How Do YOU Vegan? “The Brand New Vegan” Edition

By Josh Fernandez, Guest Blogger

Halfway through my Starbucks Protein Bistro Box I realized I was eating an egg. A giant hardboiled egg. “Nope,” I thought. “That’s probably not vegan.”

Hello. My name is Joshua Fernandez and I am new here.

So far, the hardest part of being a vegan is eating vegan food. Yes, that sounds really stupid when I write it down, but it’s true. My first week as a vegan was a series of half-eaten mouthfuls of food and mad dashes to the trashcan.

My office-mates probably thought I was suffering from bulimia because I kept running to the bathroom to spit out my lunch.

“Wait,” I’d say into the bowels of the faculty garbage bin. “Was that granola bar vegan?!”

It turns out it wasn’t vegan. At all.

Because milk chocolate chips aren’t vegan. Because they contain milk.

Neither is cheddar cheese. Because it contains cheese.

Yes, old school vegans are probably reading this and muttering, “Psssht, what a stupid newbie.”

But I don’t care. I am determined to get this right.

I love animals. And I don’t want to contribute to their suffering, only to my own, which is why I have sworn off the most delicious foods on earth. Well, there’s only one delicious food on earth, and that’s cheese pizza (goodbye, my old lover. I’ll see you in hell.)

Josh and ToniOne of the reasons I swore off cheese pizza and became a vegan has a lot to do with my friend Toni. We were on our way back from a friend’s house. The trip took about an hour. At that point, I was a happy pescatarian and felt morally superior to most people on Earth for my choice to not eat chicken or beef. I only occasionally ate fish. But Toni started telling me this horrific tale about what farmers do to the chickens that are too old to lay eggs. I don’t want to go into the gross details of the story, but let’s just say it involved live chickens, a big metal vat and fire.

That image stuck out in my head, shattering my vegetarian comfort into a million tiny pieces that I would never be able to reassemble. Even though I tried. Desperately. I’m really good at rationalizing and lying to myself. When I was a vegetarian I had successfully convinced myself that fish was a plant.

“I can find the farms that treat their chickens with dignity and respect!” I said.

The thing is I’m waaaaay too lazy to seek out compassionate chicken farmers. For someone like me, it’s easier to assume that they are all heartless murderers with a lust for dead chickens.

unnamed (3)Another problem with veganism is that I’m a marathoner, sometimes clocking in at about 60 miles per week, and I told myself that if I only eat plant-based food I would most likely keel over on mile 25.

I haven’t actually tested that theory yet, but I will find out on December 6, when I run my first marathon as a vegan. And mark my words: If that happens, on my death bed I will write another blog post for Vegan Outreach, entitled, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE, BUTCHER A COW AND EAT IT IMMEDIATELY.”

I’m kidding.unnamed

I have this other friend, Dave, who is a vegan and he runs ultramarathons. Sometimes he only eats fruit, which he calls fruitarian, a word that my spell check doesn’t even recognize. Most humans don’t even recognize that word. I don’t even think it’s a word. Maybe Dave isn’t even real. Like he’s just some hallucination I’m having from being so protein deficient.

Bunnamed (2)ut that, of course, is another misconception. I get all the protein I need from beans, avocados, fruits and nuts. I’m actually gaining
weight because I eat burritos filled with black beans, potatoes, spinach, onions, garlic, avocados and cashew cheese about 700 times a week.

I suck at being a vegan. I really do. I tried to make vegan lasagna and at once burned and overcooked it while forgetting half of the ingredients. A better name for that dish would be “Black, floppy noodles with some crusty red crap on top.”

Sometimes I feel so hungry and lazy that I’ll just lick almond butter off a spoon for lunch.

Also, I’m sort of a poser. I mean, sure, I love animals and I don’t want them to suffer, but I really want to be a vegan because I want to wear vegan themed clothing. Like, who doesn’t want to wear a shirt of a carrot riding a bike that says, “Go Vegan”?

I also want to be a vegan because people keep telling me not to be a vegan. If there’sunnamed (1) one consistent motivator, it’s people telling me I can’t do things. Which, now that I think about it, is probably why I got kicked out of high school.

Anyway, I have no idea what I’m doing, but I have a network of good vegan friends who are helping me—inspiring me to live cruelty-free.

As I sit here in my office, waiting for a student to come into my office hour, I’m writing this blog post and sipping my
–Wait, is this coffee vegan?!

*runs to bathroom*

*regurgitates latte into trash can*

16 thoughts on “How Do YOU Vegan? “The Brand New Vegan” Edition

  1. Love your genuine and funny post. I ran two marathons as a vegan and did just fine. In fact, I felt like a stronger runner once I became vegan. I supplement my diet with protein shakes and that helps. Thanks for caring about animals and for spreading the word. Good luck on your race!

  2. Hi Josh, I understand where you’re coming from feeling like you suck at being vegan. I feel that way too sometimes. Ive always loved dairy, yet im lactose intolerant. Ive been eating Daiya cheese in my chili. Its different, but i feel like im getting used to it finally. I never really crave meat, just dairy. One day at a time. Good luck on the marathon!!!

  3. Aww! Just know that…it gets better. Lots better. That first month is the hardest part by far. Then, oddly enough, it all starts coming together. While I still eat a lot of apple slices dunked in peanut butter for lunch because I don’t feel like creating something more complicated, I’ve discovered that if you put the thin slices and pb between two slices of bread, It becomes my new favorite sandwich and a fairly balanced meal. 🙂

    Should I say “hang in there, you can do it” or should I say, “give it up! you’ll always suck at being vegan”? Just pick the one you find more motivating and pretend I said it. At any rate, great post! It reminded me of those early days in veganism, 20 years ago.

  4. Hi Josh,
    I am a (soon to be 61 year old) vegan guy, stopped eating animals at 14 years old September 1969.
    I used to be a distant runner, as well as a distant cyclist, now much lower mileage at both only because I just don’t seem to have the time to devote to long distances.
    I tell people the way veganism has worked for me is it seems I am always eating. Not 3 big meals a day, but lots of smaller meals spaced out over the course of a day. As you, one of my favorite treats is apple slices slathered in almond butter, or a banana dipped in peanut butter and rolled in chocolate chips.
    One final thought, don’t despair over the ‘vegan police’.
    I cannot honestly say an animal product hasn’t entered my mouth in the past 47 years, like do I know for sure there isn’t ghee in some food at an Indian restaurant? I have found a lot of people don’t always understand the concept of what it means to eat vegan.
    A new friend called one day to say he wanted to make something vegan for me to bring to a picnic, did I like lasagna, yes I do. Was touched that this guy thought enough about me to want to do this. So I ate 2 big servings of his lasagna, later asked him where he bought the vegan cheese and he said it was just plain old every day cheese. Turns out he didn’t really understand the concept of veganism, and apologized. Told him everything was fine, I was touched that he would even care to do something special for a new friend.
    Don’t sweat the small stuff, just do the best you can everyday and celebrate your desire to be a better person.

  5. Thanks, Josh, for the funny post. Vegan humor is good! We vegans are not all angry people living lives of deprivation while judging others. But what about those fruitarians?

    You have my support and best wishes. Keep us posted on your progress.

  6. Welcome! I like Garden of Life Raw organic protein powder – it’s good, mixes well, and is soy free. After four years being vegan, I avoid soy as much as possible because it’s easy to over consume soy as a vegan. There are tons of nutritious, delicious vegan recipes out there – easy, everyday ones, and fancy ones too. I eat much healthier after becoming vegan because it forced me to eat so many more vegetables, and get protein from sources other than dairy – garbanzo beans are really versatile. The possibilities are endless, and it feels so good to be creating a compassionate reality and living in a way that aligns with what you know and believe. Congrats on your decision!

  7. I can totally relate! My extended family HATEs that I’m Vegan – ha! Just makes me want to continue! Cheese was hardest for me and I too am starting to LOVE Diaya! Their new Mac & Cheese is to die for. And I still find stuff in my cabinet that I’ve had for months, thought it was vegan, double checked and it’s not. Why do food manufactures need to sneak so many dairy additives into things?? My extended family members are getting all the stuff I’m throwing out. Oh yeah.. and I’m a fitness instructor (part time, Realtor by day) and so many are concerned about my “protein intake”… I usually retort with, how do you know you’re getting enough vitamin A or something like that. For those folks I bought a shirt that says, “I’ve got 99 problems and protein ain’t one!”
    Good luck with everything and thanks for sharing!

    1. Hahaha! My wife told me the other night, “If you say ‘vegan” one more time I’m going to kill you.”


  8. Hi Josh
    I hope your wife did not kill you yet..haha
    Let’s hope vegans don’t kill humans 😉
    Well…your article it’s funny but very genuine and that’s make it special:)
    I am vegetarian for 27 years and off/on vegan..
    Just wanted to say good luck..:)

  9. Lol! You’re so funny! I’ve been a vegan for about a year! I have no regrets. I think one important thing in becoming vegan is being able to cook! When I’m feeling lazy i just stir fry tofu and add precooked/frozen vegetable fried rice from Trader Joes. It’s vegan and delicious and in less than 10 minutes I have a meal and 3 servings of leftovers for my next lazy meal. And you’re giving up pizza? NO WAY! Daiya makes vegan pizza and it delicious! I like the challenge of finding different ways of cooking my favorite dishes without animals in it. Good Luck with your marathon and don’t forget most pastas are vegan and so is rice!

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