Reasons: The Vegan Evolution

Ethical Choice

 I used to be a Vegetarian, a long time ago, in my teenage years.  I abandoned eating meat with great passion and self-righteousness off the back of a few months of having a junior membership to the RSPCA, and being enrolled in Greenpeace by my Granny.  My bedroom floor was littered with magazines and campaign leaflets depicting the many atrocities inflicted upon animals.  I would write letters to MPs, poems for the campaign magazines, and wear with pride the stickers organisations sent to me.  My traditional English, and omnivorous, family did their best to adapt to the circumstances, my mum bearing the brunt of it as I refused the home-prepared meals she’d been serving up for years: Shepherd’s Pie, Beef Stew, Sunday Roast…  It didn’t last long.  At the age of 18, on a cycling and camping holiday around the coast of Cornwall with a boyfriend, I lapsed over butcher’s own sausages cooked over a camping stove.  After a hard day’s cycling my small tin of Heinz Spaghetti Hoops in Tomato Sauce just didn’t hit the spot.  Ravenous with the outdoors, it was easy to fling conscience to the winds and feast on animal flesh again.  By the time I returned from that holiday I was a born-again meat-eater and didn’t look back.

In recent years, I’ve eaten less and less meat, as public health campaigns, food scares, and friends’ lifestyle choices have persuaded me in new food directions.  The substitution for meat and fish has more often than not turned out to be cheese, and dairy products have figured large on the shopping list as I seek to gratify the craving for foods which are smooth and creamy.  From time to time it has crossed my mind to take up the ‘Vegetarian’ banner again, but I’ve been held back by both laziness and the growing realisation that it’s not just meat and fish that are the problem.  My present feeling is, if I’m going to make an ethical choice, the thing to do is avoid using animals altogether, and that means avoiding all foods produced by animals.  I feel disturbed by the industrialisation of the bodies of other creatures (and humans for that matter).  The dairy industry is just one example.  Once I started reading more about this, the ethical arguments became harder to ignore.  A friend sent me a link to a Vegan educational organisation called ‘Gentle World’ and their monthly updates have been dropping into my inbox for over a year now.  The momentum has been growing, as I’ve met more people who wholeheartedly live by this philosophy, and drop by drop experiences seem to be showing me that this might be something important.

 Health

I’ve always been a sneezy, wheezy person.  If I get ill, it’s usually with a cold.  If I go into a house I’ve not been into before, I’ll often as not start sneezing within 30 minutes of arriving.  I easily get ‘bunged up’, out of breath, snore in my sleep, struggle to breathe.   I’ve read that cutting dairy products out of the diet can help significantly with these kinds of issues and, believe me, after living with myself in this condition for so many years, I’m ready to make sacrifices if they’ll bring about positive change.  Recently, I’ve been receiving Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture treatments, and these have only served to strengthen the suggestion that changing my diet would help my overall health.  In TCM, many of the things I suffer from can be explained by the idea of “Damp”, both a physical and emotional condition that contributes a general feeling of ‘bogginess’ in the body and the psyche, and which underlies most of the prevalent health pathologies which affect people in developed countries: cancer, obesity, and heart disease being just a few examples.    There are many other health reasons for increasing the nutrition from vegetables in your diet.  Yesterday, when a friend heard what I was planning to do, I was sent this BBC News article by way of encouragement (www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21258509 – thanks Toby).

There’s something very holistic about this choice.  It could be good for me, and good for the planet overall.  In an age of increasing struggle over global resources, moving to a plant-based diet makes sense.  It’s a logical step, which I think is why Gentle World’s writer has chosen the word “evolution” rather than “revolution”.  If chosen, however, this way of life has the potential to be revolutionary on many levels.

I’m here trying it to see what evolves.

Advertisements