Veganism gets a bad rap. ‘How do you know if someone’s a vegan? They tell you.’
Nearly eight years ago, I became vegetarian for no other reason than eating disorders (it was a way for me to restrict myself) but began to eat meat after two years. I was happy eating meat, why wouldn’t I be?! We’ve been conditioned to think that eating the flesh of another being is natural and healthy since birth. But on National Vegetarian Day (October 1st 2016), I saw a video on Facebook (WARNING: extremely graphic content) and my conscience suddenly took a hold of me. It’s so easy to dissociate the meat you’re about to eat from the cruelty and animal that has to endure it. Basically, I couldn’t live with the guilt of eating animals – the animals that I supposedly loved – because of my own greed and the taste. So, on October 2nd 2016, I became vegetarian again.
Since viewing the video, this ‘i-want-it-so-rare-it’s-basically-fresh-off-the-cow’ steak eating woman hasn’t touched any kind of meat or fish (and yes, I’m judging you ‘vegetarians’ who eat chicken/eat meat whilst drunk, sort yourself out). Despite loving eating meat for the majority of my life, vegetarianism has been easy for me these past 17 months. In fact, it has been even easier than when I was a teenager. Supermarkets stock more and more vegetarian options, restaurants serve more than one vegetarian option now and I think it’s more generally accepted to not consume meat. You don’t even need to constantly read labels to see whether there is some kind of animal byproduct, it’s often clearly marked – especially with the ‘Vegetarian Society’ logo. I’ve been able to enjoy eggs and dairy at will – often overindulging on cheese. I can safely say that I could never imagine eating meat again.
However, my conscience has still been screaming at me and I just can’t ignore it anymore. Since October 2nd 2016, I’ve slowly but surely dug deeper and deeper into the world of veganism, educating myself on the animal agriculture industry, finding out the things that the mainstream just isn’t sharing. I started by watching a few videos on Netflix – particularly Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives – which I understand are pretty controversial but a great place to start. I followed more vegan people on Twitter to understand more about the ethics, environmental impact and to make it more feasible for veganism to relate to. I was already signed up to PETA emails, but I actually started reading them. More recently, in fact on February 19th, I created a vegan Instagram to get ideas for meals, ingredients to stock up on and most importantly, inspiration.
So on April 2nd – 18 months after I turned vegetarian again – I’m turning vegan. I thought I’d give myself 6 weeks to 1) wean myself off cheese because it’s pretty much my one true love, 2) find vegan ‘cheese’ that I enjoy and 3) readily prepare myself rather than jump straight in. This is a new lifestyle for me and I’m pretty shit at following through with things, but if I can give up smoking after however many years (except the cheeky one or five whilst drunk), I’m more than ready to give up allowing animal suffering to make me cheese or eggs. ~ NB: I have rarely drank cow’s milk since 2016, opting for soy/nut milk, it is only contained in some products I buy!
Living in Brighton has been a real contributing factor to this decision. There are tonnes of vegan food shopping options from independent stores, health stores and supermarkets in a small radius (between the town centre, Hove and the Marina) which means that shopping is much easier already than say when I lived in Maidstone. Additionally, there are a tonne of vegetarian/vegan restaurants thus I won’t have to give up my social life in exchange for my values. The Lanes and the North Laines also offer a heap of vintage stores and independent stores, for items such as clothing, homeware, etc, so it’s not just vegan food which is easily accessible but also vegan lifestyle items.
I’m not writing this post so I can preach at people to turn vegan, or even vegetarian. It’s your decision, do as you see fit. The reason I’m even posting about this is that first and foremost, megrrees.com is a mental health blog. Some people argue that a vegetarian but particularly a vegan diet can improve mental illness, others argue the opposite. Personally I believe that one must have an effect on the other, there’s a video with Ellen DeGeneres that really sums this up well. When we think about mental health, we look at factors such as lifestyle, work, stress, drugs and alcohol, so why shouldn’t one of the basic necessities ~food~ be included in this?! If I can catch just the common cold from a stranger sneezing however many metres away, what kind of things am I consuming from ingesting another being that’s been pumped with tonnes of antibiotics and other drugs?! Is it possible that the fear and anxiety of one animal’s murder can be transferred to the other through digestion?!
If you’d like would like tips or tricks on transitioning from either omnivore to vegetarianism or vegetarianism to veganism, updates on my vegan journey, a bit more information on what I’ve learnt about the industry in the past 18 months or enjoy this type of post, then let me know!
**If you or your loved one’s condition is critical, suicidal, or just very worrying, please call 999. You can also contact the Samaritans on 116 123 – 24 hours a day or Mind‘s infoline on 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri 9am-6pm)**
P.S. My final word is that I’m lucky enough to be able to consider a vegan diet. I know it is not plausible for some, due to things such as eating disorders, however if you can try it, there are too many options out there now, not to give it a go. For me, if I’m going to have a go at this whole ‘life’ thing then I’m going to bloody well try to make sure that my hand in cruelty towards any other being, human or another animal, is the lowest it possibly can be!