This is quite a bold statement and not meant to stir up trouble but its my truth.
I am a member of a few animal welfare groups on social media sites. I love the cute fluffy animal photos and articles about animal compassion. I don’t particularly like the video clips of badly treated animals on mass production farms, or male chicks about to be shredded but I watch them through terrorised squinted eyes because I am too curious to turn away. I also get caught up in posts about how unthoughtful others are for not considering going vegan for the sake of the animals.
My truth is:
I am not vegan for the animals!!!
There I’ve said it.
My number 1 reason for being vegan is for my health (selfish perhaps). The prevention of animal cruelty is however definitely an added bonus. Although admittedly I am not a huge animal fan, you'd never find me climbing into a pig pen for a cuddle, I would never intentionally hurt an animal or human being for that matter.
I don’t have a zoo of pets and don’t dream of rescuing every stray dog in Greece (as my 7 year old daughter does). But I do believe this…
'Every act of kindness has a positive ripple effect' – Jewel Diamond Taylor
And being Vegan shows compassion and kindness to the planet and its many creatures.
In my 13 years’ experience as a vegan I have actually learnt a lot about how to broach the subject of veganism and how to deal with sceptics. Plus how to get those sceptics on board.
I’ve tried explaining my reasons in every way shape and form, I’ve used the animals, the environment and my health as reasons and truth be told what gets people off my back and sparks an interest (if indeed that person is interested) is using my health as an example.
Before I went vegan I wasn’t necessarily unhealthy but I did suffer from severe constipation, at the time I just put it down to my constitution.
'If going to the loo once a week is what my body does they who am I to argue'
When the Atkins Low carb diet was in fashion, well lets just say; it wasn't fun :-(
But I still didn't add up the signs and come up with the cause.
However years later when i did eventually give up meat and dairy low and behold I became as regular as clockwork, it was a miracle. I’ve not looked back since.
Turning vegan also opened my eyes to health in general, consequently I quit smoking, stopped binge drinking and didn’t feel the need to binge eat and purge anymore.
Hooray, finally the penny dropped!
Who knows where I’d be today had I not made the choice to give up animal products I'd probably be a constipated, coughing, alcohol dependent fat cow right about now. Hahahaha, not a good look for me.
Phewy, I’m glad I dodged that bullet.
I only need to tell people that my body works better without animal products and those who would normally be very negative about my choice shut-up and continue eating their roast dinner, others who are more open and interested in my journey will ask.
By explaining the health benefits of veganism and not concentrating on the animal welfare reasons I’ve managed to persuade friends and family to give it a try, both my brother and best friend have been vegetarians for years now. Yay 2 points for the animals. And my parents and husband whom were all huge meat eaters have drastically reduced their intake, more points for the animals.
I know it’s not always as simple and I’m sure we’ve all been there:-
The moment you tell everyone you’re vegan. The dreaded conversation that almost always comes up around the dinner table. Everyone around you has a roast dinner on their plate and you’ve dropped that bombshell the moment they are about to tuck in. For some it is too much to handle and the thought of someone putting them off their dinner is too much to bear, you’ll likely get a snide comment, or a defensive reaction, and then the questions or the abuse begins.
I’ve been vegan for 10 odd years I still get the same reaction and quite often from the same people.
I’ve had uncles wave kebabs under my nose and cruelly say ‘oh you can’t have this’
Or the dreaded cringe worthy sausage comments:
‘There’s only one kind of sausage you like, wink wink nudge nudge’ Arghhh, it makes me want to take a sausage and……..
I even get the sympathy look when everyone is tucking into ice-cream and sometimes an apology because I ‘can’t have it’ My answer to that is…
I can have it, I choose not to. (and I try very hard not to say it in a snobby tone)
Then the never ending questions:
But don’t you miss meat?
What about protein/iron/calcium
How can you fill up on vegetables alone?
It can be quite testing when all you want to do is enjoy your dinner in peace without being harassed.
There are 3 possible solutions to this scenario:
Solution 1: Avoid social events surrounding food, BBQ's, Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Sunday Lunch.
I said I've become Vegan, not a hermit!!! Please do not do this, you will isolate yourself and unless you adore your own company 'ALL THE TIME' or you have other friends who are on the same page you'll be at risk of being unhappy and lonely.
Solution 2: Nip it in the bud with a simple ‘it’s for my health’, or ‘my body feels better without it’ (this is my option and quickly stops any abuse in its tracks.
Solution 3: Take time to explain farming methods, what’s really in the steak they are eating (antibiotics, hormones and the cruelty the cow endured to get to the table) etc.
If taking this route be warned you could be in for a huge debate. For this you will need to be strong and knowledgeable because you will be under fire with a ton of questions and likely negativity.
Whichever scenario you decide on make sure you know your facts.
Here are some questions that will come up:
Do you get enough protein?
In short yes you can easily get enough protein as a Vegan: 100g of beef has 26g of protein compared to 23g of protein in 100g of hemp seeds or 13.1g in sprouted beans, peas or lentils. The following article is great for information about how much protein we need and how to get it; it is on the Wholefoods Market website, it is called:-
And you can read it here
What about iron?
Gram for gram there is the same amount of iron in 100g of spinach (2.7mg) as there is in 100g of beef (2.6mg). Clearly Popeye had a point, its just a shame his spinach came out of a tin and wasn’t fresh or blended into a green smoothie.
The same goes for Calcium gram for gram there is more calcium in 100g of kale (150mg) then there is in 100g milk (125mg).
Given this information one can really start to appreciate the vegan diet and perhaps even the most meatiest of meat eater can get a clearer picture of where we get our main nutrients from and how.
Another trick that works well for me is firstly letting people know that I am not judging them for eating animals, this will put them at ease and not feel under attack. Be clear it’s their choice to eat animals the same way it’s your choice not to. Sometimes you have to play devil’s advocate if you want to be taken seriously and not shrugged off as a crazy hippie.
And when I get asked why, which 9 times out of 10 I do, I tell them it is for my health.
In my opinion Solution 2 is only effective on people who really want to listen and are ready to hear what you have to say, those that are open to change and are already aware that animal products are not ideal for humans. But truth be told the vast majority are not quite ready for the harsh truth.
No one likes to be told what to do – me included.
I would and did feel very pressured when I was on receiving end of the sometimes hard to believe reality of what goes on in the farming industry.
When I was first struck with the concept that we as humans are not meant to eat animals I pointed out the usual things to justify my food choices:
But we have canines to chew meat
If we weren’t meant to eat it we wouldn’t be able to digest it
Cavemen were able to catch meat, cook it and eat it, and...
Blah blah blah
And each time I gave an excuse I got a valid reason against eating it. Determined to stand my ground I did not show any mercy, but following that conversation I went away and researched it a little more, I made some discoveries of my own and slowly it all clicked into place. I gave it a go and felt fantastic.
Becoming a vegan is a life changing decision in soooo many ways.
The way you shop/socialise/cook/family gatherings and eating out will never be the same again plus convenience is compromised
Not to put you off of course. The pros do outweigh the cons
Plus better for the environment.
Just remember everything is figureoutable and with time you’ll discover your own ways to deal with all these situations. You’ll find:
Stick at it and remember slow and steady always wins the race, I’ve won my family over by sticking to my guns and showing them it wasn’t a fad and always making enough yummy vegan friendly dishes to go around at family dinners. This shows them that food can still be amazing without meat and dairy, get inventive.