My Vegan Journey

Hello and Happy World Vegan Day!  I know, I know, there is a day for almost everything now but this day, in particular, is an important one, and I would like to share my vegan journey with you.

Two years into having my Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential and working as a dietitian, I attended a presentation at Ann Arbor’s Veg Week in 2013 on the environmental impacts of animal agricultureJeff Hampton presented “Change your life .. save the planet … one bite at a time”, and now looking back I can say this talk sparked something in me that did in fact, change my life. This was my first exposure (that I recall anyway) to learning how factory farming is destroying our various ecosystems and it was both heartbreaking and terrifying. Now this talk was certainly not all doom and gloom. With positivity and enthusiasm, Jeff Hampton also shared what a plant-based diet can do for our land, air, and water. I left feeling both inspired and frustrated with this new information….How could all of this be true, how could big companies and large farms get away with such practices? Who is supposed to be regulating this stuff?

Since we vote with our money and forks, I decided that I would do a 30-day vegan challenge. I wanted to see what eating a vegan diet felt like and I wanted to make a positive impact on the environment. During this 30-day challenge, I experimented with new recipes, watched a few documentaries like Forks Over Knives and Food Inc., and read various vegan/vegetarian research article. I read and loved the book: Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet. The more I learned, the more excited I felt about eating a vegan diet and once I reached my 30-day mark I did not want to go back to eating my old omnivorous meals.

The Vegan Trifecta

Not only was I motivated by the positive environmental impact, but there are major health benefits to eating a plant-based diet. Personally, at the time I was training for a half-marathon and felt like I was recovering from workouts well so I decided I would stick with it until after my race. 

But the benefits of a vegan diet go beyond just the environment and human health, and over time animal welfare grew to be a major reason to continue a vegan diet.  As someone who cares deeply about animals, the ethical implications of animal agriculture became a major concern for me. There is a major disconnect in society when it comes to where our food is coming from, especially when it comes to animal products. The reality is that animals raised for food are often subjected to crowded and inhumane living conditions, and many are subjected to painful procedures without any anesthesia. By choosing a vegan diet, we can make a statement against these practices and do our part to reduce animal suffering.


Like all personal journeys, my experience is unique to me, and I recognize I have unique privileges that supported me in this lifestyle transformation. For example, I have good access to food, a good relationship with food, and am a registered dietitian who has knowledge and skills to plan a well-balanced vegan diet and feel confident about this. I made sure to include calcium-containing plant foods like kale, swiss chard, tahini, fortified tofu, soy, and almond milk since I was no longer getting calcium from dairy. I also love to cook and have a pretty adventurous palate. It was important to me to find delicious options to replace the animal products I was removing and truthfully I found that challenge fun.

Dining out vegan is possible! Most restaurants will have at least one delicious option. Even better news, more vegetarian and vegan specific restaurants are in business, even airports have good vegan options these days.

I approached my vegan journey with curiosity and flexibility, two things I frequently discuss with patients/clients when working on habits and behavior change. Yes, in the beginning, there were some temptations, frustrations, and “setbacks”, if you will. My first go-around at the holidays and social events I remained mostly vegan but ate some cheese/dairy. No, the vegan police did not come to get me and I didn’t stress out about it because I was learning and doing my best. 

Over the years I have learned some helpful tips when it comes to eating a vegan diet and social situations:

1) It is okay to advocate for yourself. If you are going to an event – ask ahead of time about potential vegan options.

2) In a potluck setting come prepared with a delicious vegan dish that you will enjoy and can share with others.

3) Don’t show up to social gatherings starving because that is never fun.

4) Get family/friends interested and involved in trying new vegan recipes. I feel fortunate my mom, while not vegan, always makes vegan-friendly dishes, like my quinoa salad, when I come home to visit and my friends make vegan treats when we get together.

Create Community:

I also found getting involved and connecting with others who have similar interests and values extremely supportive. Try volunteering at a plant-based event or the humane society, join a local vegetarian/vegan meetup group (for example if you are in Michigan check out the Plant based nutrition support group (PBNSG).) Another option is to visit or volunteer at a local animal sanctuary.

I have volunteered at Michigan’s VegFest and met some amazing people as well as made new plant-based friends over the years. I have also been to SASHA farm with friends which was such a fun experience. 

#Plantstrong Rip Esselstyn
#Plantstrong Rip Esselstyn
Hanging out with vegan, John Salley.
Hanging out with vegan, John Salley
Volunteering at the photo booth, Michigan VegFest
Volunteering at the photo booth, Michigan VegFest

pig-at-sasha bird goats-at-sasha


Overall, choosing a vegan diet has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. It has improved my health, reduced my environmental impact, and given me a sense of satisfaction and purpose. I highly recommend giving it a try – not just for your own benefit, but for the benefit of the planet and all its inhabitants.

Join the community and stay up to date!

Subscribe to the Haller Health and Wellness Newsletter

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.