There’s really not another word that fits when you watch your child experience something for the first time. The other night, my 18-month-old son, Brooks, ate ice cream for the first time. He explored the texture with his spoon. He brought the spoon to his mouth and felt the cold. He took a small bite and waited two seconds before exclaiming, “Yum!” His simple joy from eating cashew milk ice cream got me thinking about how it’s easier than ever to be vegan.
I grew up in Alabama and became a vegetarian in 1997 when I was 17. At that time, there were no fast food choices in the South for a vegetarian—at least none that I knew of. My parents were supportive, but I found myself alone on a sort of deserted vegetarian island. I remember how excited I was when Burger King added a “veggie burger” button to their cash registers. At that time, there wasn’t even a veggie patty in that sandwich. However, it was the idea that I could go to a fast food restaurant and order a hamburger with no meat without getting “the look.” Most vegetarians and vegans know “the look.” Their button gesture was such a big deal that my sweet mother wrote a letter to the BK corporate headquarters thanking them for their progress.
At holidays, Tofurky roasts and the like weren’t in grocery stores here when I was a young adult. There were no plant-based meat items in the frozen foods section except the occasional veggie burger, which, although good, gets boring. My mom read recipes and created her own veggie loafs for family gatherings because she was dedicated to seeing me be happy and healthy along my journey of living a compassionate life. I’ll be forever grateful for that.
Fast forward to now. At 18-months, my son has eaten not only tofu and seitan, but also veggie sliders, vegan chick’n, fishless filets, coconut milk yogurt, veggie dogs, vegan cheeses, and a host of other products (sans the cruelty) that many children grow up loving. That’s a direct result of the number of people who have asked for more cruelty-free options for their lives.
Vegetarian Times commissioned a study this year (Vegetarianism in America), and the results show that about 7.3 million Americans are vegetarian, and one million report being vegan. Vegans and vegetarians are not alone on an island anymore in 2015. That’s evidenced by the VT study and the growing number of delicious, cruelty-free products on store shelves. It’s never been easier! Just take a look at Brooks’s face. Does that look like a kid who feels deprived?
The path to a compassionate life isn’t just a journey for us; it’s a journey for businesses. As needs arise, small vegan companies become more successful, and companies who were already mainstream seek to provide ways to meet alternative needs, so they can stay in the game. All of this equals better and more readily available options for vegetarian, vegan, and transitioning families!
Looking for creamy vegan ice cream goodness? Here are some brands you’ll see in stores found in almost every community.
What are your favorite, plant-powered ice cream treats?
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