohol, smoking, artificial flavors, tea and coffee (I only drink water), etc, etc, etc.  Animal products are also avoided because you can grow a lot more nutrition on a small patch of land without passing this nutrition through a cow or a chicken first.  Main staples include legumes, grains, and vegetables.  I avoid most fruits, oils, and anything sweet because I believe it is unhealthy to get less than about 15-20% of your total calories from protein, and low-protein "carb junk" foods (ex. apples, which are just 2% protein) would make that a lot more difficult.

(Anyone who's interested can learn more about my diet by following this link.)

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Quote:
Two months into it I'm feeling pretty good, but what I'm doing is more than just a "vegan" diet, and since most "vegans" are complete brain-dead idiots I'd like to distance myself from them as much as possible.

... why exactly are you here?

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Funny story.  On one of my regular forums someone asked a question about how well pet tropical birds handle themselves colder climates.  I googled something related to that to get more info, and came across this forum's "fines for leaving animals out in the cold" thread.  Seeing all this doubleplusunlibertarian support for what I see as unjustifiable government tyranny, I felt obligated to sign up and post a rant, half-expecting that it will be deleted and/or I will be banned immediately.  Seeing that I wasn't, I decided to stay and debate the issue, and perhaps also make use of this forum's resources for animal-free nutrition and cuisine related resources, which I must admit I am very much impressed with.

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