Dear Nicole,

I’ve recently seen “Faces of Death”, and I have decided to become
vegan. I am trying to take this VERY seriously. But I was just
wondering, you started becoming vegan when you were a teenager right?
How did you do it? What gave you inspiration? What products do recommend
now at stores such as Target or Vons?

Sincerely, Vegan Vexed

Dear Vexed,  
I am not sure what Faces of Death has to do with being vegan, unless
you’ve been dining exclusively on monkey’s brains, but I’m with you. I
support you.
I became vegan as a teenager. In Kansas. In the 90s. I am currently
experiencing a 1990s vegan renaissance in my new “historic village” of
White River Junction, Vermont. Asian food is my dearest friend, and when
offered the chance to check out “really cool diners”, I relegate myself
to a fantastic portion of french fries and salad.
This is what you will do.
You will also learn to cook for your self. You will get a book like Veganomicon, and learn to cook vegetables.

They are sold virtually everywhere. It’s not hard. Eat vegetables at
home, eat beans at home. I don’t care if you cover them in ketchup, just
eat them.

I believe (through  my divine powers of clairvoyance) that you are a teenager.
When I was a teenager, I made a lot of Boca Burgers and chili. I ate so
much chili. On top of french fries. I am not sure how I am still alive,
but I survived on Veggie Chili Fries and Chocolate Cokes. A chocolate
coke is a coke from a soda fountain (ask your grandpa) with chocolate
syrup in it. There gets to be a chocolatey froth on the top, and it is
really delightful. I also dined upon Mexican food.

When you go out (to a restaurant), do not ask the waiter if they have
something vegan. That’s not going to fly in a small town. Look to the
vegetable section of the menu (or the “sides” section, in some dire
cases) and parcel something together. Ask if it is vegetarian, or if it
has dairy. That is a parlance that most people waiting tables
If you are at Indian, ask if there is dairy. If you are at Thai, ask
about fish sauce. If you are at a Chinese restaurant, ask if it is
vegetarian (you will thank me for this tip after viewing a dish of tofu
covered in pork crumblins).
I will gladly stitch together a meal of sides. Beans, salad, home fries,
no problem.
Also remember that you can eat when you get home if you need to.
And always carry a snack. If you find a store with tons of things you
would love to eat, like a mountain of Luna Bars or a jar of almond
butter, buy as many as you can fathom wanting at the time, and leave
some in your bag. This way you will never be the whiny vegan, or the
hungry one. You will be the “food hoarder”, but at least you won’t be

LASTLY: Sit down with yourself, take a look inside, and decide what you truly care about.
When I first went vegan, I would make myself CRAZY reading labels in the
grocery store, and then come home to find that I’d trucked back
something with a minute amount of honey included.
I think I started open-mouth crying at some point based on this mistake.
I had to say, “Nicole, do you care this much about honey?”
I answered, “I know I am supposed to, but I don’t think I actually care.”,
So I read as many books and pamphlets about honey as I could. I studied
honey, to see if it was worth it to have a mental breakdown over graham
crackers. At the end of this research I decided that though I would not
seek OUT honey, or chug a honey bear at random, I would also not beat
myself up if honey was an incidental.
My mental health and longevity as a person with a plant-based diet was
more important.
I have not had meat, dairy, or eggs in coming up 17 years, and the only way I’ve done so is by being fair and easy on myself.
Be fair and reasonable, and good luck! Being vegan is really fun, especially with modern fake cheese technology.

P.s. Go look up Isa Moskowitz, and purchase her entire catalog. She is your new queen.

Good Luck!
Love Nicole