Did you throw out all your meats and cheeses when you went vegan?

September 15, 2010

Inspired by a comment by James on our “good for you/bad for you binary diet” post, I want to take a quick survey – it’s quicker if you skip the 4:30 video below, but then I’ll be sad:

When you went vegan, did you throw out the animal-based foods in your kitchen, or did you wait until they were eaten and just didn’t buy any more? Related to that, what was your primary motivation for going vegan at the time?

My answer’s in the video, put yours in the comments!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Janelle O'Neal September 15, 2010 at 8:50 pm

I was definitely hit by the “Ethical Thunderbolt!” I had just made a small grocery trip – I even remember my last non-vegan planned meal: mozzarella & Italian breadcrumb stuffed tomatoes. After the “thunderbolt” I took about a week to discuss the change with friends & my partner, but during that week I put a hold on all non-vegan eating, and I just ate salad and PB&J while I thought it out. Afterward I ended up throwing out two full packages of shredded cheese, dumped a half gallon of milk down my dorm room’s bathroom sink, and trashed the flavor packets of several packages of ramen noodles. (Hey, I said dorm room.) Down the road, I regretted not giving the bag of food to my mom, or some other starving student, but there was a bit of vegan fervor involved, as I imagine there is with all new vegans of the thunderbolt-struck variety.

That said, I used up the rest of my shampoo, toothpaste, soap, etc, before replacing them with better, cruelty-free brands. I’ve found inexpensive non-animal-tested brands in the past, and the switch to a decently healthy, all-veggie diet was completely manageable on a college freshman’s minimum wage budget. My first vegan cookies were out of a toaster oven. Not going to say they were great, but… 🙂

James September 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Hey, I’m mentioned! On video technology!

I don’t remember throwing away anything. After all, I could count on my brother to eat all the pepperonis and whatever. Even if I lived alone I probably would have just resolved to buy vegan from then on – I feel the ethical pull as an economic thing, as a boycott, rather than as a disgust at putting animal products in my body.

Conrad September 16, 2010 at 12:18 am

Hi,
i dont remember the particulars of my transition to veganism (8 years ago now), but i do remember not throwing out any leather products i still had. I wore whatever leather clothing (shoes and belts) until they no longer looked good.
The vegan i am today and the vegan i started at, are very different. If i could teleport back, i would have cleaned out all animal products immediately.

Molly H. September 16, 2010 at 12:32 am

I used up everything. I hate waste of any variety, but especially food. Not to sound like a late night infomercial, but we waste *so much* in America, the idea of wasting any products that animals had suffered and died for made me even more disgusted than the products themselves. So, I used them up WELL.

I understand why some vegans immediately stop wearing leather, because of the message it portrays, but I’m still wearing leather, because I will not throw away something that is still useful, to have it rot in a landfill. I am slowly donating things that no longer prove useful to me. As I purchase new items, I select only vegan ones. For me, this is a lot more about wasting less, conserving resources, and being kind to our planet and all the beings who inhabit her than it is about appearing to be The Perfect Vegan. Who cares?

Thanks for asking this question, Jason. It brought up some interesting thoughts for me.

Haley September 16, 2010 at 5:39 am

I became vegan on June 28, 2010. 🙂

I am still starting out but I used most of my non vegan things up and tossed others out. I tried not to waste much, I still have a bag full of dry pantry items to bring to my friend that I can’t make use of and I am wearing my leather work shoes still, I will replace those as they wear out.

I guess I figure the harm I have in the house currently with my feather pillows, leather shoes etc. is already done, my goal is not to create further suffering and I do that by no longer buying animal based products. I don’t want something useful to go into the rubbish and frankly shoes are expensive. I don’t think I could have afforded the change if I destroyed everything non-vegan at the start.

Jason September 16, 2010 at 9:01 am

Wow, I love waking up to new comments! Thanks everyone, and Haley, congrats on going vegan this year! Be sure to ask questions if you feel yourself getting stuck.

I remember wearing my shoes and belts until they wore out (though most of the time I wore runners and didn’t really use a belt) and those would be the first thing carnists would check for when they heard I was vegan, like somehow that made what they were doing OK… Lots to talk about in that category, for sure!

(Of course, now I wear Vibram Five Fingers shoes, so all people ever talk to me about is my footwear and the baby… Somehow I’ll get activism into there!)

Colleen September 16, 2010 at 11:57 am

I used up everything rather than throwing it away – I figured there was no need to make the poor beasties’ sacrifice yet even more horrible and an useless. That said, I was living with someone who wasn’t vegan so he ate up a lot of the food. I wore out my shoes and gave away my wool coats when I could afford to replace them. For me, the key was giving no *more* of my money to a cruel industry.

Steph September 17, 2010 at 7:33 am

I stopped eating the food and instead fed it to the omni significant other, no waste there.

I kept a jacket that was a gift, but donated all the other stuff I could do without.

Personal care products were used up before I switched – something less visceral about using a shampoo with chemicals of questionable origin in it then sitting down to a cheese pizza. There wasn’t the same level of disgust.

Laura P. September 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm

I gave myself a time limit (one and a half weeks–the time left before my 2 week vacation) to use up any non-vegan food items and when I left I gave the rest to friends so none was wasted. For personal care products I just used up what I had and now am buying vegan products.

C. September 27, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Ah. Food products weren’t a big deal when I went (last April/May), as I had been lacto-ovo vegetarian for a few months prior. When I’d gone vegetarian, I gave my few flesh items – a steak, and some cans of tuna, both given to me by parents – to my sister.
The big thing was my leather boots, put on my university’s free reciprocity shelf. At the start of fall I went through and cleared out wool sweaters and handwarmers – again, my sister was thrilled to receive some, and the rest went on the free shelf.
I haven’t really purchased any replacement items as a result, but then I am also focusing on reducing my consumer tendencies, and all the things I gave away were not vital items. The only non-vegan items I still have are my winter hiking boots, with suade patches on the heels. Those are things that I need through winter and can’t afford to replace easily – and, they are also pretty important to my well-being, and thus to give them away would definitely necessitate me purchasing a brand-new pair elsewhere (shoes are the one part of attire that I feel the need to buy new).
I did think about the implications of “Here, you are less morally stringent than I am, so take this off my hands.” But for some things, like the wool… my sister is a big fan of wool and was looking for warm garments, so I somehow felt that I was allowing LESS new wool items to be purchased. It does bother me slightly, being reminiscent of a notion that it is ever acceptable to use easily-avoided animal products – for oneself or others. But as others have noted, I had to balance with my perspective on waste and consumerism.

girl least likely to September 30, 2010 at 5:30 pm

as soon as i went vegan, i stopped eating everything in my kitchen that was Not Vegan… but my husband was still omni at the time, so he ate the stuff that was still kicking around. otherwise, if it was something he didn’t want, i gave it to my sister or my mom, or donated it.

Charlotte June 1, 2011 at 11:02 am

I’m currently heading down the road of Veganism, so I’m actually in the process of transitioning. I currently have enough frozen meat to feed me for four weeks. A month’s food. And I’m going to be honest, I kind of want to throw it away and get stuck in. I bought a vegan cookbook and there are all these recipes I want to try, but… I don’t know. It feels like such a waste. I have about 8 chicken breasts. That’s sixteen once-a-week meals for me and chicken is expensive. And the animal has already died, I’ve bought the meat, I can’t change those things. SO rather than waste the life of the animal I’ve purchased, I’ve decided I’m going to use up my meat and just not buy anymore when it’s gone. Currently, I’ve switched to soya milk and yoghurts and I’m going to use vegan sauces/make my own, even if I end up using some of the forementioned chicken with those ingredients. Personally, I feel pretty bad about it, even though I think it’s more rational to use it all up. I might end up throwing out the meat anyway or increase the amount of times I have chicken a week to try and get rid of it all. If I eat only chicken for two weeks, it’ll almost be entirely used up.

Haileigh July 30, 2014 at 6:41 pm

When I went vegan (which sounds like an odd thing to say because it was very recently), I slowly cut down on cheeses, milk, eggs and butter. I was already a vegetarian, making the switch a bit easier. So when I officially switched, we had very little of all that in our fridge. My mom’s eats meat and eggs and dairy, so she has that in the fridge and I have my almond milk. I keep thinking I’ll get some vegan butter, but I haven’t needed any butter in weeks.
So our fridge still has eggs and cream and butter for my mom.
I basically own two tiers of our three tiered fruit and veggie rack, though!

Haileigh July 30, 2014 at 6:42 pm

@Charlotte
If you feel like you don’t want to waste it, I would suggest giving it to someone who would use it.

Jean April 13, 2015 at 6:55 pm

I was really happy to come across this and read all the comments here. I recently (I mean as in a couple days ago) decided that it was time for me to transition into the vegan lifestyle. About a year ago, I had decided to give up most meats and lived mainly ovo/lacto, with some very sparing pescetarian ways thrown in there. At the time, I had a feeling that I would do more, but I felt like that was adequate (and HUGE) at the time. But then a little over a year later (aka two days ago), I was sitting on the floor bawling for the creatures that suffer, as I became more aware of the egg and dairy industries’ methods. I decided then and there to just make the transition. It’s still a big change because of all the things beyond food that are included and I found myself thinking about what I’d do with my existing products. There is a side of me that feels as if throwing away food would be horrible and an additional slap in the face to the poor animal that already gave its life. I feel the same way about my leather products and my household and hygiene goods. I feel like I’m being more respectful to the animal(s) by actually using them with respect and love and compassion and then not purchasing anymore of these things when they are used up or worn out. Sure, I can donate, which I may very well do, as I have been trying to reduce the amount of “stuff” that I have because of my disgust over my own consumerism. I feel the thunderbolt, but I feel like it’s unethical to waste (even FURTHER). I feel like I’m growing, but I’m also trying to remind myself that this is a process, a lifestyle and that I am not going to be perfect, especially since I know so little. However, that ignorance is not an excuse, thus, why I am seeking information, facts, as well as the experiences of others so that I can perhaps lead a life that is more congruent with the person who I really am on the inside. I’ve decided that I am definitely okay with transitioning. Thanks for this!

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