How I became vegan

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Like most people, I was raised as a meat eater and the idea of eliminating meat from my diet and going vegetarian or vegan sounded ridiculous. To me, vegetarians and vegans were crazy. They were choosing to become malnourished and to live their life giving up some of the most delicious foods. Why would anybody do that to themselves?

But, as is the case with many vegans or vegetarians, something happened. An event, a turning point, something that triggered me to want to change my eating habits. 

Here is that story.

The first event

My first triggering event happened around 2017. I was doing the usual Youtube-binging that most people find themselves doing when they have downtime. I don’t remember what I was YouTubing, but somehow, someway, YouTube was able to direct me down a rabbit hole about pigs. And no, this is not one of those “I was watching a documentary about factory farming” stories. No, quite the opposite. 

The YouTube videos I was directed to were about people who had pet pigs. These pet pigs were treated like dogs, and they acted just like dogs too. They did tricks, they enjoyed belly rubs, and even cuddled with their human owners in bed. 

Being a “dog person” myself, I was in shock to see that other animals could be like dogs,  and that those other animals (pigs) were ones that I ate! I reasoned that if I would never eat a dog, then why would I eat a pig, which–from the videos I was watching–was basically a dog, too?

But wait… could I really give up pork? This would mean eliminating char-siu from my life–something I had grown up eating since I was a child.

I thought about it for a while, but as I continued to browse through more and more videos of pet pigs acting like dogs, I was convinced that I had to make a decision:

‘I won’t eat anymore pigs.’


But why stop there?

That wasn’t the end of it though. The next day, I revisited my decision and thought about those cute ‘lil dog-like pigs. 

Those pigs were acting like dogs because they were being treated like dogs. They were socially conditioned to behave like dogs. So if pigs could be conditioned to act like dogs, then what’s stopping cows and chickens from being conditioned to act like dogs too? Couldn’t any animal start behaving like a dog if we treated them like one?

That’s when I decided to eliminate all “land animals” from my diet. I told my family that I was only eating “animals from the sea”.

I didn’t realize it at the time (because I didn’t have the vocabulary for it), but I was deciding to go pescatarian.

A good middle ground

Honestly, I thought about going vegetarian right then and there, but I was afraid of the repercussions from my family. They would for sure criticize my decision and say that it would not be healthy for me to eliminate animals from my diet. My mother especially would be up in arms, since she has always taught me that I needed to “eat more meat” because of how skinny and cold I was. I thought about awkward Thanksgiving dinners where family members would question my food choices and feel like they would have to go out of their way to accommodate my diet. I considered the Chinese restaurant meals we always ate, and how my parents would complain that they can’t order any of the food they like because they would not be able to share them with me. 

It would be too awkward if I said I would not eat any animals, so saying I would eat “half” of the animals that we could eat between the land and the sea felt like a good middle ground to me. 

However, I knew that me eating sea animals and going pescatarian was just part of a transition to going vegetarian. It was a transition that needed to happen to get my family comfortable with me changing my diet so that when I eventually did go vegetarian, it wouldn’t so much of a shock to them.

Still, the idea of going “vegan” didn’t even cross my mind. It still sounded like something only crazy people did. 

The second triggering event

I walked over to the seafood market with my mom to get some fish for lunch. By this time, my parents were very much used to me pescatarian diet and ensured that there was some sort of seafood available for lunch and dinner. 

The seafood market that we walked into was one of those that had live seafood on display. You would walk up to a counter surrounded by tanks of live animals, point to the sea creature you wanted to take home, and the person behind the counter would fetch your choice from the tank and prep the animal for you to cook.

This seafood market also had pre-cut and prepped food though, and those were what I would typically buy. I grabbed a nice, juicy salmon filet and brought it to the counter. 

Mom, though, wanted a live fish. She inspected the tanks for the freshest, liveliest fish, pointed to the one she wanted, and we watched as the man behind the counter grabbed a net to retrieve the fish. 

With a fish in the net, it was time to prep. I had never actually seen what they did to prep the fish, and the man behind the counter didn’t try to hide it. He grabbed the fish up high with one hand for us all to see, and with a wooden stick in the other hand, knocked the fish in the head multiple times to render it unconscious. When it stopped squirming, he put it down on his cutting board, shaved its scales off, and began cutting it up, with large dramatic swings of his cleaver. 

I felt so bad. Obviously, I knew that the fish would eventually die so that we could eat it, but I didn’t know that this was the process for ending its life. 

I was in shock, and told my mom repeatedly as we walked home, “This is the last time I am eating fish”. 

And just like that, I decided to become vegetarian. Because I was not one to waste food, I finished the salmon filet I bought over the next day or two, and that was it. No more fish. No more seafood. Mom and Dad understood my decision based on the seafood market experience, and more or less accepted my new diet. 

The Road to Veganism

I remained vegetarian for about a year. Most of the meals I was eating involved lots of asian vegetables: kabocha squash, gobo root, bok choy, Gai choy, etc. I rarely touched dairy products since I am lactose intolerant, so the only thing I ate regularly that was not vegan was eggs. 

Every couple of weeks, I would buy the biggest and cheapest carton of eggs. I ate two eggs a day pretty much everyday for the protein and vitamin D. I always boiled a huge batch of them to last me for the week, and I even shared some of it with my dog. 


But then, one day, I asked myself, “Do I need eggs?”

I didn’t need to watch some food documentary to remind myself where my eggs came from. I knew that some poor chicken stuck in some shitty little coup was being used to produce the eggs that I (and my dog) were eating everyday. Do I want to continue relying on animals for food? The main reason why I wanted to keep eggs around were for their natural source of Vitamin D. But I could get Vitamin D from the sun–after all, it’s not like there is a lack of it in Las Vegas. And I could continue to get my Vitamin D from the enriched rice milk I was drinking everyday. What’s so bad about that? 

I was hung up on the whole “natural” vs “unnatural” source of Vitamin D argument for a while. 

Ultimately, I decided on what was important to me. Did I want to rely on another animal’s life just to fuel my own? If animals had the option to eat humans over something else that was just as nutritious as humans, then wouldn’t we prefer that they chose the latter?

For me, it was a purely ethical decision to remove my personal dependency on animals for food.  

So, I stopped buying eggs and became vegan.

The Takeaway

Everybody’s story to becoming vegan is different. Mine is just one of the many variations that are out there. 

The key thing to remember is that the vegan diet is not for everybody, and if it is for some people, it does not have to be a diet change that happens overnight. 

My personal journey from meat eater to vegan took about 3 years. Even when I went vegetarian, I still did not think the vegan diet was the right one for me, or one that I would ever adopt.

But things change. People change. Your circumstances and how you think about yourself and your relationship with food changes. When you acknowledge those changes, you’ll be able to make the right decisions for yourself and choose a diet that works best for you.

3 thoughts on “How I became vegan”

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