If any of you have been following my weekly column you will know that I tend to discuss my opinions on current events from a more impersonal stance. However, this week I thought I would take the opportunity to discuss something that has become a part of myself which I am both passionate and proud of. Before you read the next sentence, I urge you to try and refrain from rolling your eyes, sighing or leaving the page and instead just hear me out. I decided to become vegan.
To those of you still with me, I would like to make it very clear that I am in no way trying to persuade you to join the dark-side of hemp tote bags, sandals and chickpeas, presided over by pretentious hippies with unwavering smiles and superiority complexes. This is because this mythical land does not exist, or at least not for me. In no way do I believe I am better than someone who eats meat, nor will I ever try and convince someone uninterested that they should follow suit. The fact that I am vegan is something I tend to keep to myself, but something that if asked about I could discuss for hours. During a conversation in which my vegetarianism was brought up by a friend, I corrected them by saying I had made the switch to veganism. In return my friend quipped, ‘and it only took you five minutes to bring that up!’. This is one example of many times I had been subtlety ridiculed for my lifestyle.
You may be wondering why, having just described my apprehension towards divulging this fact, I would publicly write an article about it. The truth is, I was inspired by an article I read about The Avengers. Many of the actors portraying these celebrated and remarkable heroes have publicly stated that they follow a plant-based diet. While I was impressed, I was also surprised. It became apparent to me then that I was hypocritically perpetuating the stereotype that I was supposedly fighting against. By silencing myself, by shutting down the conversation before it had a chance to begin, I was closing not only the eyes and ears of my contemporaries, but also my own.
I continue to struggle to understand the distaste towards veganism by many meat-eaters. A vegan diet is proven to be highly beneficial if done correctly, in regards to health, environment and economy. The more people that decide to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, whether it be full time or part time, the better. However, how are people supposed to learn if there is a brick wall built between different ideologies. Vegans and vegetarians should not be shamed out of discussing their reasons and ideas, in fear of being laughed at or mocked. Likewise, there is clear distinction between preaching and explaining. Diet and lifestyle is a very personal thing and there is certainly no universal answer.
While I am happy to admit I am biased, I am also always open to hearing opposite views. The aim of this column was to try and inspire a more open and free conversation. As a community and a people, I believe our truest source of education and inspiration is each other. Unless ideas, beliefs and cultures are unrestricted we cannot progress both as societies and individuals. No matter what you eat, we should all take a leaf out of The Avenger’s book.