By Published On: 6 June 20111022 words5.1 min read

Share This Story!

Going Vegan, Staying Vegan, and Finding Support

By Taryn Dams, Guest Contributor

Though I’d been an animal lover my entire life and compassionate to a fault –truly, I once cried when I accidentally killed a fly, and I was 14 years old– I just never really thought about the animals (or animal products) I’d consumed as food. My parents made it, I ate it. Everyone did. I didn’t know a single vegetarian growing up in school; it just wasn’t something we thought about.

When I was shocked into veganism during University, after seeing a graphic film documenting animal use abuse in factory farms, I couldn’t have felt more isolated. While most of the class left throughout the presentation due to the disturbing images, I forced myself to stay, and I openly sobbed the entire time. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and that I hadn’t seen it before. I cried the entire walk home from campus back to my shared student house, and pretty much non-stop for the next two weeks. I was inconsolable.

Of course, I had to change immediately. But what scared me the most were the people that didn’t change – they stayed, they watched, and the next day at lunch they’d have a slice of pizza topped with meat and cheese in the student center. I felt like I was surrounded by monsters. I was terrified by how people could be so heartless, how I could seemingly be the only one affected by what we’d seen. (And frankly, it took years before I was able to look at non-vegans without seeing a monster. I’ll admit that. When I got home after watching that film I was indescribably angry at the world, a feeling that would last for years until I would learn how to turn my anger into a constructive activism.)

The shock of what I’d seen began to wear off. While I would go on to never eat another mammal or bird, I began to eat fish in small amount when I’d go home to my parents’ house for Christmas and summer. (Fish weren’t covered in the documentary and l suppose I just didn’t think about it.) Then I’d started up again with dairy. “Organic is better, there are strict laws, the animals are treated better,” my Mum would say*. Afraid to look into it for fear of stumbling across more graphic footage, I took her word for it. Now, of course, I know that organic dairy and eggs are no better for the animals than their conventional counterpart.

(I’m going to take a quick moment here to add that I know and believe that veganism is not just about what you eat. I’d learned about the issues of animal testing and experimentation back in high school and had boycotted things of that nature ever since.)

One day, I just woke up. I thought, Why am I eating this stuff, even if it’s just a little bit? Why not just go –and stay– vegan? Black and white? No animal products, period.

I didn’t exactly have a lot of emotional support for my new decision. While luckier than most in that I wasn’t necessarily belittled for my beliefs or change in lifestyle, t was a lonely time. Being not so much a “people person” anyway I had no problems with spending time alone but I ached for some camaraderie in my newfound ethical lifestyle. I turned to the internet, and I beautiful world opened up before me. I found a vegan forum, and other online groups chock full of people who understood the issues and what it felt like to be so isolated from an omnivore world.

I cannot express enough gratitude to the vegan people I’ve met online. When I’d found them after I decided to go (and stay) truly vegan, they were there with their emotional support, ideas, recipes, and anything else I could need. Being around (whether it’s physically or online) vegan, like-minded people did wonders for me – my lifestyle, my self esteem, and my willingness and desire to go on to educate and encourage others in the vegan way of life. I’ve met some of my favourite people through the internet and even today I can’t beat it when it comes to vegan friendship – the vegan community of Twitter, for example, is absolutely brilliant.

Get involved to open your vegan world

  • Find online forums or chat rooms for vegans
  • Join a vegan meet up or dinner group
  • Read! Pick up books about animal rights and vegan issues or read blogs on these topics online. Knowing you’re not alone does wonders.
  • Volunteer at an animal sanctuary! I interned at the NY location of Farm Sanctuary for two months and met a ton of amazing people and animals.

I wanted to share my story with readers because I know it’s common to feel lonely when you go vegan. If you don’t live in a large city with vegan groups or events, like myself, this new lifestyle can be isolating. While you love animals, without support and continuing education it can be easy to slip back into the norms, because that’s just how society works. Armed with willpower, a love for animals, and some like-minded folks, it’s easy to go (and stay!) vegan, happy, and healthy!

* A note on my “organic is okay!” Mum – In fairness, she grew up on a small family farm. Fifty years later, things have changed, and she understands that. After seeing my passion for this cause and after being educated, she’s changed her tune, and is just a step shy from veganism! What’s more, my 64 year old, German, meat-and-potatoes father was also moved to a lifestyle change after being shown Earthlings, and is now vegetarian.

By Published On: 6 June 20111022 words5.1 min read

Share This Story!

Going Vegan, Staying Vegan, and Finding Support

By Taryn Dams, Guest Contributor

Though I’d been an animal lover my entire life and compassionate to a fault –truly, I once cried when I accidentally killed a fly, and I was 14 years old– I just never really thought about the animals (or animal products) I’d consumed as food. My parents made it, I ate it. Everyone did. I didn’t know a single vegetarian growing up in school; it just wasn’t something we thought about.

When I was shocked into veganism during University, after seeing a graphic film documenting animal use abuse in factory farms, I couldn’t have felt more isolated. While most of the class left throughout the presentation due to the disturbing images, I forced myself to stay, and I openly sobbed the entire time. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and that I hadn’t seen it before. I cried the entire walk home from campus back to my shared student house, and pretty much non-stop for the next two weeks. I was inconsolable.

Of course, I had to change immediately. But what scared me the most were the people that didn’t change – they stayed, they watched, and the next day at lunch they’d have a slice of pizza topped with meat and cheese in the student center. I felt like I was surrounded by monsters. I was terrified by how people could be so heartless, how I could seemingly be the only one affected by what we’d seen. (And frankly, it took years before I was able to look at non-vegans without seeing a monster. I’ll admit that. When I got home after watching that film I was indescribably angry at the world, a feeling that would last for years until I would learn how to turn my anger into a constructive activism.)

The shock of what I’d seen began to wear off. While I would go on to never eat another mammal or bird, I began to eat fish in small amount when I’d go home to my parents’ house for Christmas and summer. (Fish weren’t covered in the documentary and l suppose I just didn’t think about it.) Then I’d started up again with dairy. “Organic is better, there are strict laws, the animals are treated better,” my Mum would say*. Afraid to look into it for fear of stumbling across more graphic footage, I took her word for it. Now, of course, I know that organic dairy and eggs are no better for the animals than their conventional counterpart.

(I’m going to take a quick moment here to add that I know and believe that veganism is not just about what you eat. I’d learned about the issues of animal testing and experimentation back in high school and had boycotted things of that nature ever since.)

One day, I just woke up. I thought, Why am I eating this stuff, even if it’s just a little bit? Why not just go –and stay– vegan? Black and white? No animal products, period.

I didn’t exactly have a lot of emotional support for my new decision. While luckier than most in that I wasn’t necessarily belittled for my beliefs or change in lifestyle, t was a lonely time. Being not so much a “people person” anyway I had no problems with spending time alone but I ached for some camaraderie in my newfound ethical lifestyle. I turned to the internet, and I beautiful world opened up before me. I found a vegan forum, and other online groups chock full of people who understood the issues and what it felt like to be so isolated from an omnivore world.

I cannot express enough gratitude to the vegan people I’ve met online. When I’d found them after I decided to go (and stay) truly vegan, they were there with their emotional support, ideas, recipes, and anything else I could need. Being around (whether it’s physically or online) vegan, like-minded people did wonders for me – my lifestyle, my self esteem, and my willingness and desire to go on to educate and encourage others in the vegan way of life. I’ve met some of my favourite people through the internet and even today I can’t beat it when it comes to vegan friendship – the vegan community of Twitter, for example, is absolutely brilliant.

Get involved to open your vegan world

  • Find online forums or chat rooms for vegans
  • Join a vegan meet up or dinner group
  • Read! Pick up books about animal rights and vegan issues or read blogs on these topics online. Knowing you’re not alone does wonders.
  • Volunteer at an animal sanctuary! I interned at the NY location of Farm Sanctuary for two months and met a ton of amazing people and animals.

I wanted to share my story with readers because I know it’s common to feel lonely when you go vegan. If you don’t live in a large city with vegan groups or events, like myself, this new lifestyle can be isolating. While you love animals, without support and continuing education it can be easy to slip back into the norms, because that’s just how society works. Armed with willpower, a love for animals, and some like-minded folks, it’s easy to go (and stay!) vegan, happy, and healthy!

* A note on my “organic is okay!” Mum – In fairness, she grew up on a small family farm. Fifty years later, things have changed, and she understands that. After seeing my passion for this cause and after being educated, she’s changed her tune, and is just a step shy from veganism! What’s more, my 64 year old, German, meat-and-potatoes father was also moved to a lifestyle change after being shown Earthlings, and is now vegetarian.

Leave a Comment

What do you think? Tell me in the comments.
All comments subject to the terms here.

  1. Lyn January 23, 2020 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    Hi ,I’m new to being a vegan and feel sick at the thought of buying dairy or meat for my family.my son is autistic and says he doesn’t care about the planet or animals .I’ve tried to substitute meat in his diet but he tastes the difference and would rather starve than eat it.I’m having more luck with my 17 year old who is trying to be vegan.I’ve another child that barely eats and I’m worried about her eating habits.she has peer pressure so there is no way she will take a packed lunch to school.please help with any comments.

  2. Anna July 10, 2017 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    I’m 44 years old. I became a vegetarian just 6 months ago. And quite rapidly wanting to become vegan.

    My challenge falls upon myself. I have a lot of guilt building knowing that I’ve contributed to the torture and pain of animals and the planet for 44 years now. I wish I could have been introduced to the truth of what animals go through years ago. I understand that it’s not my fault. It’s The culture,opinions, companies, and influence that has surrounded me.

    I am excited yet frightened at the same time. I Think because it’s been along time since I felt so passionate about something. Being this passionate about something feels so fulfilling and rewarding. Sometimes a loss of self control emotionally but I know it’s because it’s my heart telling me the right thing to do.

    Thank you to all who have worked so hard to share the truth.

    I sit here today thankful that there is a shift in my attitude and heart. I am thankful that there are many people who understand and fight to protect innocent animals.

  3. VC February 22, 2017 at 10:39 am - Reply

    I’m so happy to have stumbled across this site! I have been a vegetarian on the verge of veganism for over 2 years now. After finding and following a few animal rescue pages on Instagram, I have become an absolute emotional wreck. I have always loved animals and cared for them however, to see other human beings even more passionate and compassionate than I am, it gave me a sense of urgency to truly change. I have cried more in the last 2 weeks since following these rescue pages, than I have in the past 2 years of my life. I could really use some emotional support. No one in my life cares the way I do and it’s a lonely road…

    • Jen m. May 4, 2017 at 12:08 pm - Reply

      I feel you its loneley and there’s not much support…in fact its quite frightening at times living amongst people who dont understand..

  4. Katie Salvatori September 17, 2016 at 10:12 am - Reply

    I am 1 week in and feel great. I’ve known about the atrocities on factory farms for years, and have tried several times. This time I feel committed and a fire in my belly to do more than just not eat meat. It’s challenging, my husband is the biggest carnivore I know, but he respects my decision. I am trying to teach my children about the truth, in a simplified matter, so one day they can possibly choose this lifestyle. It’s hard as a kid, pizza, McDonald’s, parties, ect. But knowledge is power. I’m starting to speak up about the truth in a way that educates friends, and family. I tell them I’m a hypocrite, I’m not trying to shove it down their throat , judge them or convert them. It’s about my journey and of course the truth
    Knowledge is power. People just don’t know any better, they feel helpless, like I did, or they feel like it’s too hard. I can be an example, I guess, that there is a way. It’s delicious food and satisfying. I do not feel like I am missing out.

    • Anouschka February 1, 2017 at 11:56 pm - Reply

      Hi Katie … i noticed your post is fairly recent. How are you going vegan-wise now? I am in the same boat as you – carnivore husband and kids so i thought I’d touch base :)

    • jo lloyd January 31, 2018 at 1:05 am - Reply

      Hi. I have been vegetarian for a month and vegan or trying to be for 4 days. Eating out will not be easy. Some places do good ceggie but dont seem to have vegan.
      I am going to make tofu and tempeh. Today I am going to buy soya or almond milk and next step is vegan cheese. I am using up what ive got.
      My husband is still eating meat and fish but i am coping quite well. My main concern is eggs. I have though to buy from a small holding but that is nt vegan. I love pancakes so will have to try and make vegan ones.

      Anyway. Good luck to anyone who is new to veganusm
      Joanne

  5. Leith September 2, 2016 at 3:13 am - Reply

    So today is my first day becoming vegan ! I’m making this step for animals first and foremost! I’m extremely excited to be able to say I no longer support the brutality towards animals just to quench my taste buds! This was extremely sudden and now I’m a little nervous because I’m really confused on how exactly I’m suppose to supplement for things such as B12, Zinc, Vitamin D, etc. If there is any advice on how to affordably do this it would be much appreciated!

    Thanks,

    Leith

    • Kimberley January 27, 2017 at 1:44 pm - Reply

      Subscribe to Mic the Vegan on Youtube. He’ll answer all your questions with science and facts. You’ll find everything you need to know there.

  6. Christine August 4, 2016 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Monica – yes!!!! I even began for years and I can’t pretty much get a good meal anywhere. Just tell them “I don’t eat meat and dairy and eggs..” Or modify that however suits you. They’ll usually be able to figure something out. Nicer restaurants will make you a custom plate. But I can def eat vegan At dives too haha

  7. Pam June 10, 2016 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    How do I start!

  8. Elaahey May 20, 2016 at 10:18 am - Reply

    I’ve been vegan for nearly 3 months now, and I feel so much better! Healthier, happier, just better. I’m having such a hard time with my family and friends, though! They have such a hard time accepting it. “It would be so much better for me if you would just be a vegetarian.” “I support your lifestyle, so you should support mine.” “Dogs are cooler than cows, though, so it’s ok to eat cows.” “Can’t you just break your diet to try this one thing I made? It only has eggs and milk in it and it’s really good!”

    I’ve had times where I just go off by myself and cry. I don’t want to argue or fight with my family and friends, but it’s so hard for me to just clam up and politely say “No, thank you.” I don’t want to push them away, and I’m not asking them to become vegan! I’m just asking them to leave me alone and let me do me! Is that such a bad thing?

    Any advice or support is appreciated! Everything you said feels like me. I feel so isolated and the people I know online are my only escape. Much love! :)

  9. Audry Cothern March 8, 2016 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    Hello I have thought for some time now about becoming vegan but I am worried what to do if I start to crave meat? And is going vegan expensive?

    • jo lloyd February 2, 2018 at 1:05 am - Reply

      Hi. I dod pescatarian first. Then vegan after a while i had a wobble so i ve now decided to eat fish but not diary.
      I think it is like exercise …you go mad at first it all gets too much.
      It is fairly easy. Read read read. Try quorn and tofu. That will easr you in . Make different recipes but have stuff there incase you need a quick meal.
      I have no opposition from hubby. I make sauces or casseroles and then add meat to his or make a roast but i have a substitute.
      I went to a Toby Carvery the other day and had suet pasrty filled with a portobello mushroom in a creamy sauce and all the veg and even vegetarian gravy
      If you have a blip dont feel guikty just start again. You are doing the right thing and a lot more than most.
      Good luck

  10. Charlie Michael Morrison June 10, 2015 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    I still wonder how people whom I know to be compassionate people can’t make that connection to see that it’s no better to eat other animals than to eat people. I am the only one in my family that is vegan. My wife and kids support my choice but won’t follow me on this path. It gets sad at times.

    • Jerred Rebman August 10, 2017 at 2:07 pm - Reply

      I am experiencing the same thing, except my wife is unsupportive of my decision. I have found a way where I can spend 50 dollars a week for me to eat vegan. Would love to befriend you for support brother.

  11. Monica March 1, 2014 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing. I just started my vegan journey this week and while I am completely psyched, I have some strong fears…what are friends & family going to think?! Where do I start? What do I eat? Will I be able to eat out again? Can I seriously do this? It is overwhelming but I WANT this so I think I can do it!

  12. Rhea June 6, 2011 at 11:56 am - Reply

    Taryn, what a wonderful story. So glad you found your path and are now helping others. Thanks for sharing your story :)

  13. Chilliwitch June 6, 2011 at 7:45 am - Reply

    Lovely to read about your journey…. I too have very much valued the vegan blog community in my vegan travels, in Australia, Veganism is growing in strength but it’s certainly nowhere near mainstream and I live in the country as well, where whilst everyone is into “sustainability” unfortunately that doesn’t often mean sustainable for the animals….
    so it’s been wonderful being able to read others journeys (and recipes)

    all very inspiring
    thank you xx