“What do you eat?”
“How can you live without cheese?”
“Do vegans even shower?”
These are just some examples of questions that scores of people have asked since July 31, 2013, the day I decided to ditch eggs and dairy and become a vegan.
A vegan is defined as a person who does not eat or use animal products. These products include meat (and yes, fish is meat), dairy, eggs, fur, leather, wool and hygiene products tested on animals.
I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to become a vegan just ‘cause. I hadn’t eaten meat since sixth grade, but, last summer, after hours of research and too many tears, I made the decision that becoming a vegan was the right choice for me, the planet and the animals. Simple as that.
No, I am not some PETA-loving, hemp-skirt-wearing hippie. I am not part of a cult or some whacko religion or from another planet.
Yes, I do shower, use deodorant and wear shoes.
What do I eat? Trust me, the list is bountiful. It includes: fruit, vegetables, bagels, chips, salad, pasta, burritos, tacos, lentils, quinoa, rice, peanut butter, almonds, french fries, grilled “cheese,” Oreos, Twizzlers, cupcakes and cookies. An entire grocery list and not an animal product in sight. No, I do not miss meat and yes, I get enough protein.
Humans can’t live without meat? I’m still standing, aren’t I? This is just a single vegan myth and a common argument of non-vegans. Let me debunk a few more:
Myth: Vegan diets are unhealthy.
Fact: On average, vegans have a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Myth: They’re destroying the rainforests to make tofu.
Fact: 86 percent of the destroyed Amazon rainforest is used to raise livestock, while a meager four percent is used for growing soybeans.
Myth: Vegans can’t eat out.
Fact: My favorite places to eat include, but are not limited to: Bibibop, Chipotle, Panera, Northstar, Noodles and Company, Tai’s, Northstar Café and Steak ‘N Shake (yes, you read that correctly).
Myth: Plants feel pain, too.
Fact: Since plants’ central nervous system is nonexistent, this argument is nonexistent.
Myth: You need milk to have strong and healthy bones.
Fact: This is one of the most well-know and widely accepted myths in American society. According to News Medical, dairy is the largest dietary cause of osteoporosis, completely illegitimizing the message of those misleading Got Milk? advertisements.
Have you been enlightened yet? Are you craving a falafel? Are you looking at your leather boots in disgust? Are you ready to join the vegan world that includes me, Ellen DeGeneres and Mike Tyson? Probably not.
But, hopefully, now you know that not all vegans are nearly as extreme or easy to pick out as many people think they are. Overall, I’m a rather normal teenager. I go to school, hang out with my friends and have yet to participate in an extremist vegan protest.
I’m just like everyone else and put my shoes on one at a time every morning. I just make sure they’re vegan first.