Is vegan the new black?

Words by Michelle Andrews.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment in time becoming a vegan became the social equivalent of having a box gap. Probably around the same time young people congregated together and decided laxative teas were fab and that scrubbing your body with coffee was cool.

Whenever or however it happened, the fact is it did happen, and it’s probably the most frustrating trend of them all.

Suddenly social media is flooded with people my age posting about their new “Raw vegan lifestyle”, and the “80-10-10 diet”. People who have converted after watching YouTube videos, or following Loni Jane on Instagram, and now feel the need to preach about their new-found sense of compassion and earthling-ness. Posts that gush about the joy of eating living food and the majestic beauty of a dragonfruit are nauseating at best. We all get it, you love Mother Nature.

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Personally, veganism doesn’t appeal to me whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong – I love healthy eating. I love vegetables and plants. I even drink almond milk from time to time. I am against animal cruelty… but I also love scrambled eggs, and nobody is breaking us up. Ever.

I believe that eating meat and animal bi-products is a personal choice that does not warrant outside judgment. The tendency to survive off other species is evident across all walks of life, and the inborn impulse to eat prey demonstrates itself everywhere from the sky to the sea. As clichéd as it sounds, I do see the validity in the food-chain. Consuming animal bi-products doesn’t instantaneously make you selfish or cruel and, in my opinion, it’s an evolutionarily natural process. So long as you eat consciously, and choose products that promote the humane treatment of wildlife, you should not be made to feel guilty for your diet.

The way you choose to eat should be treated with the same respect as religious beliefs or sexual preference – it’s your life, your choice, and shouldn’t be criticised.

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Don’t agree with what or how I eat? That’s fine – difference of opinion is a beautiful thing. There is no universally correct view. Contrasting views make life interesting, it’s negative and abrasive critiques that bring about conflict.

If you want to miss out on the deliciousness of a cheese toastie, be my guest. But the moment you try to tell me that I’m morally and ethically challenged for enjoying animal products, I will hurl my toastie at your face. You can have your beliefs, but that doesn’t give you free reign to shove them down people’s throats.

I have nothing but admiration for those who advocate for just animal treatment and rights. The constraint and self-control a vegan lifestyle requires deserves recognition and appreciation, but it will never warrant preaching.

I once met a 21 year-old vegan who drove a Volkswagen Golf with leather seats. I asked her why she was okay with sitting on the skin of a cow but not okay with eating its meat. Her response? “I can’t completely avoid all uses for animals, that’s practically impossible”.

NO – JUST NO. If you’re going to tell me to not drink milk and eat cheese sticks then you can’t go and sit on the skin of the cow I got them from. If you are going to name yourself as a vegan, and label every other diet as inherently evil, then you better commit whole-heartedly and show some consistency. That means no modern medicine, no woollen jumpers, and no luxurious leather upholstery. Veganism isn’t just a fad, and it shouldn’t be treated that way.

If you decide to convert to veganism, for the love of ice-cream please do it for the right reasons, not because Instagram dictates that it’s the new ‘in thing’ or because tagging #veganfoodshare and checking in at Vegie Bar will give you a handy follower boost.

Overall, there needs to be a level of respect. Everyone should have the freedom to eat how they wish, and understand the right of the person next to them to do the same without judgment.

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