Sunday, 13 March 2016

What the Vegan!

Vegan. Like 'poet' the very word has become synonymous with the eco-warriors, pseudo liberals, activists and protestors of the world.A swear word symbolic of a dirty, great unwashed segment of society found waltzing around in sandals and hessian smocks- probably carrying a handmade sign and a rucksack. Think Jeremy Corbyn meets Jesus and you're about there- but what does being a vegan really mean- once you cut through all those labels.

Around six years ago, I took the plunge myself and decided to try this radical lifestyle. Of course, I was lured from bacon sandwiches by the only pull factor strong enough, a woman. I didn't ever intend to become a lentil eating slave to houmous and carrot sticks and as a Friday night beer and kebab enthusiast, I really expected it to be harder to follow such a restrictive diet.

Once I gave up meat I found myself eating any concoction of seasoned, roasted vegetables with pasta and rice I could get my hands on. I can tell you now, I probably ate more in that first month of going vegan than the regular person eats in a Christmas season. I was in a world of flavour discovery using ingredients I didn't even know were sold in our little seaside town. Spices, pulses, seasonings and beans I had walked past for years found their way into the kitchen as I sought out recipes from all over the globe.

Going vegan wasn't a chore for me, more a liberation. The great M in the sky was no longer a beacon of comfort so I found techniques. I swapped out the meat in the quick staple recipes to varying effect and within no time found that mince had turned to grated carrot, stewing steak to sweet potato. Lentils will never be chicken but in curry they're cheaper, healthier and just as spicy. In using this technique you'll save about two quid a portion, which is more than enough to shell out on zingy limes to perk up your rice.

What is cost though, in the grander scheme of things. First, consider that money is the way we pay for things in life that we want, for a lifestyle. We didn't choose the system but we proceed with it, with all the disparity and inequality that the system brings.

A fortunate one percent own the rest of us through systematic investment in property, employment markets and services which, in most cases, we invented, built and maintained for them in exchange for a meagre clutch of coins- spent hand over fist as we play a never ending game of catch up. Do we like this or accept this? Sadly, in too many cases we do but this gives us no right to impose this fault ridden system on nearly every other species on the planet. Did God appear, abdicate and put us in charge?

What is cost? Cost is spending your whole life, womb to plate for just the sustenence needed to fatten you up. Cost is the artificial insemination of a cow to induce milking, twice a day until the teats dry up. The resulting calves are taken for the veal industry or the milking industry, dependent on the sex. Health care is an expensive business but to pay for what is essentially a  sex attack by means of slave production and a life of work is surely too far.

So go vegan, just for one day a week. Make a small mark on the system and consider whether you actually need so much milk. We are the only species that drinks it after infancy and the only one that drinks milk from another animal entirely. Just try soya, almond, coconut or oat milk. Have durum wheat pasta. Roast root vegetables. Add lentils and beans.

It isn't about having an epiphany, it is about opening your eyes to reality. We didn't accept slave plantations, we shouldn't accept industrial farming. Save a life tomorrow, eat vegan.

Thanks for reading,