“Don’t ask why I’m Vegan; Ask yourself why you aren’t”
Life has been a lot for the last two years. For some of us, it’s been a case of just getting through each day, some of us have set big goals from the start and most of us are feeling pretty sluggish and overwhelmed. We all have our own ideas of what will make us feel better in these times, our own versions of self-care to build up some resilience. For me, self-care is making sure I take time to love myself and do things that I love, that speak to my soul, taking care of mind and body as best as I can, in the way I feel is right for me. The first months of a new year have always been synonymous with change for many and one change that is now becoming more popular is “Veganuary”. Trying to change your lifestyle and see what Veganism can offer you for the month of January.
Veganism is a dirty word
For a while now, being “Vegan” seems to have been viewed as a fad that the younger generation are making a “trendy” thing. There are good and bad points about this; the main bad point is that it’s not always taken very seriously and gives us Vegans, as a cluster, a very bad reputation. The good thing is that more and more companies are taking note of the increasing numbers of people turning to Veganism and are producing better alternatives which means no one needs to miss out and it is easier now, more than it ever has been, to transition to a Vegan diet or full Veganism.
Before we proceed any further
I want to make a few points very clear which I will adapt on in the rest of this blog post:
- I am not writing this to act superior to anyone who is a non-Vegan. I myself have only been Vegan for a little over two years after being a vegetarian for three-and-a-half years. My intention here is to guide you, the person taking the time to read this.
- There is no such thing as a perfect Vegan. We all have to start somewhere and we all need to support and encourage each other no matter what stage of Veganism we are in.
- You will never find two Vegans who have the exact same opinions of Veganism. Although the basis of Veganism remains the same, there a lot of interpretations of it based on personal ideals.
Before we start with the nitty, gritty of it all I will tell you about my “Why?”; the reason that I am now committed to living a Vegan lifestyle.
I have always called myself a lover of animals, since I was a little girl my affinity to animals was stronger than most of the bonds I’ve ever created with human kind. The dogs I’ve had in my life so far have been my best friends, they’ve got me through such dark times in life, especially when I was diagnosed with chronic illnesses. I had a rabbit when I was around 12 years old until around 17 years old and he was the first furry family member I experienced the loss of. Since around the age of 16 years old I’ve never been able to stomach red meat, it made me terribly ill and it is only in recent years that I have found out that I have an intolerance to certain levels of iron. I used to watch programs like “Animals of Farthing Wood” etc when I was a young girl and it made me realise that they have thoughts, feelings and more importantly they have families. I am also so very upset when I see any deer, badgers, hedgehogs etc on the roads as I just think to myself “They were just trying to get home or provide for their family”. In late 2017 I talked to my husband and I told him that I decided that I was going to be vegetarian, animals being a big part of that. How could I sign campaigns to stop people from hurting dogs, eating dogs etc but not link it with the lifestyle I was living?
I then thought, If I didn’t eat meat then I wasn’t going to be a part of a cruel industry, right? Wrong. I don’t drink tea or coffee so my milk intake wasn’t much but I used it for cereals when I had them, I ate low fat cheese and used to enjoy the odd yoghurt because as many people do, I thought it was a by-product, I didn’t associate it with any kind of cruelty. It wasn’t until I did more research for myself last year that I realised that ignorance was very much bliss and I couldn’t fully call myself a true animal lover until I had nothing at all in my life that was in any way hurtful to animals. The same week I read the articles online, I watched David Attenborough’s “A Life on Our Planet” documentary and even my husband, who has high functioning Autism and doesn’t often show emotion in “typical” ways, was tearful at the end of it. If you haven’t seen it I fully recommend watching it, it truly is a beautiful and poignant documentary that shows just how arrogant and ignorant our race has been to our beautiful Mother.
I woke the next day and I made a list of everything I was going to do to start making small but steady changes within my control and within my limited circumstances for the good of myself, my family, the animals and our planet and I haven’t looked back. I feel I am now being completely true to myself.
“My only regret about going vegan is not doing it sooner.”
There is a lot of information out there if you have tried to research Veganism and it can take you on an overwhelming rollercoaster of emotion, so let’s start with some basics before we move into the facts.
What is Veganism?
Veganism is not a diet as many people think, it is a lifestyle. Living a life where, by as many means possible, you are living in a way where you do not buy or consume anything that is in any way made of or related to animals and has anything to do with the cruelty bestowed upon them.
Why do people adopt the Vegan lifestyle?
There are many personal reasons that many have to choose a Vegan lifestyle, however, most will definitely have an ethical tone to their reasoning. Animal welfare is the most obvious reason as well as environmental issues such as air pollution and contaminated drainage from the farming industry. Veganism is currently the best way to lessen our over consumption of resources such as land, fossil fuels and water. There are also a lot of health benefits of becoming Vegan which I will mention later in the post.
What is excluded in a Vegan lifestyle?
All animal products are excluded from a Vegan diet, this includes: Meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, honey and their by-products.
A vegan lifestyle means to also avoid any of these products:
Products tested on animals.
Animal derived fabrics such as silk or wool.
Leather, suede, down or fur.
Personal care products containing animal ingredients (beeswax, keratin, lanolin etc).
Animals being used as entertainment.
It is important to stress that although there are more and more products being released by companies that are trying to be more conscious of Veganism, that is is still currently impossible to avoid all animal products. You have to then adopt a “as far as possible and practical” basis for it.
Here the biggest question I ever get asked: You’re Vegan? What do you eat?
There is a fast range of foods out there that Vegans can eat from fruit, vegetables, pasta, rice, bread, nuts, beans and legumes, non-dairy products like almond milk, soya milk, oat milk and believe it or not there are more companies out there than you think that either have alternative products to meat and dairy as well as some popular companies who have been Vegan friendly for a long time. You can find a list of “accidentally vegan” foods here.
It is a big step and it is most definitely not one of those life changes that you can make overnight, it takes continual learning, research and fine tuning. For me I started with my diet, which for me was easier than someone who had been eating meat products, as well as the items I use in my home for cleaning such as anti-bacterial spray, bathroom cleaners, laundry cleaners, toilet rolls and kitchen rolls etc as well as personal care (again most of these products were already vegan and cruelty free for me) skin care, hair care, vitamins, deodorant, tooth brush and tooth paste.
Vegan friendly companies
There are a lot of companies who can make your transition a lot easier, one of those for me was The Vegan Kind Supermarket.
Some of my favourite companies I have found are:
Method for cleaning products
The Cheeky Panda for toilet rolls, kitchen roll and baby wipes (so soft and great quality)
NOMO is my absolute go to when I need a chocolate hit and I actually prefer these bars to any popular non-vegan brands. Candy Kittens are also my favourite for sharing for movie date night or with the kids. Vesweeties do amazing pick ‘n’ mixes for those special occasions or if you want to make a bit of a bigger deal of family night.
Vegan Outfitters ethical and comfortable clothing, the staff are fantastic and the company really as a good sense of humour.
I don’t eat a lot of “Alternative” food however there are 3 companies I feel need to be mentioned because they really do have some amazing products:
Richmond also now have meat free sausages available in most supermarkets and they fantastic, my boys, one of whom has high functioning autism and is very picky about texture of food etc, actually prefer these to meat form sausages.
The best advice I can give anyone is always check packaging and do your research, you’ll be surprised at what products have animal products in them, for example we like to have mints in the car and I made the startling discovery that Trebor extra strong mints use gelatine in them. Polo however actually state they are vegan friendly on the packet.
Facts and reasons for adopting a vegan lifestyle
Here are some of the facts, in depth reasons and benefits of adopting a vegan lifestyle. Let’s start with the scientific facts in regards to health and veganism:
- If the world went Vegan, it could save a minimum of 8 million lives by 2050.
- Vegan diet is linked to a 35% reduced risk to developing cancer including prostate cancer and colon cancer.
- Being Vegan can reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes by 23%.
- Vegan diet can improve kidney function and lower blood sugar levels.
- It has been linked to a reduced risk of 42% to heart disease and up to 75% reduced risk of high blood pressure.
- Veganism has also been linked to a reduction in pain from arthritis.
I said at the start of this article that ignorance is bliss and I have found that to be startlingly true so far in my journey into veganism. So many people don’t seem to realise that they are outraged (quite rightly) at domestic animals being tortured, abuse or treated badly but they don’t make the connection that this is the exact fate for the animals who are raised for slaughter or dairy. So many seems to not realise that those animals have never asked for this life, they feel just as much as dogs and cats do, yet they seem to excuse their suffering because it benefits them.
“The only difference is out perception.”
DID YOU KNOW?
A male cow is no use to the dairy industry? Male calves are shot at birth and females have their calves taken away immediately after birth so that the milk intended for those calves can go to human consumption.
Cattle on feed lots for the meat industry are fed a highly unnatural amount of grain to increase their size? This can cause stomach problems so bad that the cattle struggle to breathe.
Cattle raised for food are often dosed up on antibiotics? This is to make them grow faster and keep them alive in the methane, ammonia saturated air of feedlots.
Piglet get their teeth cut and their tails cut off? This is common in the meat industry as is it being done without any pain relief for the animal.
Many male pigs are also castrated without anaesthesia.
That by killing and eating farm animals it means that it also kills polar bears and penguins? Animal agriculture is a leading cause of water pollution, species extinction and climate change.
Here is one last set of facts for you to think about, in 1 month of being Vegan on average you’ll save:
- 230 animals (14.4 million sheep alone were slaughtered for consumption in 2018)
- 124,917 litres of water (it takes 100-200 times more water to produce one pound of beef than it does to grow a pound of plant)
- 273kg of CO2
- 543kg of grain
- 84 sq.m of forest
I’ve heard a lot of arguments against being a vegan, the “Oh I could never give up meat” “Cheese is life”. These people may say that giving up meat is a sacrifice, I would say, the true “sacrifice” is the innocent, lifeless body, laying in pieces on their plate and tell them that no, actually, cheese takes away life. If you think eating meat is a personal choice, you are forgetting someone; the soul that didn’t have a choice in being your meal.
Many people don’t know nor do they think of what humans have done to our world. In the past year and I have no doubt this year will be the same, we need to be more aware of the costs of what we do, the decisions we make each day and how they impact not just us and our families but the bigger picture for those families and for others. I hope this post has helped give anyone who has been thinking about trying to reduce their meat intake or to go fully Vegan to put their best foot forward.
Keep safe everyone and please be kind, to yourselves, to others and to all this world has on offer, after all we are one kind.
Love hard. Be fierce. Horns high.