By Kevin T.

Eating vegan is easier than it’s ever been. With so many plant based options in our local grocery stores, it’s become fairly simple to put together ingredients for your favorite home cooked meals. When I first went vegan, I developed a habit of scrutinizing the ingredient lists and nutrition facts for every product I wanted to buy, often triple checking to make sure I was doing the right thing. It was like an instinctual reaction whenever I saw a new product. I would think to myself, look at the ingredients dummy. Hell, I still do. Over time, there was a core set of products and brands I would always purchase that helped make me feel like grocery shopping was less of a chore, it became more of a fun activity. If there was ever any doubt, I’d take a picture to research more in my free time.

 What if that wasn’t enough?

 I leaned heavily on mock meats, cheeses and different plant based alternatives to mimic my old lifestyle. It was an easy switch, but it felt like I was doing my part. Two years later and I find myself no longer satisfied with the habits that got me acclimated to the vegan lifestyle. I want to eat healthier yet still have my cheat days. I want to know that my dollar isn’t going to an entity or practice I disapproved of. I needed to do more.

 What more could I do?

I had to think about this for a bit. Do the products I consume belong to a vegan company? If yes, is it is owned by a larger corporation that supports the vegan agenda? Going forward, I’ve decided to only consume products whose brand, owners and investors are vegan. Meaning, these small companies are also not owned by a non-vegan entity. That meant researching the brands and companies of the products I bought. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re caught up in the moment of whatever you’re focused on. Luckily, there are guides you can find online that detail the ownership of your favorite brands. Just to be sure, I still like to fact check to corroborate the data anyway. Personally, I was equal parts happy and relieved to have Tofurky confirmed for the hundredth time as a fully sustainable and vegan company from its products to its owners. These things matter to me a lot more than I had initially realized, and for that reason, I’m personally going to be taking steps to remedy how I’m feeling.

 What next?

For me, this means more time to think and definitely more planning. I’ll be attempting to make foods I used to purchase, whether that’s seitan or sausages, trying out new recipes or improving on my favorites, and who knows, I might even start to garden and grow my own food. Whenever you try something new, there will always challenges, but what’s the worst that could happen? There’s so many resources at our disposal, that the goals I’ve just listed are quite easy to accomplish. Whether or not it’s done well will just take time and repetition. At the end of the day, I’ll be at peace with myself and hopefully pick up some new skills in the process. It just feels like the proper, natural progression. The same way I was nervous about going vegan a few years ago, I knew it was the right thing to do and this is no different. 

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Kevin T. is an Asian American non-profit professional from the Greater Lowell Area. He enjoys speaking with people about their experiences and developing a genuine connection. He believes that teaching and learning extends beyond the classroom environment and going vegan is one of many examples that support this concept.