In the spotlight today is Anna Wildman who lives in Brooklyn, New York City. She talks about going from omnivore to vegan, dealing with concerned friends and forgiving yourself for slipping up.
How long have you been vegan for?
I’ve been vegan for about two years.
What did you eat before that?
I was straight up omnivore. I didn’t really see the purpose of not eating meat. I just ate whatever, but I ate with a healthy mindset. When I went vegan it was pretty much over night.
So what made you choose veganism?
Pretty cliched but I watched a documentary called Vegucated. It was a really random decision. I saw it on Netflix one afternoon and just picked it. I’d seen other documentaries about the food industry before but they didn’t really bother me For some reason Vegucated did. Maybe it was just the time of my life, I don’t really know.
When I watched it I realised there was no way I could keep doing what I was doing and that I needed to change my behaviour. So I decided not to participate in the killing and unethical treatment of animals.
It made me realise that I can recycle and I can shower less but the big thing that I can do is to not eat meat or dairy. For me, that wasn’t a big deal compared to the impact of global warming.
For me, that wasn’t a big deal compared to the impact of global warming.
How did people react to your new lifestyle?
My sister tried out vegetarianism in high school and she stopped after 6 months because my Mum basically refused to cook for her. From that experience, I think my family thought it was another phase. Because I wasn’t living at home they weren’t cooking for me, and I was 21 at the time, so I think they had more respect for my decision. It still took them a while to realise this was a real thing.
When I first when vegan I was pretty thin and I was calorie restricting and I think going vegan scared my friends. They worried, but eventually they respected my decision.
What did you eat during the first month?
My go-to dish was probably a stir fry or baked veggies. I was worried about my protein intake because that’s what everyone else was worried about. I ate a lot of beans and tofu and stuff. It was pretty basic meals. I used some blogs like Oh She Glows to help me figure out some recipes.
Did your first month make any changes to your running?
My digestion changed. It definitely makes it easier! Other than that, I don’t think I noticed too much. In retrospect, my energy levels might have been up but I feel like in that moment I wasn’t really noticing anything immediate.
What were the vegan options like at university?
I went to Penn State, my college was in the middle of nowhere. I had my own apartment with my own kitchen so it was nice that I could cook for myself and not worry about options. I didn’t really try to find other vegans because I was in my second semester of senior year so I was almost graduating.
I don’t think there was much of a vegan community there. There were a few places that had a vegan option but other than that I just cooked at home.
Once I made it public that I was vegan I felt like I couldn’t make a single mistake.
New York must have a few more options?
Yeah! There’s tons of vegan options. It’s still tricky because a lot of my friends are not vegan. Brunch is so hard as a vegan. Everything has eggs and cheese in it. Other than that, I find vegan options at almost every restaurant. And I find that if you can’t eat anything from their menu, most restaurants will help you out and come up with something.
What have you learned since turning vegan?
I never really looked for other resources. I didn’t seek out new ways to help me transition. I wish I’d found the YouTube channels and the Instagram pages that I follow now. Those can be a huge help for transitioning vegans.
What advice would you give to someone doing Veganuary or thinking of becoming vegan?
I’d say to stop worrying. Forgive yourself if you slip up. Once I made it public that I was vegan I felt like I couldn’t make a single mistake. I felt like if I did make a mistake then that was horrendous. I felt so bad if I didn’t check the ingredients properly.
It’s okay to make mistakes. If you keep at it, you’ll find your own way into veganism. Take your time. I think a lot of vegans put pressure on themselves to be the ultimate vegan overnight and that’s unrealistic.
Check out the rest of our 31 Vegans’ First 31 Days stories.