‘Oh just go and kill yourself!’ That’s what someone said to me after I turned down a mouthful of juicy and delicious looking fried chicken because I am now a ‘Bloody Vegan.’ I would normally have been rather disturbed by this outburst, but it came from a jovial friend and it was very much said in jest.
It did however inspire me to write about my foliage-loving ways, because this was not the first time I had been publicly shamed for eating plants. ‘What do you actually eat then?’ and ‘how do you survive without bacon?’ and ‘YOU’RE A BORING RABBIT’ are some of my favourite utterings from vegan poo pooer’s.
I must say that the disbelief from many in my veganism probably stems from the fact that I was once a supreme championer of meat. A warrior of ribs, and devourer of chicken. I bloody loved the stuff. I’ve never had a sweet tooth – so pork pies, scotch eggs and chicken & stuffing sandwiches with beef & onion crisps were my poison. I wasn’t sorry, I ploughed through burger after burger, copious helpings of sweet and sour chicken and sticky slow cooked pork. My social life happened with meat, dates were full of meat, i just loved meat. I was a funny, jolly, pork lover. ‘Everyone love’s a good sausage’ was my favourite phrase.
Now though, apart from the occasional relapse with oily fish – I am a complete herbivore. I am no longer the fun-loving eat-anything sausage-roll baker and stewed chicken maker. This remarkable change happened when I snaffled myself away to the highlands of Scotland to meditate with a group of Buddhists. I was fed nothing but vegan food for a whole week, and although I missed the richness of meat for a while, the saltiness of bacon and the smell of a roasting chicken, I got used to it.
The first thing I noticed about switching was the fact that it seemed to clean out my entire gut (discontinue reading here if you are eating.) The sheer number of times I pooed per day doubled, and they were ‘good poo’s.’ Yes, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Perfectly formed and effortless to evacuate. I shall say no more. My skin cleared up and felt softer, I had more energy, I was never bloated after meals, my stomach was flatter. Over a period of 5 months I lost a stone.
It was a new habit that felt constructive, adding a new layer of self-care for mind and body – let alone the World. Anyone who has watched Cowspiracy knows that the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions – which is more than all the cars, planes, and other gas guzzling vehicles in the world. Not to mention the fact that the food grown to feed livestock could more than adequately feed all of the 1.4 Billion poor and starving people around the world. I didn’t know any of this until after I became vegan – but this knowledge has certainly kept me away from that chicken sarnie.
The second and most remarkable thing I noticed was the adverse reaction from others when I mentioned the word vegan. Instead of a jolly pork-loving Shropshire lass with pink cheeks from meat over-load, I had become (in their eyes) a fussy, anti-social middle class bore. There is nothing like the conversation killing power of the sentence ‘I’ve just made a vegan casserole’ compared to the animated response you might receive by saying ‘I’ve just roasted a whole hog in my garden, would you like some?.’ It seems that pork is funny, lentils aren’t.
Yes I am aware that the current movement around ‘eating clean’ and ‘getting the glow’ spurred on by Deliciously Ella‘s Instagram is a little tiresome, but I am not convinced by the idea that my personality has evaporated in the absence of meat. I am still the same person, I’m just less meaty.
Refusing that golden fried chicken was no mean-feat. It was hard – and it took all of my will-power to look away and focus on my curried lentils. So if you’re a carnivore and you have a vegan friend, show them a bit of love – they probably aren’t being snobbish, and they most definitely aren’t being boring. They are just enjoying their new life of good skin, boundless energy and harmony with cows – not to mention the pleasure of a healthy pooing gut. Let them get on with their legume-filled adventure without pressure, and no they most certainly do not want any of your eggy bread and bacon, although I have to admit – it smells delicious!