As with any other words that surge into the social media spotlight, when you type the term vegan into Google you get thousands of pages of rants, raves and all sorts of other often under-educated, over-opinionated views on the topic.
Veganism is about diet. No it’s not, veganism is a philosophy.
Veganism is a fad. Vegans don’t know what they’re talking about. Yes they do, vegans are smarter than mindless meat-eaters.
Vegans are annoying. Yes, vegans are annoying.
Vegan diets are not sustainable, you need meat for protein. You can get all the protein you need from a vegan diet. Vegans are hypocrites. Vegans are inconveniences. Vegans are idiots.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a documentary calls Veganspiracy hits our screens in the not too distant future. And if it did I’d definitely watch it.
As for me, I might not ever actually call myself a vegan and I might not ever even say I’m on a plant-based diet. I might just say I’m going to do my very best not to eat anything related to animal stuff anymore because I think it’s a pretty disgusting concept all-round.
Maybe I’ll do a three sixty and end up an avid paleo-er, although I do seriously doubt it.
I’m admittedly still very under-educated on the topic but at least I’m testing it out for myself. And while I’ll indulge in all the pro-vegan articles and documentaries Netflix has to offer, I’ll also counter my new-found healthy obsession with some devil’s advocate documentaries too.
After all, one of the most exciting edibles we find ourselves surrounded with, regardless of whether or not we’re a herbivore, is food for the brain.
THE VEGAN’S DELIBERATIONS
I got going with veganism after watching a harrowing, but life-changing documentary. The switch was instant and I didn’t have time to do any research or think through the practicalities of implementing a rather huge and fundamental lifestyle change.
During the first few days, there were some thoughts that floated around my mind on repeat…
What’s going to happen to brunch, my favourite meal of the day, if it doesn’t involve eggs?
Have all restaurants started upping their vegan game or do you have to hunt them out especially?
Is veganism a little bit of a privelege? After all we can’t all afford to fork out three quid on charcoal toothpaste and twenty two quid on 100g of organic wheatgrass powder.
How inconvenient is this lifestyle change really going to be?
Is using soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk in my coffee less bad for your body and animals, but just as bad for the planet?
What about my relationships with meatfeasters? Will I never be invited to another dinner party for as long as I shall live?
And most importantly, what about cheese?
THE VEGAN’S DILEMMA
The book I’m reading is called The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and it’s so engrossing it’s got me into extreme sports again – reading and walking.
So these days I can be found ambling dangerously alongside Route 4169, book in hand face down, dodging snakes, rats, dead dogs (I kid you not) and the motorcyclists that seem determined to come as close as they possibly can to knocking you over without actually doing it.
The book, so far, talks about the evolution of our diets and what we perceive to be variety.
Our Hunter-Gatherer ancestors would go foraging in the wildnerness for fruits, nuts and legumes and hunting for whatever meat they could get their hands on and teeth into. By evening they’d sit around the campfire having metaphorically plated up something that was eighty-percent herbivore and totally different from what they’d eaten the day before.
Today’s act of hunting and gathering is a little bit different.
It involves pushing a large metal cage on wheels and roaming around what appears to be a museum of culinary variety, but what is actually most just Kingdom of Corn.
What I’ve learned from week one of “veganism” is that first of all in terms of variety, the vegan diet is up there with the best of them.
Secondly, it’s that to get this lifestyle right it feels like a little bit of a privilege.
And last but not least, it’s that being vegan is absolutely riddled with dilemmas and questions. Every time you think you’re doing something right you uncover corn coated cucumbers or vegetables that were born out of bee slavery.
For every grain of goodness there seems to be an underlying mound of evil. But the more you learn, the more mindful you become and the better informed you are to make good choices.
My belly is full of questions and I’m hungry for the answers.