The ‘Vegan’ movement has definitely been a very debatable topic over the past few years. Whether you see it as just a ‘trend’ or a new way of life that everyone should adapt to – it has definitely been a hot topic across the media and has especially sparked curiosity in the younger generations. It’s our innate human nature to keep on questioning our society and strive to improve our health and to protect our planet.
This is great and all but it sometimes seems to me, that being Vegan has become a bit like an identity. LGBTQ-V would start to look too much like my Wi-fi password!
I have been a proud meat eater for all my life and I would be the first to defend my carnivorous habits, however, like many of us, I have been somewhat influenced by the immense amount of information and a form of ‘peer-pressure’ which mostly comes from social media. Being South African, I was raised in a culture where meat plays a considerable part and could almost be considered a staple food. It is pretty much the main ‘attraction’ at social or family gatherings and I would go as far to say that the meat is what ‘brings everyone together’.
My point is: in most cultures, food plays a considerable role and many countries have a ‘delicacy’ that they are proud of; whether that includes meat or other animal products. The Dutch have their Gouda Cheese, the British loves a Pork pie, the Wiener Schnitzel is iconically Austrian and Japanese cuisine wouldn’t be complete without Sushi. I don’t know of a country that’s known for broccoli. Many social or family gatherings are also centered around food which might follow decades of tradition and nostalgic memories. For many, the thought of replacing a Christmas turkey with Tofu and Brussel sprouts, is an unsettling concept; but mostly it’s the fear of something completely different.
But why don’t we start by making ‘Vague-gan’ food choices.
Definition of ‘Vague-gan’ diet: As vague and as ambiguous as it sounds.
There are no rules, just a sense of mindfulness about the food choices you make. For example, It doesn’t mean that you should completely give up eating meat, but maybe try and buy high quality directly from a local Butcher or reduce your consumption to special occasions only. (or when the uncontrollable cravings for a Kebab kicks in, after a night out.)
The aim of the game is to try and make better choices wherever and whenever possible, and to move away from our nutritional habits which are inevitably compromising our health and the environment. I tried cutting out all animal products cold turkey, (Apologizes for the non-Vegan expression) but following a strict Vegan diet, didn’t make me feel as good as I anticipated. However, I think we should all challenge the way we eat and the way we approach the concept of a ‘plant-based’ diet. Having an open mind and finding a better balance, would already make a significant difference.
I have radically reduced my meat consumption to only special occasions – but I still eat fish and eggs. The happiness that eggs on avocado and fresh bread brings me, should not be underestimated. I also buy my eggs directly from a local farm source; I assume that the chickens are at least happy there and I think we should try to support our local suppliers as much as possible. And as much as I have tried giving up dairy products…cheese always somehow finds its way back into my fridge.
I think it’s amazing that even just in the past 5 years, there are so many more Vegan options/alternatives available and the conversation and awareness has become unavoidable. Following a strict Vegan diet does challenge you to think more about what you are eating and perhaps becoming a bit more experimental with the way you cook or make food choices.
I really admire people who fully commit to a Vegan lifestyle and I have been inspired by them, to rethink my eating habits and to make better choices. I love the fact that we are now able milk nuts, make burgers out of beans and take the cream out of ice-cream. But, we should not be left feeling guilty for giving in to a ‘cheat’ now and then. The truth is, animal products are going to be an available food source for years to come (or until we can convince everyone to give up their steaks for a bowl of fried crickets) and not everyone’s bodies or lifestyle is going to react well to the radical diet change. But it’s a lifestyle we could ‘vaguely’ start to apply.
All I’m trying to say is: Your diet doesn’t have to have a ‘label’ or become part of your identity. You’re not Sebastian the Paleo guy or Laura the Keto girl and you don’t have to add ‘Vegan’ to your Tinder bio. We are all entitled to choose what we want to eat. No ‘dietary lifestyle’ is perfect and lets face it, none of us are perfect.
Stay healthy and smiling! (*it’s still ok to say cheese!) Xx