By Nicole Grant
OK, I’m going to do it….I’m going to be the stereotype and tell you all…
I’M A VEGAN!!!!
There was a time when muttering the V word would leave you faced with confusion, fear and even contempt. You’ve rocked up to a BBQ where all you want to do is enjoy your Linda McCartney veggie sausage in peace but instead you’ve got a full scale confrontation to attend – ‘Drinking milk is so natural’ (from your Mum’s boob, yes!), ‘Oh go on have a burger!’ (No you’re alright ta…) It would seem that people feel they have a right to interrogate you on your beliefs and try to make you feel silly for your choices…but, ha! Not so much anymore!
With ‘free from’ sections in supermarkets blossoming and with a public endorsement from many celebrities, being a vegan is no longer new or weird. Thanks to the likes of Brad Pitt and Pamela Anderson the tree hugging stereotype has been thrown to the kerb and vegans can emerge as sexy! We also have Frank Medrano as our ‘go to’ muscle man when confronted with the ‘You won’t get enough protein’ myth and we have loads of ‘normal’ people being encouraged to cook vegan by pretty celebrity chef Deliciously Ella. Even High Street chain Pret a Manger has launched a fully veggie and vegan version of their chain, ‘Veggie Pret’. Suddenly not eating meat is kinda cool.
I decided to become vegetarian when I was ten years old after my school teacher, Mr Critton, told me sausage skins were made from cat’s guts (was this even ever true?!) Off I trundled home to my family with my new nutritional needs. My family (all meat eaters) supported my decision and after explaining that ‘No, it isn’t OK to still have the tiny bit of ham in a Chinese spring roll’ I was all set for my life of vegetarianism.
I am fully aware of the huge environmental benefits of a meat free life. I am also aware of the health benefits for many people, however, for me, it has always strongly been the animal rights issue at the heart of my decision. I am an animal lover to the core – the beauty, the innocence, the wonder of another species. I genuinely can’t bare the thought of the fear and suffering that animals endure in the name of our culinary pleasure. I would love to see school children receiving unbiased information on food, nutrition and farming alongside a general public not brainwashed by the media but being actively informed and aware of the ins and outs of the meat and dairy industries which they support.
In 2009 I read two books (‘Skinny Bitch’ and ‘The Face on your Plate’) which highlighted to me the fact that if you are veggie for the animals then you really need to be vegan – in my opinion the meat and dairy industry go hand in hand.
Anyway…I know that nobody likes a preaching vegan so I’ll leave you to do your own research on that!
“I am fully aware of the huge environmental benefits of a meat free life. I am also aware of the health benefits for many people, however, for me, it has always strongly been the animal rights issue at the heart of my decision”
Being a vegan in today’s world has become kind of easy really and not only in diverse places like London but also in the small, coastal town that I call home. Newquay is full of very special people – the surf brigade, the health fanatics, the hippies and the yogis. Never before have I been surrounded by so many like-minded people: people who respect nature (the sea is our playground!), respect one another (community projects) and respect themselves (my body is a temple – well Sunday through to Thursday anyway!) Veganism fits perfectly into this mould. Living a vegan lifestyle, for me, is about living a cruelty free existence: my conscience is clear and there’s no blood on these hands.
With gorgeous cafes like The Beached Lamb and The Green Heart, eating meat and dairy free in Newquay has become as easy as grabbing a Saturday night kebab. And don’t get us wrong, us vegans don’t just want to eat pea sprouts and kale. Amongst our fresh juices and wholesome lentil stews we want cake, nachos, milkshakes and booze! And now, it would seem, we can have it all!
So next time you hear the V word, please refrain from jumping on the vegan-bashing bandwagon and instead, see us vegans as peace-loving people who are consciously trying to make the right decisions. People that have the energy to dance on tables at the bar and who can usually rustle up a kick-ass cake.
We are not trying to be self-righteous, we are just trying to be selfless.
We are your friends, we come in peace : )