Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Back to the future: A letter to myself as a new vegan...

Dear Marla -

It’s 1995: it’s so cool that you’re finally going vegan! You were vegetarian for 12 years so it’s kind of about time but, hey, there’s no time like the present. I have the luxury of being able to write this in 2013 so I have some added information that might be useful to you as a new vegan. This actually won’t at all be useful to you because you won’t have read it so this is mostly an exercise to show the world how much better things are for vegans today. It is so, so much easier and more enjoyable to be a vegan today. Don’t believe me, 1995 Marla? Allow me to make my case...

In 1995, vegan cheese sucks. It just does. You may as well eat plastic. Move on. Things will get better.

Soy milk is pretty awful, too, like liquified cement but somehow worse. And why is it so beige? Would it comfort you to know that one day, you’ll have easy access to everything from almond milk to hazelnut milk and they can be chocolate, too?

Quinoa. Keen-wah. They’re tiny little powerhouse grains from a magical land and you can finally give rice a break. They’re another great gluten-free option. Oh, did you know that you will have a gluten intolerance? Well, now you do.

In 2013, you know that screaming out the window at someone wearing a fur coat as you drive past will likely just result in her hearing, “Heeeeeeeeey, youuuuuuul ssshouuuulz...” Not effective.

You are just beginning to understand that trying to modify all those Moosewood Cookbook recipes you used to love that call for 8 eggs and 2 gallons of milk and a carton of sour cream is futile. Better recipes will come very soon.

Two cups of nutritional yeast in a recipe that serves four is too much. It is just is.

People will pronounce it vay-gun, veg-gin and everything in between. Forgive them. Stop twitching. Move on. People will stop doing this. Mostly. (Sigh...)

Starting conversations with people just because they are looking at the tofu/tempeh/seitan section of the grocery store will likely make you look like a really over-eager stalker. I would say to chill out, but you won’t listen. You still do this in 2013.

You know that vegan guy who looks and sort of behaves like the Unibomber but he goes to every event so you feel like you should sort of be friendly and so you invite him along when you guys go out for lunch after the Ringling protest and he makes everyone uncomfortable because he never takes off his coat and hat, he doesn’t speak and he just stares at the floor? You don’t need to be friends with him. Seriously.

Staring at the testicle area of every male dog to see if he’s neutered so you can lecture or feel good about his person is a little weird and may make you look like a perv.

The restaurant food - oh my gosh, the restaurant food! - in 1995 pales in comparison to 2013. You may think that those hummus wraps and portobello mushroom “steaks” are good but they totally aren’t. Blech. Admit this already! It gets so, so much better. Meanwhile, though, you’ll have to continue to plow through your weight in hummus, I’m afraid.

Okay, how do I explain this? You know that vegetarian restaurant guide that you keep in the car for when you travel, the one with all the notes in the margins and dog-eared pages? You know how when you travel you stop along the way at telephone booths to call ahead and see if they are still around and often they aren’t? You know how you think to yourself that you can’t imagine what you ever did without this guide? Okay, one day there will be these things called apps (like an abbreviation for appetizers but it’s actually for “applications”) and here’s the thing: you can look up restaurants, grocery stores, freaking vegan goods stores (yep, there are those) on your flipping PHONE and see the menu and reviews and call them and follow a map there and with just a phone. Yes, you can. And that’s just one app. There are also cruelty-free products apps (you get to retire that guide from PETA you carry around), recipe apps, even an app with snappy comebacks to annoying pseudo-questions about veganism. Okay, there’s not that last one yet but we’re totally going to create one. Is your mind blown yet? Holy guacamole, I live in the future and I’ve got goose bumps.

In 2013, there will be vegans who don’t really care about animals or animal rights. Yes, it’s wild but true.

The “vegan” celebrities will break your heart again and again. Do not jump on any stupid bandwagon and feel all “rah rah rah!” about any of them. They are all sell-outs. Except for Woody. Woody’s still holding strong.

One day, you will be able to walk into a restaurant and order a pizza with vegan cheese and sausage instead of the cheeseless pizza and this in and of itself is kind of mind-blowing.

You will have a vegan wedding and the food will be so good that your mother’s friends from the Beth Hillel sisterhood won’t even complain and that’s saying something because that Faye has a big mouth.

You know how you flip out whenever the word “vegan” appears in pop culture? You don’t do this anymore. (For the most part.)

You know those two kinds of dairy-free ice cream that aren’t very good? In 2013, there will be more varieties of vegan ice cream than there are vegan products on the shelves in 1995 and I’m kind of exaggerating but not by much.

The shoes. The shoes. You know how you can only wear, like, Converse or Doc Martens? Things have improved.

So it gets better. Got better. I’m glad I’m here in 2013. Thank you for powering through in 1995, even though you were still so gosh darn easy-to-please that you apparently didn’t even notice that things sucked. Anyway, yay! Let’s hear it for 2013, Marla!




  1. It is amazing! Just since we began 4 years ago, so much has changed! Great essay!

    And stop staring at my dog's testicles! :)

  2. This is such an awesome post. There is so much here that I can relate to. I kept grinning and nodding constantly while reading it! :D

  3. Are you an "old-timer," too, Veganosaurus? So much has changed for the better!

  4. Two cups of nutritional yeast is really too much? Now you're breaking my heart...

    Seriously it did get so much better in just my short 5 years looking backwards. The look down memory lane just gives us a better vision to see ahead! Thanks for lighting the path once again! ;)

  5. I love this! I became a vegan in 1995 too, and life is so much better now! Remember the dehydrated vegan chick'n in the box from the health food store? Our minds would have been blown by Gardein and Beyond Meat!

  6. Please please please invent the Q&A app. Like a Siri version of vegan info. No matter how much I read I still can never seem to say it right when the time comes. It would be awesome to answer questions with a recording!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.