By Robert Wheatley
It’s World Vegan Day; the day us vegans fuse together to generate renewable energy and tell people we’re vegan. We tend to have a bit of a bad rep, us plant-eaters: supposedly we’re either shoving our diet in people’s faces or causing harm to plants because they supposedly feel pain.
Personally, I haven’t encountered any militant vegans slapping the burgers from people’s hands, yelling “MEAT IS MURDER”; and, secondly… listen: I have to eat something. Like, I need sustenance. Sorry, screaming cucumbers, but because of my self-centred desire to keep alive I’ve chosen you as my prey; RIP.
Seriously though, the reason I personally went vegan was after hearing of the details of what continues in an industry that produces animal products for our consumption: in dairy-farming, animals are killed if they are not useful; calves are separated from their mothers early at birth, creating great distress; and cows are continuously artificially impregnated, and milked for months on end to name a few of the grisly details.
Not to mention the economic and environmental impacts mass animal-farming has, contributing to unfair allocation of resources people desperately need for nourishment; as well as contributing to deforestation, the scarcity of water, as well as contributing an incredible amount of methane into the atmosphere which has a great impact on climate change.
(An informing, shocking, very well rated documentary on the problems of animal agriculture is Cowspiracy (2014) if you’d like to learn more).
Basically, it’s all a bit naff at the moment.
I’d originally gone vegetarian because of a discussion with a meat-eating friend: I couldn’t justify eating meat and imply I cared for animals. I asked, ‘if I’m only eating it now and then, how is that as harmful?’ Channeling Socrates, he said, ‘you’re still contributing to the industry’. Channeling a man with an existential crisis, I said, ‘ah, damn’.
What’s more, I was in a position in which I could give up eating meat because I was not in a food desert, I didn’t have a physical disability or allergy that prevented me from relying on a plant-based diet, and nor did I have a mental illness that made eating in general a lot more stressful (buffets fear me) – I was in an incredibly privileged position in which I could make a difference.
So, I gave vegetarianism a go and, after failing because my nan made a delicious meat platter in the hour I decided to go vegetarian, I started again the next day, and did it for a week. It wasn’t the worst thing ever: I initially craved meat, and this lasted a couple of weeks when I continued on with it, but it wore off. A little while later, eating meat no longer crossed my mind.
Perhaps surprisingly, going vegan increased my health considerably in comparison to being vegetarian. Now, because I could only contribute to the murder and consumption of screaming carrots and eat things chock full of vitamins, protein and other nutrients, I became incredibly healthy. I began working out, and felt physically and mentally healthier,
So, you may ask, am I saying everyone should go vegan?
Again, I am in an incredibly privileged position that allows me to not only spend less money on my food a week, relishing the weekly trips to my local Hatfield Aldi to buy broccoli; but I am able to do these things without fear of my health or economic condition. Again, hence why I couldn’t excuse myself for not going vegan.
There are other ways of helping animals and the environment if this isn’t a viable option for you – and tell anyone who says otherwise to go suck a lemon (for it’s a good source of vitamin C), but what I do suggest is that people consider going vegan or vegetarian if they can. You may be surprised to find how healthy you get, ensuring you get the right nutrition which is incredibly important, and hopefully, you’ll feel good knowing you’re contributing to lessening human impact on climate change and promoting animal rights.
Just don’t expect to be able to see in the dark, or gain super strength anytime soon. That’s for level 10 vegans.