6 months ago I made the decision to trial a life of not eating animals or animal-related products for a few weeks. No more meat, cheese, milk, honey and so on. After a few weeks, I realised the likelihood of reverting back was slim. And so it proved, the trial turned into a permanent change. So, how am I doing 6 months on?
The short answer: Absolutely fantastic
Have there been hiccups along the way? Of course. But with anything worth doing in life, there exists the occasional roadblock to test your mental fortitude as if to ask, ‘do you really mean what you’re saying and doing?’
As the weeks rolled by, I learnt that one by one, I was crossing more food off the list of what I could eat. Sometimes it was hugely disappointing, especially if I had my heart set on something for breakfast. Other times, it wasn’t so bad.
- Jelly lollies? Nope, they’re made with gelatin. Where does gelatin come from? Google it….
- A pastry from the bakery? Full of butter.
- Veggie patty on a burger? Sorry, made with eggs..
- A packet of salt and vinegar chips (crisps)? Nah-uh, it has milk solids.
In fact a lot of things are made using milk solids. Nevermind. As a vegan, you learn to find some cheeky loopholes – food that at first glance you wouldn’t think you could eat, but a quick scan of the ingredients leaves you wide-eyed and drooling… i.e. most variations of Oreos!
What you may have noticed is that most of that food above is generally unhealthy anyway. Animal aside, it’s food I’m better off avoiding. By mostly eating healthy, I’ve found I view junk food differently than I used to. When I used to spot someone eating a Big Mac, more often than not it made me crave one myself. Now, I look at the person, not the burger, and what I see is often a visually unhealthy person jamming part of an animal down their throat. I don’t miss it at all.
I’ve learnt that some people view veganism as a diet. The more apt word is lifestyle, and while that sounds clichéd, it’s true for me. The word diet conjures up images of going without and cutting back certain foods. Veganism doesn’t involve either of these things. I don’t go without meat, it’s just simply no longer an option. Just as some people would never even consider eating say, haggis, I no longer consider eating meat. I also don’t cut back. I either eat a food or I don’t. It generally either has animal or it doesn’t.
The problem with a diet is that it’s too easy to succumb to bad food and tell yourself that you’ll run an extra lap or two around the park later that day (which let’s face it, won’t happen). If you’re vegan for the animals, you can’t eat animal and then make up for it later. It simply doesn’t work that way.
Food aside, the moral benefit of eating vegan has already proven to be fulfilling and frustrating in equal measures. Although I feel vastly better mentally and physically about my choice, it’s also opened my eyes to how mindless and contradictory society is when it comes to animals. Dog rescue/animal shelter on one corner, a BBQ steakhouse on the next. People crying out about animal abuse because a puppy was tortured and killed, but the same people will bury their head in the sand when it comes to discussing how that sizzling bacon ends up on their plate. Vegans have developed a well-known reputation for being ‘preachy’, yet for decades, the meat and dairy industry has never held back on flooding us with messages telling us what to eat and drink. Food for thought hey…
All in all, going vegan is one of the best things I’ve done. Mentally and spiritually I feel so much better, and physically I feel great, not to mention I’m leaner than I have been in years.