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Waking Up: Vegetarian to Vegan

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Waking Up: Vegetarian to Vegan

Over the last six years that I spent as a vegetarian, vegan felt like a small step away. Vegan was, from my perspective, the sister of vegetarianism; close, but with a tumultuous relationship. It wasn’t until five month ago, when I actually became vegan, that I really began to understand how distant these concepts are and why there has and continues to be tension between these two communities.

There were a lot of reasons I became vegetarian, including moral, spiritual, and health-related issues. But at the heart of it, I became vegetarian because I wanted to remove some of the hypocrisy from my life. If I wasn’t willing to kill the animals I was eating, then why was I eating them?

For me, cutting out meat wasn’t that difficult. I simply added in more beans, lentils, healthier grains and veggies. Along with the twenty pounds I dropped after adopting this lifestyle, I began to feel better about my impact on the environment and the animals around me.

Being the only vegetarian in my family wasn’t always “easy,” but I felt like I could walk around with my head held a bit higher… Walk around, that is, in my down jacket and leather shoes, enjoying my Greek yogurt and scrambled eggs.

Image: Carlos Porto /

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Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati

Gentle World is a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. For more information about vegan food and other aspects of a vegan lifestyle, visit the Gentle World website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.


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8:26AM PST on Jan 3, 2014

WOW're an angry person!

9:48AM PDT on Jul 3, 2013

Great article!

7:32AM PDT on Jul 3, 2013

WOW this is a real eye-opener for those of us who basically just eat. Seems like a lifelong commitment which needs to start now ... (willing to try hard, wish me luck - hell is paved with good intentions).

12:42PM PDT on Oct 24, 2012

@Valentina R.
Could you explain your statements ;
"You're not saving the world"
"You live in denial"
"You have zero realisim" . . . . .
Please back them up with some facts?

5:27AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

I now understand why Vegans can be so judgemental of Vegetarians :-/

9:05PM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

"Vegan was, from my perspective, the sister of vegetarianism; close, but with a tumultuous relationship." Hahaha, hilarious.

Poor naive vegans, they think they're so special. Know what? You are not heroes. You are not saving the world. You are not more worthy than vegetarians. You have no right of bashing them. You live in denial. You have zero realism. You are the ones who need to wake up.

5:48PM PDT on Sep 26, 2012

Thanks. This is something I am working towards.

2:47AM PDT on Aug 15, 2012

thanks for this inspiring article!

1:30PM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

To "go vegan" is not something you decide lightly, as it seriously demands that you: ALWAYS have access to a wide variety of ORGANIC whole foods, locally grown, know how to balance nutrition (getting enough protein if you're sporty for ex.), know how to cook, and take supplements of vitamin B12...this is perhaps not for everyone, due to geographical or other constraints....
Vegan's be more tolerant!
(this is such a "hot" debate!....)

6:51PM PDT on May 14, 2012

I also was resistant to going vegan because I love cheeses and milk so much. Even though I knew about the fate of male dairy calves, it still seemed so far removed from my direct responsibility that I still ate dairy. A few months ago I saw a video showing a dairy cow giving birth in a muddy corral, then chasing after the farmer as he dragged her calf away, through the mud. Finally decided to give up dairy, eggs too. I will admit, that if I ever go out with friends and family, and if there are no vegan options, I'll get the vegetarian option and not commit hari-kari for my transgression. At least everyone who knows me knows I've been a vegetarian for 30 years, so I never have to get into a fight for not eating turkey on Thanksgiving!

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