Vegan, that word seems to be cropping up everywhere in this new era. It’s been one hell of a year to say the least, from climate change sweeping destruction with natural disasters to political unrest its no wonder Climate change has been thrown into the lime light. So lets take a second to talk about veganism. It seems the younger generation are breaking down the consumer language barriers and challenging the highly profitable and greedy meat, dairy and egg industries. A surge in vegan documentaries such as Cowspiracy and earthlings are helping to spread the word, to corners of the world far and wide. Alongside activists like Peacebyvegan or seb.alex who are on the ground filling social media platforms. Platforms like Instagram, face book and twitter, with images and videos of behind the scenes footage, showing how these products that control our daily lives, are created in brutal and gruesome circumstances. Dairy, meat and eggs are dominate areas in the food pyramid, which is drilled into our minds from a tender age. Showing them as great forms of calcium and protein within their food groups. Although Veggies and fruits are also in this table, my lord are they overlooked; so much so that we are taught five a day, yeap FIVE a day, is all we need as part of a healthy diet. Now I’m not denying that, but hear me out… why just have five? When the whole diet could be filled with mountains of various fruit and veggies.
Let’s divulge shall we. It’s a fact that protein, calcium, along with major vitamin groups are fundamental in forming a healthy digestive system. Yet rather than seeking them from animal products why not forage them from the wonderful world of fruit and veg. Meat, it is the be all and end all of a close-minded diet, taught from cradle to grave. But it’s simply not true. If meat is so fundamental, why cut down on it? If you eat 90g of red or processed meat a week then you should cut down to 70g, words of a health service not mine. Its linked to bowel cancer my dude and dudettes. Most meats or processed foods are linked to forms of cancer; not vegetable or fruits, meats. I’m not magically conjuring this up, it is proven.
So, let’s play a game. Not a weird clown on a tricycle type of game, hell no, a millennial game. Type into your internet server ‘Foods linked to cancer’, I’ll wait… Grim am I right? For those who didn’t search here it is, first thing that appears:
Okay, okay, now type ‘foods that kill cancer cells’, again I’ll wait… See my point?
Okay so here’s something else to get those canines into, can you spot the difference? Not just in the food lists themselves, because that’s obvious. Now, the meat search gave me a picture, an easily readable list. The vegan search… looks like most regular research searches. I sense a language theme coming on, woohoo! It feeds easier and quicker into your mind with pictures, but not horrible ones of cancer or diagrams. No, no, no, rather mouth-watering, colourful, fond memory, triggering images. And what fond memories they are. Remember eating ice cream as a child? A warm glass of milk before bed? Come on, who hates beef burgers or cheesy pizzas? Well, cows aren’t going crazy for this shit I can promise you that much.
Then the condescending argument of ‘What about vitamins like iron?’ WHAT ABOUT PROTEIN?! Dude, protein can be found in so many other sources and I quote: Tofu, tempeh, edamame, peanut, lentils, the list is endless. Iron deficiency! Sorry did someone say Iron? Bitch please… quinoa, tofu (magical thing), avocado, mushrooms, again endless. There are also these things called…*cough* supplements *cough*. I mean the multi vitamins and vitamin C tablet you’re popping in the morning with your sliming smoothie are supplements. Everyone takes them, they aren’t the devil. Omega 3, made by fish am I right? Wrong, it’s made by the algae the fish consume not the actual fish. B12 the micro-organism we all need, no meat? Supplements. It’s all about research. I know it’s a pain to research all this but, if we weren’t taught about meat and milk in school, we’d have to research that too. We are only taught these things because they are mass consumer products. Teach them to love it when they’re young and they won’t think any different. Most meat eaters in general do not know where they get their vital vitamins but almost every Vegan will.
I once saw one slaughterhouse video and I was done. I just couldn’t justify it any longer. I could sit and pretend I was playing hide and seek with jiminy cricket any more. We have been programmed to not think of these animals as animals, but as mere by products. Give language that is used to distance and differentiate ourselves from them, literally hide the footage and cover the slaughterhouse and everyone will play ignorant. Consumer language is aimed to distract and redirect us to the positives of the products that these animals produce, no matter the cost.
The key to these big industries making money? YOU and the reliability of you looking the other way. Sore spot again, it stings but you’ll be fine. It’s the truth and a horrible one at that, which is why I started with red meat. I took it step by step, lamb…gone. Beef…gone. Chicken… wait one minute, now this one was hard. I lived on chicken… and fish. Dang it, we forgot about fish! Those little water breathers sitting on a scale of animal welfare abuse for food… the highest. Well, they don’t look cute, do they? Disassociation.
This was majorly difficult for me. The hardest part for me to give up by far. Chicken was my only meat, fish my ideal swap. I was watching finding nemo (excellent viewing pleasure,) with my dairy free, salmon pasta and a side of dairy free, garlic bread (heaven), when a light bulb moment happened! Spoiler! The sharks, in their adaptation of a meat version of an AA meeting, cracks out (clears throat for a great re-enactment of an Australian accent) ‘fish are friends not food’. The salmon literally flopped out of my mouth. He said it, right there in this PG film. Shame on me! An animated shark was literally leading a better vegan life than I was. So, I closed my eyes and took a big step, I mean a literal sky dive closer into the vegan world. I scrapped fish (and chicken) from my diet. Then I realised, I wasn’t plummeting into the ground; I had a safety parachute. It was called knowledge. I researched what I get from meats, chicken and fish and found how I get these from a vegan based diet. It made the whole transition so much easier, relieving actually. Even having one vegan or meat free meal is a start. Maybe an all-vegetable salad for lunch or a Quorn product instead of meat in a dish? It made me feel more energised and happier. I was able to listen and read my body easier, it seemed less clogged like my arteries used be and more open. It was as if I was more, free flowing and in tune, than congested and confused. I was also guilt free, well almost…
Want the meat still? no? What about milk? Dairy is horrifically fatty, it is difficult for our overworked digestive systems to process and let’s face it… is made for CALFS. Oooooh… sore spot, another plaster for you. Yeap ladies and gentlemen, milk is in fact made solely for baby cows. I wouldn’t go sucking on a cow’s udder with my bare lips because well, that’s creepy and weird af! But tugging and putting it in a bottle is less…weird?! Not so ‘normal’ when you think about it. What about goat’s milk? Nope, Weird. Sheep’s milk? Nope, still weird. Llama milk? I mean come on, WTF! Okay, okay, let’s say… human milk? Too far? Most have probably been sick at that thought right?
‘Here, have some nice breast milk on that cereal, it’s full of calcium to help your bones grow stronger’. But wait, you out grew suckling, didn’t you? So evidently you out grew milk, didn’t you? Why not try some leafy greens, they are part of your five a day, Whoo! two birds’ one stone rings a bell. Or even some tahini, tofu or dried fruit. MADNESS! You say. Bonus, no cows are artificially inseminated, calves still have their mummies to look after them and that luscious green grass you get told they roam in… they might actually get to see it.
I mean, milk for me was easy I have the benefit of being lactose intolerant (that intolerance is not a pretty sight for me or the bathroom). So, I just said hey hoe to the milk altogether and my greasy, spotty jawline. You know the ones around your chin area? But it is in everything so be prepared. I mean crisps, pizza, ice cream, butter, cheese, sauces, protein bars, cakes, biscuits, EVERYTHING. But soon it becomes a habit to look at the ingredients. It becomes second nature to know what things do and do not have it them. It becomes easily recognisable by look alone, never mind smell. I’m serious, I can smell melted cheese from 10 miles away and it still brings back memories of cheesy chips! For me, my easiest transition but for most people the hardest. Do what you can! It might be just cutting out that milk on your cereal, vegan ice cream instead of dairy ice cream or even not buying cheese for the fridge. If it’s not there you can’t eat it.
Alright, if cutting milk isn’t your thing what about eggs? I won’t lie, this is an ongoing debate even in some vegan circles. Chickens lay eggs naturally without interference; what came first, the chicken or the egg? (pist… it’s the egg, you’re welcome). This is probably the hardest for some to start with. Eggs are overly predominant in our daily food intake, seen as tremendous source of quick protein. Quick to make and cheap to buy. It’s a transcript in our beautiful minds that merely needs tweaking. Plus, the chickens will adore you. No chickens will be in battery houses, forcibly made to grow at an accelerated rate and no little, baby, boy chicks would be ground up alive to make nuggets. I’m not joking or exaggerating. Google it, but be aware it is not for the light hearted. You will cry, I did. Even something as simple as eggs are in such a bizarrely high demand, that this is a daily occurrence everywhere. One less egg in an omelette is one small step towards helping.
It takes 21 days to create a habit and 90 to create a lifestyle. Baby steps is all it takes. Choosing to be vegan is definitely a lifestyle. Once you change something that seems as minute as swapping meat for a substitute or skipping on that fried egg in the morning, you’ll see the difference. Not only in your body and mind, but also in your general wellbeing. You become lighter in your guilt, deeper in your awareness and closer in achieving the knowledge you aren’t suppose to have. You become closer to help not just your self but others too. You take control of the knowledge you have and how you use it.
I’m not perfect at being vegan, I still have a little honey every now and again or slip up and eat something with whey protein powder (milk), but I am human. I do my best; I try my hardest and I’ll damned if I’m giving up. Try, try and try again and you will succeed. People will take note. My mum cut out buying cheese and drinking milk (except in tea), my sister reduced her dairy intake, my brother buys Quorn chicken nuggets (apparently, they taste like the big M’s), my old partner was testing his boundaries and trying my vegan grub. My mum even convinced my step dad to reduce his red meat in take. Ladies and gentlemen, we have hit a gold mine. That is like asking the Montagues to accept the Capulets! Imagine if everybody did this. These small adjustments give us profound results. Power lies in the numbers. The awakening of people listening closer to their bodies and less to the industries. Listening closer to what we need, not what we’re told to need. Taking an extra step to lifting the curtain that has shrouded our intake of our surroundings. It’s as simple as one, two, three.