Since becoming vegan, I have encountered a multitude of reactions, in both social and physical ways. I have lost weight, gained weight, and suffered the ultimate affliction of meat/dairy craving at the very unmerciful hands of my flatmates (and truthfully I have given into these cravings now and then).
Veganism has been constantly stigmatized and associated with the ‘hippie’ stereotype but thanks to a modern day understanding of veganism, a new attitude and appreciation has been produced for becoming one. It has become a ‘trendy’ thing to become vegan and has thankfully blossomed out of the stereotype into the new thing to try out. Plus there are handfuls of celebrities who are vegan: Ellen Page, Miley Cyrus, and even the big man Stevie Wonder is now vegan! So it’s safe to say that it isn’t just a select few of people trying to stray away from meat and dairy, but large clusters in our western society. Obviously, veganism isn’t an option in many countries. When I travelled to Gambia this year, meat is staple and a vital part of survival, so I had to hang up the green apron and go for the red one. Other than traumatising my body, the food I ate didn’t actually make me feel as if I were a traitor to a cause I care about so dearly, and that’s when I realised of the nature of animal welfare in other countries and how it differs so prominently to the UK and the West.
Most frequently when in conversation with someone on the topic of veganism, people are admirable of my transition from meat and dairy, to cutting it out entirely. Focusing mainly on the sustainability of actually being vegan and often commenting on how they could not find the continuous motivation to cut out such a large part of our eating culture. However, as the long term way of veganism is slowly embedding itself into my psyche, I find myself mentally separating the ethical side of veganism and vegan food itself. The main reason I became vegan was when I was exposed to the dairy and meat industry and not wanting to be a part of it. But can someone be a meat and dairy eater and still uphold the ethical values of a vegan? If you source your meat from field-roaming animals (not factory floor ‘free’ range) and purchased your dairy and eggs from organic farmers, then technically you are not contributing to some of the atrocities that exist in the industry. The word vegan pertains to the idea that one does not eat anything that has been produced or came from an animal, but a large majority of vegans do not eat animal by-products because of the industry corruption. So when animals haven’t been tortured before hitting our shelves then it would be okay to eat it. Right? However, as meat and dairy industries still use the same methods to obtain their ‘profit’, veganism is still vital in the fight, and the stance against the industry cannot be made while we eat meat.
Nevertheless, I still will continue on the road of animal-free, plus, organic local farmers are hard to find and expensive when student loan has already burned a hole in my pocket!