10 Things I Do That Aren’t Vegan

  1. I wear leather boots and wool jumpers.

IMG_2683I sure as dammit wouldn’t purchase anything ever again that was made of cow hide, sheep skin, wool, or silk for that matter. But I do own items made from these materials that I still have from before I turned vegan. The reason I keep them is that I also don’t believe in waste. I will continue to wear them until they wear out. And then I will be replacing them with vegan alternatives instead. I do however, feel very odd about wearing them. I can feel a sense of betrayal laying heavily around my shoulders as I don my “old faithful” leather jacket. And I don’t therefore wear it very often and there may come a point where I simply don’t want to wear it any more and in that case, I’ll pass it on to a charity shop or something rather than just throwing it away. It doesn’t seem right to just toss it in the trash when an animal was murdered to make it. In fact, I appreciate these garments so much more and take extra care of them because it seems callous to treat them badly after an animal gave their life for them. Nowadays, I always check the labels on any garments to make sure that they don’t contain any animal-derived products. This goes for other things too, not just clothes. For example, we’ve recently replaced our leather sofa with a fabric alternative.

 

  1. I feed my dog meat.

IMG_6019There are vegans out there that will argue that this means I’m not truly vegan at all. It’s a bone of contention amongst vegans. They generally fight each other about the issue. There’s evidence to say that cats are obligate carnivores, that is, nature has determined that they’re physically unable to survive on a herbivorous diet. They’re basically born meat-eaters and there’s no getting away from it. However, there is evidence to say that dogs are not obligate carnivores and can not only survive, but thrive, on a plant-based diet. In fact, one of the dogs that held the title of oldest dog in the World, ate a purely vegan diet. However, I don’t feel that I have enough knowledge of the subject to put my dog on a vegan diet and I’m concerned that I’d do more harm than good. Especially as I know that some vegan foods can actually be bad for a dog. My dog also has a particularly sensitive stomach. I have found a food that suits him and I don’t want to upset things. However, if I ever had another dog in the future, it is something that I would want to further explore.

 

  1. I take iron tablets.

screen shot 2019-01-04 at 21.15.44I did a lot of research to find a brand whose ingredients did not contain animal products, but they are from a pharmaceutical company who do test on animals. There are iron supplements out there that are vegan AND cruelty-free, but the dosage is not enough for what I need. It’s generally accepted that medication is exempt from veganism. If your health is suffering and you need to take medication, don’t deny your body what it needs to feel better, in order to satisfy your conscience. Avoiding medicines that will bring you back to health because they contain animal products is beyond ridiculous. And just to clarify, my iron deficiency is not due to eating plant-based, I suffered with this long before I became vegan, even back when I ate meat. If you feel guilty, be consoled by this: you need to be fighting fit in order to better protect the animals. You’re no good to them if you’re too poorly to speak up for them.

I’ve also had someone ask me in the past why I took a course of antibiotics because I was killing bacteria and wasn’t all life equal in the eyes of a vegan, including bacteria? In short, the reason I took them was for self-preservation. To quote Gary Yurofsky; I love animals but if a bear jumped out and started attacking me, I wouldn’t just stand there and let it kill me. It’s the same with bacteria, if they’re threatening my health, I’m not gonna let them take over, I’m gonna fight them. You have to be practical and being vegan, to me, means avoiding animal products as much as is practically possible.

 

  1. I use Sensodyne toothpaste.

Not all the time. I buy vegan, cruelty-free beauty products with no exception… apart from toothpaste. I use a vegan and cruelty-free toothpaste that is specially formulated for sensitive teeth, but I’m reluctant to admit that it doesn’t work as well as Sensodyne, so I keep a tube handy in the bathroom cabinet. I only use it when my teeth start to become painful. Once it’s back under control, I switch back to the vegan toothpaste that the rest of the family use, until it happens again.

 

  1. I buy my children vegetarian food at restaurants.

53243792_501678983694545_7231372836399480832_n.jpgMy kids are vegan at home. I will not allow any non-vegan food in the house at all. When we’re out, I’ll order vegan for them where possible, but sometimes it’s too difficult (like at a children’s party), especially for a threenager who really doesn’t “get” veganism yet and who I don’t feel ready to explain the gory details to. So I allow them to follow a vegetarian diet sometimes when we’re out.

My youngest is still at nursery and the nursery are under strict instructions to only allow him to eat vegetarian food. However, I allow my eldest (6 years old) to choose his own meals at school, which means that inevitably, occasionally he will eat meat. He’s quite enthusiastic about veganism and if he knows the dish contains meat, he chooses not to eat it, but sometimes, he won’t realise (take Shepherd’s Pie for example, he probably wouldn’t realise that it contained meat because there’s not an obvious enough clue in the title).

This is where I get it in the neck from both sides.

It really bugs me when people discover that I’m vegan and their next question, asked with a disapproving tone, is “are your children vegan?”. They believe that it isn’t fair for me to “force my views” on to them and that I shouldn’t make that decision for them, they should be allowed to choose for themselves when they’re older. Wait a minute, who said that an omnivorous diet should be the default? When you’re weaning a baby, you’re making the decision on their behalf of what they should eat. So you could equally say that a non-vegan is FORCING an omnivorous diet on to their child… Surely it’s better to allow them to eat a scientifically proven healthier diet containing no animal products while they are too young to make the decision and then let them make their own choices when they’re older? I’ve heard loads of times people say that it’s cruel to deny them and that if I let them have the choice, they’d probably choose non-vegan food. Firstly, there are vegan alternatives to everything so they’re not missing out and secondly, just because a child would choose non-vegan food over vegan food doesn’t mean that we should let them. If we all let children choose their own diet, they’d be eating pizza and ice cream for breakfast!

Conversely, vegans tell me that I’m not trying hard enough, that I should tell the nursery/school to feed them a vegan diet. But the truth is, I care about their mental wellbeing and I don’t want the other children to think that they’re “odd”. Right or wrong, that’s the decision that we’ve made as parents.

My plan is to allow them to make their own choices outside of the home where it is beyond my control, and although I might not always like the decision that they’ve made, what I can do is continue to educate them about the virtues of eating plant-based and hope that they make the right decisions as they grow. Sometimes when we’re out, they’ll see something that is non-vegan and ask if they can have it. I explain, factually, that it isn’t vegan and how it harms the animals, then I leave them to make an informed decision. More often than not, they’ll choose something different instead. But if they stick with their decision, I don’t make a fuss or make them feel guilty.

 

  1. I use a fridge, a laptop and drive a car.

54516654_412730789297871_765441782933618688_n.jpgThe issue here lies with the plastics and the glues, they contain minute amounts of animal derivatives and even the process in which some of the minerals are obtained can cause harm to animals. I have to drive a car. It has a leather steering wheel and animal-derived stearic acid in the tyres. There’s little I can do until I’ve earned enough money to buy me a vegan leather, electric Tesla. Which leads on nicely to my next point…

 

  1. I spend money.

In the UK, £5 and £10 notes contain tallow, an animal byproduct. There’s no getting away from it. Does the fact that I have a fiver in my purse make me non-vegan? I don’t think so.

 

  1. I use the hand wash in public bathrooms.

IMG_6170Most soap contains animal fats or other animal byproducts such as milk and honey and might be tested on animals too. I use it because well, it’s just basic hygiene. Whichever way you look at it, by using that soap, I’m contributing to animal cruelty. Had I not used a squirt, it wouldn’t have run out as quickly, it wouldn’t be replaced as quickly, they wouldn’t have had to purchase as much, so the companies that either put animal products into the handwash or that test on animals wouldn’t sell as much, they’d produce less, and fewer animals would be harmed. So although I haven’t bought the soap, I’ve still contributed to animal cruelty. I could avoid this by carrying my own with me, I suppose, but it’s things like this that make vegans sound ridiculous and veganism unattainable and this is what puts people off even trying, they think it’s too difficult.

 

  1. I dye my hair.

54437249_2160648247361365_7174762654882332672_n.jpgVegan and cruelty-free hairdressers are hard to come by and can be expensive. There are several vegan and cruelty free companies that produce home-dye kits, but the issue is that I’d have to do it myself and I know I’d do a horrible job of it. You could argue that in that case, I should stop dying my hair. So yeh, I’m not perfect. But… What I have done is chatted with my usual hairdresser and she’s agreed to still do my hair and charge the regular price, but use the vegan alternatives that I will supply.

 

  1. I’ve decorated my house

IMG_6029We recently updated the décor in our living room and opted for Farrow and Ball paint. I didn’t even think about it at the time, but a lot of paints use animal-derived products as binders such as beeswax and milk protein. It was only after reading the news that Meghan Markle had used vegan paint from the Organic and Natural Paint Co. that I gave it a second thought.

 

The reason for writing this blog post was to show that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, but the point is that just because we don’t always get it right doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. I hate when people call vegans hypocrites. We’re not hypocrites. I’ve had people say to me in the past “but what about all the insects that are killed when harvesting the crops that you eat?” Avoiding harm to animals is not, unfortunately, in our non-vegan world ever going to happen 100%. But just because some insects are killed in harvesting vegetables doesn’t justify bringing animals into the world just to kill and eat them. The whole definition of veganism is that you strive to avoid harming animals as much as is practicable and possible, so yes, some insects will be harmed, it’s unavoidable and incidental, not deliberate. We’re trying our best.

There are loads of things that I know other vegans do that Level 10 Vegan Police would be after them for. I say let’s stop tearing down those that classify themselves as vegan, they’ve already taken giant leaps and have made a big impact. Why don’t we instead focus on educating and converting those that are not yet vegan and don’t yet recognise the global need to reduce the use and exploitation of animals. We need to be united and in support of each other in order to better spread the vegan message, not fight amongst ourselves and put off other would-be vegans because they think it would be too difficult because they’ve got to stop sitting on leather sofas!

What do you think? Is there anything that you do that isn’t vegan that you think the Vegan Police would call you out on? Leave a comment below.

 

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Why I’ll Never Be A Quiet Vegan

How do you know someone is vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

I used to be too embarrassed to tell people that I was vegan. I’d order something from a menu that appeared to be vegan, often to find that the side salad was smothered in mayo or such like, but I’d just leave it untouched rather than go through the rigmarole of having them exchange it, because I didn’t want to be one of those vegans. That’s why the above joke is a little unfair; we often have to mention that we’re vegan just to get by, if we didn’t, we wouldn’t eat.

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I think part of the reason that I didn’t like to tell anyone was because, well, vegans are not very well liked, generally speaking. It was in the news last week that a freelance writer had pitched an idea to the editor of Waitrose’s in-house magazine, William Sitwell, to run a series of plant-based recipes. The response that she received from him was nothing short of hateful, proposing instead to run a series with ideas on how to kill off vegans one by one. He likely meant it as a satirical joke, but if you replace the word “vegan” in his response with another minority group, you’ll quickly realise why he had to resign from his post. He publicly apologised and said that he didn’t hate vegans, but his opinions are clear as far as I’m concerned, and it isn’t the first anti-vegan comment that he’s made.

Sore Point

I remember getting into a discussion once when a friend enquired after my husband. I explained that he too had become vegan, but was a little more vocal in his views than I was. For example, if I were eating a meal with someone and they ordered steak, I would sit at the table with them and not say anything, whereas he would probably have to put in his two penn’orth. My friend grew agitated by this and pointed out that what she chose to eat was nobody else’s business. I can understand why non-vegans have this viewpoint and she’s certainly not alone. I’ve heard countless times people saying “if you want to be vegan, that’s fine, but don’t push your views onto others, eating meat is my personal choice.” I would counter with individual choice: yes, personal choice: no.

“Personal”  implies that the choice doesn’t affect anybody except for the person making the decision. The reality is that the choice to eat meat is destroying the planet, a planet that I (and 7.5 billion other people) share. I wouldn’t call that personal. Furthermore, the grain and crops that are fed to farmed animals are grown in the same countries where there are starving people; every time you eat meat, you take food from someone else’s mouth. Would you tell those starving children that your choice to eat steak from a cow fattened up with food that could’ve been fed to them, is a personal choice? And without wanting to state the obvious, if you say that eating meat is a personal choice, then you’re forgetting the animal on your plate that died for those fleeting moments on your tastebuds.

It’s not me, it’s your conscience

I’ve had several conversations with people who have strangely attempted to use the fact that they “don’t like how smug vegans are” as some sort of justification for their eating meat. I can’t speak for all vegans, but I don’t feel superior to anybody else because of my choice not to partake in these cruel industries. If that were the case, then I wouldn’t be trying to convince others to go vegan too, I’d just sit up there on my pedestal by myself, looking down on the masses. If that’s how vegans come across to non-vegans, I believe it’s more of a reflection of them. Maybe they feel that way because deep down, they know that veganism is the correct moral position. They don’t agree with violence towards animals, yet they understand that one had to die in order to sit on their plate. Where are they supposed to put that? They’re at odds with their own beliefs and this manifests itself as anger towards those who are a physical representation of that malalignment.

I don’t feel smug, it’s really not about that, it’s about taking a stand against injustice. I obviously believe that what I’m doing is the right thing and I believe that eating meat is wrong, so there’s really no getting away from me looking “self-righteous”, but I don’t believe that I’m better than them. The meat-eating default is not their fault; the decision to eat meat was likely made for them when they were weaned off milk. I ate meat for a long time until I learnt the truth. I think the reason that most people eat meat is simply because they’re a product of the system, killing animals for food has been normalised and the truth has been concealed. Once people take a step outside of the system and have their eyes opened to the horrors, I believe most people would make the right decision, so that’s what I want to do; reconnect people with their conscience.

I believe there are some people who genuinely don’t care and would be happy to kill and eat an animal themselves (if not, relish it). But I appeal to those that recognise that it’s morally wrong, for those who couldn’t kill the animal themselves, who cover their eyes when slaughterhouse footage is shown. If you have to look away, you know in your heart that it’s wrong and you should question why you’re still paying for this to happen when you don’t have to. You may not be the hitman, but you’ve paid for the hit by purchasing the products, which makes you equally responsible for their murder. It’s to those people that I appeal, because they’re already vegan at heart.

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Photo credit: @anonymousforthevoiceless Instagram

The “Angry Vegan” Stereotype

There’s a sweeping generalisation that all vegans are angry. It’s difficult not to be angry when it comes to something that you’re so passionate about. But let’s not forget that it works the other way around too, non-vegans equally can be angry when having a discussion with a vegan. Carnists don’t want to hear about the vegan agenda, I get that. But at least they can mostly avoid it.

Vegan: in a non-vegan world

During the Summer Solstice and over a period of 10 days, a dog meat festival takes place in Yulin, China. It has been estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 dogs are consumed, some after public slaughter, as it’s believed that eating dog meat during the Summer months brings good health and fortune (to the consumer, not the dogs). You’ve likely heard about it because Westerners have petitioned against this since it’s beginnings in 2009.

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Photo credit: @lavacastyle Instagram

The Chinese have been brought up to eat dog meat just as we have to eat pork, beef, lamb and chicken, etc. Dogs in China are bred for meat in much the same way as our “meat” animals are factory-farmed. But when we hear about the Yulin Festival, we think it’s abhorrent. People get so angry when they read about it or see images on social media. A lot of these are the same people that go to Christmas markets and chow down on hog roasts rotating on a spit. There’s a hypocrisy in that, that goes unrecognised. How is it worse to kill and eat a dog than it is to kill and eat a pig? The only difference is perception.

Remember how angry you were when you heard about the Yulin festival and how upset you were at seeing those images. That’s how vegans feel too, but what’s worse for us, is that we don’t just see this surface on social media once a year, we see it every day, everywhere we look; in the supermarket, in a cafe, in people’s houses, at parties. We cannot get away from it.

Imagine that you’re at a restaurant with a friend and they’ve just ordered a Spaniel sandwich. Would you look away while they were eating? Would you be able to put it out of your mind? Would you lose your appetite? Welcome to my world. I sit and eat with meat-eaters because I still have to live my life and get along with everyone, but it can put me off my own food. I have to use cognitive dissonance myself just to get through the meal. Some vegans can’t. They refuse to eat at the same table as someone who’s eating meat. I can understand that.

Another time when out to dinner, soon after I’d announced that I’d turned vegan, the person I was sat directly opposite ordered a sizzling steak platter. Maybe they were trying to make a point. Their meal arrived and meat juices were spitting everywhere, all over the table, inching increasingly closer to my plate.

The reason I’m recounting this story is to demonstrate what vegans go through on the regular. Non-vegans don’t have to deal with things like this. The situation simply isn’t the same when the roles are reversed. A non-vegan wouldn’t be sickened by vegan food in the same way that a vegan is sickened by someone eating the chopped up dead body of an animal.

I hope this helps to explain why sometimes vegans come across as being angry. I can’t speak for all vegans, but I personally sometimes struggle to cope with the injustice. It pains me that I live in a world where I’m the one constantly having to defend my decision not to cause harm to animals, surely it should be the other way around?

People would want to know… Wouldn’t they?

It’s actually incredibly difficult to tell someone that you’re vegan. You feel apprehension, mentally gritting your teeth, wondering which way the conversation is going to go this time. You quickly learn to gauge people’s reactions. Some people are really receptive and genuinely interested and you know you can talk about it. Others, however, get angry very quickly and you know to let the subject drop. I’ve found that this can be the same whether talking to a stranger or to someone you’ve known all your life. In some ways, it’s more difficult to tell someone you’ve known all your life that you’re vegan. It can, I guess, seem a little hypocritical. “You’ve always eaten meat and dairy, so don’t start preaching to me now.” But the thing is, it’s the very opposite of hypocritical. You see, the day I learnt of the horrors of the meat and dairy industry was the day that I stopped funding them.

The horrors I refer to are threefold. Firstly, are the animals, that’s a given. Secondly is the environment (for more information on how the meat and dairy industry is bad for the environment, see my previous post HERE). Thirdly are the dangers to human health. As soon as I learnt that processed meats are classified by the World Health Organisation as being as carcinogenic as cigarettes, I stopped feeding them to my children. I learnt that eating meat is linked with Type II diabetes in later life as well as heart disease and strokes. These are all preventable illnesses that can be avoided by eschewing meat. I also learnt that casein, an animal protein found in milk and cheese is the most relevant carcinogen ever identified and that your chances of developing certain cancers can be reduced by a third on a plant-based diet.

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Photo credit: @veganforeva10 Instagram

If you want to know more information on the health impacts of eating meat and dairy, watch Forks Over Knives and What The Health? both available on Netflix.

When I learnt these things, I wondered why it wasn’t more widely known and I wanted to tell everyone I knew about it. Surely everyone would want to know? Turns out people don’t want to know. They really strongly don’t want to know. There are some that do. So I tell them. I chip away at my family and feed them small bits of information about how eating meat and dairy affects health and slowly but surely it starts to make an impact.

Because I care about you

I won’t be a quiet vegan because I care about people. I don’t want to watch them suffer from cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and any other preventable diseases. I don’t want to see my mum and dad succumb to illness and suffering when I could have opened my mouth to warn them and stopped it from happening. So the next time I attempt to “ram my vegan agenda down your throat”, take it as a compliment, it means I care about you.

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Because I care about our world

I won’t go into detail about this one as I covered it quite extensively in my last post (read about it HERE). We need to do everything we can to prevent global warming to continue on its current path. We’ve literally been told to reduce our meat consumption or the world as we know it will end by mid-century, so yeah, for the sake of my children, I want the world to at least reduce meat consumption, and I’ll shout it from the rooftops if I have to. So many people have thanked me for alerting them to how their food choices are impacting the environment and they’ve made a few changes to their diet. The more the movement spreads, the more chance we have of saving the planet.

Because people don’t want to be in the dark

Until last year, I was blissfully unaware of exactly what went on in the meat and dairy industries. I was shocked to find out for example that the dairy industry was worse than the meat industry in terms of cruelty to animals. I naively thought that milk was fine “because nothing dies”. But then I found out that the cow is still slaughtered for meat at the end but endures a lifetime of torture before then; being forcibly impregnated every year to maintain high milk yields and having her babies stolen from her; being hooked up to machines that milk the life from her until she collapses aged around 6 years when she will be killed for hamburger meat rather than living until her natural lifespan of around 20 years. The boy babies from the milk industry are a ‘waste product’ and so become veal, whereas the girl babies will endure the same terrible fate as their mothers. We don’t know this stuff because it’s hidden from us.

I was also really upset that my friend who has been vegan for 10 years hadn’t told me any of this. I, without doubt, would’ve become vegan sooner, had I known. So I go on about it to anyone who’ll listen because I don’t want people approaching me in years to come asking “why didn’t you tell me?”

Because I care about Them

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Photo credit: @vegancommunity Instagram

Whilst there are literally hundreds of reasons to go vegan, the most obvious one is to save the lives of these sentient beings who have been bred into a miserable existence; where they’ll live in nasty conditions, worse than a prison, with health issues, until one day they are sent off to slaughter, where they’ll cry, experience fear as they smell the blood on the kill floor and watch their brothers and sisters being strung up by their ankles and having their throats slit to become someone’s lunch… When that person could’ve just eaten something else.

According to PETA, by being vegan, I’m saving 198 animals per year. Or rather, 198 animals per year are not bred into existence. By talking about it and giving information and educating, the movement is spreading. Because of my inability to stay quiet about these issues, my husband is now vegan, as is my brother, my Mum is pescatarian, my sister and my Dad have reduced their red meat consumption, my friend has become flexitarian and some of my work colleagues have stopped eating certain types of meat too. If I had kept quiet, I would have been limited to saving just 198 animals per year. By being a vocal vegan, I’ve saved countless more. And it has a knock-on effect. My husband has been talking to people and raising awareness with his work colleagues, some of which are researching veganism themselves and have already started to make some changes.

Try to stop me

I’m going to continue to spread the vegan message for the sake of people’s health, the planet’s health and the animals’ lives. If you want to shut me up… go vegan!

 

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