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Regular thoughts, shared knowledge and hopefully an interesting take on an everyday vegan lifestyle.

Education, Education, Education

CommunicatingPosted by veganomically Mon, August 05, 2013 19:47:34
The more and more I delve into the mysteries and excitement of following a vegan lifestyle the more I am convinced that following a plant based diet is the optimum approach on many levels.

An individual's decision will be based on the factor most relevant to them, but what is important is simply that the decision is taken. In order to take this step it is imperative that people are educated as to the facts behind the obscene factory farming and behind the meat, dairy and fish industries as a whole. The power of the the lobby behind this industry is so strong the truth is hidden behind the brash marketing campaigns that communicate half truths and downright lies.

If people remain disconnected from the food they eat they will struggle to correlate a vegan lifestyle with a premise of doing no harm. If the conglomerate behind the production of milk thinks that adding an image of a cow to the label means that people don't see behind the smokescreen we need to let them know otherwise. The packaging on cigarettes is clear to see but the impact of following a western diet can have a similar detrimental effect on the levels of health a person enjoys. Why aren't the same labels on the food most people eat?

It's the fact people aren't looking at an animal when it makes it to their plate or to their fast food take away box that is the problem. Walking past a field of spring lambs or a newly born calf does not make anyone think I must get some lamb chops or veal on the way home. When you see a freshly picked bunch of vine tomatoes the smell and the warmth of the skin does make you want to take them home and to consume them with enjoyment.

Schools need to give over some of their time to engaging pupils in the healthy eating habits that will be help the planet and themselves over the coming years. Until being a vegan is seen as a 'normal' lifestyle it will remain hidden away and completely misunderstood.

I'd ask that we all take the time to gently educate everyone we know, not in a forceful way, just telling the truth when asked and portraying the array of social, personal and environmental benefits following the lifestyle will bring.

Think positive and act positive, negativity never wins out in the end.

For more follow me on twitter @veganomically

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Sharing the love

Family lifePosted by veganomically Sun, August 04, 2013 21:10:10
I'm loving the changes that this new life is bringing to me. One of the challenges I do have though is really wanting to help everyone around me to see the benefits of becoming and sustaining a vegan lifestyle.

The tightrope I tread is between sharing the full truth a la farm to fork or slowly sharing snippets of news that I encounter with my family. I know my family aren't going to change without the knowledge but I don't want to force the issue either. I just feel so great having taken this step, emotionally alive and physically enlightend.

Would be so good to get others to share this with me as well. From a practical point of view organising meals and showing that there is no need for a vegan life to be a difficult life would go a long way to persuading them of the positive side of committing to the change. I wonder if anyone else has an experience of being the first in the family to turn vegan and then others slowly following. How, when, why?

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Travelling time

Out and aboutPosted by veganomically Sat, August 03, 2013 18:55:24
We're off to France in the morning and it's the first time I've packed as a vegan. I've tried to take a couple of vegan food staples along to get through the first few days and sure that side of it will be fine.

The biggest surprise came in my views on the sheer volume of 'stuff' we're taking with us. I'm not sure if it's traditionally part of the vegan ethos but I seem to leaning more heavily to a less is more around materialistic things. In the premise of do no harm surely a key to that is not to use up the earths' resources making more and more to suit our disposable lifestyle. The products themselves may not have a direct link to animals but in their production there is no doubt that water is used in abundance and toxins enter the soil and the air. thus causing unknown levels of damage to the environment.

I feel that any true vegan should also be concerned about the macro-economic environment as well as the particular food and clothing related issues that are the entry point to this lifestyle. When we look at what we need versus what we want there is a huge disparity.

I'm not suggesting we live a life of sackcloth and ashes but perhaps ask ourselves what impact the production of that £3 t-shirt has had, whether we really need that pack of 200 disposable surface wipes. Life's to be enjoyed and there is much to be gained from finding pleasure in the simpler things in life. People's memories are formed from experiences as opposed to possessions. Experience and embrace life!

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You are what you wear?

It's not all about foodPosted by veganomically Fri, August 02, 2013 16:12:26
One of the most interesting aspects of this new life has been peoples' questions around the non-food side of things. 'But you're wearing a leather belt and shoes how can you be a vegan?'

My view is quite clear, I won't be buying any new animal derived products, whether that be for the home or for my person. If I were to dispose of all the products I have I think in a way that is more disrespectful to the unwillingly source of the product. I'll wear them till they wear out and then dispose of them appropriately. I'm sure there's lots of other options, replace everything now (that has an impact in terms of the resources needed to make new products and of course has a financial implication). Hand everything over to a charity shop, but again that doesn't take the product out of circulation.

I've quickly realised that to become totally removed from animal related products I would have to live a solitary life on a desert island somewhere. Avoiding being in a car, flying on a place, almost everything unfortunately has a animal connection somewhere along the line. My aim is to avoid as far as possible making use of or owning any products related to an animal.

If I can do that I'll consider myself to be a vegan.

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The fear factor

CommunicatingPosted by veganomically Thu, August 01, 2013 13:44:27

Feel the fear and do it anyway, a famous self-help book that should be applied to accepting a vegan lifestyle choice. Not for the vegan in question but for the people that feel impacted by it.

Only the individual can decide how something makes them feel, if the people I have so far shared my good news with decide it's something alien and makes them uncomfortable I have been doing everything I can to put them at ease. There comes a point where I wonder why I'm the one being challenged and not the person eating meat, glugging milk and gorging on cheese.

Clearly explaining why I am doing this and honestly answering questions; the most common ones are around milk and eggs - 'but the animal doesn't die' - ermm the male chicks, the veal calves - normal response 'I don't eat veal' ah that's all right then (no it's not).

At the moment in an office of circa 200 I appear to be the only one, sure that can't be the case so I'm going to start a vegan hunt (sounds wrong on a number of levels).

Still looking for that fellow vegan to talk to, feels like we need to set up a mirror image of alcoholics anonymous - vegans in the open so we have a support network in place!

Have no fear, vegans can't hurt you!

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But what about the children?

Family lifePosted by veganomically Wed, July 31, 2013 08:45:27

This seems to be the most emotive point raised since my change (never sure what to call it, my change, becoming a vegan, adopting a vegan lifestyle, doing no harm!) The potential or perceived impact on the children in our family; a 3 year old boy and 6 years old girl. There’s a balance between wanting them to understand what I am doing and why whilst avoiding exposing them to too many ‘real’ dimensions of suffering before they have the maturity to cope.

Certainly the older of the children is very inquisitive as to why I am doing this and asking me directly about the animals in the food she’s eating. We’ve never shied away from talking sensibly about animals as food and there’s been no pretence about where ham comes from or what’s in a sausage. The difference is now that my action is telling them that there is something inherently wrong with the choices we’re inflicting on them and the lifestyle I used to lead before.

As a vegan I feel on one hand I have a duty to bring everyone into the Ark so to speak, to evangelise about the myriad of benefits to the animal kingdom, the environment and the each person themselves. On the other hand my partners fear is that this will create a risk of alienation for the children as they go through school, head to play dates and birthday parties. I have never met another vegan so can’t disagree with the views she has formed during growing up with two vegan friends that she saw become isolated from the group and pseudo-bullied for their way of living.

Everyone naturally wants what is best for their children and I’m torn between pushing home the benefits of being a vegan to them and not wanting them to be alienated from their peers and friends.

I’m going to softly push a vegan agenda at home and encourage them to eat many more plant based products as we move along this journey. I do agree wholeheartedly with my partner that we need to ensure we’re fully prepared for this and to have ready sourced alternatives to the current food they are consuming.

Family life needs to be enjoyable and I have no desire to make it harder than it needs to be so mindful planning and a demonstration of the upside is defiantly in order!

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Choice of one

Out and aboutPosted by veganomically Wed, July 31, 2013 08:39:30

One of the immediate impacts of going vegan is the time saved looking through restaurant menus, no longer do I have to pick and choose, to debate over which starter, does that main leave me enough room for a dessert? I’m found on the couple of occasions I’ve eaten out in a mainstream restaurant by asking for a vegetarian dish to come without soured cream or cheese I am cleverly able to turn it into an exciting vegan dish. Vegetable tagine or falafel salads aren’t going to inspire me too much though!

I am starting to search out vegan specific restaurants and also not going to be afraid to order off menu, in the better places to eat I’m sure the chef isn’t going to be ignorant of the request to have this without this and to have that but without those. There’s always plenty of side dishes that I can order any way as a main meal.

It’s one of the points my family have raised around my veganism that it will stop us going out for dinner and I really want to avoid that. We can still go out for dinner I just need to work a little harder to find an alternative.

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Sharing the news

CommunicatingPosted by veganomically Mon, July 29, 2013 22:08:07

I am finding that actually being a vegan may actually be easier than handling peoples’ reactions to my decision.

I have had many more questions, comments and challenges that I ever anticipated since my adoption of a vegan lifestyle. I know that most of the people I am sharing my good news with are responding from a base of assumed knowledge as opposed to any real understanding of what being a vegan is all about and that to some extent there is also the fear of the unknown.

I have purposefully taken a softly, softly approach to announcing my veganism, I haven’t refused to eat at the table of a meat eater, haven’t thrown paint over someone at Starbucks for ordering a full fat latte and haven’t even berated anyone in a supermarket for buying cheap processed reformed meat.

I think every vegan should take every question or comment as if it’s the first time they have ever heard it; if you are the only vegan anyone ever meets then they form their opinion of all vegans and of veganism based on your response.

The questions to date have centred round a few topics and I’m guessing that these are the comments heard on a regular basis.

How can you be a vegan, what can you eat? – How can you not be a vegan. I’m a vegan because I want to ensure I don’t play any part in the suffering of animals, I want to protect the environment and I want to live a naturally healthier lifestyle. I eat everything that you eat that is plant based and can say that I have eaten a wider variety of foods since becoming a vegan than I would have traditionally eaten by following a repetitive meat based diet.

It’s not healthy though is it; you can’t get your protein from seeds can you? – Yes it is healthy and all accepted research demonstrates that people following a vegan lifestyle have lower rates of heart disease, cancer and generally live a longer healthier life than those that follow a more ‘traditional’ western diet. We can get all the protein we need from leafy vegetables, pulses and beans and without all the cholesterol found in animal products.

We have dominion over animals though; they’re put here for us to eat. What would happen to the animals if we didn’t eat them? – We owe all creatures our respect, if we didn’t eat the animals then there would simply be fewer animals. The animals in the food chain are bred just for that, to eat, the impact this has across the globe is staggering. All the animals that live or die based on the gender lottery, male you die, female you ‘live’. Billions of male chicks die each year in the egg production industry; many male calves get killed or live a terrible life in the veal industry.

It’s down to the vegans out there to lay the myths to rest and to help those looking to explore, even tentatively what being a vegan is all about.

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