I, vegan

23rd January 2018

It’s Veganuary, and a lot of people are trying to go vegan this month. This is just one aspect of a huge surge in people going meat and dairy free in the past few years in the UK. It’s undeniable- vegans are on the rise, with over three and a half times as many people eating a vegan diet in the UK as there were just ten years ago.

We asked vegans Henry Knapper, Gazza, Hannah Rolland, Bethan Jenkins, Michelle Middleton, and Callis, the most ignorant questions many vegans are troubled with on a daily basis, to find out more about the rising trend.

How do you get your protein?

Bethan: I get my protein from many places! Nuts, seeds, hummus, chia seeds, spinach and so much more!

Michelle: I think lots of people think you need to eat your body weight in protein every day – you don’t! But beans, sweet potato, avocado, soya milk and yoghurts, loads of nuts, seeds, veg – so many options. You don’t need to be constantly eating specialist protein replacement products.

Hannah: Easy! Oats, tofu, broccoli, beans, lentils, nuts are all full of protein, and those are just a few examples. How do you think other omnivorous animals like Hippos, Gorillas, Rhinos and Elephants are so hench? Plants have protein too!

Gazza: By eating a suitably calorific intake of a variety of foods which all contain protein, especially nuts, seeds and edamame.

Henry: Curries, pasta dishes, stir-fries, roasts (either fake meat/nut roast.)

What can you actually eat?

Bethan: I can basically eat anything that doesn’t come from an animal. There’s so many delicious plant-based alternatives!

Michelle: Anything that doesn’t contain animal products! You can be as super healthy, or as unhealthy and junk food hoovering, as you want. Plus, vegan Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is amazing.

Hannah: For most things that you omnivores eat, there is a vegan version of it! I even ate vegan scrambled eggs with my full-English breakfast yesterday! But you don’t need meat alternatives to eat healthy, yummy tasty foods. Vegetables are just as tasty and nutritious.

Callis: Most things that anyone eats, but minus the meat and dairy. And yes, vegan cheese is a thing. It seems to amaze most people that vegan burgers and pizzas exist too.

What’s it like eating out?

dan eating a vegan burger on brick lane
Callis eating a vegan burger on Brick Lane, London

Bethan: Eating out is easy as long as you do a little research before-hand.

Michelle: It can be daunting at first, but you get the hang of it pretty easily. Even the least vegan-friendly place can rustle you up a jacket potato and beans, plus side salad. I don’t starve!

Callis: It’s pretty easy anywhere you go if you follow basics such as most Indian and Chinese places doing vegetable/bean curd options. Otherwise, you can always rely on the chains such as Nando’s, Zizzi and Ask Italian having good vegan choices. More and more dedicated vegan places are popping up too which is great.

Gazza: Easy, chips….seriously though, most places cater these days.

Henry: Not as hard as expected, the vast majority of places will accommodate and a growing number of places have options stated on their menus (especially mainstream places.)

Plants are alive so why do you still eat them?

Michelle: Plants do not have central nervous systems. They do not feel pain, have relationships, have likes and dislikes or personalities. In fact, lots of plants are “designed” by nature for us to take the fruit so that seeds get spread around!

Hannah: Actually, more plants are required to feed an omnivorous diet since the animals they eat need to eat plants too.

Henry: Veganism isn’t about not eating living things it’s about not contributing to animal exploitation!

Callis: Plants are not sentient beings. Next.

How are you not dead?

dans homemade vegan pizza
Callis’s homemade vegan pizza

Bethan: Well, a vegan lifestyle can easily sustain the human body and allow it to thrive…there are millions of vegans who are all very much alive!

Michelle: Road safety, kids, always look both ways…

Hannah: I’m not dead because I eat a balanced, nutritious diet. In fact, I’m a hell of a lot healthier than I was before I went vegan (I lived off chicken nuggets and microwave pizza.)

Gazza: Half of all deaths in the western world are from cardiovascular disease (often brought on or worsened by eating lots of dairy or red meat.)

Callis: In all honesty, with the abuse I’ve put my body through with alcohol, smoking and junk food over the years, turning vegan is the least of my health worries.

Do you tell everyone that you’re vegan all the time?

Bethan: Only when it’s necessary, like when I’m ordering food.

Michelle: I tell people my name first. It’s only likely to come up if you offer me a hot drink.

Hannah: Not really, in fact, I’m actually quite embarrassed to tell people due to all the nasty comments and annoying comments I receive.

Callis: You don’t realise how many times you have to talk about food in everyday life until it’s to tell people what you can’t eat. Fancy going to KFC for lunch? Do you want milk in your tea? Anyone want some of the leftover birthday cake I’ve brought in? Is everyone okay with this set menu for the staff Xmas party?

How do you survive without cheese?

Bethan: When you realize there’s cruelty and suffering behind cheese it’s easy to live without! Besides, there’s loads of delicious vegan cheeses.

Michelle: I didn’t even like cheese that much. Curdled breast milk of another species? It’s a weird idea, once you step back from it.

Henry: You get over it, trust me.

Are all vegans hippies?

Gazza: Not these days, that’s just a misconception.

Bethan: The majority of vegans I know (including me) aren’t hippies. We are just “normal” people, whatever normal is, haha.

Michelle: I personally lean more toward the goth look, myself. I think it’s interesting that lots of subculture groups seem to have lots of vegans. Is it because they are used to being a bit different anyway? Your basic vegan look is human.

Hannah: No, not all vegans are hippies. In fact, the majority are not. We all come from different walks of life.

Callis: I would certainly class myself as a dirty liberal lefty SJW scumbag, but I align more with Punk Rock ethics personally.

hannah protest
Hannah (right) hates the suffering that can go into meat and dairy products

If meat is evil why do you eat fake meat?

Bethan: We eat fake meat because an animal has not been slaughtered for it, there is no sadness, suffering or cruelty behind the fake meat we eat. Besides, it tastes good!

Michelle: It’s just another choice or option available. I don’t want to eat food that means something died or suffered to make it. My soya burger or vegan sausage just means that I don’t have to!

Henry: Because fake meat is only fake evil.

Hannah: Because I still like the taste and texture of meat, I just hate the suffering (to animals and humans), pain and environmental damage that it causes. Fake meat does not cause this so why the hell shouldn’t I enjoy it?

Will you be offended if I eat meat in front of you?

Bethan: I wouldn’t say I’d be offended, but I’d be upset because I know the process of how that meat has come to your table. Perhaps I’d try to have a calm discussion with you about it.

Michelle: Personally, no, I think everyone has to make their own journey and me hassling you about that animal will only make you angry and less open-minded. But comments about how I’m missing out, how the pig wanted to be bacon, etc? Yeah, that makes you a dick, really.

Hannah: No, I will not be “offended,” people eat meat in front of me on a daily basis and I see it on my television, computer, phone, every single day. It does, however, upset me to think of the suffering caused to make that meat.

Isn’t it expensive?

hannahs vegan breakfast
Hannah’s vegan breakfast

Bethan: Being vegan isn’t expensive at all as long as you buy the basics- fruit, veg, beans and pasta etc. But it’s always nice to treat yourself!

Michelle: Like any other diet, some things are expensive, some aren’t. The more things you can cook yourself, rather than buying ready-made, the cheaper it gets. Some things are just worth the expense. Did I mention vegan Ben and Jerry’s?

Hannah: I spend less than my meat eating friends on food and less than I did before I went vegan. On average I spend about £15 a week on food. You can get vegan alternatives from shops like Iceland, Lidl, Aldi, and Farmfoods.

Gazza: Definitely not, think about things like rice and peas, wholefoods are inexpensive.

Henry: If you go for the expensive stuff then yes, sometimes you have to, but most of the stuff you buy is cheap as it’s mainly vegetables.

Callis: Depends. A quick junk food fix or ready meal can be pricier, but pound-for-pound most of the fake meat products and home cooked meals are around about the same price as meat or dairy versions. 

What’s the worst thing about being vegan?

Bethan: For me, it’s meeting people that are absolutely reluctant to listen to my point of view

Michelle: The worst thing can be people’s attitudes, reactions or judgements, sometimes. Lots of people struggle with events – weddings, parties, family gatherings, but to be honest, I’m just rude now and bring suitable food with me!

Hannah: Other people, the way we get berated for our life choices. And also the constant knowing that animals are suffering and dying.

Gazza: Nothing.

Callis: Having to debate with people who claim you are being ignorant to their right to eat meat as a defence mechanism to shift their own guilt.

dans christmas dinner

What’s the best thing about being vegan?

Bethan: The best thing about being vegan for me is being able to help animals which is my passion. And meeting great people!

Michelle: Knowing that feeding me doesn’t mean anything is suffering or dying. It is a win every single day. Plus vegan Ben and Jerry’s, obviously.

Hannah: Knowing that I no longer contribute to the suffering of animals and finding foods that I would never have tried before that I love!

Henry: Knowing you’ve minimised your contribution to animal abuse and exploitation.

Now you know the truth! Use this to learn or send to your vegan friends who are sick and tired of answering these silly questions every day.

Original illustration by Elise Featherstone

23rd January 2018