Becoming a Vegan
Being a Libran, I am one of the most indecisive people you will ever meet, but I do know one thing for certain - that turning vegan is one of the best things I have ever done and that’s why I want you to do it too.
I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 7. I can remember the position I was sitting in at the kitchen table and the discussion that my family had been having which suddenly started to fill me with dread. We were having Sunday lunch and I asked my Mum where Lamb came from. I think in my mind I expected it to have been farmed or grown (!) but wanted to know why there’s also an animal with the same name to the meat on my plate. When my Mum explained to me, that the lamb on my plate was indeed the same alive lambs I’d just mentioned I couldn’t take another bite.
A good friend of mine (@marta_b_hope) is vegan and she couldn’t believe how I wasn’t, based on my compassionate side and how much I love animals. She would often ply me with delicious meals she had cooked to try and win me over.
Having said that, it took 17 years of me being a vegetarian for me to finally go the whole hog and turn vegan. Although deep down my conscious knew it was morally the right thing to do, my excuses always had a 'reason' not to. I'm allergic to peanuts and pine nuts (but until recently had always believed that I was allergic to all nuts so stayed away from them) and despite vegetarians being known for their carb-heavy diet, my vegetarian experience mainly consisted of fat - with cheese being the main culprit! So the thought of being completely cheese-less was worrying.
Another good friend (@lucymiawhisker) played a huge part in me becoming a vegan. She showed me so many everyday products I could eat that I thought I would miss out on and gave me an army of documentary titles to watch. She challenged me to go vegan for one week which I did easily and for not just for one but two weeks. I then went out for a family meal, at a steakhouse, and unfortunately chose the vegetarian option over the one vegan option – house salad. I regretted it almost straight after. I felt very conscious of what I was putting in my mouth and the next day my face felt greasy (similar to the cheese I’d eaten), I could feel spots brewing, and my stomach didn’t feel great either!
Since a young age it had made so much sense to not eat the body of an animal but yet eating an egg (basically a chicken’s period), and drinking milk (made from cows, exclusively for cows) didn’t really phase me enough to stop. More physical elements started occurring that added to the ethical reasons.
My Mum started going through menopause and was having a really bad time with it all. A friend of hers recommended she cut out cow’s milk. She listened, and switched to plant-based milks and her hot flushes stopped right away. After some light reading I found that others had experienced the same. I started thinking more and more about what dairy was doing, not just to me but to everybody – the planet included. Was cutting out dairy nature’s natural remedy to menopause/diabetes/acne/gall stones and a plethora of other ailments and illnesses?
So many unanswered questions - how do we know what we are putting into our bodies? Especially when it’s not fresh or grown but has been produced from an animal? What if the animal has cancer or another illness? Its not cost effective to screen each animal before killing it so people are still drinking from its teats and eating that flesh.
Cowspiracy was one of the documentaries Lucy recommended and just one of the interesting issues that they highlight is land. My partner and I drove round part of Australia, one of the most beautiful continents on Earth, and noticed ourselves deforestation and the impact it was contributing to. These trees are home to nature, the planets natural lungs and we are destroying them to make room for other ‘necessary’ purposes. Whilst there we were lucky enough to see The Great Barrier Reef yet it was truly saddening knowing such a huge percentage is dead. Habitats are being destroyed on the land and in the sea. But the overall consensus of this world seems to be that as long as we have ‘important things’ like space to artificially inseminate cattle over and over again to feed our bellies, meanwhile lining the inside of meat producer’s pockets then all is fine. Things just don’t add up.
Cowspiracy and Australia also highlighted to me the lack of water. It is overwhelming – humans drink 5.2 billion gallons of water a day which is a huge figure on its own but nothing compared to the staggering 45 billion gallons of water a day that cows drink. The carbon footprint emissions that are caused by the meat industry are horrendous and more than the industry trade, buildings and even transportation. Yet why do we push people to watch what car they buy but not what they eat? Overpopulation and lack of homes. Poverty. Just some of the key issues of this world and yet somehow we can spare 3 acres of land per person to mass slaughter animals and feed corporate greed?
We have plants for us on this earth. A fact from the Vegetarian Society states that the typical meat eater's diet requires up to 2.5 times the amount of land compared to a vegetarian diet and 5 times that of a vegan diet. Meat eaters can get their protein from animals who have eaten plants. But do it right and you can go straight to the source and cut out eating the middle man. Its 2017 and it is fantastic to be able to see through the internet so many people who are acting consciously. Amongst the many inspirational people I have come across, there are many bodybuilders who physically prove that by looking after themselves by eating right and making sure the right vitamins are consumed then you can thrive as a vegan (and not be the sickly fussy unfortunate stereotype.)
I tend to not openly discuss being vegan with people as the overall conclusion to the conversation tends to sway towards my health, the fact they ‘couldn’t give up meat’ and my choice alone not making a huge impact. However I was thrilled recently when I spoke with a gentleman in his late 60s/70s who told me how his doctor had recommended a vegetarian or vegan diet to help him with problems he had been having. He said he was really feeling better and continued to tell me a lot of facts about meat and what it can do to your body. One fact was how bacon is one of the first things people are told to cut when diagnosed with diabetes.
It was so refreshing to hear these positive remarks from somebody when so often, in the press or just in everyday life, people can be so quick to dismiss veganism. It would be truly amazing and wondrous what could be achieved if every person was as open-minded to trying something new.
My words don’t do the facts justice. If you would like more information yourself I would recommend watching ‘What The Health’, ‘Food, inc’ and ‘Cowspiracy’. If the facts alone still have you sitting on the fence then finally, watch ‘Okja’. It’s a gorgeous story about the love between a ‘pet’ and his friend which also gives a horrifying insight into the meat industry. This is an extreme statement but to me the film showed the slaughter houses in a way which mirrored images taken from the Holocaust and it is barbaric that any life can be taken away by another.
The other day I flicked over the TV to a cookery programme and the chef was holding up a piece of meat. Imagine it's human flesh that’s being held up and the whole programme suddenly takes a sinister turn. It even could be a scene from a cannibalistic horror movie. But yet it’s not a human – it’s an animal. Another living breathing creature just like us - so like us in fact that most of us keep animals as pets and some treat them like family.
If you’ve got to this far, well done! Seriously, thank you. This has been the story about my slow journey to veganism, I hope it hasn’t been too much of a laborious read. I’d love it if anything I have written has resonated with you!