I don't remember.
Isn't that insane? I truly don't. I remember, about 6ish years ago, starting to cut meat out of my diet. My best friend gave up beef when her brother dared her to go a month without it—14 years ago. Her journey progressed from there. Another friend was taking an Animal Ethics class where Meet Your Meat was screened, and that did it for her. As for me...I had assumed that because of my tendencies toward anemia and hypoglycemia, I needed animal products. Yet, I started to learn. The Internet became my best friend.
I slowly transitioned to vegetarianism over the next year or so. When I moved away to grad school in the hippie center of the Mountain West, it was easier, because I could cook for myself and shy away from meat without feeling like a freak. I learned how to cook tofu, and while it still surprises me with its wily, stubborn tendencies, my tofu can make omnivores weep with pleasure. So can my sweet potato fries. Don't get me started on the biscotti.
When did I become vegan? It happened so slowly, I have no idea. I hear about all these people having traumatic conversion experiences and commemorating their veganversaries. I don't have one. Slowly, like growing, it happened. "Last carton of eggs," I said one day. Soymilk replaced cow's milk, hamburgers were shoved aside for veggie burgers, and cheese—well, science is still working on a foolproof vegan cheese, but we'll get there.
Even after I considered myself vegan, I realized that the non-dairy creamer I stirred into my coffee contained casein (cursed stuff), and my favorite frozen waffles contained eggs. "Fuck," I said to myself. "Bitch, weren't you reading the labels?" Evidently, I needed to read harder. So long, tasty frozen waffles. Once I realized I could kick the powdered creamer habit (did you know it's flammable?), I learned to like soymilk in my coffee. I still huff at having to squint at the tiny print on the label of a can of soup or whatever, but I do it. If I'm in your way in the grocery store, move around me.
You could say I'm vegan because it makes sense. I'm not perfect. None of us can completely escape the animal products integrated into the things we consume, buy, and use. But I do my best. A lot of the time, I don't think my best is good enough. ("Be more vegan!" the nasty part of my psyche rages.) But once I came to the awareness that I could no longer live in ignorant bliss while so many fellow creatures suffered, I don't think I had a choice.