Veganuary. No, it’s not a cult.

Yes, I’m a vegan. And yes, I am going to talk a lot about it.

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January 2017 aka Veganuary. Because nobody is ever free from social commentary (you can’t even instagram your starbucks now without someone complaining) if you tell people you are Vegan you are bound to get a multitude of comments.

No, I am not trying to convert you, but if you are embarking upon the journey of Veganuary there are so many comments you are bound to get sick of.

“Do you mind me eating this steak in front of you?”
“Oh no, I’m not one of those ‘ethical’ vegans… it was purely for my health”, comes my reply. Indeed, I did choose to become vegan due to the advent of episodes where I faint and fit, causing people witnessing it for the first time to think I’m possessed. I can assure you I’m not. Now some argue that my veganism is my partaking in some sort of cult to which all members are possessed. Again, I can assure you we’re not.

I fainted daily – on planes, propped up by my step sisters to prevent untimely emergency landings; in hallways at school; outside exam halls… inside exam halls for that matter; and in a library where a time lapse video was being filmed. I never saw the final cut. Doctors, neurologists, psychologists were and still are dumbfounded at a condition they cannot diagnose, so without any medication proving effective, I decided I needed to make a drastic change. Research, luck and madness led me to veganism, and it’s worked.

It would be quite easy for me to bore you with the many reasons to become vegan, but for those of you who have made it this far, I won’t make your eyes glaze over with Schwarzenegger-esque declarations of how eating less meat can save the planet, or name drop documentaries such as Cowspiracy showing the cruelties of the industry, or note the boundless array of health benefits. It is true however, that although I did not turn vegan for ethical reasons, I now completely advocate veganism on that basis.

When those earliest questions posed on discovery of my veganism are dealt with, then flood in the statements regarding my health. It seems upon encountering a vegan, a startling proportion of meat-eaters become certified medical practitioners, or at least believe it so.

When we have dealt with those doubting the credentials of a vegan lifestyle, we are confronted with the worry of the sustainability of it.

You can’t get all the protein you need.What about iron? You need red meat for that. Are you trying to lose weight?”
I am certainly not a qualified nutritionist, but I am both assured and living proof that a vegan can get all the nutrients and calories one needs very easily, yet as with any lifestyle, one can experience a deficit of both of these things too. Similarly, it is very easy for vegans to overeat or eat poorly. Thus many people turning vegan for weight loss can be hugely disappointed. For goodness sake, oreos are vegan! But if you do eat a varied and healthy plant based diet, you’re likely to feel more energised, lose weight, and generally be healthier.

Don’t you just crave meat and have a sneaky bacon roll?”
If you’re not being healthy with veganism and giving your body everything it needs, yes, the sustainability is likely to be put in jeopardy, but the majority of us don’t crave animal produce. The alternatives aren’t just lettuce leaves and boiled tofu. And regardless of the difficulty of not having that “sneaky bacon roll”, refraining is a two step process: 1. Don’t eat bacon, 2. Repeat step one. It’s plausible I’m over simplifying…

The final grouping of responses to veganism which I have encountered are those that find offence in the decision.

“You’re not going to stop animals being killed for meat just by you not eating it. It’s natural to eat animals.”
It’s conceivable that both of these statements may hold a degree of truth, but the decision to be vegan is a personal one, and in my opinion a move in the right direction. It is certainly true that vegans face a great deal of ‘banter’. As the token vegan of my friendship group, I am forever tagged in any meme even remotely related to veganism.

From pictures of ice cubes captioned “vegan, gluten free, soy free, antibiotics free, raw, non GMO, organic, fat free, low carb dinner” to the classic, “first rule of vegan club: tell everyone about vegan club”, and other jokes about the outspokenness of vegans. Decide for yourself the level of truth in the satire, but we’re not all hippy, tree hugging, argumentative freaks trying to be high carb low fat and juice anything that doesn’t move, channelling the fruitarian in Notting Hill. And so what if we are?

There is so much to be gained from a vegan lifestyle, and you won’t know unless you try.