TOKYO (Reuters) - When Victoria Moran was growing up in Kansas City, then home of the second largest stockyards in the United States, the concept of eating anything but meat was so unheard of that even the first salad bars were revolutionary.
"People confused yoga and yogurt, and both were just odd," said Moran, a long-term vegan. "It was a different time ... more difficult in that there simply weren't accommodations for people who didn't eat very traditionally."
Moran, who was a vegetarian before swearing off animal products such as milk and eggs, found that her new lifestyle brought her numerous health benefits, such as dropping nearly 30 kg (60 pounds).
But getting there took many years and detours, an evolution she has tried to make easier for others with "Main Street Vegan," a book written with her daughter, who has been a vegan from birth, that aims to help people make a change that she admits can still be a challenge.
"A main street vegan is a regular person who has a sense that for the sake of their own health, or for the animals that are giving their lives for this food, or for this very deserving planet, maybe he or she needs to do something a little bit strange and change their diet," she said in a telephone interview.
"It's ... not usually the way things are done here."
Moran mixes anecdotes, information and recipes to break down what may seem like the daunting process of giving up animal products into baby steps that allow the aspiring vegan to move forward.
Along the way she answers questions about vegetarianism, including the best sources of calcium and protein.
"Protein is in everything that grows out of the ground, it's a very ubiquitous nutrient," she explained. "You would have to really try to be protein deficient unless you were in a state of starvation, or were anorexic, or alcoholic and drinking all your meals, or eating only junk food."
The social aspects can also be tricky, she warns, from dealing with well-meaning people who urge you to "just eat some meat" to soothing the family who feel you're turning your back on long-term cultural traditions.
But in the end, for those who want to, making the change can be surprisingly easy.
"You learned how to drive a car, program the DVR, and use your iGadgets," she writes. "Compared to those accomplishments, going vegan is a piece of (cake)."
Reporting by Elaine Lies, editing by Patricia Reaney