So why do I call myself a “Vegetarian and an Aspiring Vegan?”
In order to begin explaining this seemingly new title, I have to explain the difference between Vegetarianism and Veganism:
From the diagram you can see that vegetarians do not eat meat or seafood. In addition to not eating meat, Vegans do not eat any animal by-products including dairy, egg, gelatin and some alcohol products.
During my transition period, I identified as a Vegetarian because I still had some dairy products like condensed milk and other items in my pantry. Once I managed to consume and dispense of these items, I began my attempt at being a Vegan. I was successful for a while, until I learned that I was inadvertently consuming products that contained milk and milk proteins in it such as Tostitos chips! This was disguised by terms such as “whey” and “casein.” In Special K, a cereal that I frequently bought, there is Vitamin D3, which is derived from Lanolin, or wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals.
In the United States, dairy products are pretty prevalent. Before too long, I realized that I was inadvertently consuming cow milk and eggs under the guise of other names, which made me want to reset my “Vegan clock.” I realized that I needed to continue educating myself about the aliases that milk products and animal-byproducts generally were classified. See the list below for other ingredients you should avoid in order to become a Vegan.
Now, I have interacted with other Vegans who have expressed their own food difficulties. They have suggested that I do not restart my clock for the few occasions when I mistakenly ate food that contain animal by-products, and just stick with the date that I first intended to adopt a vegan lifestyle. I understand that viewpoint, but then I also think about how one does not acquire a master title until one is a master. For example, one cannot accurately claim to be a Sensei, or a martial arts master until that person has acquired the requisite knowledge and practiced her craft. As I am still learning about this lifestyle change, I do not feel comfortable identifying as a full Vegan. I am however, comfortable with self-identifying as an “Vegetarian and an Aspiring Vegan.” When I feel that I have acquired a sufficient level of intelligence about being a Vegan, meaning that I can understand and distinguish ingredients without a “This is a Vegan product” label, then I will shed my Vegetarian status and identify as a Vegan. So for now, you will see posts that discuss my experience thus far as a vegetarian and someone who is constantly taking strides to learn about being a vegan.