Such a unique and informative stance ought to qualify me to give a Ted Talk right? (Ted, if you’re reading this is my not so subtle self-promoting tap on the shoulder). I am as shocked as you probably are. One year of veganism. I’m now powered by plants, to borrow Flora’s clever marketing shift. I first went vegan last May, just before the end of my first year of university. During an insomnia-driven interweb soul-searching session, I stumbled across the infamous vegan heavyweights of documentaries. Cowspiracy, Earthlings, Forks over Knives, Gary Yourofsky’s ‘Best Speech You Will Ever Hear’. I watched it all. Next day, I went vegan.
The first week of going vegan was plain sailing. It was so easy I was worried I was doing it wrong (note, there is no right or wrong vegan diet. Although I do have a bugbear with raw veganism. But I won’t indulge in that rant just yet). But then I broke it. And you might be wondering what great, meat-filled carnivorous meal I broke it for? To this day, I find it shameful to admit that I broke it for a free slice of Gregg’s margarita pizza and chocolate ice-cream. The power of free stuff, free food in particular has an alluring quality like nothing else. It’s such a great marketing technique I’d even go as far as to recommend Jeremy Corbyn’ s Chief Strategy and Communications Director to take note, prior to the shock general election (I won’t go there). It might not help the poor chap, but giving out free food to loan-crippled and near homeless students might soothe his Commie soul.
(My first ever consciously vegan meal!)
But after that brief digression from the holier-than-thou vegan diet (or as some with a cult-like persona call it- a lifestyle) I revisited the vegan archives. I watched ‘Vegucated’, James Aspey’s ‘Voiceless Campaign’ and an array of vegan what I eat in a day videos. And ever since, I’ve been intentionally and consciously vegan. Of course, there were instances of (sub)conscious vegan uncoupling moments (seriously Paltrow, you have to explain the terms you invent). That time when I inhaled coconut macaroons in Hungary (as they were super cheap) before realising they weren’t vegan. That time when I was first given meat in a vegetable dish in China and just ate around it. That time when I was unaware of the butter on the garlic naan and was ousted on Instagram. You know, shit happens.
However, with one year under my belt, and my ‘animals are friends’ tee yet to be delivered, I have some pearls of wisdom to impart. Side note: Are pearls vegan?
Meat-eater: Where do you get your protein from?
All the vegans in the world and I: Please Sherlock, we have conducted a thorough investigation into our nutrient and mineral intake and we are not deficient. Why are meat-eaters suddenly all qualified in the field of nutrition and health? We get our protein from tofu, beans, legumes, some vegetables, fortified and protein-based products, powders etc… The list is endless. Sure, that question might be legitimate for someone living in China- but I’ve expressed that struggle so unagi… If you know, you know.
Meat–eater: You need to eat meat. You’re too skinny. It is natural.
All the vegans in the world and I: Unless you live in a primordial caveman realm of existence, where hunting is a means of survival, eating a plant-based diet is natural. One does not need to eat meat in order to survive or thrive. A clear example being the rising number of vegan celebrities and body builders flocking to a vegan way of life (i.e. Serena Williams, Brad Pitt, Liam Hemsworth, Sia and Ariana Grande to name but a few). Sure there are skinny vegans, because vegetables and fruit are easier to digest and are not as calorically dense as meat and dairy products. But then, there also fat vegans. Those who discover the rabbit-hole of tasty vegan mock-meat products, from plant-based burgers to vegan fried chicken (it really is a thing!). Once I watched vegan junk food videos, and admittedly started following ‘Accidentally Vegan’ on Instagram, the chamber of a world of Oreos and artery-clogging but ethically liberating food was unlocked. Avoid it if you can.
Meat–eater: It’s so sad you can’t eat this lovely slab of meat. Here, have my carrot sticks that are on their last legs instead.
All the vegans in the world and I: Why is it that once you go vegan meat-eaters feel they have to compensate you with any and every piece of vegan food they can proffer? From the pathetic brown limping lettuce in their oh-so-vegan salad to ‘have this piece of fruit, it’s vegan I think’. I know?! Believe it or not, I alongside many other vegans, are not chipmunks. We do not need to store pieces of vegan-friendly food for winter, or for the likelihood of a Hunger Games (because clearly we would die first, but with beautiful clear skin, of course).
Going vegan had a life-altering effect on me, and for the 542,000 other vegans globally. It does require more effort, careful forward planning and, in some cases of pathetic and questionable meals. But it is also liberating to eat in an ethical and sustainable manner, experiment with different vegetables and grains, and to notice a difference in your physique and energy levels. Like many others, once you go vegan turning back no longer becomes desirable. But as all politicians taught in the field of nuanced (and vague) answers, I’m not going to commit myself, but for now veganism works for me.
I had to ruin it, didn’t I?! I apologise to the whole vegan community.
Thanks for reading!