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At first, Eric Lindstrom couldn’t believe it. “Are you serious?” he said, when his friend told him about it. He thought it was a crazy idea. Who would do something like that? Lindstrom thought to himself. I’d starve to death.

Now, it’s his lifestyle, and the Ithaca resident wrote a book about it.

The Skeptical Vegan, which was officially available to the public on July 25, tells the story of Lindstrom’s transition from insatiable meat eater to vegan advocate, from “masticating meat” to “pigging out on plants.” It has garnered praise from well known celebrities such as actors Steve O (Jackass) whom Lindstrom met and helped inspired him to vegan Matthew Modine (Stranger Things) and singer Richard Marx.

The book’s content told through Lindstrom’s often humorous personal interactions with veganism as an omnivore and, later, an herbivore focuses on veganism as a lifestyle, not just a diet. For those willing and interested, Lindstrom hopes that The Skeptical Vegan will help make a seemingly impossible change in their diets, a change which he advises can take time, and requires commitment.

“Going vegan is not easy for anyone,” Lindstrom said. “Especially for older people who have eaten as omnivores their entire lives. But it can be done, and the rewards far outweigh the downsides.”

Because some might find adjusting to the vegan lifestyle rather difficult, Lindstrom sets out to inspire people, to show how accessible it really is. An audience that Lindstrom hopes to reach is middle aged men like himself who are “staring down the barrel of the second half of their lives.” However, The Skeptical Vegan’s message should not be considered exclusive to that demographic.

“This is the book that the vegan community has been waiting for, since it proves anyone, at any age, can go vegan,” Lindstrom said.

Growing up in nearby Binghamton in a household with Italian and Swedish roots, meat used to be a fixture at nearly every meal. This habit continued into Lindstrom’s adult life. He left for college at 140 pounds, but at one point reached as high as 250 pounds. Lindstrom remembers eating whatever he wanted, but that’s no longer the case.

Lindstrom converted to veganism at the beginning of 2011. He describes himself as an “overnight vegan,” his dietary and lifestyle change the result of a New Year’s bet with his girlfriend based off of Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s 30 Day Vegan Challenge.

fell asleep a meat eater and woke up vegan, says Lindstrom. Eventually, the bet timeline was extended, and neither he nor his girlfriend (who is now his wife) have lost yet.

Lindstrom’s journey might not have been possible if not for Ithaca’s vegan friendly community.

“Ithaca is wildly supportive of veganism, although there is only one vegan restaurant, and it’s relatively new,” Lindstrom said. “I know other vegans in other cities who have never met another vegan in person. There is no doubt that going vegan in a place like Ithaca, or Portland, Oregon for example, is much easier.”

While Ithaca may be more preferable a location for an aspiring vegan, nonetheless, Lindstrom is certain that veganism is on the rise.

Lindstrom’s desire to be vegan now is driven mainly by ethical reasons.

“Being vegan is a choice you make in the interest of either your health or animal welfare (perhaps some make the choice for the environment, which is also admirable),” Lindstrom said.

He became more aware of the interconnectivity between humans, animals, and the environment once he went vegan. While some might see the vegan lifestyle as a political venture, it’s not, he said. However, Lindstrom warns that there are some vegans that give the rest a negative reputation in the minds of omnivores.

“Angry vegans are everywhere. Hell bent on not only attacking meat eaters for their choices, but also attacking other vegans for their choices,” he explained.

While his tone might sound preachy at times like when detailing what his idea of Planet Vegan would look like and his claims (which he cites with evidence) controversial, Lindstrom wants to make it clear that he is not trying to force his ideology onto others. He recognizes that veganism isn’t for everyone.

“I have to remember that others don’t see the world through the same lens as I do,” he said.

Lindstrom’s message, though, is simple: “The real question meat eaters need to ask themselves is why they would argue against any individual trying to make a positive change for themselves, the planet, and for the animals.”

Lindstrom is currently preparing for the annual Animal Rights National Conference held in Alexandria, Virginia. A book signing is scheduled for Saturday, August 12, at Buffalo Street Books.
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