The second installation of my ongoing series about new vegans. Enjoy!
xo Erin Red
Name: Laura Yasinitsky
Occupation: Writer for US Weekly, waitress, and nanny (I’m busy)
Physical Activity Level: Lots of walking and carrying in my day to day.
Admittedly no real exercise routine right now although I’m a former
dancer and a yogi at heart
Vegan Since: Jan. 2011 (unsure the exact date but I’m calling it the
Important Details about Me: I’m an only child. Medically there is not much
cancer in my family other than cigarette caused cases (I was a very heavy
smoker until I quit in 2007). My grandmother and dad both have Type II diabetes
which has definitely had an effect on how I view nutrition.
I have been a back and forth vegetarian essentially since high school.
What did your diet look like before you went vegan?
I ate aquatic animals, chickens eggs, and cows milk, but no land
animals for several years, mostly through college, and early life
living in NYC. In 2006 I abandoned it all and became an omnivore, I
went fully vegetarian towards the end of 2010 and then vegan in January
I had always thought vegans were extreme people. I found it dramatic to
Did you have any preconceived notions about veganism before going vegan?
eliminate all animals products, and felt being vegetarian was surely
sufficient, those people were crazy.
I had been eating 100% vegan at home but allowing myself to have dairy
What was your turning point? How did it come about?
when I ate in restaurants. One day I was going to a Mexican restaurant
and I decided I would try to order something vegan. I decided I would
keep it up as long as it wasn’t impossible. I told myself that I would
allow myself to eat something that wasn’t vegan if I ever found myself
in an impossible situation. I haven’t yet.
Emotionally I immediately felt relief, as if a thousand pounds had been
How did you immediately feel emotionally, mentally, physically after
going vegan? After one week? After one month?
lifted. It’s as if I was finally free of all the guilt I had from being
a huge hypocrite that loved animals but consistently ate their dead
bodies. After one week I had noticed that I hadn’t had a stomach ache
since I had gone vegan. I used to regularly have stomach aches. After a
month I felt like a million dollars, really. I was absolutely high on
my love for this new lifestyle and for all the found I had found to go
Unfortunately I was living with my ex at the time and he did not take
How did your friends and family react to your lifestyle change?
it well, ultimately I believe it is one of the reasons we ended up
splitting up. Please note that it is not veganism’s fault, we had other
issues on the table, but I do think for him it was just another thing
that separated us. My friends have been great, many of them were
apprehensive at first, but everyone is completely comfortable with it
now. My dad has been great, whenever I come home to visit he cooks
vegan meals for the whole family. When I told my mom she said, “That
doesn’t surprise me at all, you’ve always loved animals so much, it
only makes sense you would want to live this way.”
I read Eating Animals in December of 2010, I credit it with pushing me
Were there any books that motivated you to change, or helped with your
all the way into veganism. I also read Kathy Freston’s Veganist very
early on, it is excellent and filled with great tips about
I haven’t had any deliberate slip ups. Recently I ordered a Calpico in
Did you have any slip-ups? How did you deal with it?
a Japanese restaurant, not even thinking, and found out a few days later
it is a dairy milk based beverage. I’ve also had the occasional honey
accident, where I have drank or eaten something I didn’t realize had
honey in it, and then found out later. Honestly I have not thought
these incidents were big deals, they were accidents, and I just move on
from them, and don’t plan to eat or drink the items again. If anything
they just raised my personal awareness that I should always check
labels and be aware of what I’m consuming.
I am slowly working through all of these things. I still have a pair of
How did you deal with your non-vegan items (kept them, replaced them,
leather shoes, but they’re getting worn out and I’m sure I’ll replace
them soon. I did get rid of my down coat rather quickly, the feathers
would poke out of it and that was really bothering me. I believe that
when something is starting to bother me, that’s the time to replace it.
I still have some wool sweaters, etc. I do hope to eventually replace
them all, but it’s something I’m gradually working towards, I want to
be realistic about it. I did sort of do a massive overhall of my
bathroom once I’d realized how many products participated in animal
testing, but replacing shampoo and lotion is a lot less expensive then
replacing all of your clothes and shoes.
Not really. I guess at gunpoint I would say that I miss eggs and sushi.
Do you miss anything?
Luckily vegan sushi is terrific and I have mastered a tofu scramble
that I love. Honestly, whenever I feel like I’m missing something I
just remind myself that no matter how delicious it is, it’s just not
worth it. Delicious is not good enough of a reason for me to
participate in something I don’t agree with.
I attended a wedding and there was very little there that was vegan.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
The grooms had arranged for two vegan options, which was incredibly
nice of them, but it’s hard when everyone is totally indulging on
everything all around you. Also, obviously, there were no vegan dessert
options, and I was jealous when everyone was eating cake and ice cream
sandwiches and gushing about how delicious they were.
It’s hard to say. Just personally I feel completely connected to
What has been the greatest reward?
something I believe in and am thrilled to be living this way. That is
honestly, the greatest reward. The sense of completion and utter
happiness I get from loving who I am and how I represent myself in the
My cooking has expanded in ways I never expected. I was always
What are some new foods, cuisines or products you’ve tried since going
intimidated to cook anything Asian or Indian but many vegan recipes
have helped me get to a confident place with those flavors and
techniques. I had never prepared tempeh or seitan, now I love them
both. I make brunch for myself every weekend, which is definitely
something I never did before I went vegan. I recommend everyone make
themselves brunch on the weekend.
My roommate is vegetarian, which is nice, she’s also delightful and
Is your significant other/roommate/family vegan? Have they become
eats and cooks a lot of vegan food. My mom seems extremely intrigued by
it all, but also scared of it at the same time. It’s a lot of change,
and I understand her apprehension, but I’m definitely pushier about it
with my parents then I am with anyone else so they deserve a lot of
credit for putting up with me. As I stated earlier, my relationship
ended shortly after I became vegan so I am on the market fellas! Single
Absolutely. Why wouldn’t I? Seriously.
Do you plan to stay vegan? Why or why not?
I’m dying to read ‘Meat is for Pussies’ because it’s the greatest title
What vegan books would you like to read? Vegan movies to see? Vegan
locations to visit?
ever. I think the most amazing documentary is Vegucated, EVERYONE
should watch it and show it to everyone they love. As far as locations
go, I’d love to take a trip to London, actually I’m secretly hoping I
can take a trip this summer for my birthday. I hear London is great
veg friendly city.
I gave my mom and dad ‘Forks Over Knives’ and ‘Vegucated’ for
Have you encouraged your loved ones to make changes? How? What has
been the reaction?
Christmas. I don’t know if they’ve watched them or not, I’m not going
to bring it up, I’m sure they’ll let me know what they think if they
do. I haven’t encouraged any changes with anyone else other then
cooking them a delicious meal, or suggesting we go to a vegan place,
but hopefully that has an impact.
I actually do, especially given the global warming situation, and the
Do you think veganism is a realistic solution for the masses? Why or
threat of the honeybee population going extinct. I realize it’s a big
change, and honestly I think it does need to happen gradually, but I
think Einstein said it best so I’ll just quote him here. I mean, he was
a pretty smart guy, right?
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of
life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” -Albert