I'm Claire. I'm 36, a wife, mother and vegan of twelve years, and I get my protein from secretly consuming thousands of butterflies every night.
Ok that’s not true, but it’s arguably more interesting than the truth (lentils, beans, pulses, tofu, Fry’s delicious fake meat range, etc.). I’m not sure why the obsession with protein; I long for the day that someone probes me on where I get my iodine from.
Although I was brought up eating meat, my family life as a child instilled in me a fundamental respect for animals, as well as a sense of responsibility to protect them. Some of my earliest clear memories are of helping my Nana drip feed injured or orphaned hedgehogs and birds, and it was only at the age of 15 that two good (vegetarian) friends pointed out I was, as a “meat-eating animal lover”, something of a paradox. Having rectified this, a few years later at Sussex University down in veggie capital of the south, Brighton, while volunteering at Viva! I met some inspiring vegans who a) told me about the animal suffering prevalent throughout production of dairy and eggs, b) looked healthy and were full of energy, and c) regularly produced and shared incredibly tasty vegan cakes. I was sold.
Also at Viva!, in 2003, I met my now husband, Alistair. In 2008 we had our vegan wedding in Brighton (an early menu trial with the hotel chef – somewhat inexperienced in vegan cuisine – involved an improbably beige and tasteless combination of boiled tofu and polenta… we opted for veggie bangers and mash) and in 2010, after a few hedonistic years of socialising and travelling, we decided we’d spent enough Sunday mornings sleeping and/or peacefully reading the papers, and so had our little boy, Alex. Alex is fantastic advert for the vegan diet, he’s big, energetic, happy and funny and he’s proud to explain at length to anyone who’ll listen that “we don’t hurt animals” and that “cows’ milk is for cows”. When he’s older he will, of course, make his own dietary and lifestyle decisions and until then we’ll do our best to explain to him why we make the choices we do, as consumers.
I live in London and am the Executive Director of Humane Society International UK. I’m fortunate to have a job I’m passionate about, working for a charity that’s making so much difference to the lives of animals around the world. It’s exciting to be part of Veganuary’s expanding virtual network – there’s never been a better time or opportunity to inspire more and more people to live a healthy and compassionate life.