5 Things I've Learned in 5 Years as a Vegan


Instagram user @dominiquelissa

It recently occurred to me that I’ve followed a plant-based diet for more than half a decade. This realization was surprising, but not for the reasons you might think—if anything, I’m kind of shocked that it has only been that long. I’ve been vegan for all of my adult life, and when you overhaul your regimen in such a way that many of your most basic decisions—what you’re having for breakfast, what groceries you’re buying, where you can eat out—completely shift, it’s hard to remember what life was like before that. What I do know, however, is that I can’t imagine going back.

That’s not to say it hasn’t been without its challenges—namely, that when you go vegan, it suddenly becomes everyone else’s business. Making this choice continues to be niche enough in our society that even five years down the line, I’m still assaulted with questions about that decision on a near-daily basis. It’s often one of the first things that come up when I meet anyone new, even though it’s not information I typically volunteer, because after fielding the same stereotypes and inquiries for this long, I can pretty much guess how the conversation is going to go. These things are inevitable even with people I’m related to.

Yet as annoying and frustrating as it can be, it has also taught me so much about how to demystify those stereotypes—and how much work is left to be done in that regard. In addition to the physical transformation it has provided me, veganism has profoundly changed the way I relate to so many things—my mind, my body, my planet, and, yes, other people.

So in honor of my little anniversary and in an effort to debunk some of those all-too-common myths, I thought it only appropriate to reflect on everything I’ve learned. Keep reading to see what going vegan has taught me.

Shop some of my vegan essentials below.

Want to know more about what it’s like to go vegan? See what happened when two Byrdie editors roundtabled it.