By KD Angle-Traegner, Founder & Editor

I spent the better part of this afternoon writing this post. Interrupted, I didn’t have the time to finish it in one sitting, so I saved it as a draft. Later, after re-reading it, I decided to delete it. I want to do something different. I want to do a behind the scenes about myself and what’s going on here at Your Daily Vegan.

The Backstory

Generally speaking, I like to conceptualize what I want to say before I sit down to write. I want to give myself time to not just figure out the story, but also the way in which I want to tell it. Sometimes, often, this method of writing is sporadic, coming and going in bursts. This is reflected in the irregular frequency of publishing that has been so indicative of this site for the past six years.

Six years. That’s forever in blogging time.

From guest contributors to writers to entirely new sections, I don’t have to tell you this site has changed quite a bit over the years- you’ve seen it firsthand. I’m a big believer in personal evolution, and I apply those same principles to the work that is done here on Your Daily Vegan. I am constantly trying a variety of things to bring the vegan experience to you in a new or different way- to do something that no one else is doing. I want to do that with steadfast vegan ethics and a strong focus on the animals.

Creating that type of space can be a challenge, mostly because Your Daily Vegan is not a food blog.

Not that there is anything wrong with being a food blog, mind you. I love Fettle Vegan, Keepin’ It Kind, and Plant-Powered Kitchen, just to name a few. Inspiring people to get creative in the kitchen is vital for creating lifelong vegans. And you know that I am a big proponent of Blogging as Activism because I’m literally saying it all the time. Food blogs are great. Food blogs are popular. And it’s food so, you know, it can appeal to a wide range of people.

Spaces designed to investigate the weird, not-so-grey-but-still-grey areas of veganism are less common and way less popular. I imagine this to be because the grey areas of veganism tend to deal with deeply held personal beliefs. These are the type of beliefs that can elicit passionate discourse between opposing sides. And even though there are advocates who wish I wouldn’t use the term “ethical vegans”, generally speaking, ethical vegans of all vegans are the ones who face the most backlash for their views, particularly from other vegans and animal welfare organizations.

These are the vegans who use words like pragmatic, perfectionism, preachy, and vegan police. They create spaces on their websites that perpetuate vegan stereotypes and myths. They tweet advice about being compassionate to non-vegans as a means of effective advocacy while the very next tweet name calls those whose advocacy approach differs than theirs.

As a vegan who deeply cares about animals and wants to build a kinder and more compassionate world, this really bothers me. I don’t agree that one form of vegan advocacy is better than another. If that were true, we all would be living in a vegan world. But that isn’t the case.

[For the record, I don’t intend this to mean that we should advocate anything other than 100% veganism. And here is what I mean by that.]

While I personally relate best with those who have a strong vegan message spoken with a passionate voice, I also fully support those who choose to advocate more quietly. Every vegan has something to offer the movement and we are stronger together than we are sniping, bickering, and tearing each other apart.

I’m tired of those spaces that promote segregation of vegan strategy. I’m tired of hearing about how vegans need to compromise the end goal of veganism to suit the mainstream. I’m tired of reading tweets from vegan bloggers who feel it’s important to differentiate themselves from passionate vegan voices in order to appeal to non-vegans and gain likes/follows. I’m tired of the infighting. It’s exhausting. Aren’t you tired of it too?

To every single vegan reading these words right now, you are welcome here at Your Daily Vegan. Your passionate voice is welcome, as is your silence. I want to hear what you have to say. I want to hear when you are struggling and I want to hear when you have successes. I want to celebrate your individuality and the diversity in the vegan community. Are you an ethical vegan with a big mouth like mine? Great! Are you more of a lurker who rarely comments? I understand. This is your space as much as it is mine and Daria’s.

Getting Personal

Before I started blogging I had made the decision that I wouldn’t use Your Daily Vegan to talk about or promote my personal life. Yes, I would talk about how I live as a vegan- but I wouldn’t use this platform to discuss my private life. I didn’t use my photo as an avatar on social media. I didn’t use my name on Twitter. It would be years before I would even publish a photo of myself. I have always felt that the focus of this site should be on the animals, those at the center of veganism, rather than on myself or what was happening in my life.

This picture was one of the first I ever posted of myself at the 2009 Farm Sanctuary's Walk for Farm Animals.

This was one of the first pictures I ever posted of myself. I’m at the 2009 Farm Sanctuary’s Walk for Farm Animals.

This single focus on the animals meant that I didn’t tell you about the physical struggles and residual pain that I was having as a result of a 2008 spinal surgery. I didn’t tell you about how losing my health insurance in 2009 was devastating for the continued care I needed and didn’t receive. I didn’t tell you about the times the pain was so intense that I was unable to stand, sit, or do much of anything but cry out of hopelessness.

And even though I did tell you how heartbroken I was when my soul-dog Olli died, I never mentioned the depression that I went into as a result of that loss. My depression only deepened when I lost Lakini to cancer, and following her death when Gypsy succumbed to a three-year battle with renal failure. My depression was so deep and so encompassing that it lasted for several years and affected everything I did or didn’t do. I didn’t mention these things, not because I wanted to hide them or present an image of myself that wasn’t authentic, but because I thought that they had nothing to do with veganism. I didn’t think it was important. But I was wrong. With that in mind, I want to tell you a bit about what is going on with me now and how it’s affected things here on YDV.

As I mentioned, I had spinal surgery in 2008 to relieve pressure on my nerves that was preventing me from being able to use my right leg. Generally speaking, the surgery was a success- I eventually regained the use of my leg. The unfortunate part of spinal surgery is that no matter how well you recover, you never really go back to the way you were pre-surgery. Even as careful as I was, over the past seven years I continued to have issues with my back. And then, in June of this year, things got worse.

I began to have severe pain in my spine and legs that left me unable to walk, stand, or more importantly, sit. Have you ever imagined how inconvenient it is not to be able to sit? It’s awful. In June I began what I thought would be the best thing ever, physical therapy. After going twice a week for six weeks and experiencing some of the worst pain in my life (and I’ve delivered a baby), in August my doctor and I decided to call it quits with therapy and move into other treatment options. This includes a myriad of medications that make it hard to do anything but sleep. I’ll be undergoing some testing to see what the problem is and if I need another surgery. For now I’m mostly (bored) resting.

If You Build It They Will Come (Maybe)

You may have noticed that I have been writing fewer and fewer articles on Your Daily Vegan. There are two reasons for this. First, sitting is extremely painful which makes sitting down to write a post nearly impossible. Second, I have been focusing my attention on building and rebuilding Your Daily Vegan. Our overall design has been updated, the navigation has improved, pages have been updated/improved, and most importantly, the Guides section was born. It’s this space that I am most excited about.

The Guides section houses all of our vegan guides. Here you’ll be able to learn about the millions of ways that humans use animals and find vegan-friendly alternatives. I’ve spent months researching and sourcing the information found in these guides. Hours upon hours were spent writing and rewriting the content. I’ve collaborated with a vegan dietitian to ensure the nutrition information I’m presenting to you is accurate.

I worked hard to create the special navigation system at the bottom of each guide to help make finding information a snap. These guides are designed to not only show you how easy it is to live as a vegan, but to help you find vegan products wherever you live. I want them to be practical, easy-to-understand, and most importantly, accurate. Accuracy is so important to me because I want people to have everything they need to not only live a vegan life, but to be able refute the claims of non-vegans with intelligent and solid information.

I want these guides to help you along your vegan journey- whether that is as a new vegan or a seasoned one.

Much of this work was done prior to the flare up of pain in my back and legs. I had intended this section to be completed by September 1st, but the situation with my back made that impossible. As a result, there are a few guides that remain incomplete. To be honest, I’m bummed out about that. I had grand plans (in my head) about a grand re-opening of Your Daily Vegan once this section was complete. But life happens and things don’t always turn out the way we want them to, so here I am.

What’s Next

My hope is that this gives you a better idea of the type of space that we are trying to create for you here at Your Daily Vegan, a little more about myself, and how the site is evolving. There are a few more changes coming, but I think this is a good place to end things for now.

So, what do you think about these changes? Is it easier for you to find content? How do you like our new navigation system? Have you visited the new guides section yet? Do you have a favorite guide? Do they affect your YDV experience at all? I’m still not doing much sitting (most of this post was written standing up), and I would love to have lots of comments and suggestions to read through while I’m resting. Be a pal- leave a comment to tell me what you think and help me keep my mind off of my back, won’t you?

Photo: kris krüg