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A healthier and more compassionate alternative to most people's diet is worth yelling at, take it for me
How do you know if someone is vegan? Don't worry, they will tell you. " It's an old joke, but it's still around. And now that we've been in Veganuary for over three weeks, there's no escape from veganism. I became a convert just over a year ago with the help of the 2017 Veganuary campaign.
Oh look. Just a few lines and I have managed to tell you that I am vegan.
I have to say, when I first heard this joke, I felt slightly amused and slightly embarrassed, probably because I'm one of those pesky vegans who seem to use the word vegan in every sentence. Watch? I did it again! My partner is not vegan but is kind enough to try all my new recipes and eats mostly plant-based foods at home. He has the patience of a saint, but even he has cracked a joke about my inability to speak about anything else. I am very lucky to have friends and family who are vegan or vegetarian, or just interested in what I have to say about it. But it got me thinking about why vegans feel the need to tell the world.
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I think the first realization you have when you go vegan is how exciting it is. Instead of being limited to a restrictive diet, which is the expectation of most new vegans, a whole new world of food and a new way of cooking opens up for you. You start experimenting with ingredients you've never used before, or sometimes never heard of, like nooch or seitan, with amazing culinary results (sometimes), and you want everyone to try what you've tried. If you've been a hard cheese addict for most of your life, like I have, of course you want your family to try the latest plant-based cheese that melts like mozzarella.
You may also find yourself feeling much more energetic and enthusiastic after switching to a plant-based diet. I think this is partly due to the amount of healthy nutrients you get every day; my consumption of fruits and vegetables has more than doubled. But for those who have gone vegan on the animal rights side, every meal is guilt-free and eating almost becomes an exercise in mindfulness, leaving you with positive feelings. Who wouldn't want their friends and family to feel it too?
Many people are unaware of the cruelty with which their meat, cheese and leather products are produced
Most new vegans will join an online group or two; there's a lot to choose from, and Veganuary even has its own Facebook page. The sense of belonging can be exhilarating, but it can also blind you to the fact that most of the people around you know very little about the vegan lifestyle and, at worst, have little or no interest.
But there is a more serious aspect to vegans who scream about their lifestyle for what it feels like 24 hours a day. Although it has become modern to "eat clean," and a plant-based diet is often considered clean, the roots of veganism are deeply ingrained in the world of animal rights activism.
Many people are unaware of the cruelty with which their meat, cheese and leather products are produced, while others have had fleeting glimpses and choose to ignore it. I grew up a vegetarian for most of my life, but it was 15 years since my mother became independent and she gave me explicit explanations of why she had done so before opening her eyes to the brutality of the dairy and egg industries. He knew what happened on dairy farms: that females spend their lives being artificially inseminated, only to have their young taken from them at birth; that these calves are usually slaughtered for the veal while their mothers spend their lives attached to the machines that extract the milk destined for their lost babies. But I still chose to ignore it. Once you open your eyes and have that lightbulb moment, it's hard to watch the rest of the world get into their cheese and burger plates without feeling like you should say something.
I often think that if I told that friend how their omelette ended up on their plate, or that stranger in the fur coat like the mink or coyote who had worn it before, they might reconsider. Maybe I could make them see the world as I see it now, and maybe veganism could become the norm, rather than radical.
When I talk about veganism to my friends and family, it is usually in the context of a new project that I am working on, or a great new product that I want to share. I'm not one to interfere with people's decisions, although I always encourage people to ask me questions and find out more about why I'm vegan (and how great it is). But in a vegan's ideal world, slaughter and unnecessary pain would no longer exist, and when you know there is a more compassionate alternative, it's hard not to mention it a time or two.
• Rebecca Jones is a GP in London and blogs as a Vegan Doctor. His articles can be found at www.thevegandoctor.co.uk or on Facebook (thevegandoc01)
Original article (in English)