It is time to rejoice, as 2021 marks my 30 years as a vegan! I had already been a vegetarian for many years when I changed my diet. This lifelong calling to avoid eating animals, which started at age four, was motivated by compassion for the animals. During my college days, I learned about the health and environmental reasons to avoid dairy, eggs, and all animal products and quickly transitioned to a vegan way.
Some people find the lifestyle limiting and certain vegans too preachy. But that is evolving as climate change and health concerns have moved to the forefront. Suddenly the plant-based diet is in the spotlight. The world of herbivorous options has expanded incredibly in these three decades. Fast-food chains are selling meatless burgers, pizza, burritos, and more, and some restaurants have vegan sections of their menus.
It brings me joy to see all the advances in food products. In the 1990s, non-dairy cheeses were wet and unappealing; today numerous tasty brands and varieties exist. Plant-based ice creams have totally transformed from strangely textured rice-based products to creamy coconut and soy-based wonders available in dozens of flavors. Mainstream grocery stores and natural foods retailers carry everything from great vegan cookies and delicious milk and meat alternatives to non-dairy macaroni and cheese.
Besides enjoying the health and other benefits of the diet, being true to myself has been rewarding. There have been many heartwarming moments as these decades have passed. Recently several young people have given me wonderful compliments and even bowed in front of me for the discipline it has taken to be vegan for so long and for being a trendsetter. Over the years, many friends and family members have made my day contacting me with news of their transition to meatless meals. The growing cultural acceptance of veganism is uplifting!
UPDATE: Just as I celebrate 30 years of following a plant-based diet, my VegNews article on some of the great veggie options in Tijuana is now online.