I thank God I was born a vegetarian and never had to decide to give up meat. In the 1950s, we were the only family of vegetarians at our junior school. My school friends used to tease me and one promised to bring me a rasher to try. They didn’t say it was a rasher of bacon; they said it wasn’t meat. I never did get to see it thankfully.
When I was a teenager I used to go to the Leicester Vegetarian Society meetings in The Friends Meeting House – where we still meet today. It was quite an active group and I used to bring in plants to sell and raise money for the animals. This society eventually folded and I no longer had any contact with other vegetarians which I believe is very important.
I continued not eating animals and raised my two children vegetarian. Adrian, my son, was featured as a baby across two central pages of the local Mercury, with the headline: ˜bringing up a vegetarian child”.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that I first seriously thought about being a vegan. My mother used to have soya milk which she made from the beans and it was awful. I knew a friend of hers who was vegan and I thought they had gone too far and were a bit cranky. I remember phoning up the Vegetarian Society and asking about vegetarian cheese and at the time they said it would be best if I didn’t eat it and told me a little about the miserable life of a dairy cow. Even then I thought I was happy doing what I am doing and I was annoyed at them for telling me what to do!
Then I heard about the exportation of live animals and how people were getting hurt for defending these poor creatures. Why were these babies being shipped abroad? I began to think, ask questions, and then decided no more milk! Soya milk had vastly improved and I could buy it already made. Yoghurt could be bought made from soya too, but I still continued to eat cheese and chocolate.
Nearly twelve years ago I helped form ‘The Leicester Vegetarian Group’. This is what it was called then and I met so many veggies it was wonderful; never had I had so much support, never had I met so many vegans! I realised then I wanted to be vegan too and, as a New Year resolution, said to the group I would try and be vegan. I have found being with like-minded people has made me stronger and given me the strength to speak up for myself. If I eat out, I always ask for a vegan option; this is the way to get people to notice and think vegan.
Just like vegetarians were unheard of in my school days; they are now known to everyone. So will the name vegan be known to everyone if we continue to spread the word.