Vegan. One word. Five letters. A million questions (well, three reoccurring ones):
"But what do you eat?"
"Where do you get your protein?"
"Do you actually think you're making a difference?"
Veganism has always been an elite dietary entity in my mind. If you can exist without dairy, meat and (my beloved) honey you are existing on some existential plane of awesomeness. Such control, such creativity and such poise as you order your mocha with almond milk and fair trade cacao. Oh, and the fact you're no longer taking part in cruel and unethical industries? That's cool too. Seriously though, mochas with almond milk, do eeeet.
My diet is pretty clean and plant based 70% of the time but I decided to throw caution to the wind and take part in Animal Aid's 30 day vegan challenge. I'd like to say I'm doing it for the animals but in all honesty I am terrified of opening my eyes to the truth of our excessive animal consumption and its impact on the individual. I am aware that the rapid growth of the human population has lead to an unending demand on natural resources and believe that, by cutting out produce which is farmed on an industrial scale, we can really make a difference to the environment and cut down emissions. Saving the planet AND fluffy animals by simply being more aware of what goes in my mouth seems like a win- win situation.
What's stopped me in the past? Most vegans (and non vegans) answer with a single word. Cheese. We're all channelling our inner Wallace for the fromage and although I do enjoy a good cheese plate (board...platter...better make it a platter), this wasn't what put me off of a life of plant power.
I think the thing that has frightened me most is the idea of the pretentious vegan. We all know the joke: "How do you know if someone is vegan?" (answer "they'll tell you") and we all know the stereotype. Someone that sneers at your sushi, tuts at your bacon sarnie and takes every opportunity to impress a 'holier than thou' attitude regarding what goes in your mouth. I would rather eat all the baby bunnies on Canna than become the pretentious plant eater who is crossed off of everyone's dinner party list.
Instead I'm going into this as someone who loves meat and dairy, but isn't so in love with the environmental and ethical cost of sustaining a diet that is so focussed on animal sources. I'm looking forward to getting creative with my food, devouring more vitamins and nutritious goodies than ever before and taking responsibilities for my choices. Even if it is just a little bit. There's a massive vegan community online and hundreds of blogs and recipes I can't wait to subject my housemates to. Cauliflower Pizza is just the beginning!