Recently I have made the change from eating a vegetarian diet to a fully plant based (vegan) diet. I am not well equipped to comment too much on my new vegan lifestyle as it’s so recent and nor do I claim to know much what I’m doing. However, I thought I would bring you on my journey from almost the beginning. Whether you are toying with the idea yourself or simply intrigued then hopefully my posts might help you as sometimes I’d imagine it can be less daunting to gain information from somebody who isn’t yet fully fledged so to speak.
How my journey began…
I started cutting out meat in my pregnancy with Taormina; this was partly fuelled by my health anxiety regarding what is actually in meat and potentially dying from some crazy disease I thought up in my head. I’m glad to say I think that is one good thing to come out of my anxiety, although I believe it was inevitable I would stop eating meat at some point. I have always been a huge lover of animals and like many people I managed to detach myself whilst eating meat (pork=pig, beef=cow) but now I no longer want to detach myself from the fact that they are mammals just like us, they feel pain just like us. My mum has been a pescatarian (sorry mum I know you hate labels but this means she eats fish, dairy but no meat) for my whole life so we ate a lot of vegetarian food growing up and I have always enjoyed it. I have never eaten fish, I have a bit of a phobia going on! When I became vegetarian I cut out red meat, then chicken and finally bacon which at the final point I would only have in carbonara.
This change happened three years ago and until recently I remained happily ignorant to the dairy industry. In hindsight I think this just meant I wasn’t yet ready to cut it out. Some vegans seem to have gone cold turkey and turned plant based over night and many have taken a more gradual approach like me. I really wasn’t aware of many things that have now led me to the conclusion that eating dairy is just as bad as eating meat. Below I wanted to sum up my black and white views on the ultimate reasons to why I no longer choose to eat meat or dairy and plan to head my focus towards using no products from the animal industry once I have sorted out my diet. My reasons come under a few categories including animal welfare, health and the wider environment.
There is no judgement or expectation of anybody in this post and it is simply a rambling summary of my thoughts on several matters. I’ve written some facts and I expect a couple may well hit home with you just as they did for me. I have only just stopped eating dairy! I ate meat for most of my life and boy I didn’t think I’d give up fillet steak easily but I did because for me that was the right thing to do. Now I’ve chosen not to be ignorant to the suffering the meat and I dairy industry causes daily after many years of subconsciously knowing it but brushing it off with “well I couldn’t possibly give up cheese”. Turns out I can, my tastebuds aren’t as important as the difference I can make by abstaining from eating or using anything from this brutal industry.
Nobody likes a Vegan preacher!
I get it, if you aren’t ready to take in the information there’s no point reading it but like I said above these are just a few thoughts that are very honest and literal for me that I wanted on my blog for my own personal record. Some things might not be entirely factual, I make no claim of that but it’s more the way I make sense of them that led me to my conclusions. I can’t even guarantee that in a year I will still be vegan but I feel very strongly about the below points and certainly intend to look into it all further. For me the below were enough to stop me in my animal consuming tracks!
Cows are not here to make milk for us. Crazy right?! Not so much. This is the main reason for my recent decision to start living a vegan lifestyle. It makes perfect sense and as a mother and particularly one that is currently breastfeeding this point has to be the one that hit home the most. Humans are the only species to consume the milk from another. The milk produced by any mammal is made to feed and grow their babies just like us. Isn’t it actually more normal for us to drink human breast milk being that it’s purpose was to feed us as infants. Why are we stealing the calve’s milk?
The dairy industry is incredibly cruel. In primary school we watched a video about farming in which you learn that the cows come in from the field, they are milked for our delicious milk and then they go back out to frolic. It was left at that. This blatant avoidance of the truth and brainwashing as to what is normal is another reason I don’t want my children in our schooling system particularly. Children aren’t educated in a way that lets them explore their own minds and research to make their own decisions. We were all impressionable as children, we were all given sausage to eat. If it’s ‘normal’ from a young age then why would anybody question it. I will now point us to a clip I watched on YouTube by the the bitesize vegan. There are some graphic clips but mainly it is just an explanation of where our milk really comes from. A basic explanation if you aren’t keen on watching the video is that when a cow gives birth to a calf, the baby is taken from it’s mum at a few days old. Males are kept in small cages with restricted movement to tenderise their meat for a few months before they are then killed for veal. Female calves will enter the dairy industry like their mothers, artificially inseminated repeatedly so they keep producing milk for us, having baby after baby taken away from them. When I think of this I think of my babies being taken from me just days after I’ve given birth, being forced get pregnant again and again and my babies being stolen from me: that is torture. An argument may be this isn’t always the case, I used to buy free range organic meat, eggs and dairy to convince myself of that too but it is happening and that is enough.
Isn’t it actually more normal for us to drink human breast milk being that it’s purpose was to feed us as infants. Interestingly lactose intolerance is very common in humans and there is a great reason for this. Lactose is a sugar found in milk, it is present in our breast milk too but infants have something called lactase that processes the lactose in the body. As we grow older we have less lactase, almost as if we aren’t supposed to consume milk after infancy.
Even cage free animals are kept in cramped conditions in barns to produce eggs or waiting to be slaughtered. When I see even an image of this I think of concentration camps. Ultimately that is what is happening to these animals and I feel I am a hypocrite to talk about how dreadful and awful it was how all those people were kept in that manner and killed in mass when this happens all around the World daily to animals.
Eggs are a chicken period (this has always creeped me out).
We all know animals are killed and that’s not nice, I presume not many of us could actually kill one ourselves. I certainly couldn’t. For me it really helps to ‘personify’ the animals. If we put our hand in a fire we would pull away and scream, what would a dog do? What would a horse do? What would a pig do? All the same reaction, we avoid pain, we avoid death. There is an interesting video here that goes into this a little further. I used to eat organic meat that was killed ‘humanely’. However if somebody came up to me and said ‘Hey, you’ve had a nice life. Can I kill you, I promise I’ll do it humanely?’ Hell to the no! Although that was pretty polite as the animals aren’t actually asked for their consent either. Isn’t that kind of murder?
How many people have taken their children to a farm this Spring to see the cute little lambs, perhaps they even got to feed them milk? And how many people are serving up a lamb roast to the table this Sunday? Kind of creepy when you think about it hey.
Let’s face it a lot of people jump on the band wagon when it comes to a man standing over a dead Lion with a gun. Millions of people around the world state their outrage about hunting these beautiful animals. How many people are against buying fur? Then break down the percentage of people that are disgusted by these practices yet order a whole chicken at Nando’s that evening!
Not eating meat or dairy for one year saves as much water as not showering for 53 years.
82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by Western countries.
Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Transport is responsible for 13%. (Sorry if these figures aren’t entirely correct but this is just my understanding.
Our genetic makeup points towards us being herbivores. There are some interesting points about this on Bonny’s video addressing common vegan myths. But briefly a few points. Our DNA is 98% similar to primates, they are herbivores. Look at the freaking size and strength of a Gorilla! Did he need to drink all his milk and eat plenty of protein filled chicken. Nope just lettuce and some good old bananas guys. We certainly aren’t carnivores but our body doesn’t really look like an omnivore either. Dogs = sharp teeth, claws, short colon. Humans = teeth to chew vegetables, no claws, long colon that needs plenty of fibre.
It’s better for us. I am not going to give any exact comments on heart disease, cancer etc as I’ve not done my own research yet and it is hard to state facts on the matter. I do know it should help me stop eating as much saturated fat and heavily refined and processed food which can only be good.
What about leather?
I’m looking to educate myself further along in my vegan journey and some things I do now may indeed change. I’m always looking for an absolute answer for things and in reality nobody can live an entirely cruelty free life but I will aim to do so to the best of my ability.
I have no plans to stop visiting all zoos right now (I haven’t done my research), I have some gorgeously hand knitted clothes from my nan and I have a leather interior in my car. When I bought my car the only thought I really put towards the leather was that it is grey and cream and looks awesome, I won’t be selling my car but our next car will have a ‘veganised’ interior. Dan would like a Tesla next and has even checked that they offer a vegan option – they do! I suppose they ought to really as their idea is to be more environmentally friendly. Rambling alert! Anyway, everywhere I seem to look there are animal products, even as I look down to put Taormina’s ballet shoes on they are leather. My plan with things like this is let it all wear down and replace with non animal products but who knows, this may change.
If you drive a car you kill hundreds of insects each day, if you take medicine it has been tested on animals etc but some things are beyond prevention in this society. Personal purity as a vegan is not something we need to strive for, we just need to keep our eyes on the bigger picture in my opinion but I will no longer knowingly buy animal by products where this can be prevented.
Where will I go from here?
So my first feeling once I knew I would become vegan was actually one of guilt. Of guilt for eating and using animals products for so long, for putting my health at risk and for choosing to be oblivious. However, I’m trying to turn that feeling around to one that instead shows a positive future. It’s not only possible for me to have an effect of greater good for animals, the environment and my own body but perhaps I can in turn help others. Even if it’s just to take time to think a little bit about animal products, what they really are and what effect they can have and maybe just eat slightly less meat as a consequence of that. We are all products of the society that we live in however much we are individual and try to think outside the ‘norms’, it’s nothing to beat ourselves up about. Nothing is one persons fault, yet one person can make a difference however small it may be.
Following on from this post I’ll be coming back to update you with meal plans, the occasional naughty vegan treat, recipes and my start of branching out into cruelty free beauty, skincare products and clothing. Another subject I’m keen to talk about is raising my children vegan, Taormina will be switching from vegetarian which I am taking a slightly more gradual approach with and Wolfie will be weaned vegan. I have been looking into nutrition a lot so can hopefully give some helpful tips for kids and once I’ve spoken to Taormina about why she doesn’t eat the same as a lot of other children I will write about that and how to explain the subject which could be quite upsetting for young children as ultimately not many of them would be happy about eating animals.
I’m not looking for queries about why we should eat meat etc but if you have any I’m sure I can point you in the direction of an answer.
Ultimately if you think pigs were put on the planet for you to eat, that’s cool. That’s your perspective and I commend anybody who has their own opinions. I’m just figuring this all out myself and I’m certainly no perfect vegan if there is such a thing.
So that is my vegan story and thoughts so far out there. I hope it got you thinking, I’d love to hear your opinions? Are any of my readers vegan or perhaps vegetarian? Anybody toying with the idea of veganism themselves?