So I haven’t eaten meat or drunk animal milk for a while, but January was the month where I went quite a lot further. I did Veganuary. Some say it sounds like a complaint you’d go to a lady doctor about. I can see their point, I choose not to linger on it. But it’s not an uncomfortable stirring in the down belows. No. It’s where you go vegan, ie give up anything that derives from anything that ever came out of or off of an animal. Meat, milk, eggs, honey, the whole shebang.
I’ve not been massively vocal about it. I’ve not included it in my articles, tweets or posts. I’ve chatted about it to friends, but mostly only those who are also vegan, talking quietly in a huddle about recipes like we fear we might get punched if we dare go above a whisper. I’ve mentioned the odd thing to a few other friends who I know aren’t bothered hearing about it even though they’re meat eaters. Other than that I’ve just been being quietly vegan, for the simple reason that I just… want to. It’s made me feel really bad for vegans for all the stick and questions and scoffing judgement they get all the time. And it’s made me feel bad for meat-eaters that they couldn’t see how wonderful being vegan feels; that eating doesn’t undergo total taste deprivation, and though there are challenges and habits to be broken, it is a wholly fulfilling experience and not a pain-wrought sacrifice that will blight your life forevermore. But most of all it’s made me feel bad for the animals, because they don’t get to choose anything in their lives at all. I’ve reached the point where I can’t sanction their misery. I don’t want any part in it.
There have been embarrassing moments along the way. Like when I shouted “I can’t have yoghurt! I’m not eating dairy for January! Probably forever!” across the pub after they offered me raita instead of mango chutney. I turned to see my friend was shaking his head at me.
“What?” I said, with that natural bristle you adopt when you become ‘a dirty vegan’.
“That is the most middle class thing I’ve ever heard you say”, he said.
I felt instantly ashamed. And then I thought “What’s class got to do with it?” Is eating/not eating meat and dairy a class thing? Is it the great collected walking swathe of general assumptions – the middle class, whatever that is – that are driving this change in eating habits alone, and essentially by sheer economics affecting a blow to a previously unchallenged industry? Do I even count myself as middle class? What am I? I haven’t got two beans to rub together. (Though if I did at least I could probably make a nice vegan dip.)
Here is a brief rundown of stuff I have thought, felt, gone through during this time of reform. In no particular order.
Animals are cool. Wouldn’t it be great if they all had nice lives, just like the ones we think we humans deserve, as our basic right?
Man, I want a burger.
BUT I’M NOT GOING TO HAVE ONE.
I fucking love you, houmous. I love you so, so much. Let’s get married and make little chickpea babies.
There’s milk powder in this?! What? Why is there milk powder in this? It’s a carrot. Who is putting milk powder in the carrots?
By Christ I could neck five tonnes of cheese right now.
BUT I’M NOT GOING TO.
This is quite hard.
This is really easy.
I like this.
I miss mayonnaise.
Poor coconuts. They must be so exhausted at the moment.
Aw. Look at that nice viral video of a cow dancing when someone sets it free on a nice open farm. I didn’t know cows could dance. I’m so glad it’s not being pumped full of hormones and milked in cramped conditions 24-7 anymore. None of the women I know would like that. Nor would they like their babies to be taken away against their will. Nor would they like to be inauthentically made to have a constant cycle of periods so their eggs can be turned into cake.
I am really glad that I did this.
Mostly I felt that. ‘I’m really glad I did this.’
So I’ll keep doing it.
So thrilled to hear this, Sadie! I’ve been vegan for 15 years now, and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. Like you, I was motivated by empathy for animals; I could no longer be part of a system that causes so much death and suffering of innocents.
If you continue on this path, the best advice I can offer you is to not aim for perfection, it’s counterproductive. It may seem like a big adjustment and a lot of work now, but after about 6 months you should be used to your new lifestyle. There are so many vegan options out there it has never been easier to go vegan. It’s been so long since I’ve eaten animal flesh that the idea of eating them is extremely revolting to me. Again, so happy for you!
Whatever you do, wishing you all the best with your vegan and life journey.