Originally, I was just going to try it for a week but once I did that, it just seemed to make sense to keep going. I should probably say "plant-based diet" instead of vegan because I know I'm not great at this vegan stuff. I'm sure I've accidentally eaten things that were not 100% vegan. Every Wednesday, I go to a local grocery store (that has a kick-ass salad bar) and get a salad for lunch. They have this balsamic vinaigrette dressing that I love, but it does have trace amounts of honey in it (and I had eaten it several times before I noticed that). I probably shouldn't eat it, but I tell myself that I get bonus points for the salad itself. At work there is a candy bowl full of Lifesavers. One day I Googled Lifesavers and it turns out that not only are they not vegan, they really aren't even vegetarian. They contain stearic acid, which is sometimes animal-derived. Trying to eat vegan is a bit of a minefield.
My friend Jennifer (who has been vegan for quite a few years) told me that all vegans have to draw the line somewhere. So, I try to keep that in mind. I won't eat, say, a piece of cheese or drink a glass of dairy milk (I had actually switched to almond milk years ago anyway), but if something I eat has some random sub-ingredient that isn't vegan . . . well, I guess I won't lose too much sleep over that. I'm doing my best, and that's all I can do.
I have learned to cook some new stuff, which is good. I'm not much of a cook, but I try. Last weekend I made an awesome black bean soup. I'm going to try another new soup recipe next week. Today I'm taking my foster dog Botas to his new home and I'm stopping at a vegan bake sale on the way home. (I thought going vegan might also help to rein in my sweet tooth but . . . nope!)
The two main challenges I've encountered since I went vegan:
1. Restaurants. They are tricky. Jennifer gave me a list of stuff of local restaurants and which meals are vegan (or can be made to be vegan), so that was helpful. Being out of town and eating out can be tricky.
2. Company lunches. Our administrative person is just as nice as can be and wants me to be able to eat at company lunches (held regularly on Fridays), but it's just causing us both too much anxiety. I can't eat pizza or most of the other stuff that gets ordered. I've tried to reassure her that I am more than fine with just bringing my own lunch. No trouble at all.
The main benefit I've encountered since I went vegan:
Peace of mind. I became a vegetarian at 19 as a direct protest of factory farming. I didn't want to be a part of something like that. I did my research and I was done. Adopting a vegan diet means opting out of support of the dairy and egg industries as well. They are really no better than the factory farms. And I'll spare you the details of what you probably already know.
I know that most people want to leave a big mark on the world before they die, but I'm trying to leave as small a footprint as I can.