When I told my mum that I was going Vegetarian, she was NOT happy. I was 15. She made me promise that I would still eat fish while I was living at home. (When I turned 18, I could do whatever I wanted.)
I didn’t eat fish for very long, and stopped taking Cod Liver Oil pills. (“Mum, fish have feelings too!”) 13 years on, and I have become a Vegan, a decision I am extremely happy to have made, and a change of lifestyle that has been MUCH easier than I anticipated. (It’s been about 4 months, and I haven’t had a break down in front of the Yoghurt section in Safeway just yet.)
Please don’t stop reading! I’m not going to Bible-bash my views on animal cruelty or how the environment can be saved and the world fed by us eating less meat and dairy (well, not too much), but some things just have to be said.
I want to help educate people who, when I say I am vegan, look at me as though I have chosen to flog myself each morning for fun. I am so, so sick of people having a crack, mocking my choice of diet, and basically thinking I am crazy. I have endured questions and ridicule from many a close-minded person to whom I have just wanted to say, “Hey, you might find it very hard to understand, but I’m trying to save the world for your children.” Heavy pressure, I know.
Someone this week was making me a salad roll, and asked if I ate tomato (huh!?), and then preceded to ask me which meat I wanted. Come on people!
Please endure, and take on board, the following 10 rants of a Vegan:
1. When you ask me “But what do you eat?” dispel all visions of lettuce and tofu from your mind. I eat AMAZING food. Come to my house and I’ll feed you an Indian Curry or Dahl, Asian Greens and noodles, Aubergine-Courgette layered Cheese-free Lasagna (do you like how I used the fancy names there?), Vegie Pita Pizzas, a Homestyle Chunky Pie, or a Quinoa and Sweet Potato salad. (This is not a complete list!)
2. Don’t tell me we were ‘meant to eat meat’. Meat contributes to so many diseases, even Sam Neil says only eat LEAN red meat UP TO 4 times a week. And don’t bring up canine teeth either, I’m not really interested (and they are very useful for ripping apart eggplant).
3. We don’t need dairy. Milk from a cow is for BABY COWS, not baby humans, and not adult humans. Wondering why you are feeling a bit funny? Stop eating dairy and see if that changes anything. (Most adult humans don’t have the enzyme to break down cow’s milk.)
4. Don’t accuse me of double – standards because I’m wearing leather shoes. I op-shop.
5. It’s insulting when you imply that my diet is tasteless or boring. Maybe you eat meat and three vege with no spices, but my dinners are tasty and flavoursome.
6. Don’t tell me I won’t get enough protein. We don’t need so much protein (breast milk has 6% protein, cow’s milk 22% – Mother Nature with a big hint!) and high protein diets and Osteoporosis rates run side by side. Then you will say that we need milk for Calcium to stop Osteoporosis? Wrong. This is the meat and dairy industry further exploiting the consumer – they give you the disease, then provide you with a supposed cure! (Check out my 92 year old Grandma who has been vego/vegan for decades, no Osteoporosis and fighting fit, and cultures with low protein diet, but no Osteoporosis, and the Eskimos with the highest protein intake and the highest rates of the disease.)
7. When you say “I could never be vegan!” in your sympathetic voice, realise, that actually, you could be. And I feel sorry for you. You think it’s weird that I don’t eat meat, or milk that came from a different animal to me, well I think it’s really weird that you do. A vegan diet is the most natural, amazingly wonderful way to eat, and I wish I had cut out dairy sooner in my life.
8. Don’t get scared to invite me to dinner. Ask me to bring something, or ask me for some ideas! Once you escape the box that says every meal must have meat, cheese or eggs in it, a world of possibilities awaits.
9. Open your mind to the positives that come from people eating less meat and less dairy, and more fresh vegies and unprocessed junk. The land can be used for grains to feed more people, the stranglehold on poor countries by meat producers can be released, we can save water, carbon emissions and lives – and not only the animal kind, humans too. I really try not to preach, but I want the people I love to live longer, and feel better, THAT’S why I tell people about what I read on links between a meat and dairy diet and illness.
10. I haven’t gone vegan to make it hard for the world. On the contrary! I’m trying to lower my impact on the environment, and consume a diet free from foods that kill, or enact cruelty on both animals, and humans. I’m doing this for my health, and for the health of my children yet to be born. Being a vegetarian in Nepal, was the easiest thing in the world. It was natural to the Nepalese people, and no-one asked questions. The second easiest place I found to be a vegetarian? England. I was surprised at the amount of vegetarian options available generally – they are a country of mixed cultures, and better yet, they have an open-minded view of people’s choice of diet, and the right, yes it is a right, to choose and live a lifestyle free from discrimination, and have options when we walk down the street for a meal.
Thank you for listening to my rant. When I became vegan, I thought “Oh gee, this is going to be hard.” I was becoming one of those people… My life would never be the same, would I have to start taking supplements? I went searching for cookbooks, for ideas, recipes, support groups, motivation and insight into what I would become after making this giant leap! But – you know what…?
NOTHING REALLY CHANGED!
I am healthy, happy, and my relationship with my partner is still intact. He had said “Look, I’ll support you in this.” But he was worried. I know he was. And I was too. But it is all fine. We cook together, he has also enjoyed the health benefits of eating less dairy, but sometimes he adds a little meat or cheese to his meal. I am very lucky – he understands why this is important to me.
So, when vegans or vegetarians are explaining to you why they have chosen the diet they have – listen. Listen, with a mind OPEN to the idea that just maybe, what you have thought was always right, what you thought was always healthy, might not be completely true. So much of how we consume these foods is based on conventions and traditions that have long been a part of our cultures or our modern society. If you look behind most of what you think is normal – you may just find a big, dirty dollar sign, and an industry that has captivated our minds with lies and threats that are actually unfounded.
Don’t be afraid to do some digging, do some research, read something you wouldn’t normally read. And in the mean time, cut down on your meat and dairy… just in case the crazy people are right.