Hey everybody! My name is Hanna Gonzalez and I am (apparently) Cogswell’s resident vegan. Over the last few months I’ve been harvesting your questions about veganism as part of the “Hello, I’m” series.
Do we have a vegan support system at Cogswell? I want to be a vegan, but I don't know other vegans who can maybe help me and answer questions.
Cogswell doesn’t have formal support systems for vegans right now but a club can always be started if you’re up for it! There’s usually a vegan in ASB who can answer any questions you might have...
Veganism in one word?
What is Veganism outside of diet?
Most people assume veganism is just a type of diet and that you’ll grow out of it eventually, but it is so much more than that. It's about animal rights and combating cruelty. It’s not just about avoiding meat or dairy but also boycotting companies who test on animals and not wearing animal products of any kind. It’s about not supporting zoos or places where animals are held captive for entertainment. It’s about not abusing animals for our own pleasure and caring about them instead. It’s not about being perfect but doing all you can to help.
What inspired you to be Vegan?/Why did you become a vegan?
I started out being interested in plant-based meals to try and be healthy. I had already switched most products to cruelty-free, but I was still eating meat and dairy. One day it hit me: I was so concerned about animal cruelty in makeup but I wasn’t even considering my food. It was then that I decided to transition to vegetarianism, and when that stopped being enough I became vegan.
Do you have to eat more times a day than a meat eater to make up for your meatless diet?
Personally no, not really. I think it depends more on how hungry a person gets than whether or not you have meat in your diet.
How can I stay healthy and become vegan on a tight budget and without fresh produce easily available?
The key to staying healthy when on a tight budget is not relying on carbs to fill you up. It’s easy (and cheap) to just eat bread, noodles, fries, etc. but after awhile you’ll obviously feel terrible. So on a tight budget without readily available produce, I would rely on
frozen veggies, rice (bulk brown rice or quinoa are the healthiest), beans (not refried beans but black and kidney), and seasoning (to add variety). You can make a lot of different bowl/plate combos without breaking the bank.
How do you supplement the nutrients from meat?
The only supplement I take is vitamin B12. You can get B12 from almond, coconut, or soy milk and nutritional yeast (a really good seasoning used in vegan recipes to add a nutty,cheesy flavor). Other than that, there aren’t a ton of nutrients that can’t be gained from a plant based option.
Best places to go shopping for vegans?
Although stereotypes say vegans only shop at locally-grown, organic farmers markets and Whole Foods, this isn’t the case. While I do go to farmers’ markets when I can (or Whole Foods for a treat), my go-to places are:
Safeway: Great produce and lots of vegan food options.
Trader Joe’s: Fewer options than Safeway but you’re still able to get everything you need.
Mi Pueblo: Really only for fruits and veg but it’s cheaper and fresher than most stores.
Don't you get tired of all the vegan jokes?
The jokes got under my skin in the early stages, but after awhile they stopped bothering me as much. I just give a polite smile and go on with my day, and sometimes I’m the one making the jokes (about me). The only ones that still get me are the secret debates that can be hidden in a “joke.” By now I can usually tell between when someone wants to laugh because I eat plants or someone wants to argue.
I was wondering what the best way to spread awareness is.
What I’ve found to be most effective is being causally blunt regarding exactly is happening to animals. I never force anything or talk to people like I’m lecturing them; I just casually tell them why I don’t support the meat and dairy industry, avoiding sugar coated words and phrases. Some will follow up with questions and some will immediately leave the convo. Since you can’t force people to listen, spreading awareness, for me, is really about giving people information and letting them decide what to do with it.
What are some cost and time effective ways to approach veganism? I know there aren't many restaurants that cater to vegan needs, so are there places I can start?
Veggies and produce do tend to be cheaper than meat. It’s when you go into things that are specifically made for vegans that things start to get pricey. (i.e: vegan cheese, vegan meat, etc)
Did you notice any weird bodily responses when you first switched to vegan?
I can’t speak for others but nothing really changed for me when I switched diets.
Is it vegan to shop at Lush?
Kinda. Some of their products do have honey but they do offer vegan items and are actively fighting against animal cruelty so that’s a plus. I don’t personally shop there because I try to shop ethically and I don’t know if their products are ethically made as a rule.
Favorite vegan snack/meal that's easy to make. Also one that is worth preparing for?
Easy: Peanut Butter filled dates tasted like a Reese's peanut butter cup and its the best
Worth preparing: I like a plant based Mac-N-Cheese that uses a potato/carrot/onion/cashew substitute as the cheese. It takes a little while to make but it tastes amazing and it feels great knowing the “cheese” is just vegetables.