Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: vegan

Being Vegan

One of the absolutely surprising and truly positive experiences of my weekend away was how I was treated as a vegan. There were 11 of us women, and I was the only vegan in the group. We did huge communal feast style cooking for lunch and supper, and we took turns, and at every single meal I was taken care of, honoured, consulted and respected. Special food was made for me, but I was never made to feel bad, and not once did I ever go hungry. It was the best and most wonderful response that I have had since becoming a vegan almost 8 months ago.

And it got me thinking. I am much more accustomed to having to defend myself, explain myself and go into battle. My conversations around being a vegan are usually challenging; where people demand to know why I have become vegan, demand a list of where I get my protein, and demand to know how I negotiate the meat eating world. I have even been challenged on my world views, religion (or lack of it), and how I come to terms with having animals as pets.

What this weekend away did for me was make me realise that, really, the tables need to be turned, properly and 180° towards challenging people who eat meat. Just because meat eaters are a majority doesn’t mean they are the ones off the hook. The eating of animals needs to be challenged more than the not eating of them. It is the meat eaters who are problematic, and need to justify and answer for their ways. And this is why they get in first, call us names, become confrontational, and make the Vegan memes. They feel bad, and their best defence is to point fingers and criticise.

I have never tried to force anyone to become a vegan (it took me long enough to commit to it), and I am careful about initiating the vegan conversation. Mainly because I am familiar with a teasing (at best) or even hostile (at worst) response. I am careful not to make my choices impact on others and am used to ‘making a plan’ if people haven’t catered for vegans, or considered the possibility of them. Film sets are a challenge. Mainstream restaurants can be tough going. But truthfully, it should work the other way around; like it does for smokers. Smokers are made to feel bad, and their habit is frowned upon. Don’t you think it is the meat eaters who are like the smokers, not the vegans?

Being vegan – the price you pay

It’s almost three months since I started this vegan journey and I am learning, exploring, discovering (and gaining weight) all the time. Aside from the usual “where do you get your protein?” question, the most common thing I am asked is about how expensive it is to be a vegan. It is so interesting that people think being a vegan is expensive when I have found an animal protein heavy diet almost completely unaffordable. Meat, fish and dairy are very expensive, and, in general, I am spending much less and getting much more. You can go the very expensive, deeply organic route, and buy your tofu from a health shop for R50 a tiny block, or you can get it fresh, like I do, from a Chinese supermarket for R45 for ten blocks.

With some proper sourcing, and a bit of capital outlay on the essentials, like quinoa, nuts, nutritional yeast, tahini, grains and sauces, you can whip together really cheap meals. Even the processed soya meat alternatives like Fry’s are cheaper than most meat products. The rest is largely veg, and my rule is, go seasonal.

Even eating out seems cheaper, with the average price of the vegan option cheaper than the flesh ones.

One thing I am going to have to spend a bit of money on, I imagine, is an iron supplement, and possibly a few others. That might be a bit more pricey. But, on the whole, this journey is not at all cost prohibitive.

 

Opening A Can of Beans – Considering Veganism

img_5647-2I have wanted to become a vegan for many years but haven’t been able to bring myself to the point of actually doing it. It has mostly been about laziness; I kept on imagining that it would take considerable effort, and time and work. I have been a pescetarian/vegetarian for most of my adult life, and then, when I went on the Dukan diet I had to eat protein, so I ate fish, eggs and cheese a lot. In the back (and slowly moving to the middle) of my mind was the knowledge that vegan was really what I wanted to be.

I decided that becoming a vegan was going to be a new year’s resolution, and so I have been gradually preparing for it. I have been buying some stuff to have in the cupboard, I have made the switch to milk alternative in my coffee (delicious) and I have been reading ingredients labels with dedication (and fury; who knew that had egg in it?). I have also been listening, deeply, to Big friendly’s concerns. Becoming a vegan when you are married to a food fussy omnivore is problematic and challenging.

I have a few concerns about my lazy nature, my propensity for weight gain, and my tendency to overindulge. I could become a bread ball in a matter of weeks. But I am going to try and be as conscious and committed as I can. It most definitely looks like Cape Town is perfect vegan country, with restaurants, shops and even delis dedicated to providing for the fast growing vegan community, so there won’t be any stress there.

Where there is stress is on Twitter. Wow. In preparation for my transition I have read a lot on the internet; checked out recipes, blogs, science, pseudoscience, and deeply personal tips from vegans worldwide. I also decided to follow some vegan related people/things on Twitter. Bad idea. I got a DM from someone demanding I stop the killing NOW! I replied that that was why I was starting my journey, and promptly unfollowed them. Somebody else screamed at somebody else that dairy-free was NOT vegan and they need a disclaimer in their one line bio. And then there were the links that led to nothing but clickbait and ads. So, being a #twittervegan is not going to work for me.

I am going to have to tread carefully. A friend told me about how his sister who is a vegan gets abused and challenged by flesh eaters every day. Why? Shouldn’t it be the other way around actually? But, that is not who or what I want to become. I have already done that with smoking. Over half a lifetime of smoking and then 14 years of having quit made me into one of those rabid anti-smokers for a while, and it was hard work. Nah, I am too, too lazy for that.

But. I am going to need help. And suggestions. And great ideas. And encouragement. So if you have any or all of those, I am open, like a vegan recipe book.

 

 

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