Hi, I’m Nikki. I live in Brooklyn with my husband and three cats, but I don’t consider this to be a blog about being vegan in New York. You won’t find me at the newest vegan hot spots all that often, partly because I’m a homebody but mostly because I’ve got student loans to pay off and my disposable income goes more towards travel than food. When I’m there, I’ll write about it. But most of the time I’m cooking in my own kitchen. Speaking of my kitchen, it’s tiny. My cats are probably sitting on the counters right this second. I only own one skillet. I bought a wok with the intention of whipping up a mean stir fry, but our biggest kitty climbed into it the moment I took it out of the bag and he owns it now. It’s the most expensive kitty bed I’ve ever bought. I love to bake. I don’t particularly love to cook but I find that chopping up a few bell peppers at the end of a stressful day can be very therapeutic. I like simple recipes with accessible ingredients. If a recipe includes an expensive, exotic spice or more than six steps, then I’m probably not going to make it.
I like to dance. I like snowy mountains. I like to eat an entire jar of pickles in one sitting and then drink the juice. I like to watch hockey. I like yoga and cartwheels. I like stationery. Sometimes I’m crafty. I like to travel and I always have a trip or two in the works. I like tomatoes and cinnamon rolls, though not together (but hey, never say never, right?).
I named this site The Tolerant Vegan because I am trying to be just that. I had a really hard time when I made the decision to be vegan. Wouldn’t it be great to say that I just woke up one day and said, “I have zero desire to eat cheese! Ice cream is so super gross! No more warm, gooey peach cobbler or red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting or dense, rich chocolate cake with…” oh wait, sorry, got carried away there….so yeah, that didn’t happen. Obviously. Deciding to be vegan was hard. I’d say it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Harder than school or work or beating Oregon Trail that summer between the fifth and sixth grades. I’m happier and healthier since I made that choice, but it took a long time to get here. I tried it once when I was 20 and that lasted about two months. I just didn’t have the willpower and my intentions were misguided. My main line of thinking was, “vegans are skinny, right?” Ugh. Sometimes I just want to go back and a have sit down with my 20-year-old self, don’t you? Anyway, I’ve been vegetarian for over a decade. I’ve always wanted to adopt a vegan lifestyle, but I made up so many excuses not to. I’ll never find foods to eat! (wrong) I’ll be malnourished! (wrong again). My friends and family won’t accept my change (wow Nikki, you’re pretty self-centered to think that people are going to care that much about what you’re eating). It’s just so haaaaaaaard! (okay, that’s a valid statement, but please stop with the whining, you sound like your 20-year-old self again!)
I made my final, honest decision to adopt a vegan lifestyle three years ago, at age 30. A lot of factors came into play and I’ve stumbled several times along the way. Even after finding dairy alternatives I still craved the real thing and there were several days when I said, “I can’t do it, I’m not strong enough to be vegan.” Each time I slipped up and ate pizza or sampled ice cream, I really hated myself. I was so angry with myself and I kept saying, “okay, time to start over.” Then a week or two would go by and I’d be the perfect vegan, until someone would offer me a piece of birthday cake, and then off the wagon I fell.
After a few months, I realized that I was looking at veganism in the wrong way. I was setting myself up to fail. I was demanding perfection from myself when I’d never ask the same of anyone else. So I decided to get a grip, lighten up and accept that doing my best was good enough. I’m doing the best I can, and that’s what this blog is about. Nobody is perfect and we shouldn’t demand perfection from ourselves or from anyone else around us.
I have started this blog as a way to share my life as a vegan. I’m not going to use it to push my beliefs. It doesn’t matter why I’m vegan or if/why you’re vegan. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re fully vegan or most-of-the-time vegan or sometimes vegan or if you’re just thinking about it. What matters is that you’re here and so am I, so let’s do this together. Let’s respect one another and the world around us. Change is hard. Life is hard. Let’s love our bodies and our souls, and for pete’s sake, let’s cut ourselves some slack.
Most of my posts will be about food because I feel that embracing a vegan diet is the most difficult part of a vegan lifestyle. But sometimes I’ll talk about shopping, or travel or whatever happens to be on my mind. I hope you’ll stick around and join in the conversation.
Clearly, I’m no expert on veganism. I’m constantly trying to educate myself but I’m not a nutritionist, scientist or psychiatrist. I’m just a person who happens to enjoy sharing my experiences being vegan.