Thinking about going vegan? Already vegan and wanting to stay that way? Just curious how in the world someone can live without cheese for more than a day?
We’re sharing tips from 28 vegans who have been choosing plant-based for at least two years and some as long as 30 years. Wow!
The number of years that qualifies as a long time is really relative though. How challenging was it to be vegan in 1990 as compared to now? Vegan food options in grocery stores and restaurants are certainly more plentiful than they used to be, but then again everyone’s circumstances are different.
We asked a spectrum of longtime vegans what has been helpful to them over the years, and this is what they had to say.
We hope that their words, ranging from practical tips to inspirational encouragement, will motivate you to take the next step and then stick with it. And yes, you can live without cheese, as demonstrated here by these 28 very-much-alive vegans. (And yes, there’s vegan cheese nowadays!)
Sanchez Brown — 2 years
Don’t be afraid! Take it from a true foodie, vegan food is delicious. I’ve been Yelp Elite for three years, and it’s a phenomenal tool for finding great vegan eats!
Hanna Dorn — 2 years
For me, visiting farmed animal sanctuaries like SoulSpace have helped make meat and dairy less appealing. When you hear the residents’ stories and experience their unique, loving personalities, it puts a face on the living creatures exploited for food. The more you interact with farmed animals, the easier veganism gets! They are beautiful, inspiring creatures.
Liberty Kirkeide — 2.5 years
My sister and I took the plunge together based on conversations we had and a shared desire to follow our compassion wherever it led. My mom went vegan too, and I saw friends take big steps in the right direction. Food is communal, and it is better when shared.
Theresa Zingery — 3 years
The best thing I have done is to get involved with the vegan community for both the sense of mutual support and also to find out about a lot of very cool vegan foods and restaurants that I might not have found on my own. There are several options for community building including some meetup groups, Facebook groups, and organizations promoting a vegan diet.
Julie Knopp — 3 years vegan; 16 years vegetarian
Social media has been instrumental in sustaining my vegan lifestyle. When I started out, I looked up some organizations that shared my beliefs, like Mercy for Animals, The Humane League, CAA, and more. I followed them on social media and made sure to click the option “See First.” I joined certain Facebook groups and made sure the notifications were set to alert me about posts within the group. Being a part of these social media circles provided daily motivation and offered a much-needed sense of community at a time when I had no vegan friends or acquaintances.
Jessica Blanchfield — 3.5 years
It’s not about perfection. I focus on doing the best I can with what I know in the moment.
Laura vanZandt — 3.5 years
I travel frequently, so using the Happy Cow app has changed my life! It makes it easy to find vegan-friendly restaurants and other businesses all over the world.
Angelica Fabiola Vásquez Hernández — 3.5 years
We hold the power to make a difference in somebody’s right to life.
Amy Yule — 4 years
I would recommend sitting down with a scrap of paper and writing a purpose statement. Reflect on why you want to be vegan. Even the act of writing down your motivating factor can help bring your thoughts and ideas into reality. Carry it with you and revisit it as often as you need!
Evan Kusik — 4.5 years
Surround yourself vegan friends and acquaintances!
Summer Freed — 5 years
Think about the animals! I’ve never had success sticking to a health-related diet, but thinking about the animals makes it easy to turn down foods that aren’t plant-based.
Melanie Jacobs — 5 years
I have found that living aligned with my values, morals, and beliefs allow me to live the authentic life I was meant to live. Since becoming a vegan my spirituality has grown profoundly, and I am able to utilize my gift of empathy to stand up for animal rights.
Kaysha Muster — 5 years
I educated myself on the topic as much as possible and wrote out all of my reasons for being vegan. I add to it every now and then.
Shelby Schouweiler — 5 years
I’ve stayed vegan by loving to cook and experiment with new, creative recipes.
Karrie Vrabel — 5 years
Create a support system. I joined vegan groups to participate in actions and meet like-minded individuals. These people are my closest friends today.
Ashley Riddle — 6.5 years
I educated myself on the topic in all aspects, including animal rights/ethics, environmental, health, and the human rights issues tied into animal agriculture. That has been more than enough motivation! Finding community has also been incredibly helpful.
Johnathan Schuster — 8 years
After a while, non-vegan food becomes unappealing.
Paula Huerkamp — 8 years
Community is helpful. Even if my family didn’t go vegan, their support was helpful. Later I met and married my vegan husband and we live in the Twin Cities and have lots of vegan friends. That helps, too. But ultimately, it’s a promise to myself and in knowing that my choice to be vegan is the highest alignment with my values.
Suzy Sorensen — 11 years
Be part of a compassionate community! Co-workers or family might not get it, but spend time with those who do. CAA events and vegan friends have been a great way to know I’m not alone and have support. Also, don’t be to hard on yourself! Do your best and know that you make a positive difference every day, even if you aren’t perfect all the time. Before long, it will be your new norm and the more you try, the easier it gets.
Jenell Holden — 11 years
I don’t how I would have made it past the first 2 years if I didn’t find a supportive community.
Abraham Rowe — 17 years
I’ve met lots of great friends by going to events and joining communities. I’ve also eaten healthily, learned to cook delicious plant-based food, etc. I try to maintain a positive attitude and be kind to people who eat a different diet than I do.
EG Nelson — 20ish years
So many foods and dishes are naturally vegan! Faux meats and other items, while often delicious, can be expensive and seem strange to your non-vegan counterparts. Save money and explore world cuisines featuring different plant proteins and grains to wow yourself and the omnivores in your life. Also wacky cake is a simple cake that is NATURALLY VEGAN. Most ingredients you can buy at a corner store! If you are a low-budget vegan with little time in your hands, it’s a great indulgence!
Michelle Shaw — 25 years
For me, it’s all about the animals. If I slipped, then I knew I would harm an animal, so I never did. With that being said, no matter what your reasons are, do the very best you can. None of us can be 100% vegan given the fact that pharmaceuticals and tires (just two of many things) can be made out of animal products too, so do your best. Find a supportive Facebook group like Compassionate Vegan Minnesota where you can share your journey without being judged for where you are. Ask questions, get ideas, share your challenges, and find out how others have responded to the same issues you’re experiencing.
AmyLeo Barankovich — 25+ years
I keep in mind the reasons I choose to be vegan. At first it was for the animals, then it was for the environment and my health. The more I educated myself, the more reasons I had to sustain my veganism, and the easier it was to do so.
Pat Tullo — 28 years
I focus on the fact that a plant-based diet is a compassionate diet, and that I am not supporting a cruelty-based agriculture system that harms animals, people, and the environment.
Kelle Green — 30 years
I would never look into an animal’s eyes and decide to kill it because I thought it would taste good. Why would I let someone else do that for me?
Freeman Wicklund — 30 years
It’s easy to be vegan when I keep my love for animals, the environment, and humanity in mind.
Thanks to all of these contributors for sharing their stories and for all they do for the animals with their everyday choices!