the vegan series

Interview with a confused non-vegan

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My vegan series blogs have kind of stalled recently, but behind the scenes there’s a lot going on in my head. I’m basically having an enormous crisis of conscience at the moment around animal consumption. Sometimes it feels too complicated to put into words – weird for me, I know. As of this point I haven’t made any final decisions, but I feel I owe it to myself and to you to be honest about where I’m at, as that’s what I’ve built this blog around – unflinching honesty in the face of my health journey and personal challenges.

I’m not looking for answers, lest one of you well-meaning souls feels compelled to offer a fix. I’m just writing to figure it all out and hopefully in the coming days or weeks, I’ll know my path.

I decided the easiest way to do this is to interview myself and answer as honestly as I can.

Ok, so what’s bugging you?

I watched some speeches by vegan activists.

Oh my god, the meat industry videos? WHY!!

No dumbass, not the slaughter videos. I will never watch them – I don’t need to see them to know what happens to animals who are bred for consumption. I can read perfectly well, thanks.

Ok, so what then?

I watched two videos of two guys giving talks about what it means to be vegan and what veganism means in terms of fighting injustice in our world. The stuff they said hit home and I feel like I can’t escape from it.

Like?

Well, there was some stuff about what it’s like for chickens and cows, from birth to the slaughterhouse/dairy farm. Their living conditions, their suffering. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before, but in the context of the speeches it was impossible to sweep aside. They also spoke about how we humans are all born into a world that has conditioned us to believe that eating animals is an acceptable thing. To love some animals – like dogs, because if you hurt a dog you are a sick, malignant individual – yet to be ok with using and killing others. We’ve been taught from a young age that we need cow’s milk for calcium, animal meat for protein. It’s a form of brainwashing by an industry that’s making money off our beliefs.

But you know that’s not true – you’ve done the research for yourself.

Yes, my point exactly – I know I don’t need to eat animal products for nutrients or health reasons, but I do anyway. Chicken, fish and dairy anyway.

So why do you? Is it just because you like the taste?

Honestly – I guess so. But I think mostly it’s because up until now, I’ve never been able to imagine a life without it. It’s just what I’ve always done.

And now you’re wrestling with the fact that just because it’s what you’ve always done, doesn’t mean it’s right.

Yep.

 What else is messing with your head?

People say veganism is extreme, but it’s not extreme to say that you don’t want to harm animals, which is essentially what veganism is. That’s actually a moral approach that most people have, unless you’re a psychopath. There was also a point about “humane” farming that stuck with me. When we look at a label and we see free range, we attribute our ideas of freedom onto that label. Being free to us means living without oppression and injustice, to be free from pain and fear. We transfer our human ideas onto a label and decide that the chickens lived a good life, one without fear, pain, oppression or cruelty. But deep down we know that isn’t true. Their end point is the same and it’s full of all of those things. Animals don’t care what label they get on the packaging in a supermarket. Grass-fed, free range, hormone-free – these don’t safeguard the animals. They’re still killed when no sentient being wants to die. The labels are there to make us buy the product because they ease our conscience.

 Was that the worst bit?

Nope. One guy asked the audience if you would send your dog or cat to a slaughterhouse to be euthanised when it was their time. Of course, nobody would. Why then, he asked, do we sanction the sending of cows, sheep and chickens there, if we know it’s not somewhere we’d like our own animals to end up? Because we know what happens there and we don’t want to face it. Out of sight, out of mind, moral objection silenced.

Ok, I see why you’re having a crisis. Are you using this post to get on your soapbox about it?

No, I’m trying really hard not to. I don’t have a leg to stand on anyway, because I still eat meat and dairy, so I’m part of the injustice. Also, I’m very wary of soapbox activism. Vegans who throw people’s cruelty in their faces as a way to force change are the same as Christians who preach about your inevitable eternity in hell – not very effective. It just makes people angry and unwilling to listen. There’s a way to talk to people and I don’t think pointing fingers at them is helpful to anyone on either side.

 You’re sounding a bit soapboxy. Get off.

Sorry!

So what are you going to do? Because it sounds to me like you want to go vegan.

I honestly don’t know if I can, even if I want to.

That sounds like a cop out. Why can’t you?

It’s a drastic change. I have a child to think about who’s very fussy at the moment. I’ll get stuck on ideas for quick and easy meals – already my vegan meals take up way more prep time than popping chicken in the oven.

You don’t have to do it overnight. You can take your time. And you don’t have to force anything on Lexi. This is about you, no one else.

Maybe.

Do you want to try?

I don’t know – I think so. But change is scary, ok!

Ok, you want to try – remember I know you better than you know yourself (boom!). So here’s the deal: try it for one week. No strings attached. Plan a week of meals so you don’t panic at dinner time. Spend a weekend pre-making things so there’s no pressure. Most of your snacks and lunches are vegan anyway, so it’s not that big of a shift.

Ok, you’re right. I’ll try it for one week. Thereafter though, I’m under no obligation.

Deal.

Just one thing Miss Smartypants – what are we going to do about milk in our coffee?

Oh yes, we’ve tried this before and didn’t come right. No substitute was satisfactory. Ask your readers for help!

Readers, please help! (And please don’t tell me almond milk, I may as well drink it black)

*Note: Sometimes you need to ask yourself the tough questions to help you find your path. I just happen to do that better in writing. Whether or not I ever go vegan for good won’t change the fact that I’m not condemning anyone else for their choices. I hate the hate that zealots spew on their blogs and social media, whether it’s over food choices, religion, politics or what your favourite TV show is. This will never be a place where that type of “activism” is welcome. Say your piece, but say it kindly. Thanks. 😊

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11 thoughts on “Interview with a confused non-vegan

    1. Hi Amanda, thanks for stopping by and for your input. I’ve read a lot about farming practices so I’m educated, but I’m choosing not to watch it. I have a lot of vegan friends who haven’t watched it either and it hasn’t affected their decision. I think when you make the choice, you make it because you know in your heart that it’s the right thing to do to protect animals, whether you’ve watched the videos or not. Thanks so much for your comment! 🙂

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  1. Great post! I don’t think dietary choices should always be an all-or-nothing thing. Even small changes (like swapping to dairy-free milk, or doing meat-free days every week) can make a big difference.

    I’ve been vegetarian since my teens and that was an overnight decision. However, going vegan was a far more gradual process. I started by cutting down on dairy and eggs, then I cut out eggs altogether, then swapped to dairy substitutes or ordered vegan options where possible… I’ve now been fully vegan for over six months and it’s far easier than I expected!

    Regarding milk substitutes, have you tried oat milk? Also, depends how you take your coffee but I find heating the milk first stops it from separating. Frothing it is even better if you like lattes/cappuccinos. 🙂

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    1. Hey Sarah, thanks for stopping by and for all the tips! I agree with you – being conscious about what you eat and your effect on the earth is the most important thing. I went part time veggie/vegan for that reason. I’m just at the point now where it’s not enough – I want to stop eating meat altogether, which I think I can do pretty easily. And from there, my plan is to go vegan gradually. Most of the vegans I know did it gradually and are way better for it – I think making a very sudden change can sometimes have the opposite effect and people find it too hard to keep up. I’ve tried oat milk and I wasn’t blown away, but I haven’t tried heating it so will definitely do that. Thanks for the support 🙂

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    1. I don’t think we get it here, but I’ll check. Even if we do, guaranteed it will be two or three times the price of oat milk which is already expensive. Sigh. A vegan diet isn’t expensive per se, but substitutes in SA are so overpriced it’s insane. I have my limits as to how much I’m prepared to pay for milk! xxx

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  2. I have been vegan for nearly 2 years now, and its honestly the best decision I have made. I understand now you are feeling slightly overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? So what I suggest is starting small, take things out of your diet slowly, have meat free days, be prepared – prep a load of food in advance so its there and ready. If your struggling for meal ideas have a look online, pinterest, utube etc. At first it may seem hard/ time consuming having to look at labels etc but anything worth doing takes some time and effort at first and like anything it really does get easier and just becomes ‘the norm’. As for milk my favorite is oat milk, it makes a great coffee! I hope this helps

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    1. Hey, thanks so much for the advice! I’ve been doing meat free days for a year and substituting vegan for animal products in a lot of my recipes (hello flax eggs!), so I’m ready to cut meat out entirely. As for the rest, I will definitely take it slow and make sure I’m very prepared. Like you say, practice makes perfect – before I know it, I’ll be shopping and cooking without thinking! Oat milk seems to be a firm fave so I will give it another try. Thanks for the support, I really appreciate it. 🙂

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