I’m often asked why I keep my household vegan. To me, the answers are obvious: Sacred Mother Earth, my family’s health, and the cute cows we pass on our drives to Philadelphia. Animal products disturb all three of these fundamentals and thus I prefer to keep them as far away from my home as possible. As far away as this Applebee’s.

It’s less that I’m trying to make a difference and more that I feel compelled to. Three weeks ago, when I made the decision that my household would go vegan, a force greater than myself moved my limbs as I pointed to our sour cream then to the garbage and back again while the kids watched me, mouths agape. I felt removed from my body as I poured milk down the sink and said to my husband, “We’ll never taste the smooth, creamy texture of milk again. Except when it’s curdled, strained, breaded, deep-fried, and served to us by Tim."

Once I found out the truth about our food system, every last bit of my energy went into veganizing my home. I read all the reports, I bought all the cookbooks. I watched all the documentaries, except Cowspiracy because the beginning was kind of boring. Ellen DeGeneres became my favorite celebrity! Yes, this lifestyle takes a bit more work than my old one, but it’s so much more rewarding. Sort of like the Applebee’s rewards card, which gives me points every time I dine here.

So much of living as a home-vegan is spreading the home-vegan message with patience and respect. As I checked out earlier today at the supermarket, my shopping cart a veritable cornucopia of plants, the cashier handed me my receipt along with some coupons for the deli section. I quickly returned the coupons to the young man, explaining that I ran a vegan household and thus was uninterested in the coupon. Then I quickly texted my sister to see if she wanted to hit up the ’Bee and add a chapter to our “Dairy Diaries.”

Another question I’ve been asked during my tenure as a vegan-at-home is this: Are you not eating mozzarella sticks right now, in front of us, at this Applebee’s? It’s true; I’m four sticks deep into my second mozzarella stick appetizer platter, which I ordered as my meal with no intention of sharing. But that’s the beauty of keeping my home vegan: I’m not always there. Also, the kids are staying over at a friend’s house and I’ve had five dollars’ worth of the Strawberry Dollaritas.

My behavior tonight does not take away from my vegan authority. Tomorrow morning I will be treating my hangover with a large plate of tofu scramble and a green smoothie. For lunch, I will cook up my recently purchased crown of broccoli without even a hint of butter. For dinner, well, let’s be honest, I might go out again. Regardless, I will continue nourishing my mind with everything there is to know about veganism and implementing what I learn. Exclusively at home.