Journal of two Imperfect Newbies: Going Vegan. ~ Kate Bartolotta & Waylon Lewis

Via Kate Bartolotta
on Dec 30, 2011
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{Week 1:  In which the fledgling vegans make their preparations.}

Kate says:

I’m going to go all the way in a few days. I’ve been flirting with the idea for a while. I’ve done it before so it shouldn’t be that big a deal, right? I’m excited, but I’m nervous. It’s been awhile, and I think I’ve forgotten how.

What if I’m just no good at being a vegan?

Day to day, it won’t be a huge adjustment. Breakfast is vegan already. Black coffee, or with some almond milk if I left it in the French press too long. Green smoothie if I’m home, or Lara Bar and an apple if I’m not. Lunch is easy. Dinners…mostly easy. Friday night gluten free pizza is out, unless I want to trek to Whole Foods and pick up some Daiya. Might be worth it, but probably not every single week.  Then there’s my monthly Ben & Jerry’s. I seem to remember some decent vegan ice creams out there.

Oh, but then there’s honey. And it’s cold season. Do all vegans skip honey? Maybe I could be like an Apia-vegan or something. Guess I need to find a new favorite lip balm too…since technically, I do end up swallowing a lot of it. I need to think about this honey thing. Maybe I can ask the local vegan police if honey is optional or if it absolutely has to go.

Mentioning the decision to friends and family is dicey. Even as a vegetarian, I didn’t always mention it. It seems to put people on the defensive about their own choices. Why would I care what anyone else eats? I don’t even dictate what the rest of my family eats! They know what I eat and why…it’s an ongoing dialogue.

I told a close friend, and was met with raised eyebrows. “Really? Why? Isn’t vegetarian enough?” What’s enough?

When I was vegan before, it was about control. It was one more way to be smaller, be less. For a while, I had to let it go. Now, it’s the exact opposite. If there’s any way I can be more authentic, kinder, more compassionate—it’s what I want.

I can’t learn about connections between dairy production and the veal industry and ignore it. I can’t read that the carbon footprint from cheese is nearly as great as beef and pretend it doesn’t apply to me. I learned in Pathology this semester that dairy intake accounts for 93% of our dioxin intake. That’s 93% of our intake of a carcinogen! I can’t un-know these things. If I know better, I want to do better.

Of course, it’s easy to say that now. It’s 11:30 p.m. I’m hanging out in my favorite sweats, writing and drinking tea with Mad Men on in the background. Everyone else is sleeping. In this happy little Kate-bubble, I could do anything. But there’s nothing like telling yourself you can’t have something to make you want it. (I wonder if we have any ice cream?)


“Journal of Intimidated Imperfect Newbies into Veganlandia.”


“The Weekly Adventures of two Newbies’ as they journey into Veganlandia”


Journal of two Imperfect Newbies: Going Vegan

Which ongoing title you like more?

Waylon says: {click here for back story, why going vegan yadayada}

Going well so far. Two out of three major obstacles down.

I’m transitioning this week, from being vegetarian to vegan, so that by Sunday, January 1st (eek) I’m more or less ready to go all the way and be more or less faithfully vegan throughout 2012, as I promised I would if our readers decided they wanted me to (I asked for a record number of comments, 500, on my blog asking if I should do it, and our readers delivered with plenty of time to spare. The point of asking for 500 comments was to inspire respectful conversation. I don’t like mean vegans, and I don’t want to belong to a self-righteous club, really—I just want to avoid hurting animals whenever I have the choice. I like my dog. I like animals. Why should I love one, and eat the other?) {Adele}

And when it comes to my diet, I figure going without cheese and other dairy—again, I’m already vegetarian, have been for 9 years—is relatively easy to do. Whether that helps animals or not, really, I’ll explore that here in this ongoing blog with Kate, who’s also beginning her journey.

So. So far, it’s going really well. It’s easy. For me, the obstacles to veganism are:

> Ice Cream. Love it.
> Cheese. On nachos. On pizza. Fancy cheeses. Love it.
> And butter/eggs in baked goods. Love baked goods.
> other stuff I can’t think of that I love that’ll turn out not to be vegan, like…beer?

I love having ice cream at night, end of the day, or some dessert. I probably eat some kind of dessert a few times a week. I don’t like soy, don’t think it’s healthy and it’s usually gmo. It’s a monoculture megacrop well loved by Big Ag. But tonight I bought So Delicious, Coconut Milk.

Con: It’s expensive, a rip-off compared to organic ice cream…and it’s not 100% organic. So that all sucks. Pro: But it’s delicious. It tastes like Cherry Garcia. The texture’s slightly different from ice cream, less creamy, but…if you didn’t tell me it wasn’t ice cream, I probably wouldn’t realize it. It’s effing good.

Last night I had Almond Dream (also a rip-off), and forgot until halfway through it that it was vegan. So the ice cream problem is already vanquished. Whew.

Today I had pizza at Pizzeria Locale, which is a farm-to-table “slow food” join that, you’d think, could give a shiite about veganism. But turns out they have a really amazing bunch of options for vegans, and were super nice to me when I asked. I hate asking and being difficult, but I know the manager, Chris, and he treats everyone with respect and friendliness. So I asked him about the pizza dough and it’s all fired up in this old school Italian oven and it doesn’t need cheese—I’ve been eating their basic marinara pizza there sans cheese since they opened and don’t miss it. And I looove cheese. So pizza without cheese, still yummy? I’m golden. Delivery pizza will be another matter. But Amy’s has good cheese-less frozen pizzas. So: so far, so good. My salad there today had Parmesan on it. I’ll just ask for that on the side next time, and save the cheese for my pooch. Who is not vegan. He realllly doesn’t care about chickens or turkeys or bison or cows, like, at all.

Major problem: croissants. Oatmeal. My favorite brunch spot of the last year, Cafe Aion, well it was my favorite until it was made clear to me by a gent there that he had an issue with me and didn’t want me bringing my 10 friends in, so now I go to places that want my business. Well anyways assuming I can figure out how to go back without offending that gent in some mysterious way…well I won’t eat their amazing croissants (butter) with my milk-less black coffee or Americano, or enjoy their amazing oatmeal (which is soaked in milk overnight). So that’s a major problem for this brunch-loving man. Take away oatmeal, and there’s very little on their breakfast menu I could eat, as a vegan. Must be something, right?

What else. Oh, I’ve been thinking a lot about how vegans don’t seem super-environmentally-passionate. Caring about the earth—ie bicycling/walking instead of driving, always eating organic and shade-grown if applicable and going easy on plastic packaging—is a great way to save animals’ habitat and health.

What else. Oh yes. So I had lunch at The Kitchen Next Door yesterday and one of my friends and I got into a great, respectful argument. She said being vegan was a privilege that only first world richies get to do. I said no, it’s the opposite—eating a low-meat diet is way cheaper and healthier (saving dough on health care, hospital bills long term, my mom raised me with very little meat, she was poor, we ate pasta and rice a lot). And I said that if not for taxpayer subsidies, meat would be way more expensive—it uses a kabillion times the water and gabillion times the grain that a vegan nation would need to use. Something like that, anyway, right? But she had great points and it was a fun argument where we both learned, I think—not one of those meanie vegan or macho meat-eater arguments. I basically said that as long as she ate animals from non-factory farmed sources, it was none of my business and not up to me how she ate. But that factory farms are torture. Like, literally, really, horribbbble, stuff that no decent human should abide.

Oh, also, someone said honey’s in a ton of beer. So that could be an issue, though I drink hardly at all, boring old man that I am these days. Okay, all for now! Any helpful comments and advice and cheerings ons appreciated, if so inspired—this is intimidating and a big move…it’s easy to talk the talk, but changing my habits is somehow really disconcerting.

And fun.


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About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is a wellness cheerleader, yogini storyteller, and self-care maven.
She also writes for Huffington Post, Yoga International, Mantra Yoga+ Health, a beauty full mind, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds.
Kate’s books are now available on and Barnes &

She is passionate about helping people fall in love with their lives.

You can connect with Kate on Facebook and Instagram.


52 Responses to “Journal of two Imperfect Newbies: Going Vegan. ~ Kate Bartolotta & Waylon Lewis”

  1. Marty says:

    Are you really that egotistical to feel the need to blog about your eating?

    • greenbless says:

      Sometimes sharing a personal experience can help others and create awareness. I didn't interpret the article as egotistical. I guess you could always choose not to read it.

  2. Andréa Balt says:

    “Journal of Imperfect Newbies into Veganlandia.”

    I love that you’re doing this and blogging about it as you go along. I’ll be your nutrition advisor, ok? For now all I can say is hang in there during the first month. It’s the toughest, especially if you’re into cheese & baked goods & ice cream. Once you get past the first month, it gets easier and easier and easier until you forget that there was a time when you weren’t vegan and cheese turns into something strange from Mars. That is, if you don’t count the arguments (some healthier than others) that you’ll have for the rest of your life with vegans and non-vegans.

    PS. I do eat local honey from individual bees that have names :). Don’t see what’s wrong with it (environmentally speaking) and it’s healthy. But I do get punished for it quite often by local vegan police.

    PS2. One thing that will help you with your transition is increasing the amount of green leafy vegetables (green smoothies, green juices, huge salads, etc.). Chlorophyll has superpowers. It’ll help you with the cravings, satisfy your hunger, and provide you with a ton of extra minerals & nutrients your body will totally dig.

  3. On ice cream: Larry and Luna's Coconut Bliss! I'm a serious ice cream/ gelato aficionado. I don't eat non- dairy "ice cream" products. They suck. Except for Larry and Luna's which I eat because it is insanely good. It's made from sustainably sourced coconut. Flavor recommendations: ginger bread cookie, cherry almond, dark chocolate. I promise, you won't be sad about the ice cream if you try this stuff.

    Oh, and I think that if you add a ton of avocado, olive oil and salt to everything you might not miss the cheese so much.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Love it. But all the vegan ice creams are insanely pricey. Why?

      • I can only assume that Coconut Bliss costs so much because they use ingredients that are fair trade and purchased and they are a smaller company, which means that overall production costs are much higher. If the vast majority of real ice cream were made from milk that came from pastured cattle on small farms (take Strauss Creamery for instance, which is real ice cream but very costly- around $7 for a pint), even Haagen Dazs (which is $5 a pint costing only $1 less than Coconut Bliss) would be way more expensive.

        Milk from cows that come from factory farms is cheap. Most ice cream is made from that milk. The reasons for it being so cheap are good cause for not consuming it. I don't know about the coconut industry, but I do know that compared to cow milk, if I bought a gallon of coconut milk it would cost around $12 to $15. A gallon of conventional cow milk is $5 and sometimes cheaper unless it is purchased from a small producer, in which case it's about $10- $12 a gallon. So, Haagen Dazs- a much bigger company makes a killing on their $5 pint, while Larry and Luna sell their pint for $6 and probably break even.

        Soy, is a subsidized crop which makes GMO soy cheap. The soy industry is largely dominated by corporations like Monsanto who push only GE crops If one purchases soy ice cream (which I wouldn't bother with anyway) and it's from non-GMO soy, that means the soy beans used to make it are coming again from smaller producers who are actually fighting an expensive fight- just by not using GMO's. Plus, even more so than dairy, soy is processed to no end, which costs.

        Being vegan on a whole might cost more (unless you eat a shit load of processed corn, wheat and GMO soy products) because you are probably buying less mass produced factory farmed animal proteins and more ethically produced plant based proteins.

  4. __MikeG__ says:

    A good way to approach the transition to vegan is to embrace it as an opportunity to expand your palate by eating foods you normally would not have eaten before. The transition from ovo-lacto veg to vegan is pretty easy.

    Luckily, most breads are vegan. Trader Joe has a soy based "ice cream" that I love. Yeah, I know most commercial soy is junk but the TJ soy hasn't killed me yet. Maybe tomorrow but for now I am still kicking. Going out to eat can be a major pain if you live in a not very vegan friendly location as I do. I do not believe honey is vegan, but what do I know? If you cut out honey that will make buying bread and cereals more difficult because many manufacturers will sneak in a little honey.

    For me turning down "traditional" egg/milk baked goods is the only hard part. I just wish more people would realize that dairy is not necessary and start baking without it. Bugger. But since most beers are vegan I like to think of the baked goods vs. beer equation as mostly a wash.

  5. Stacey says:

    This recipe can be adapted for Vegan eating and is so far my favorite oatmeal recipes. I make a batch up every week and it also freezes well in mini portions. I use cooking spray instead of butter and almond milk in place of the milk. I always use the pumpking but have added dates, various nuts, dried crannberries and rasins. I prefer to use organic oats rather than the steel cut and it worked out fine (more custard like bu tnot sure why).
    Some other great idea and cook books from Lindsey(especially those quick and easy black bean burgers, yum!)
    and also some very different but more involved recipes from Brendan
    I will disclose that I am NOT a vegan but do love some of the deshes for their variety and freshness. I don't eat much diary but do love my cheese and home baked breads when I do partake. Best wishes to you both, I wish you sucess in the New Year in all you do!

  6. elephantjournal says:

    Joan Boughton You'll do fine.. easy stuff.

    Kitty Humphrey More power to them! I am trying to go veggie, I will not EVER go vegan, not ever!

    Dasha FromRussia vegan is easy..:) it's all about shopping at the right places.

    Cindy Sestak Scarborough Don't be hard on yourselves. My husband and I have been imperfect vegans for almost a year. Sometimes we are in situations when we eat fish or eggs but every day we give it our best shot.

    Angela Casey thanks for sharing this…I was a vegetarian for 6 years but I just feel better with some meat in my diet…even my acupuncturist said I should eat some red meat…so, I try to buy local, free range, grass fed, etc. etc. As I would rather not eat animals, I'm trying to cook several vegan meals a week, and reduce my cheese consumption. I can even give up ice cream, but it's the milk for my latte I can't do without. Now I have this honey dilemma! Well, I do ride my bike to work, use reusable bags, compost, give what I can to animal orgs that I admire, etc. I will have to research the dairy-veal connection…there must be milk out there that is cruelty free?! Anyway, looking forward to reading more about this journey.

  7. Good Luck! I was vegan for about 3 months this past year. It isn't right for my body so I'm more back to eggs and some dairy now. Let me know if you need any support and let the good food roll (cheesy I know…and no pun intended!)

  8. karlsaliter says:

    I love it. Kuddos and cheers from Mexico.

    I like “Journal of Intimidated Imperfect Newbies into Veganlandia.”
    Because the “Intimidated” makes you sound so human.

    Awesome is Andrea's perspective on cheese “slowly becoming a strange thing from Mars.” Cheese is ubereverywhere and you need to become a dodging ninja to avoid it, but it becomes fun, and yeah, cheeseless pizza is easy to acquire. I find most pizza places happy to hook me up… cheaper for them!

    Are you guys familiar with Gary Yourofsky?
    This video gave me an instant veggie>vegan upgrade on viewing some months ago.
    He is hip, sharp, and dead on. Somehow, even though you know lots of what he says, he gets to you. Your compassion grows by force.

    I like “Rawvolution” for great dishes, which are simple to prepare. The ingredients require a special trip, but stock up once, and food prep is easy after. His Thai Soup is like having an espresso for jolt power, and tastes like drinking the sun. I’m an impure raw food sinner, and often dump his delicious sauces onto brown rice. YUM!
    (Survival tip for the liberated: ‘unraw’ Shoyu is 5x cheaper.)

    Best of luck, and wear it loosely. (Ducking down, whispering…) I still eat honey. Let’s keep that between us.

    • (Whispering) good to hear it…I'd really miss honey…still undecided…

      Will definitely check out Rawvolution & Yourofsky!

      • karlsaliter says:

        I am lucky to live in Mexico, where small- time beekeeping is alive and well.
        The line in the sand gets drawn wherever we choose, and hey, maple syrup is a pretty sweet consolation if you go the whole enchilada.

        Let me know what you think of Gary. He doesn't pull any punches, and is stunningly well-informed.

  9. Vegan Brunch:

    Baked apples stuffed with walnuts, dried fruit and maple syrup
    Mashed potato "quiche" with green onions, nutritional yeast (I hate the way that sounds but it's yummy!), mushrooms and avocados
    French toast made with coconut milk-flax batter instead of eggs

    …and soak your oatmeal in almond milk for goodness sake! Heck, you guys should just hire me to be your meal prep consultant.

  10. Love your blog which I have just discovered. I went vegan a year ago and I am always on the lookout for vegans that aren't mean. Honestly some treat it like it was a religion, an exclusive religion at that and who wants to join that kind of group for goodness sake.

  11. Rachel says:

    there are some great veg and vegan and gluten free recipes here: and if you ask her for how to make some recipes vegan she will give lots of ideas!
    good luck!

  12. Kathy says:

    Hi, Yea Vegan!
    Just a few comments/suggestions:
    Evolution dog food or V-Dog dog food. Both are vegan and my dogs LOVE them.
    Daiya "cheese"! My boyfriend who was vegetarian moved in with me last year and the hardest part of being vegan for him was the lure of cheese (caseomorphine). I don't register dairy as food anymore so hadn't tried Daiya yet. We both love a little sprinkled on pizza or nachos.(the Pepper Jack is delish)
    Living a vegan lifestyle IS the most environmentally responsible thing that anyone can do. (look at the statistics on environmental destruction envolved in producing animal based products) Do you really see alot of vegans throwing out plastic, driving around eating non-organic foods? Surely no more than anyone else you know, right? Not that that should ever be an excuse I guess.
    Thank you for having compassion for other beings.
    Much love, namaste, K

  13. holly says:

    does anyone else hate daiya cheese? i think it has such a bad aftertaste … i use veggie shreds (not sure which brand it is), galaxy foods maybe? but most places "out" where you order vegan food its all daiya. yuck.

    • Really? Daiya is one of the few I've found that I like! I think the veggie shreds (and I might be mistaken here…) are not vegan. They contain casein (milk protein) and are great for people who want lactose free, but not necessarily for vegans.

  14. […] Founder Waylon Lewis and featured writer Kate Bartolotta have made the decision to go vegan. Their reasons are varied and include better health, environmental responsibility and mindfulness. To the best of my […]

  15. karlsaliter says:

    I wanted to offer some guidelines for you two, as you take on veganism in 2012. Thanks for setting the bar for many people. Love what you are up to!

    So, the ten things vegans are not, are…

    1) Extreme.
    At all.
    There is nothing extreme in stopping a practice which no longer serves you. Following the promptings of your conscience, being brave enough to look into what is happening, and respond to that viscerally, is simple common sense. The “extreme” label is exclusionary. Let’s decline it.

    2) Animal lovers or Animal Rights activists.
    Not really!
    I don’t much care for cows, and I’ve always felt a certain indifference toward chickens. Being vegan is no more claiming that animals have rights or should be our equals than not smoking pot is some ganja plant sentience advocacy scheme. It doesn’t take amiability or affection to see that animals are being treated wrongly in order to supply a demand. Not wanting to be part of that demand is a smart choice for personal cerebral, emotional and physical health. That is all it is.

    3) “Extra Compassionate” or “Better than You”.
    The only difference between vegans and most flesh noshers is that vegans are making choices that reflect the natural compassion we all share. Vegans are living what most people believe, which is that the animals deserve better from us. The bridge from loving animals to becoming vegan is a short one, and most people love animals. Recognition that we have made mistakes in permitting animal torture on a huge scale, and the balls to live where you feel, is all you need.

    4) Protein deficient.
    Do you know anyone, anywhere, in your life who has ever died from protein deficiency? Or had a mild case of it? Do you know the medical term for that disease? It is “kwashiorkor”. Seriously. I wikipedia’d that bad boy.

    5) Reporting UFO sightings.
    I only mention this one because we are often treated as flat-out crackpots. This is simply not the case, and accepting such treatment allows for slower change. Vegans put their pants one one leg at a time, just like the little piggies do. (See what I did there?)

    6) Pointlessly Proselytizing Pains in the *ss.
    Well, without that first word, I couldn’t include this one.
    The point is, once it was considered ok to own slaves. But it was never ok really. Many vegans are asking for change, but look closely. We are not asking for a leap of faith or any jumping into the unknown. We ask people to make their choices based on a real look at the very hard facts. That (frequently firmish) request is too often mistaken for zeal.

    7) Financing Factory Farming
    Congratulations! If you were stopped by this one because you thought “Hey! That’s Wrong!” you are right! Everybody is financing factory farming, with our taxes, with our health, and even if you live outside of the good old USA, with the very life and well-being of our planet. We are all paying for that steak: may it soon be a genuine source of shame to be seen eating it.

    8) Deadhead, Hippie Artist types.
    Come on! Other than the first three, I don’t fit any of those stereotypes.

    9) Deluded
    In point of fact, the practice of eating irradiated, dye-injected, chemical-washed corpses, and thinking your body will be ok with it, is more pie-eyed than a seven-foot tall twelve-year-old dreaming of becoming a prizewinning jockey.

    10) Austere, bland, or eating impaired.
    I can’t believe you even said that. Just try the thai soup from “Rawvolution”. It takes 10 minutes to prepare, and is delicious beyond measure. A little research and that bogus myth is gone forever. I eat great and cheap. Anyone who cares can do the same.

    11) Eating “Gross” supplemental meat replacements
    Well, Seitan can be a little weird at first, but lets remember.
    Infection in modern milking machines and bovine growth hormone is rampant. These udders are under severe strain.
    “Somatic Cell Count” is the USDA lingo for pus. One eyedropper full is the legal limit per gallon of milk. Where dat gross at? Pass the tofu, please.

    12) Incapable of stopping even when its obvious they've gone past ten.
    I'm not even going to address this one.

    I hope you guys rock this change, and hundreds of people join you.

  16. maru says:

    You rock KS, this article makes us vegans finally look like what we (most ) are… simple human beings trying to live a healthy and more compassionate life by caring about our fellow animal friends and our beautiful planet. That is all.

  17. […] Journal’s Waylon Lewis and Kate Bartolotta just got on the vegan train as part of their New Year’s resolutions. But like any big change, especially when it comes to […]

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