Well, this is it. It’s certainly been another whirlwind year, filled with delicious vegan noms and chill vegan spots, but more importantly— actually, most importantly, have been the vegan realizations I’ve gone through. Indeed, this year could be coined the year of vegan realism.
You know how art has gone through different eras over time? Well, my veganism is pretty much doing the same thing. Last year, my first year being vegan, was my romanticism era. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to dive into veganism in all it’s glory. This new challenge of going vegan gave me something to strive for. Something to champion and hold onto. I wandered through this new world, eager to discover all the junkfood, mock meats and restaurants that made up this seemingly giant but actually very tight-knit community of veganism.
I reveled in the wonders of my imagination, letting my mind and heart roam wild as I played chef, coming up with imaginative and beautifully plated meals that I still believe could rival some of the best influencers out there. I tried my hardest to break away from the societal norms of the standard American diet— a way of eating that I knew was making me sick, keeping me overweight and contributing to my subpar physical health.
And at that time, it was an easy thing to do. I had support from a pal who had been vegan for some time. My mom was totally fine with me going vegan, and I didn’t have to hear any drawn out speeches about health or not being able to accommodate my new « weird » diet. And time. I had so much time. When I first went vegan, I was working in the hospitality industry and I was a student. Both things that call for a lot of time and attention, but not at the peak levels that would soon come. So, in my free time, I decided to take on this new lifestyle full-speed. I turned my already existing foodie IG into a vegan page. I started a blog (fun fact: I’ve always been passionate about writing and blogging, and this is actually my second blog). And I decided I would not only utilize going vegan as a way to help myself, but also as a way to help others— animals, the planet, marginalized groups. Everything and everyone.
So that was it. My romantic, dreamy introduction to veganism.
And this year. Things got real.
I’m still a student. In fact, I’ve been a student for the past five years straight, with no end on the near horizon. But this summer is when the realism era really kicked in. It was a whirlwind of school and training for one of the greatest occurrences in my life. The start of my career as a teacher. So, it’s been non-stop work. From sun up til’ sun down. Filled with times where I’ve been ecstatic, but also filled with times where I’ve doubted my abilities to complete anything. But I have been completing everything. And I continue to push myself. In addition to all the hard work, a lot more has happened in a year. As usual, here’s a quick recap of the year of vegan realism, and what I think the future of my vegan life will hold.
I Tried a lot More Vegan Food
This year was still filled with me trying a bunch of food from amazing places. I tried the delicious food at Rip’s Malt Shop, co-opened by a great entrepreneur, Eric, who okayed the making of an off-the-menu, “vegan girl nyc special”, featuring their bomb chopped cheeze, an NYC staple. I tried amazing noms from the fully women-run and owned Seitan’s Helper, I finally got to try amazing dessert noms from Pisces Rising Vegan, another women-owned opération that is absolutely splendid. And speaking of awesome women in power, I got to try some great food from Chef Chloe herself at her Supernatural pop-up earlier in the year. I was also able to try amazingly delicious food from a brand new restaurant, Spicy Moon— which is now one of my favorite new places to eat! I had an entirely vegan personal pie from a not entirely vegan pizzeria in my heart town of Queens, and I got to try even more delicious food at this year’s Vegandale festival, attending for my second year in a row. And that was just to name a few of the happenings stateside.
Oh yes, ya girl went international this year, leaving the country for the first time and traveling overseas to checkout the beautiful cities of London and Paris and alllll the vegan noms both cities had to offer! I’ve written all about my foodie travel in LDN, and my foodie adventures from Paris will be up bientôt. How it Got Real: as the summer drew near and once my first year of teaching began, my budget was as tight as ever. Dining out slowed down a lot. Luckily, I’d already gone through my blogger existential crisis of wondering if people would still like my page if I wasn’t showcasing bomb vegan noms from restaurants galore. Therefore, I no longer cared if people followed me for superficial reasons. I also had a handful of caring folks I’ve met along my life journey who took my very broke self out to eat and for that, I’ll be forever grateful.
I Kinda, Sorta Dated Someone for Like, ten Seconds
Once I went back to school, I made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t date anyone because I didn’t want to be distracted from school. Once I graduated, I got into grad school. I made yet another pact that after working so hard to get into an amazing school, I wouldn’t screw it up with distractions of ANY kind. So dating was put on the back burner, again. Then, I graduated from grad school. What was next? More grad school. And teacher training. By this point, I was so happy and grateful for everything happening in my life, but I also thought “dang, can ya girl get a date or two?” Well, eventually I did. I met someone, and they weren’t vegan and I was 100% okay with that because if you follow my IG page, I’ve said plenty of times that dating a vegan isn’t necessarily a priority of mine. Things were fun and it was nice to be close to someone amidst the constant grind. How it Got Real: Things ended pretty quickly and it was both good and bad. I may have been in a relationship with someone who didn’t wanna be in a relationship. Or maybe they just didn’t wanna be in a relationship with me. I can only speculate, but I try not to because I enjoy my sanity. The point is, during our short-lived romance, instead of being straightforward, they took me on a roller coaster of weirdness that had more of an effect on my emotional and mental health than I liked, and that was a big no-no. Perhaps their propensity for being a big meanie had something to do with them not being vegan? Who knows, but either way, I’m super single, again.
I Started a Career
Teaching is amazing. I love it. It allows me to be creative and fits with my love of a delicate balance of being busy with so much on my plate set alongside the time to recoup and get back to my center. Some of my students in my first year love me. Some don’t care for me too much. But I love them all and it feels amazing to be able to watch them grow, academically and as humans. How it Got Real: Trying to be an amazing teacher while still being a student is absolutely possible but it’s hard work. Especially when you’re a new teacher. Before I started teaching, I’d heard it all from current and former teachers along the way. Some had principals leave in the middle of year. Some began their teaching careers mid-year with no prior teaching experience. Some worked in schools that ended up closing. This was all real and it taught them great lessons and helped mold them into great teachers. Luckily, I haven’t experienced any of those challenges, but I’ve been pulling on all that I can to be great because now, I don’t just have to be great for myself, but I have to be great for my students.
I Celebrated the Holidays as a Vegan… Again!
This is my second year of holiday celebrations as a vegan, and it’s actually okay. There are so many options for vegans that I don’t feel isolated at the thought of the end of the year and all the food to come. This one is actually not that bad— yet. How it’s Gonna Get Real: Traversing the holidays as a vegan hasn’t been too bad yet because I’ve still been celebrating small-scale. Outside of my immediate family is what I’m a bit nervous of. Will the holidays get bigger in the years to come? Will I have to gather around tons of family and/or friends at non-vegan gatherings? If so, I’ll probably be better prepared because I’ll be a veteran vegan at that point. If anything, the annoying part won’t be the food prep, it’ll be talking about being vegan. Answering questions about my life as a vegan and why I’ve chosen to eat and live this way.
So, you may ask how have all these year two events related to my being vegan? Well, I’ve had the wake-up call of settling into veganism as being my real-life. It’s not just vegan restaurants and festivals. It’s quick tofu scrams before class and work. It’s late night sandwiches thrown together because I’m hungry after getting out of class at 9:30pm. And yes, as a vegan I can make deli meat and cheeze sandwiches, complete with mayo 🙂 This hectic grind with food thrown in the mix because I have to eat is a familiar feeling for everyone, not just vegans. Life has been filled with moments of literally spending several minutes eyeballing a vending machine at school to find something that is both vegan and moderately healthy because I forgot (more like procrastinated) to meal prep because that’s life, and I have a three-hour class coming up that I can not possibly sit through in its entirety without being hungry.
I also still deal with stress eating. And although that hasn’t completely vanished, I’ve learned (and am still learning) how to turn to other things than eating to deal with stressful or hurtful or unpredictable occurrences, and also how to be present and choose healthier options whenever I do turn to food for comfort. My relationship with veganism has started to balance out and is now less about the “idea” of me being vegan and more about my regular relationship with food as I go through the complicated and exhilarating ride known as L I F E. It’s just that my food happens to be cruelty-free.
As I embark on year three of being vegan, I am really excited for what’s to come. I have no idea of what lies ahead, and that’s scary but also exciting. I still want to create recipes, and I have more than enough notes and scribbles for ideas to keep me busy whenever I find the time to do so. I’ve become less concerned with maintaining a perfect IG page aesthetic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still about a good-looking page, but if I manage to make a great meal and I get some pics of it, it’s going on the page whether or not it’s plated cute or on a fancy plate. And at the end of the day, I’m finding that to be more inspiring in many ways. I can plan for eternity, but deep down, I’m aware that I have to learn to enjoy the ride because life, even in the form of blogging, is gonna have its own plans for me— and if I can adapt to all that my crazy life has in-store for me, then I can certainly adapt to the roller coaster that is #bloggerlife.
~*I Can’t wait for year three!!!*~
Heart ballons image courtesy of Kristina Paukshtite via Pexels.com
Cranberry and pine cone image courtesy of Jessica Lewis via Pexels.com