My name is Danielle, or better known as “Vegan Danielle” on the web. I’ve been vegan since
early November of 2015. Essentially this means I don’t eat anything with a face, a mother or a nervous
system. I’ll give you all a little background about me before I expect you to listen to my advice.
First and foremost, I am not a doctor or a health professional, so let’s get that out of the way. I am also not a
certified chef; however, I have had decades of experience cooking in both home and restaurant
environments. I am neither a physicist nor a mathematician or even computer programmer, but I also
have many years of experience in those fields. Why does any of this matter? Simply because I don’t feel
it’s necessary to have a degree or certificate in order to endorse or believe in something. With that, I’d
like to share with you my personal story on how and why I became vegan, along with some of the
roadblocks I’ve learned to maneuver around.
So, where did it all begin? Ill give you the short version of who little Danielle was. I grew up in
the middle of nowhere in a small desert town near Victorville, Ca. We had chickens and a pig; none of
which we ate. We also had a tortoise, dogs, fish and even a few rats and rabbits. I always felt comfort
around animals; a true sense of serenity. I had also always believed that people who hurt animals were
The neighbors south of our house had a cow, which I believe I named Betsy. And, the
neighbors to west had goats and even more chickens than we had. At this time, I didn’t really
understand that animals could ever be anything but pets. I wasn’t vegan, or even vegetarian, but those
fancy words like “beef” & “bacon” & “pork” and such, made it really easy for me to eat something without
realizing it had a face or a heartbeat.
One day, when I was walking down my tractor-plowed dirt road to my neighbor friends house, I
noticed something in the near distance. It appeared that my friend Betsy was doing a hand-stand. I knew
that wasn’t possible, but I walked closer anyway to really get a good look. I crossed the invisible fence
which led to my neighbors yard, and it eventually occurred to me that Betsy was indeed upside down,
but not because she had learned some new circus tricks. There was a puddle of blood which dripped
from her freshly sliced neck, and her eyes were bigger than I’d ever seen.
I didn’t get it. Who would want to hurt Betsy? She was a beautiful creature, and such a good
friend. That experience devastated me. I would never hurt an animal, and I hated people who did. I
suffered with many depression-like symptoms for months past Betsy’s death.
A few weeks later, my dad prepared hamburgers on the grill and we all enjoyed them slathered
in ketchup and mustard as we listened to his Lynard Skynyrd and Van Halen vinyls. I’m pretty sure there
were a few cases of Budweiser and a pack Marlboro Reds sitting in the garage. How much more
American could we get?
I remember seeing my dad taking out more ground beef from the outdoor freezer we had in the
garage, and letting it defrost outside. When he opened the freezer door, I couldn’t help but notice it was
stocked to the top with little white paper packages. They were all wrapped in the same paper, but
looked as if they were organized by their shape. I asked my dad what they all were, and where they
came from, and he pointed across the street to where Betsy lived.
I was shocked. Angry. Confused. I ate a piece of Betsy earlier that day. How could he let me do
that. The more terrified I became, the funnier he thought it was. He was a typical pickup truck, flannel-
wearing, pick-on- kids bully redneck. I’ll never forget that day.
You’d think that experience alone would’ve prevented me from eating animals. The thing was,
like most people, it was easy for me to eat other animals because I had never met them. I didn’t know
them, I didn’t play with them and I definitely didn’t name them.
It took me almost two decades before I considered going vegan. It really just occurred to me one
day that if I truly loved animals, I wouldn’t support their violent rape, abuse and murder anymore. It no
longer felt right for me to call myself an animal-lover and eat chicken in the same day.
So, I had the same 2 questions that I feel that every non-vegan or new vegan asks: “What do
vegans eat?” and, “where do you get your protein?” I look back with what I know now and see such
irony in these questions. However, maybe these are questions that you too are looking for the answers
to. So, for that, I’ll give my best responses.
What Do Vegans Eat?
Have you ever been to a supermarket? Well, of course you have! Next time you go, take a look
around you. Look at all of the beautiful, living foods! Fruits, vegetables, seeds, sprouts; rainbow-colored
seas of nutrition! You haven’t even made it passed the produce section, and you’ve got a source for
almost every essential vitamin and nutrient! Now, take a venture down the spice isle, the drink isle, the
pre-packaged isles… You’ll be surprised how many items in the market are vegan!
The meat and dairy sections in most markets are often one of the smallest departments in the
store. There’s on average, 4 main animals that Americans eat: pigs, chickens, cows and fish (aside from
the holiday turkeys). The milk people drink usually comes from a cow, and the eggs from a chicken.
Other than that, items are usually labelled as “specialty” and are not consumed on a regular basis by
So, what’s the point? The point is that it’s not hard to NOT eat animals. Today, in our modern
world, we have even more choices. Mock meats, faux cheese, and even vegan eggs! But, Where Do You Get Your Protein?
This has got to be the most COMMON, yet also the most misunderstood question that I get on a
regular basis. In short form: Keep calm! Plants have protein too! The fact: that broccoli on your plate has
twice as much protein per calorie as the steak that’s next to it (11.2g vs 5.4g per 100 calories). This is not
widely known, leaving the average person doubtful that a plant-based diet could ever fill that imagined
steak-shaped void in their protein requirements. (Info from One Green Planet)
Let me put this into perspective for you. Some of our largest land animals are vegan! Elephants,
rhinos, apes, and prehistorically, some dinosaurs. Of course, this is just to name a few. See, the
herbivorous animals get their protein from plants. But, ironically, so do the carnivorous ones. When an
animal (including humans) eats another animal, those proteins were initially created from the plants
that the other animal ate. So, instead of eating animals to get the protein that they got from the plants,
we can just go straight to the source!
Here’s another thing to consider – protein deficiency RARELY exists. Protein deficiency is
something you may hear of when you tell your friends you want to stop eating animals. They assume
that you’re going to start hugging trees, smoking reefer and shrivel up into a little protein-deprived
human that belongs on a UNICEF sponsored commercial. Usually true protein-deficiency is also
accompanied by nutrient-deficiency and calorie-deficiency; things that can be cured by eating more food
in general – not by eating more meat. People living in America or another wealthy country tend to eat
way more meat than our bodies can even digest. Too much protein is what you should be worrying
I Should Really Be Asking YOU a Question – Where Do You Get Your Fiber?
Heart Disease, Diabetes, Diverticular Disease, and Constipation are some of the most common
disorders associated with low fiber diets; fiber, which is found in almost every fruit and vegetable! If you
take a look at the design of the human digestive system, you will find it’s closely related to that of an
herbivore. We have dull teeth, lower amounts of stomach acid and shorter intestines than true obligate
carnivores. Most raw meets will even cause us to get sick! I encourage you to look more into this on
Milk DOESN’T do a Body Good…
“Drink your milk, it’s good for you!” In my generation, this phrase was heard just as often as “Go
clean your room!” Unfortunately, today, people still believe this. Let’s really think about this one. What
is milk? Where is it from? Who is it for? Why do humans need it?
Milk is usually from cows, as I’m sure everyone capable of reading this already knows. But how
do the cows produce milk? Well, just as most mammals, including humans, cows need to be pregnant to
produce milk. In order for humans to drink cows milk, it has to be taken from the babies. I’ll just let you
think about that one.
Humans don’t need cows milk any more than we need the milk of a cat or a dog. Humans are
the only species that drink milk after infancy and from another mammal. It’s really an odd concept if you
think about it. Plus, cows milk, organic or not, naturally contains hormones from the mother that are
intended to grow a baby calf into a 400-pound animal! Why would you want that? I always tell people,
“If you want to drink milk, go suck it from the cow yourself.”
I know, I know, I know…! You could go vegan, but you can’t give up cheese! Look, I’m sure by
now, you’re getting sick of reading all of this, so here’s my advice: Look up “casomorphin.” I’ll summarize
it for you. Cow moms naturally produce a hormone, casomorphin which is actually created by their
bodies as a sort of “drug” to keep the calves interested in drinking more. It’s effect on the human brain
is similar to the effect heroin has. Mind you, the dose is MUCH lighter, and not being injected
intravenously, however, the brain has a similar reaction. This hormone is necessary to keep the cows
drinking their mother’s milk, so they don’t wander off without a meal.
Cheese is essentially a condensed block of aged hormones. This allows you to consume much
more of the casomorphins in a much smaller amount of “food.” So, when people say that they’re
addicted to food, they aren’t joking! They literally cannot stop.
So, how do you get off cheese. You gotta just cut that stuff out cold-to-furkey! (That was a vegan
pun, my bad!) I promise you, there’s no withdrawals, you won’t end up with the shakes, and you won’t
be hospitalized; but, it will take some time. I don’t even miss cheese today, but it did take me a minute
to get to this point.
Why Have We Been Lied To?
So, if milk is bad for you, and plants have protein, what’s with all of the lies on TV? Look, this is
going to take a lot of research and open-mindedness on your behalf. Here’s the short version: The
corporations that run the factory farms are also funded by the same government programs that fund
the pharmaceutical industry. The reason? Healthy people aren’t profitable. If people are kept just sick
enough to rely on medications, they become customers for life. Oh, and don’t forget, these are the same
companies that provide the antibiotics to the farm animals. Something like 80% of the total amount of
antibiotics in the United States are sent straight to the factory farms. I’ve included some helpful
resources at the bottom of this if you’re interested in learning more.
How do I shop/meal-plan?
You’re interested in being vegan, but you’re confused on how to start? I can recommend the
PETA website as an excellent starting point. Also, One Green Planet and The Humane League provide
tons of vegan tips and tricks. If you’re looking for a short answer, start simple and cut out the animal
products. For breakfast, exchange your milk for a non-dairy alternative. There are TONS out there,
ranging from hemp to almond and coconut to cashew. If you don’t like one, try another. For a packed
lunch, try some rice or quinoa with steamed veggies. Or something quicker like a peanut butter and jelly
sandwich. You’ll probably be surprised when you realize how many of your favorite meals can easily be
Faux meats and cheeses are really popular today, and I feel, good transition foods. I personally
don’t eat much of them on a regular basis, however, they make for a good vegan junk food meal. They
aren’t the healthiest of alternatives, but… you’re still saving animals and the environment!
Dehydrators are ideal. If you can afford one, get one! You can start making dried fruit, apple
chips, potato chips, crackers and even probiotic living cashew yogurts! If you’re not familiar with a
raw/living diet, I encourage you to look it up – it’s some pretty cool stuff!
Pack snacks – especially for the kids! When you first go vegan, you will probably realize you’re
hungrier faster. This is usually due to the increased fiber in your diet. Fiber will cause you to feel full
quickly, however, it moves through your GI tract faster as well, potentially causing quicker urges to eat.
Remember too, that some of this involves a paradigm shift. Many of us stuffed our faces with animal
products which made us feel sluggish and obese just after one meal. This is probably no longer going to
be an issue for you as a vegan, so you may need to re-learn what feeling satisfied feels like.
Before I turn this blog into a 1000-paged book, I’m going to refer you to some helpful
documentaries that are backed by medical professionals, to help you decide whether veganism is right
- Forks Over Knives
- What the Health?
- The Environment:
I hope this blog was helpful to you, and I apologize it ended up being a short essay that I
probably should’ve written for a college class a few years back. I just have one last piece of advice –
don’t be a vegan jerk. I understand, that after you educate yourself on a lot of this, you’re probably
going to be a bit upset at the world and want to tell everyone to go vegan for the planet, for the
animals, and for their own health. Unfortunately, the truth is, most people won’t care. Most won’t want
to hear what you have to say, and most won’t change their habits. Here’s the good news – you’re still
saving tons of animals in the process. Just remember, if you “mess up” start over on the next meal.
You’re not tallying days here – you’re trying to make the best decisions based on the information you’ve
been provided with. Try eliminating straws, buying only products that don’t test on animals, and reusing
your grocery bags. And lastly, get involved with the vegan community! The best way to learn about
veganism is through others who live that way already! Go on Face Book, Instagram, You Tube…
whatever! Search for vegan athletes, doctors or meal planners. You have resources at your fingertips,
just use them!!
By: Vegan Danielle
Learn more by listening to this episode of the Conscious Living Podcast featuring Vegan Danielle:
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