Reasons and Tools for Transitioning to Vegetarianism and Veganism

By Heifer International

October 16, 2011

Last Updated: October 3, 2019

Today is Blog Action Day 2011. It is also World Food Day. This year's theme for Blog Action Day is Food. Bloggers all over the world are writing about this one theme, from their own unique perspective. To find out more, visit the Blog Action Day website. Read more of our Blog Action Day posts on Heifer Blog here

The following post is by Erin Snow, communications manager at Heifer International. 

The reasons people decide to adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle can be numerous and, even despite similarities, very personal. I grew up eating meat at most meals, but it was never my favorite part. I always preferred the starches and leafy green vegetables. Looking back, I never really felt good about eating something that lost their life so that my meal could be “complete,” but I didn’t make any real changes to my diet until 1999 when a medical issue caused me to look more closely at the food I consumed and how it affected my health. As a single mom to a one-year-old daughter, I was determined to be proactive about our future and keep whatever I could control in check. At that time, vegetarianism seemed the logical answer. Over the past 12 years, I’ve been a lazy vegetarian, not eating meat, but definitely not eating enough vegetables and fruit to be healthy. I’ve also dabbled in pescetarianism, where seafood is okay, but all other flesh is out, a choice made while visiting my now-husband in New Orleans, where shrimp, crab, oysters and other aquatic jewels can be found as far as eye can see. Po’Boys and crawfish and gumbo, oh my! In an effort to be serious about my health and safeguard against predisposed laziness, I’ve recently taken the next step and become vegan.

Sticking to a diet that is void of animal-derived products has been educational, for sure. Fortunately, I have a couple of vegan friends, Rena Wrenand Meredith Simonds, who have happily shared recipes, websites, books and general tips for being vegan in a carnivore world. Meredith’s website, The Vegan Pledge, features a pledge, blog and other resources. Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Life website and book, The Kind Diet, have been my go-to resources on my vegan journey. Kris Carr, who went vegan for health reasons, also has an extremely helpful website, Crazy Sexy Life, and books, including Crazy Sexy Diet. Did you know there’s such a thing as wine that is not vegan? Isinglass, a collagen that comes from dehydrated swim bladders of fish, is often used in the clarifying process for beer and wine. Barnivore is a great website guide for finding insinglass-free vegan beer, wine and liquor.

These resources have been valuable tools on a lovely and healthy lifestyle journey that I’m having fun figuring out.