Reasons to Smile (Reader's Edition)

I thought it would be easy - challenging my readers to a free chocolate giveaway and chance to be featured on the blog by writing a one-sentence answer to this question:

What has been the best part of incorporating 
veganism into your life?

Who was I kidding? Had I even tried to answer that complex question with one sentence myself? Nope. And yet, forty of you faithful readers did. Beautifully. So beautifully that I was up all night this weekend with my husband desperately trying to narrow these gorgeous, honest, and unique responses down to three final answers. I hadn't prepared myself for how difficult this task would be, because you - yes, you amazing vegan-lovin' folks - have shown me how wonderful you all are. You have given me so many more reasons to smile than what I am able to share today. Please know that thoughtfully answering my question is a victory in and of itself - and whether you have been featured here today or not, continue on your journey knowing that you have already given yourself a reason to smile today.

After hours of a painful narrowing-down process, I made a decision - instead of only featuring three answers in my "Reasons to Smile" post today, I would devote the entire post to you readers, with ten answers featured. And boy, do you deserve the attention! Thank you for inspiring me, for giving me so much joy every morning when I turn my computer on, and for your support, your love, and your courage to set forth and live your best life possible. You are all my heroes today.

And now for today's "Reasons to Smile"  - featuring the adorable, sweet, smart, and kind animals rescued and living at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (proof that in your vegan living, you are touching more lives than you know):
1. The best part about veganism is the inner peace I feel, each day laying my head down to rest knowing not a single being was harmed so I could sustain that day - total peace. - Renee

2. The glowing feeling I have by nourishing myself and treating animals compassionately, the physical glow I have, and the glowing community of people (KMIV) I have met on this amazing, continuing journey. - Jacquelynn Rankin

3. The best part of incorporating veganism into my life has been the fact that my diabetic little brother followed in my footsteps, and he is now not only happy and healthy, but our love of vegan cooking has made us closer. - Ryel Toby

4. Through our new found veganism, our family (children especially) has been kissed with compassion - compassion for others, the animals, and the earth- it's a beautiful legacy to pass on! - Rachel, mother of two and blogger 

5. In the past I've had a difficult time committing to even the best-for-me habits, so the best part of committing to veganism is how it has shown me that when something is really worth committing to, I am strong enough to do it. - Lauren Russo
6. Raising four peaceful, healthy, vegan children. - S. Pearl

7. The best part of incorporating veganism into my life is being able to wake up every morning to look at the world through a compassionate lens that infuses everything with shades of serenity, hues of harmony, tones of truth, and colors of a heightened consciousness. - Angela Colantonio

8. Living with purpose, eating with the kindest intention and apologizing for nothing has made me happier and healthier than I ever knew I could be. -Hilary Detwiller, Plate+Simple

9. Knowing that every single day, I am saving lives. - Molly G

And now, for the winner of the chocolate giveaway, Ms. Mara Conlon:

Veganism has opened my eyes, my tastebuds, my wonder, my sense of exploration, and most importantly, it has opened my heart.

My deepest and most sincere thanks to every single person who entered this contest. If reading these responses has inspired you in any way, feel free to reach out to me at


Molly G said…
Sooooo close, and yet so far. #9. Heart!
Trista said…
Beautiful answers! Even though I didn't win, I'm still ordering some of those truffles! :)
Plate+Simple said…
Congratulations, Mara! Well deserved :)
Myra Wolf said…
Congratulations to all of you! It touched me (yes tears), in reading everyone of the posted answers! I have little doubt the other sentences that were presented would make me as moved as these sentences did!
Congratulations to the winning sentence..I want your chocolate :)
I am over the moon proud of ALL of you. xoxo
GodsDreamsForMe said…
I am so full after reading all of the comments. This was an awesome question to ask. The differences and similarities show how unique we all are created and yet all we share that unites us.

I'm so glad you asked this question Lindsay. Very, Very cool.

God Bless,
Jeri -Oahu
Meredith said…

I first off want to say how inspiring your website is to me. As a recent vegan, it is great to hear from those on the same path as me. Your post today was especially affirming.

I had a quick question that I was hoping to get your insight on. I have recently been craving non-vegan foods again, which I haven't recently. These include, fish and dairy (cheese, ice cream, etc). Do you have any suggestions to try to curb these cravings?

I have lately gotten discouraged when I got to out to eat with friends and my choice of food is very limited. Do you only dine at veggie restaurants? What do you do when you go to non-vegan spots?

Thank you so much!

Lindsay said…
Meredith - this is what I would suggest: examine what it is about these foods that you miss so much. For me, the thickness and creaminess of cheese was something I would crave, and then for fish, I desperately needed to find a protein that was hearty and substantial to replace it.

If you can be creative enough, I promise you can find foods that give you the same feeling you had when you ate the animal version of them.

For me, I buy vegan cheese I love (including Daiya and Follow Your Heart), avocados, nut butters, coconut milk (and coconut milk ice cream), and I add nutritional yeast to almost anything savory. These foods give me the creamy, thick texture I loved when I ate cheese - without the animal (or health) suffering.

For protein, I've added tempeh, seitan, tofu, and Gardein mock meats to my diet whenever I am needing a hearty protein dish. Learning to cook with these proteins really satisfied me - so much so that I don't feel the cravings that I used to have.

Also, do you research - research (or if you already have, research again) about the fishing industry and the dairy industry - that reminder of the good you are doing by giving up these foods should be enough to keep you strong and not fall into the trap of eating fish and dairy.

I have a lot of veggie restaurants around me - NYC is awesome that way - but you can find a lot of great, vegan options at any Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Thai, or Japanese restaurant. I've even ordered a medley of sides at a Seafood restaurant! I just try to always be flexible, creative, and keep humor at the heart of it, because taking it too seriously gets me down. Calling ahead is great - be confident and strong in letting the person at the restaurant know you're vegan, and oftentimes they will find ways to accommodate you.

So, yeah - experiment with new flavors and foods, remind yourself how important this lifestyle is for the animals in need and for your health, and be as flexible as possible. And patience. Patience is good too.

And if you need any additional help, don't hesitate to email me directly at

Rachel said…
how wonderful to read all of these reasons and reflections! :)

I'm proud to be included in your listing of ten.

I truly mean every word of it! It has been a true struggle in some ways (family members who are completely upset about our veganism) and a beautiful journey in many ways!

My little Willow asks at every meal- home and away "Is this vegan?" and my little Layla chows down the "different cheese" because she knows it's more kind.

I'm over-joyed... and I pray that any readers that are visiting here that are not yet vegan- would open there hearts to this most lovely and compassionate way of life.

Thanks again!
Lindsay said…
Rachel - that is so beautiful! I think I might do a post sometime in the near future about what to do when you're around people who oppose your choices - especially family, where it can be the most sensitive. But you put it beautifully - and your daughters sound like amazing little girls! :)

Trista - that's awesome that you're going to buy those truffles! They're delicious! I just wish I could have given one pack to every person that entered! Each answer was so beautiful and honest. This was a lovely post for me to get to do!
Julie Stuart said…
Thank you for sharing these reasons to smile, Lindsay! They are so touching! I cried tears of joy, compassion, and understanding as I read them! We are so blessed to have this community - and to be improving the world and the lives of animals, one person (perhaps one bite) at a time! :)
Lots of love to all of you....Julie
What a smile my heart has :) I was touched that my response was one of the 10, and wow... everyone's responses were so wonderful to read!

Thanks Lindsay, what a wonderful post!
mmg said…
Beautiful answers indeed! Thanks for sharing!