Going vegan was a turn our life upside down and inside out moment. For help and advice on this way of life I turned to the internet in the search for like minded people. I found them, lots of lovely vegans sharing product finds and recipes. It was great. But I noticed that there were some vegans that seemed to suggest that their vegan was bigger than others–some one upmanship about their veganfu.
It got me thinking about the different type of vegans there seems to be out in the world and this need to have the biggest vegan….
The Transitioning Vegan
Eating their way to being vegan. Reading labels all the f***ing time. Being overwhelmed by dead animals in every damn thing. Finding honey is the stealth ingredient as no one seems to be allergic to it so it doesn’t need to be in bold. Feeling overjoyed they get to keep oreos and peanut butter–and then wondering if they can actually be a diet staple. Finding themselves asking ‘is it vegan?’ at every opportunity of food. Realising those comfy shoes are leather and regretting that pre-vegan leather sofa purchase. Getting grief from non-vegans who are suddenly all comedians. Being a bit born-again vegan at the same time. Worrying their diet is going to cause them to waste away and/or kill them just like fat chain smoking auntie Mable.
The Transitioned Vegan
Staple foods found. Restaurant and takeaway options committed to memory. Living with ugly shoes (okay, that’s just me, and my bad choice). Got through the bloating and the gas. Supplementing like a boss. Realising that they’ll never be fully vegan while they have a pet, because everything is 3% cat hair and their pet is family. Mr. Fluffkins will be the last in the line of family pets though. Which is sad. They have the vegan nailed. It’s just every day life, just like meat eating used to be. That is until they encounter one of the following vegan sub classes…
The excitable ‘it tastes so good’ vegan
That ‘cheese’ that melts into glue, that ‘milk’ that curdles in tea, that milk chocolate that tastes like dust and sugar, that tasteless soft tofu beaten and coloured yellow to look like scrambled egg, that reddish brown foam fake bacon that creates eye watering fumes, that block of beer battered tofu ‘tofish n chips’ that tastes like tasteless mush wrapped in seaweed, they all taste JUST like the REAL THING!* Squee! Here’s a link to my vlog where I eat it and make ‘o’ faces. *Tastes like false promises and the tears of disappointment and nothing like the real thing.
The ‘it’s not whole food though’ vegan
That meal you just shared a pic of? That’s not vegan. It’s processed food! Was that ever even a vegetable? You cooked it? What is wrong with you. What are you doing to your body?! Just pick that veg out of the ground, dust it off, and eat it. Raw is the only way to go. Ok you can have coconut oil* it’s a superfood. *Not backed up by science, more likely to cause heart disease and cancer.
The ‘palm oil though’ vegan
It’s not good enough that you’re not eating animals or wearing their skin. Your vegan food is causing deforestation and the destruction of animal habitats. You are filth. Never mind that palm oil isn’t the main cause of deforestation–there’s animal agriculture, soya production and timber. You didn’t eat that off a table did you? Boycott chairs and dining tables, vegan cook books and shit flat pack bookcases.
The ‘plastic though’ vegan
It doesn’t matter if you’ve just found the most amazing vegan food ever. It’s in a single use plastic container. You have failed to be a vegan and your efforts are discounted. The vegan society will revoke your membership and you will have to live out your days in Azkhaban. Never mind that nearly every f***ing thing comes in plastic. Even down to our clothes. No, travel to the outskirts of town to a market or back in time to when dry goods could be bought readily by weight. Scoop that ice cream up in a ceramic ramakin you’ve brought out yourself and eat it with your Swiss army spoon, and insist the supermarket allows you to decant that nut milk into a glass bottle before you leave the shop to show them what’s what.
The ‘parent company though’ vegan
So you thought that company releasing a vegan line was a good thing? No, no, no. Don’t buy it. Don’t eat it. The company has/does make omni foods/tests on animals/pollutes/deforests… Boycott that food, show them we won’t support their ways, show them there’s no profit in serving the demands of a moral customer base, that actually there’s a growing market for the conscious consumer, that in turn brings vegan in from the fringe, that could in the long term change the companies ways. Kill that vegan food line. And while we’re at it stop shopping in supermarkets which, you know, sell animal products and clearly support and profit from animal exploitation by doing so. I mean, their staff wear animal skins on their feet and use it to hold their trousers up. That’s not vegan. We shall eat nuts and seeds, foraged from the land, unless a bird wants to eat it, naturally.
Everyone’s reason for going vegan is different–for health, for animals, for the planet, spiritual, even fashion–people will vegan in different ways. There’s no one way to vegan, other than not consuming animals. Eating a vegan diet, as far as practicably possible, is great in theory, but at this time, not in practice. We live in a seriously messed up world. Animals are used in so many ways, affected in so many ways, and animal products are everywhere, and so many industries are connected to animal use and abuse in some way. So much needs to change. Honey production bees are used to pollinate lots of our groceries; bone meal is used in organic fertilizers; virtual slave labor is used in food production; avacadoes are such a commodity their production in some countries are run by criminal cartels; there’s the carbon footprint of food growth and transportation; planes and wind turbines for eco friendly power kill thousands of birds, radio masts and pylons kill birds by the millions, cats kill birds by the billions. Hell, oil is the by product of animals that died billions of years ago. Why not boycott avocados, nuts, furniture, soya, fuel, holidays, cats and things that stick up in the air?
We need to reduce our impact on the world in so many ways, and not eating animals is being vegan and the more people who do it could kick start a change in how people think about the world and our place in it. We can’t live completely impact free, and vegans should be supportive of anyone else being vegan, no matter their level of veganfu. One step at a time, because we’re outnumbered by this type of vegan:
The person who cares about animals, has a pet they love, is against fur, is pro environment, is against wild animal culls and big game hunting, but just don’t try and touch their meat. They might even be vegetarian; just leave their dairy alone, or their fish (because they’re actually pescatarian). Most likely without thought they have separated their principles from their taste buds when it comes to cancer inducing bacon, or fattening cholesterol loaded dairy. The conscious non-vegan may even feel guilty or attacked by the mere presence of a vegan, and will likely appeal to the majority meat eaters with jokes about vegans to make themselves feel better. They’ll label veganism ‘extreme’ or ‘unhealthy’, perhaps even ‘unpatriotic’, while they eat their processed meat products made abroad and splash animal excretions with traces of blood and plus into their tea, able to not think about whole species of animals bred to suffer and be slaughtered by the billions–because, with processing and plenty of seasoning, their meat tastes so good.
Yeah, at least all us vegans can agree our vegan is bigger than their vegan.
When we’re practicing vegan, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
The lifestyle change for me and my partner to vegetarian and then vegan has been a process of giving up life-long staple, favourite and comfort food, but there is plenty to eat! Not grass, tree bark and seeds like everyone who isn’t on a plant-based diet seems to think.
Beyond the peace of mind this diet gives me I found myself wondering whether I will ever see food in the same way again, and enjoy it as much as I always have. I certainly don’t see food in the same way–I can’t believe I used to eat meat, knowing what I know now, but society conditions us into not thinking about the relationship between animal and meat. Thankfully, after some trial and error, we now have a diet we really enjoy.
This irregular series of non-preachy blog posts will follow us, two regular guys, meat and dairy eaters for all our lives, as we explore the reasons for and the challenges and rewards of a plant based diet as we go on our new veg munching adventure…