In an attempt to better understand the vegan lifestyle, I reached out to various vegans (current and prior) via social media and received interview answers back from two subjects. Below are the questions I asked with some of the answers which were provided. Seeing that most of these answers are lengthy, I only included a portion of each answer. To read the full Q&A, visit www.activistsvsagriculture.com/blog/vegan-qampa.
***Disclaimer: This column will be left in Q&A format so as not to leave room for interpretation.***
Q: Please explain your dietary preference in detail (vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, etc.) and how long you have eaten this specific way.
Subject 1 A: I eat mostly vegetarian currently (since August), because I live onsite for my job and most meals are provided. I have been out of college for almost a year now and stopped eating meat in October of my freshman year of college, so I have been vegetarian/vegan for about four and a half years…
Subject 2 A: I have been a pescatarian for 5-6 years now due to allergies and an immune condition.
Q: Why do you follow this specific diet? Was it a choice? A dietary restriction? Did you watch a movie or read something that inspired you to become vegan?
Subject 1 A: I first decided to go vegan because I saw a documentary about the environmental impacts of factory farming and the physical/psychological suffering farmed animals endure. Of course, not all farmed animals are treated badly or to the degree that the most horrific cases show, but it still made me feel bad to think that an animal had to die in order for me to enjoy the food they created. So, I just focus on doing what I can to eat less animal products while still being healthy myself…
Subject 2 A: My diet restrictions are based on allergy testing results and GI lab results. My body just doesn’t digest meats, milk, and some other items well. What I was eating to give myself energy and nutrients was actually bogging my body down with extra processing and I couldn’t utilize the nutrients in the food. After figuring all this out and eating a pescatarian diet for several months I noticed a lot of changes: my skin was clearer, my eyes didn’t burn anymore, my chronic lethargy got better, I wasn’t really depressed anymore, I have a hard time keeping a healthy weight.
Q: Where was your information about your diet gathered from?
Subject 1 A: I gathered information from vegans on twitter, friends I had who were vegan, including the vegan/vegetarian club at my university, and from YouTube.
Subject 2 A declined to answer this question.
Q: After going on your diet, how did your body change?
Subject 1 A: My body has not changed noticeably because of my change in diet.
Subject 2 A declined to answer this question.
Q: How long did it take to become accustom to your diet?
Subject 1 A: Maybe a month? I wasn’t eating much meat, aside from chicken, before I switched, so it wasn’t a drastic change.
Subject 2 A: I am still becoming accustomed to my diet.
Q: What do you eat in a day?
Subject 1 A: I try to have some sort of carb, protein, and fruit at breakfast. Lunch and dinner are usually provided by my work, which is something like a veggie burger and fries, nachos (sans beef) with beans, or some cheese pizza with corn and fruit on the side.
Subject 2 A: In a workday I will typically eat peanut butter and cheerio toast on gluten free bread for breakfast. For lunch I have a salad with onions, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, sometimes tomatoes, and a protein source (nuts, eggs, or fish). For dinner I will drink a fruit smoothie with some sweet potato fries or something.
Q: Do you classify your diet as healthy? Do you still eat unhealthy foods (junk food and sweets)?
Subject 1 A: I would say I eat a moderately healthy diet. I do eat “junk foods” and desserts, but I also try to eat several servings of fruits and veggies a day…
Subject 2 A: I think my diet is pretty healthy… if it is not going to give me energy or anything useful, it isn’t worth my time.
Q: How did your friends and family react when you decided to change your diet?
Subject 1 A: They were supportive of me…
Subject 2 A: My friends and family have some difficulty with this diet.
Q: Would you ever date someone with a different dietary preference?
Subject 1 A: Yes, my girlfriend wasn’t vegetarian at all when we started dating.
Subject 2 A: I don’t know if I would ever date someone with a different dietary preference, I haven’t really given it much thought.
Q: Does it offend you when others around you do not follow suit?
Subject 1 A: No, it only offends me if they try to make fun of me for my choices or belittle my choices.
Subject 2 A: It does not offend me when others around me don’t eat the way I eat. My body is weird, different, and unique from theirs. However, I do think it would be nice for us to eat less meats in our diets because I don’t like how certain animals are just seen as meat and how we just seem to take and take, not only in killing animals for meat but in life in general. I would like people to become more aware of what their lifestyle costs, not just monetarily but in resources.
Q: How hard is it eating out on your diet? How about social gatherings such as birthday parties and holidays?
Subject 1 A: It’s not too hard to eat out vegetarian… I did have more trouble eating vegan in these settings, which is why when I ate mostly vegan, I decided to make exceptions in these situations to avoid skipping meals.
Subject 2 A: It can be very difficult eating out on my diet.
Q: How is your energy level on your diet? Was it always this way or did it take some getting
Subject 1 A: I haven’t noticed a change in energy based on my diet.
Subject 2 A: My energy level with this diet fluctuates…
Q: Do you have a community of people who follow your diet?
Subject 1 A: There are other vegetarians in the world, of course, but I don’t have such a specific diet that I’m part of any clubs or online groups dedicated to my diet.
Subject 2 A: No.
Q: What is your opinion of Agriculture? Why?
Subject 1 A: My opinion is mixed because I hear such conflicting information from vegans/vegetarians and from animal agriculture professionals that I don’t know who to trust. It seems like both sides have heavy biases and it’s hard to find out what’s the truth in the middle. In general, I have a very positive opinion of small and medium operations. Living in Texas, I drive past ranches a lot and I know people who raise livestock in some way or another, and I know how much care and love they have for their animals. However, I do not trust agriculture mega corporations to treat their workers or their livestock with the same high amounts of care. Agriculture requires incredible amounts of physical labor and I would like for the people who grow and harvest and prepare the food we all enjoy to have access to healthcare and to be properly paid.
Subject 2 A: My opinion of agriculture is that we can do better, again back to the American lifestyle and manner of thought, we tend to do whatever we want that we think is most beneficial for us instead of working with nature so that we aren’t taking more than it can give or destroying the balance of things. With “food animals” I don’t like that we just think of them as that, they are just like the other animals God placed on this earth with us…
Q: What advice would you give to someone who plans to go vegan? Please, spare no details!
Subject 1 A: I would recommend they start by phasing things out of their diet… plan out your meals so you’re getting the same balance of nutrients and macros as you had before you switched. Also, if you’re going 100 percent vegan, you will need to supplement for B12 so make sure you get that.
Subject 2 A: My advice for someone who plans to go vegan is to be in tune with your body’s needs.BACK