British actor Peter Egan took part in Veganuary 2016, and pledged to try vegan for January.
So how did he find it, and what does he plan to do now?
What do you think the word ‘vegan’ means to most people?
The word vegan means different things to different people. I think it is defined, in many ways, by where they are in their own lives in relation to what compassion means to them.
The first response I get is generally, “Vegan? What on earth do you eat?” To these people, vegan can be a threatening word, subversive and controlling, because it will impact eating habits they don’t want to change.
Most people are unaware of the cruelty involved in getting meat to their plate; they view the term vegan as one of isolation, dry and humourless.
The word vegan is most understood in my opinion by the young. Most young people respond with an inquisitive smile, if they don’t know what it means or, with a big thumbs up smile if they do. I think people only truly understand what the word vegan really means when they truly absorb the horror of all animal slaughter.
What does it mean to you?
Vegan means to me choosing a less cruel way of life. It defines all the elements in my life, it connects what I believe ethically, to how I feel spiritually, to how I function physically. In other words, it makes me whole in my total belief that compassion is the most important engine in our lives.
Why did you take part in Veganuary?
I’d been thinking for some time that I was being disingenuous in not facing the horrors of the dairy industry. It is easy to view milk chocolate, or cheese, as separate from the absolute horror of breeding pens, and the slaughter in the meat industry. Kate Fowler asked me at the right moment to switch entirely.
What did you discover during Veganuary?
During Veganuary I discovered just how many alternatives there are that replace the things I was loathe to leave behind. Most importantly though, it taught me that taste is just a habit.
Comfort eating and fast food is designed to make the consumer reliant on ease of supply. It disconnects the consumer from the cruelty and makes the producer a huge profit.
Is being vegan expensive?
I think being vegan is much cheaper than any other way of eating. You cut out the most expensive ingredient when you follow a plant-based diet: meat!
What would you make if hosting a vegan dinner party for family and friends?
There is such a huge choice I find this difficult to answer. I really like grazing when I eat, so it would be a meze. A selection of terrific dips and roasted fresh vegetables, salads, roasted peppers with tomatoes garlic and oil, loads of fresh ingredients… And, of course, huge quantities of chilled wines and beers… Vegan of course.
Did you enjoy Veganuary? If yes, what did you enjoy most?
I think what I enjoyed most about Veganuary was the sense of peace I felt whenever I had something to eat or drink.
What was your biggest challenge during Veganuary?
The biggest challenge is reading the labels on all food products.
If you could give one piece advice to someone taking part in Veganuary, what would it be?
Be passionate. Do it… You won’t regret it.
Will you take part in Veganuary again?
I will always support Veganuary, but I won’t have to do it again because… I am now vegan.
Is there anything else you wish to add?
The only thing I would add is… We all really have only one thing in common on this planet – all species. It’s called life. We only have one go at it. We have no right to take the lives of others to enrich our own. Be compassionate, be creative, say no to the killing and end the cruelty.