Good question. Some people (including pre-vegan me) think that ‘veganism’ means hippies hugging trees, drinking moonshine, wearing paper shoes, snorting flowers and trying to get folk to join your 'cult'...
Cheeky bastards! Here's what veganism actually means:
SO... YOU'RE AGAINST ANIMAL CRUELTY?
Yep. Got it in one! No cult. No moonshine. No paper shoes (they're crap, don't bother!)
We're just simply defending the animals.
AND HOW LONG HAVE VEGANS BEEN DOING THAT?
Evidence of people choosing to avoid animal products can be traced back over 2,000 years!
Whilst the term 'veganism' wasn't used until the 1940's, the concept can be traced back to ancient Indian
and eastern Mediterranean societies.
BIT OF HISTORY?
Sure! As early as 500 BCE, Greek philosopher and maths-legend Pythagoras and his many followers were all practising vegetarianism. Around the same time, Siddhārtha Gautama (aka the 'Buddha') was also discussing vegetarian diets with his followers. Followers of Hinduism and Jainism also advocated vegetarianism, promoting the belief that humans should not inflict pain on other animals.
In 1806, at the age of 41, a chap called Dr. William Lambe (ironic eh?) adopted an exclusively plant-based diet as a result of health problems. At the time, it was common for people following a 'vegetable diet' to consume dairy products, but Dr. Lambe rejected these products as well, making him one of the first 'vegans' as we know it today.
Here he is look...
'My reason for objecting to every species of matter to be used as food, except the direct produce of the earth – as maybe seen in my last publication - is founded on the broad ground that no other matter is suited to the organs of man. This applies then with the same force to eggs, milk, cheese, and fish, as to flesh meat.' - Dr William Lambe
THANKS FOR THAT. DO YOU LIKE BEING VEGAN LEE?
God I love it! It's the best decision I've ever made. Everyone should be vegan!
THEN WHY AREN'T THEY?
Dunno. There are a ton of possible excus... reasons.
'EXPENSIVE!' and 'ELITIST!'
No. Meat and dairy are the most expensive foods available, whereas fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, pasta, rice, etc. are the cheapest foods available!
(Trust me, I haven't got a plant-based pot to piss in but I still eat like a king!)
Processed foods like nuggets and burgers can be expensive in certain supermarkets but as
more and more people are going plant-based now, the demand is increasing, therefore the prices are falling.
If the government subsidised the more sustainable plant-based organic farming industries,
instead of the unsustainable meat, dairy and egg industries, we'd see huge improvements to the
accessibility of these foods for everyone!
Some people think veganism is 'TOO EXTREME' but it's quite the opposite - after all, how can saving animals be extreme? Killing and torturing animals is extreme.
FEAR OF CHANGE?
Some may see going vegan as a disruptive, inconvenient or difficult change to their currently comfortable lifestyle. But it doesn't have to be.Cooking vegetables and plant-based foods is much faster and healthier than cooking animals and the beauty of a vegan diet is that a lot of staple foods can simply be eaten raw if you can't be arsed to cook! Boom!
For me personally, the only change I made was simply substituting animals for plants. That's it!
Remember, the minor inconvenience we go through when swapping what we buy to something different, to something plant-based, is NOTHING compared to the suffering that that animal must endure.
A meal lasts us 15 minutes but death, for that animal, is eternal.
Almost everything I used to eat, wear or use was made from the bodies and secretions of what were once living, breathing animals. Mad eh? Like that's all we had available!?
Now, in 2022, there's an abundance of choice. It's never been easier to get vegan alternatives than it is today and so now, everything I buy is made from plants and other non-sentient, cruelty-free materials.
Some people just LIKE EATING DEAD ANIMAL FLESH.
They like the taste, the flavours and the textures. It's something they've always done, they feel great after eating it (despite having several 'unrelated' health conditions) and so they don't see any reason to stop.
And I was the same - I LOVED the taste of animal products.
Remember, I didn't go vegan because I stopped enjoying the taste...
"I like the taste" however doesn't morally justify taking the life of someone who doesn't want to die.
Just like basing our actions on something we've 'always done' doesn't morally justify what we do to animals.
Humans have always murdered each other - should we allow that to happen too just because
it's something we've 'always done'?
Besides, you can get ALL those beautiful flavours and textures just as easily from plant-based burgers.
Try a delicious BEYOND BURGER for example and let me know if you can tell the difference... I bet you can't...
FEAR OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION?
Let's face it, vegans get A LOT of bad press for simply trying to be kind, empathetic, compassionate people who just want to save the lives of animals that are needlessly abused, exploited, tortured and killed unnecessarily.
My simple changeover to plants, alone has been referred to as "SELF-INDULGENT!", "A RELIGION!",
"BEING HOLIER THAN THOU", "A HOBBY!", an "EXCUSE TO BE DIFFICULT!" and a "WASTE OF TIME!"
All of which are ridiculous and untrue, however these types of negative attitudes may discourage
good people from making any positive changes to their lives for fear of ridicule, feeling victimised
or 'singled out'.
Being vegan has nothing to do with religion - in fact most vegans aren't religious in the slightest
(after all, would a kind and benevolent God want us to treat his animals this way?)
Putting the animals first can hardly be seen as self-indulgent, nor can saving lives be a hobby.
No one's trying to be difficult - in fact, it's perfectly easy to show compassion.
And if, by simply making a slight change to my meals, it means another sentient being gets to
live their life the way they would want to, then that, to me, is far from a 'waste of time'.
You just have to remind yourself that you're doing this for the animals and that it
doesn't matter what human beings think.
They're not the ones being separated from their mothers or fearing for their lives every day.
It's the animals who appreciate your actions.
Remember, for every meal you decide to swap for a plant-based alternative, an animal gets to live.
And if their lives are still forcefully taken, at least their blood is not on your hands.
I remind myself of that every day.
IS THAT ALL?
Some folk think that by only eating plants, you're not getting everything that your body needs like protein, vitamins, calcium, minerals, magnesium, iron, omega 3, nutrients, etc.
What they don't seem to realise (and neither did I) is that:
a) these beliefs have been planted in our heads by the meat, dairy and egg industries
and b) ALL those things come from PLANTS!
The animals we eat get those things from PLANTS!
Grass, grains, straw, oats, wheat, barley, corn and soya are all PLANTS!
Cows, pigs and sheep are ALL herbivores which means they only eat PLANTS!
They are big, strong and healthy animals because they only eat PLANTS!
In fact, we feed plants to these animals to make them big and strong, all so that we can then eat the animals,
just to get the nutrients from the plants we feed them...
BUT THAT DOESN'T MAKE MUCH SENSE?
Does any of what we do to animals make sense?
WHAT 'BOUT B12 THO?
B12 is a bacteria that comes from the soil. It is carried on root vegetables/tubers when pulled from the ground. Again, it is NOT made by the animals themselves.
Alongside the vegetables, you can also take a small B12 supplement every couple of days just to make sure you're getting enough and for your own peace of mind.
By consuming animals, we're actually getting what we need 2nd-hand - from plants that have already been digested and fed through another living being.
If we cut out the middle animal and go straight to the plants directly - we get everything our body needs
1st-hand, which is much healthier for us, much more sustainable
and it means no one has to die in the process.
WHAT IF SOME PEOPLE SIMPLY DON'T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT VEGANISM?
Some people don't know enough about it and are blissfully unaware that it has anything to do with animals, thinking that it's mainly about food, lifestyle or the planet.
But all the information is out there, you just need to look (and if you can't be arsed, there's this thing!)
Some folk might not want to look into veganism because they think it might upset them and so are protecting themselves and their mental health. Whilst that's more than understandable, it doesn't help the animals - who, let's face it, are the only real victims in this whole setup.
Would we apply the same attitude and look away, if it was children being enslaved and exploited?
Some people, purposely remain ignorant and DON'T WANT TO KNOW what their money is supporting. Imagine living like that?
SO THAT'S 'VEGANISM' EH?
I think the word 'VEGANISM' can sometimes put people off too.
In all honesty, to me, it doesn't matter what term is used for defending animals.
It could be 'Flannelism' or 'Biscoffism' - it could even be a symbol like the one Prince had.
As long as we all agree that animal cruelty is wrong and needs to be abolished, the title could be anything!
Being vegan means that we see the world in different ways, according to the human, animal and environmental dimensions of our philosophy.
We're supposedly a 'nation of animal lovers' and the majority of non-vegans are likely to feel compassion for animals, but a vegan is likely to feel that compassion in places others might not.
OOH, YOU'RE SO SPECIAL! GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE THEN?
Are you sure?
Ok... You love your dog right? Well every year in Yulin, China - the 10-day 'Lychee and Dog Meat Festival' is held where over 20,000 wild, domesticated and selectively bred dogs are tortured,
(the more torture they receive, the 'tastier their flesh' supposedly), abused, electrocuted and boiled alive.
They are then eaten by paying customers.
Cat flesh is also available at the festival.
It is. It's abhorrent, unnecessary and cruel.
But it's no different to the cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and ducks that this happens to
every single day of the year.
Pigs are sent to gas chambers.
Chickens are electrocuted and gassed.
Male newborn chicks are macerated alive minutes after hatching.
Cows are hung upside down and left to bleed out after having their throats slit.
And not 20,000 over 10 days but over 75 billion land animals and between 0.79 and 2.3 trillion fish and marine animals a year - worldwide!
NOT IN THE UK THOUGH?
Particularly here in the UK. Not that the location matters.
HERE in the UK around 1.2 billion land animals are slaughtered for human consumption every year.
This includes over 1 billion chickens, 15 million turkeys (Merry Christmas!), 14 million sheep,
2.8 million cattle, over 10 million pigs and almost 15 million sheep and lambs.
In addition, almost one billion fish and 4.4 billion shellfish are killed.
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Because you pay for it to.
WHAT? I DON'T!
Like with most consumables, once a product has been purchased, the seller will immediately replace it
with another. That's how supply and demand works.
When you buy a dead animal to eat (or a meal with a dead animal in it), you're essentially paying for
someone to replace that murdered animal with another one, which leads to another unnecessary death,
paid for by your good self.
I also learned recently that, when the animals are slaughtered (as well as leading up to it), they experience trauma that stays in their cells and so when we eat their flesh, that emotional stress is still present.
This is then passed into our bodies.
I DON'T LIKE HEARING THIS STUFF!
I don't like writing it. Ask yourself why you don't like hearing it?
WHAT'S YOUR POINT LEE?
My point is this. Is it not hypocritical to feel sick, angry and upset about the dogs in Yulin yet not feel the same when it's happening to other innocent animals, much closer to home, every day?
Do we have a right to feel angry at the shoppers in Yulin when we're doing exactly the same thing
here in the UK?
Why is it acceptable for these horrors to happen to some animals but not to others?
Who are we to pick and choose who this happens to?
BUT WE DON'T EAT DOGS HERE LEE!
Do you think there's a difference between eating a dog and eating a pig?
Would you pay for those things to happen to dogs if we did eat them Lionel?
I thought you were?
ERM... ARE ALL YOUR BLOG POSTS GOING TO BE LIKE THIS?
Not at all. Loads of comedy on the way... They won't be this long either.
Just getting this one out of the way early. Besides, you asked for an example...
I DID. LET'S CHANGE THE SUBJECT.
Sure. Here you go... Check out this smashing new t-shirt from www.redbubble.com
NICE. A FUNNY LOOKING SAILOR WHO EATS PLANTS AND HAS ONE ARM BIGGER THAN THE OTHER...
What did you call me?
ARE YOUR FRIENDS VEGAN LEE?
Quite a few are yes. Some don’t like the ‘v’ word. They don't want to discuss it and will simply ignore you or change the subject if it comes up.
IGNORANCE IS BLISS EH?
Apparently so. And sometimes it genuinely is. I get it.
But some people are actually curious and want to learn more. Even if they have no intention of changing their diet from animals to plants, they appreciate that dialogue is important and that's plenty!
After all, how can you make a decision on something if you don't have all the information?
THEY'RE ALL GOOD PEOPLE THOUGH?
Of course. Someone isn't a bad person just because they consume animals. That's important to recognise. The people I love most in the world still eat and exploit animals.
Aside from the fact I was raised eating animals, and because western society, the government, farmers,
the media and all the others who are making money from their bodies told me I needed to eat them
because they were 'good for me'...
when it comes down to it, the main reasons I used to eat animals were simply because:
a) I loved the taste
b) I thought I needed them to survive
c) I never once thought about the animals or considered what they may have to go through
But I was still a good person - it's just that sometimes good people can do bad things.
I have since realised:
a) An animal's life is worth way more than my taste buds
b) We no longer need to kill and eat animals to survive
c) Once you DO think about the animals (and you should),
and once you DO look into what the animals have to endure to get onto your plate (and you should),
not only do you realise how cruel, immoral and unnecessary it all is
but you find that it is impossible not to act on it.
Thanks. 'I'm strong to the 'finich', 'cause I eats me spinach...'
Hello! Lee Brace here! Award-winning actor, comedian, writer, photographer and vegan.
Contact me at email@example.com