After nearly twenty years of not eating meat, I was exposed to the novel idea that it was possible to be vegan and survive without some of my favourite foods (and that it could even be an adventure!) when I met several new people, in different areas of my life, who were vegan.
I was impressed by their principles and self-discipline and began to wonder whether I could do the same. And, if I could, what would my motivation be…
My vegan ‘epiphany’ (if I had one, and I think I probably did!) was in early summer 2012, when I was given a stack of vegan magazines. I read them one after the other, which was unheard of as I never have time to read anything! By the end of that afternoon, the choice was clear; I didn’t want the cruelty and violence of the food industry to be in my name. If I was in any doubt, when I then investigated buying Cow Nation milk (milk produced by the most animal friendly means possible), for my husband, I read an article on line written by Liz Jones about the life and plight of the dairy cow and I couldn’t get the images out of my head. I wanted no part of this industry.
I didn’t achieve a completely vegan diet straightaway. I ate eggs from a friend’s rescue chickens and, when Cow Nation began to produce cheese, I bought that and slipped back into eating it occasionally. However, the friend moved away and Cow Nation stopped selling the cheese, leaving me with no option – and now I wouldn’t go back to eggs or dairy.
Shopping for food and clothes now is in some ways more difficult, because the choice is inevitably limited, and yet paradoxically it’s easier for the same reason. You’re not forced to choose between 350 styles of walking boot; there are about five or six pairs I can buy which meet my needs. (As a dog walker it’s vital I have comfortable boots, so being unable to buy yet another pair of my favourites was a sacrifice, but one that had to be made!) Supermarket shopping is easier as I waltz by many of the shelves knowing there’s nothing for me there, and yet I spend hours pouring over labels to see whether I can eat something!
I used to worry about where to ‘draw the line’ and what was okay and not okay to eat or buy. The cruelty of the food industry continues, but I kind of feel that now I’m on the right side of the line, which gives me a reason to feel good about what I ‘consume’ and how I try to live my life. There’s a whole world of cruelty-free food and other stuff out there to find, be excited by and enjoy, with a clear conscience, and I have to admit that I love being part of the growing vegan community!!