Without getting too far into the philosophical weeds, the Ship of Theseus is a thought experiment about identity. If you gradually replace all the rotting boards of a boat one at a time over a period of year, at what point is it a new ship?

I thought of Theseus’ ship after I went grocery shopping this morning, and looked down to see that most of the traditional products I had been buying for years had been replaced one by one with vegan substitutes.

  • Oat milk is in, cow milk is out
  • Ripple’s pea creamer has replaced dairy creamer
  • Beyond Burgers replaced beef burgers
  • Smart Ground instead of ground beef or pork
  • JUST eggless cookie dough is way better than Tollhouse
  • If I could afford it, Frankie and Jo’s vegan ice cream would have a permanent spot in my freezer instead of Ben & Jerry’s
  • And although it isn’t any more vegan than the regular kind, cauliflower pizza is now our go-to frozen pizza of choice

Am I becoming a full-on vegan? Kinda? I still eat chicken, the occasional fish, and plenty of eggs. I love my Fage yogurt and am hesitant to try a non-dairy yogurt after my colleague Catherine’s bad experience. However, I’m looking forward to replacing these with plant-based alternatives as well.

Despite the fact that scientists say eating meat is dire for the planet, I’d be lying if I said that I was turning into a vegan to make the world a better place (I mean, I’m not trying to make it a worse place). And I wouldn’t even identify as “vegan,” even if I gave up the chicken and the eggs and the other stuff, because I don’t feel like I’m adopting a particular philosophical stance. For me, eating more plant-based foods isn’t a way of life, it’s just that food tech and food innovation has made all of these more delicious than their predecessors.

I think what surprised me was how quickly things have changed. I couldn’t have written this post a year ago. But in that short time, so many alternate products have come to market and immediately made it on to my grocery list. Before I knew it, I was shopping vegan without even trying.

Writing for The Spoon I get a front row seat to all this innovation, so I know what’s coming down the pike. I also know that this is just the beginning. All these alterna-products are only going to get better and cheaper and more abundant. Chicken nuggets, your days are numbered. Impossible is coming to grocery stores, big food is muscling its way into burgers and we haven’t even touched on the vegan questions that arise from lab-grown meat.

With all this innovation, I’ve slowly become a brand new type of grocery shopper, at some point I’ll have to ask if I’m becoming a whole new me.

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