Up until 2015 or 2016, we were like all the other non-vegan people out there. We felt that eating meat was “normal”. We had no desire to be those “weird” people who just made things uncomfortable for everyone else. Like most, we ate BBQ meats and had meat with almost every meal.  However, as animal lovers we both had a nagging in the back of our heads that made us feel conflicted, but for much of our lives we just decided to push aside those feelings.  We decided to get backyard chickens in 2015 and vowed that they, obviously, would be pets and never food. After all, they were now ‘pets’ and somehow in a protected class. Sometime later, one of the chickens was injured and needed to be brought into the house in a crate for recovery.  We placed her and the cage on top of our dining room table of all places, which became the temporary chicken infirmary. We were nursing her back to health when we felt incredible guilt one night cooking chicken for dinner in the kitchen, while a sick chicken was being nursed back to health in the very next room. Feeling absolutely horrible, we vowed to never cook chicken again when there was a pet chicken inside. This was not much of an awakening, but did plant a seed.

In 2017, Adam watched a documentary, as how a lot of vegan stories begin (education). The documentary he watched was Earthlings. This is something that would change his life forever and by virtue, also change the rest of the families’ lives as well. Adam came to Joy the next day and said he thought we should stop eating meat; Joy agreed.  The feeling was down in there already and Joy felt no need to watch Earthlings merely to justify it. When Adam told Joy he was thinking more along the lines of going vegan, Joy was not so quick to agree! Like most people, she had no idea how incredibly horrible and abusive the dairy and egg industries are. She thought, like many, “no one dies making dairy or eggs”.  Adam began to explain the horrors and how it is arguably much worse than the meat industry; being enlightened with this insight and once Joy found a few alternatives to some of the dairy products many of us have grown up with – the very next day, she was on board.

It was a challenge to decide what to do about our children. They were 10 and 11 at the time. We struggled initially before coming to the decision that they would be vegetarian in the home. We eventually started trying to avoid buying milk at all costs. Our youngest was easier to please, but the oldest was unaccepting of all milk alternatives until we found the plant-based product Not Milk.  In regard to the kids, it hasn’t always been easy. Believing strongly in free choice, we made it clear that while we hoped they would continue to eat vegetarian, if not vegan, when outside the home – their personal choices would not be infringed; acknowledging the social challenges being a kiddo these days notwithstanding! The only items purchased are cheese slices, occasionally frozen cheese pizza, and the obligatory macaroni and cheese. Although it pains us to ever purchase any non-vegan items, this is a temporary compromise we have made during the early years with our children. 

As for us,  we feel that becoming vegan was one of the best decisions we have ever made!! Although we became vegan for the animals (it is amazing to live with a clear conscience, knowing nothing is dying and/or living in misery for us to eat), we have seen many health benefits as well!  We are rarely sick, if ever, and we have more energy throughout the day. Although Joy rarely runs anymore, she has found she can still jump on the treadmill and run 5 miles with very minimal soreness and credits a vegan diet. Not only is it great for the animals and your health, but also the environment. It is the thing one can do that will make the most positive impact on the environment over anything else, by far! So, if you really care about the planet and want to do everything you can, don’t just recycle!  Go vegan!

Being vegan in this day and age is incredibly easy!!  There is a plethora of amazing vegan items. Gardein, Impossible, Beyond, etc. make incredible meat replacement items (burgers, hot dogs, sausage, chicken, turkey, beef, fish, crab cakes, meatballs, etc!). There are a ton of amazing cheese options. Pretty much anything you can think to eat, there is a vegan version of it you can buy or you can make. There is delicious ice cream, frozen pizzas, chicken tenders (even ones shaped like Mickey Mouse).  With a little tweak in your shopping and in your go-to recipes, you will be vegan in no time, still eating delicious food and feeling fantastic about yourself, both mentally and physically! And while some vegan alternatives come with a higher price tag, keep in mind the most inexpensive food commodity isn’t meat and dairy – its rice and beans, so there are plenty of options for everyone! 

If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to reach out to us at info@faunahaven.com