Since it is the World Vegan Month of Food, I thought it might be viable to post about something food-related but for once not about food directly. I am vegan, maybe you are as well. The ‘vegan world’ doesn’t only resolve around food. There are many other points why people choose to go vegan and remain vegan. I have several friends who have been vegan for more than a decade or two already or maybe even three decades. I have been a happy vegan for about 6 1/2 years by now. People who do choose to go vegan do make a conscious choice. The reasons basically are: health, environment, ethics for animal welfare and you could even add economical reasons. Right, let me tell you my story why I chose to go vegan with all the obstacles, involving all the reasons I mentioned.
There was a time where I could not eat properly due to multiple fractures in my upper jaw. I was inclined to have everything soft and soupy for a very long time. At some point I noticed actually pretty loudly to be honest, that I do not put up with dairy very well at all, means I noticed at last I am lactose intolerant. Looking back, it did explain a lot, e.g. why I always felt poorly after having hot chocolate and having a funny tummy most of the time as yoghurt and cheese were always on my menu. So for the time being, I chose to go by the lactose-free products which were available in Germany back then. Since I was a cheese-lover, I decided to research for other dairy-free products and stumbled across all those vegan online shops, pages, forums, studies….. I do not remember how long I sort of got lost in the world wide web on that night and day but I read every page and further information there was. So it just opened my eyes what never occurred to me for real and I thought more deeply about my food choice. In the end, I went ‘cold turkey’ over night and decided to go vegan. I have to admit, also in that time I had an eating disorder (anorexia), but that was not the reason for me at all to choose to go vegan. I have beat my eating disorder in the meantime and I am still vegan. Many who do have an eating disorder often opt to go vegetarian or to go vegan , but my therapist already pointed out to me that surely statistically many with an ED go vegan or vegetarian, but those people just think and inquire about their food choices not only due to the fact of having a lower calorie intake, much more than other people.
Sometimes, vegans choose not to be vegan anymore after a certain time. Maybe it was just not their cup of tea in the end. Or their reasons to go vegan were solely psychologically affected, which they solved for themselves. It is their choice.
Being a vegan does not only affect the conscious food choice. Vegans apply to be vegan in all areas of their life. A huge matter is to meet like-minded people, at least online. You might even start to have like 2 different friend-circles: vegans and then the others wherever they might be. Even though some of your friends might not be vegan, it is not a reason to cut them out of your life. As long they accept you as the person you are with being vegan, so should you accept them without being vegan. It is not down to you to choose what other lifestyle and food your other friends choose. Another reason is that it is economically more worth it to live as a vegan with all those carbon prints and such. I did a study on veganism from an economically point of view a few years back when I was still at uni. The environmental point pretty much goes with the economical one.
Then all of us vegans, appreciate other living beings. There is already so much harm in the world, so many animals are hunted until they are extinct for nothing else than just to make jewellery and or clothes to wear of them. Stop right there. The human race has gone through a lot of evolutionary states where it is by now able, to make clothes and jewellery out of other products and there is no need to hunt down the next best animal in the wild just in order to get its fur and skin for leather or teeth for jewellery. On all them high street shops you can find warm cotton wool pullovers or loads of other material choices the human beings have found which are animal-free. It can sometimes be tricky, since you constantly check the labels what is made of what and you find wool in a pullover you would have liked. The same goes for shoes. But I have barely ever had a problem to find animal-free shoes, the cheaper ones (which suit my wallet much better) are usually animal free. Sure the quality is not the best, but there are still quite a few shops which have better quality products suitable for vegans. It is completely down to you, what you prefer and how much your own wallet allows to spend.
Another problem sometimes seems to be, what if a vegan goes out? Wants to have a drink? Oh, and how do I know what all these E-numbers mean (are they derived from animals or animal-byproducts?), which other company does produce anything suitable for vegans? Thanks to our technological evolution, most of us do have smartphones, where you can download all sorts of apps for free. If you are unsure whether something you are interested to get is vegan, use one of those. I use ‘Is your wine/beer/liquor vegan?’, ‘Fooditive’, ‘Cruelty Free’, ‘Who does what’ and assorted lists I simply added into my notes. In the UK quite a few companies label their products as suitable for vegans, the same starts slowly in Germany as well. It is not as difficult to be vegan. In the beginning, it does take some effort and time to check what is fine and what isn’t. Then you also might wanna boycott certain companies like P&G or L’oreal for example.
In the end of the day, it is your personal choice where you draw the line to being vegan due to what is available in you area, what else can one get online, can one afford it etc etc etc. If you want to live 100% vegan, you have to live somewhere in the middle of nowhere with a non-feather-feather duster in front of you making sure you do not accidentally trap on an ant you didn’t see. You need to accept it is not to 100% possible where you live, but you do the effort for your own reasons and that is all that counts. You choose to go vegan for your own personal good. It is less a matter of being inconsequent, more a matter down to availability and what you need.
Like many other vegans, over the course of the years I have always had these discussions with other people or even more often within the family why one is vegan implying the question when one might finally ‘be normal’ again. I remember too well when my mum bought something vegetarian for me which had eggs in it and she practically jumped within in triangle out of not understanding why I would not have anything with eggs in it anymore. Of course, back then, she was also just concerned cus I had that ED and like quite a few other blood family members I imagine her along with others really licking her fingers to see the day when I am ‘normal’ again because it is not as much of a mainstream, a less traditional way, rather ‘alternative’ and unaccustomed. Some might put it down as crazy even. But you know what? I do not care. And so should you when it comes to those weird discussions. You have made a choice for yourself. You have chosen to go vegan. You do what feels good to yourself and do not let anyone else talk into it. Those who want you to live ‘normal’ again in my life can turn doom green in their graves until I would choose not to be vegan anymore. Being vegan is normal to me. Everyone else at his own liking. Live and let live.