I’m vegan, but I’m not protein deficient, I’m not going to judge you for eating a cheeseburger, and I’m not going to shame you for eating animal products. I’m vegan, but I’m not doing it because it’s a trend. I’m vegan, but I don’t just eat leaves, despite what a surprisingly large amount of people assume. I’m vegan, but I’m not a stereotype.

For me, the transition from an omnivorous diet to plant-based one came naturally, as I learned more about the impact of animal products on the environment. Choosing to follow a vegan diet makes me feel like I am doing something right for our planet—reducing my contribution to climate change. Of course, there is a lot more that I could do to help reduce my carbon footprint. I could drive less (although it seems quite fitting that I drive a Prius), use less plastic, or do less online shopping. However, I know that the one thing that I have chosen to do is making an impact.

When people first hear I am vegan, 99 percent of the time their response is, “You’re a vegan?” I take this as a compliment, because the last person I want to be is the annoying vegan who pushes their values on everyone and shames people for eating animal products. Don’t worry, I won’t throw red paint on your leather jacket, nor will I lay on the street wrapped in plastic and fake blood pretending to be human meat.

From die-hard carnivores, I’m often hit with questions like “don’t you miss bacon?” Yes, sometimes I do! I’ll admit that I do miss some animal products on occasion. You just can’t make ribs out of tofu, no matter how hard you try. I love fish, but haven’t tried to find a vegan replacement because quite frankly I’m skeptical it will be any good. But that being said, the vegan meat industry has really stepped up their game. Impossible Burger, anyone?

The jokes I get on accord of my veganism can actually be quite funny. I get roasted all the time by my friends because of my eating habits—usually equating them to those of a rabbit—even though I don’t just eat leaves and they know it. I understand where they are coming from. I myself thought vegans only ate salad until I read more about it, and now I know that can’t be further from the truth. Did you know Oreos are vegan?

I’m vegan, but above all, I’m pretty much like everyone else. I don’t get enough sleep, I procrastinate, and I spend way too much time on my phone. Some vegans live and breathe a vegan lifestyle. Maybe I’ll get there someday, but to me, right now, my diet only makes up a small part of who I am.

Zoe Cowan

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