When I started my Vegan journey 19 years ago after my first son was born, I hadn’t a clue that Veganism would become such a big fuss over in the future. By fuss over, I mean now there are so many different types of Vegans, those that are Vegan for health reasons, those that are Vegan for the love of their fellow sentient beings and some that are Vegan for spiritual and/or religious reasons and many of them are for a culmination of reasons. It is sad though to watch how each group crucifies each other for not doing it their way and sit proudly on their ideological throne of Veganism. That is why I never say I am truly Vegan but in my biography, on my website, I state I align myself with veganism as I do not like labels as life itself is fluid and labels have no space to come up for air to breathe. I refuse to constraint myself under such chains. My point about this blog post is to highlight my very own lifestyle as a so-called aligned vegan and my personal journey along the way and my personal thoughts and experiences on the matter at hand.
I generally never felt comfortable eating meat from a very early age and used to fast by only eating vegetable 4-5 times a week as a teenager. It is not that I did not enjoy meat but neither did I like to eat big copious chunks of it. I certainly did enjoy eating the gravy of my mom’s mutton curry and picking at meat close to the bones of chicken and lamb. I would not eat anything else as the big pieces of flesh are not what I really liked or enjoyed to eat, so it was the flavour of the meat in dishes that I enjoyed more than anything else. Even now, I do not really like soy products as in burgers or anything that has a large chunk of meat like structure but enjoy it in small quantities per week. The only thing that stopped me from eating meat was the guilt. I felt really guilty about the killing of flesh and eating. It did not sit well with me in my psyche. So I just did not become Vegan because I was coaxed into it or jumped on the bandwagon or I never had a Eureka moment about it either. Not killing for my food is something that I innately resonated with from a child. Growing up in an Indian culture and their beliefs also paved that way for me, spiritually. But, my family, both maternal and paternal ate meat and few of us did end up being vegetarians from both sides.
My point about this blog post is to highlight my very own lifestyle as a so-called vegan and my personal journey along the way. So, I went Vegan 19 years ago but never remained vegan all that time, for health reasons. I introduced dairy products (not eggs) back into my diet 3 years into being vegan. I think mainly I ate dairy products out of convenience for others rather than myself. I do not enjoy dairy products except for, butter. Butter bread was something I grew up with as a staple and that is the only thing I really used butter for. Oh and let us not forget chocolate, I was a chocoholic and one point in my life. I am also a health-conscious nut, so I never really cook with dairy products as such. So even though I had dairy products, it was minimal.
My second son was born, he was born vegetarian but I never placed restrictions on him as he is his own person and he remained vegetarian till he was almost 3 years old. He chose to eat meat cos his brother was not vegetarian either, though he ate vegetarian most of the time. My second son was born out of In-vitro, so my body had been depleted from most of its resources by the time I had him. I am naturally anaemic and suffer from low blood pressure and also suffered from depression most my life. So at the same time my second son ate meat, I also started having Salmon and other meats so became what the term they use now is a flexitarian. But mind you, I never gorged down glutinously at meat and dairy products, I still ate mostly vegan. I remained flexitarian for 5 years until I felt ready and strong enough to go back to being an aligned vegan. This is my story in a nutshell and I have maintained this lifestyle for the last 3 years. When I returned to this lifestyle I started searching social Medias for online groups and I was amazed at how the culture has grown since I started my journey 19 years ago. There is an awesome awareness that has taken place over the years but sadly there is really a bad stigma attached to it. Being someone that cares for the planet and its living beings found the most horrible and vile people in vegan groups. There is not even an ounce of kindness amongst those that share the same cause. Everyone feels entitled to their own version of what veganism should look like. Not enough that life is already difficult for some people and individuals are unique in their own personal growth and one needs to take science into consideration, we have vegans sitting on their high horses trotting down ideology, judgment and discrimination lanes. We are served on a platter of derogation when we are not completely vegan so I am being Candid about my journey so others can relate and enjoy the journey without being trampled upon. I am unapologetically pragmatic about my vegan journey. I believe I am also a fraudulent vegan as I do not believe anyone can be completely vegan according to the definition given and that’s why I think I can align myself with being vegan but I will never be completely vegan. Below are some of my thoughts about it.
Meaning of vegan
The Cambridge dictionary defines vegan as a person who does not eat or use any animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese, or leather: Vegans get all the protein they need from nuts, seeds, and cereals.
The term “vegan” was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson who was part of small group of vegetarians who broke away from the Leicester Vegetarian Society to form the Vegan Society. They chose not to consume dairy, eggs or any other products of animal origin, in addition to not eating meat like the vegetarians. It was originally defined as “the principle of the emancipation of animals from exploitation by man.” In 1979, the Vegan Society became a registered charity and updated that definition.
Thus, Veganism is currently defined as “A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”
Now, these two definitions make one think, well, I can do this, but I think most miss out one important factor in the definition by the Vegan Society, some possibly quoting it without these vital words ‘as far as is possible and practicable’. Without these words included in the definition then it is impossible for one to be a Vegan. I am also suggesting that it is completely impossible to be a Vegan even with those vital words included as we live in a society that even traveling in a vehicle with no animal derivatives is impossible. Even my laptop that I am typing on is unethically created if we take child labour and other poor labour conditions into consideration.
My Family’s stance in Veganism
I am Vegan, my husband is lacto-ovo-vegetarian and both my sons are a flexitarian. Unfortunately, this is when I become unapologetic me, because above everything else in this world my children come first! I am the mother that would feed my kids exactly what they need/want in terms of nutrition. I never once asked them to become Vegan as they are not me and they have their own voice and opinions about things in life so they are very much capable of making their own moral and ethical decisions about things. I respect their choices in life and in turn, I get the same respect.
With that being said our family does eat mostly vegan. My kids and husband though they have been labelled such, they do not consume many dairy products (but my kids won’t compromise cheese when and if they have cheesy dishes) and request I make most things vegan including baking, and toiletries are also vegan sourced, at home. We are a health-conscious family. I do prepare meat dishes for them occasionally but my husband and kids do most of the meat dishes if they have to. My kids do not eat much chicken and eat mostly lamb when they do eat. They have eggs in their diet too. So yes, we respectfully met halfway with no force and expectations but through love and understanding of each other and our choices. My family is actually more important than any animal out there in all honesty and I value their relationship far more than any animal or other human beings. Everybody is doing the best they can so always be kind.
How I actually feel about animals
I love animals and I had many pets and I stopped keeping them as when they die, for me a part of the family dies. Some of my pets have been rescued but not many; I did what I could at certain stages in my life. But with that being said, I am not like a lot of animal lovers that can have an animal farm in their home and be happy about it. My animals live outside when I had them. We have allergies, and I am OCD so there is no way I will have an animal stay inside all the time and mess up my house. If they were clean and neat then they would be inside but other than that they were outside.
I also do not like caged animals/pets, which means I do not like Zoos, but with that being said there are many rescue type zoos and rehabilitation centres. I do not like circus’s with animals in it, but I am grateful for the animals that have been used to progress science and I still have my reservations about aquariums but do not like dolphins caged in small enclosures.
Here is where I believe I am a fraudulent vegan, I hate cockroaches, flies, and mosquitos. I do my best not to kill them but unfortunately, if they are pests in my home even after having deterrents in place, spreading their filthy germs everywhere, then I actually feel nothing about killing them. I really do not have any remorse after doing it either and certainly will not accept rat, cockroach, and pest infested drains and surrounding. I think I would do the same if an animal came to attack me, I would kill it and feel nothing about it and same goes for any person that tries to kill me or harm my kids or family. Hell hath no fury like a mother whose kids have been harmed.
Am I hurting the Vegan Cause?
Hurting the vegan cause? Veganism to me has become a cult with religious overtones attached to it. Veganism is fairly new in its terminology and for me does not constituent as a researched science by itself. Many ‘die hards’ [encountered this personally where they actually started harassing me and name calling on private messages until they were blocked] will think by simply writing this article it will give omnis a reason not to be vegan, quite the contrary, I think it will give people something to think about in a kinder way.
I rather someone comes to their own realisations than being forced upon or guilt into change, even if they make small changes through baby steps. Those that realise on their own through awareness will stand a better chance staying on the course than being overwhelmed by it and run the opposite direction. There are many factors to be taken into account before even taking the first steps to being vegan as not everyone is ‘Cold Turkey’ material. We all digest information and change differently.
We need to create awareness so people can see how the meat and dairy industry treats their animals and this needs to change in a large way. Not forcing somebody to become vegan because you feel that you cannot come down from your high horse.
Let us get real too, as long as we are classed as omnivores, which scientifically we are because you will be surprised the fallacy that goes around just so someone can join a [any] movement.
I do absolutely nothing to convert others or have the desire to do so
Why I do not care if someone chooses to go vegan or not. It is not my job and responsibility for someone else’s ethical and moral reasoning. I learned this in my late twenties, when I have been trying to do much in terms of saving the planet [and people] since my early twenties, like recycling, having healthier meals, not using much plastic, using greener products and no matter how much you scream at the top of your lungs, the only control you have is to yourself. You do the best you can and if people want to follow your lead, it is all good, but if they don’t, then it is their prerogative. I am not here to babysit other people’s choices and my life is happier for it as I used to feel miserable and anger a lot of the times when people waste food or used plastic bags, for what, because they are not doing exactly what I WANT them to do? Ego out the window equals much happier life, thank you very much! I have been depressed way too much in my lifetime to not to deserve to give myself happiness.
And I do know many of you may come back and say the issue is the animals or sentient beings. Yes, I do understand that but unfortunately, if you do not change the industry itself which is the source of the problem, which is animal cruelty for food, then no matter how many vegans you have in the world, you are still sitting with a problem. People want solutions not undermine their lifestyle and expect them to change. So go to the source and give them a solution on how to be more humane. I know, many of you may think there is no humane in killing an animal for food but that is the way it is. Some [most] people see animals as part of the food chain, get used to it. You are definitely living in a dream world if you for once think that the world is going to be completely vegan. As long as we have individuals with individual needs there is no way that will happen. Can you see a world without chaos and conflict? And the truth is you need chaos and conflict for things to change. So yes, maybe they would find better ways to farm animals, like creating meat in the laboratory as an example but the need for eating meat by many will not change.
Genetic, Environment, Culture, Omnivore.
This brings as to another factor. There is one paper so far that I have seen that being vegetarian is found in the Genes. As I find more I would add it to this post. I have a strong belief that culture, environment, and genes play an important part in one’s diet. Many studies have shown [not that I know the authenticity of those articles] that soya causes Cancer and has lots of estrogen in it and can be harmful to you. I do not see Japanese or Chinese people having a problem. So my hypothesis it is in the genes. Maybe the western culture cannot adopt eating soybean because their body is not designed for that so it has an adverse effect on those that do not have certain foods in their culture. But then again, every other thing causes cancer nowadays so who is to say what is right or wrong.
There is nothing more annoying than someone going and telling somebody how to do things in their own culture and environment. Let us tell people that live in icy or desert places to eat only vegetables! If we take cultural societies, in all honesty, their staple diets are never only meat. They eat meat when an animal needs to be killed and used for that purpose alone, and none of the animal goes to waste. Everything is used! Most cultures use vegetables in most of their dishes with meat as a compliment and many cultures DO NOT have access to lots of vegetables, like some parts of Africa. You can count the vegetables they have access to, on one hand. The western world pretty much has become glutinous in their approach to food and from there it has globalised.
Lastly, far from the fallacy that the vegan world has created, that we are herbivores, we are actually omnivores. Omnivore does not suggest we eat more meat than vegetables or more vegetables than meat but we eat what is available. So as a society we have created a world that needs to kill more to eat thus that is what we made available to us. I repeat, WE ARE OMNIVORES, so deal with it, do not go against science just so you get more people to join the course but rather work with science. We know we are omnivores but we do not necessarily need to eat meat.
Farmers make a living and big co-operation funding on science
I also found that people just expect farmers to give up their day job, which they have used to sustain them for all these years. As much as farming is a big industry [which we should be targeting] there are farmers that are poor and are doing THEIR best to put food on their table. So I also would not take away someone’s livelihood.
Big co-operations funding certain scientific projects are also a strong point in the fight for a vegan cause. My information I get or research I do is not funded by big cooperations. It is by people who are professional in their field of science and are commoners just like you and I. So yes, it could be true as big co-operations have the money to fund certain biased science projects, but science IS science which means they are facts that have moved from a hypothesis and have been proven to be true. You are part of the animal kingdom, which is a fact based on science. No matter what you do, that would not change.
Some just cannot be vegan
Some people cannot eat vegetables. I know some of them that have actually gotten ill from eating veggies and staying away from meat. It is not who they are and I honestly do not expect them to change. A person’s health no matter what they have to eat is also important. I would not think of them any less because it is what it is for some people. I align myself with veganism because from a young age I knew that I could be a vegetarian. It felt right for ME. It also does not mean that they love animals any less than you do as a vegan. Please note that humans have domesticated some animals to live with us as families and it is not the other way around. And for those that say that they would not cut up their family and eat, well I understand that, but cannibalism is real and you do not find cannibals eating their own family members either.
Is vegan for the elite group or those that earn a living?
Probably, as it does come across that way most times. The sad truth is the man on the street is not bothered about vegan or not, they are more bothered by where their next meal is coming from. People eat what they can get their hands on when living in poverty. So if a dead cow is available then they will eat that. Yes, I know I am over exaggerating that point but the truth is only the elite can go for B12 injections and supplement their diet accordingly and I honestly would not advise malnourished people in poverty to not eat meat. They do not have juicing machines to get the right amount of nutrients in them. If you are vegan you would need the right amounts of vitamins and minerals to be eaten in order for proper absorption of eg iron. One should also take into consideration some diseases doesn’t allow one to eat most vegetables and we have to take note of psychological disorders like eating disorders can be harmful if you advise them to go vegan without medical or expert advice.
B12 deficiency can lead to memory loss and poor brain function, which can only be found in fortified foods and animal protein. Yes, argue as much as you like but sciences are facts not based on fallacies. So back to the point of Vegan is for the elite, I would say yes. A poor person will not be able to afford fortified foods if for example, he has a herd of cows in his backyard.
Humor about being vegan; being mocked by meat eaters
We all need humor in our lives and honestly speaking I rather laugh myself to the grave than grieve myself to it. I personally do not get mocked in a nasty way by meat eaters, but that is possible, my personality is such, I do not get offended by such trivial things. If someone teases me, I do the unexpected and just laugh with them about the joke and mostly it just ends there. I laugh at a lot of vegan jokes made by meat eaters, as I do find it funny. Maybe just change your attitude about it, but of course, I would not put up with somebody victimising me for my life choices. But is it possible that the vegan society has brought this upon them? I know the consequence of the action of Christians in the past being pushy about their religion, has brought upon many atheists that mock them and belittle them. So when someone jokes about you being a vegan, ask where this coming from instead of being upset with them is. A kind understanding of people can only meet you as deeply as they have met themselves can also create awareness on your side.
I am also aware of discrimination against vegan but that is also culturally based. I am Indian so in my culture, it is the norm to be a vegetarian or go down a vegan route, so I am not faced with that. So Veganism needs to take an intersectional approach as everyone’s wants and needs culturally is different.
New Vegans make the most noise
Here again, this is my experience. I always find new blood or young blood to be cheeky and seem to know it all. Of course, this is a general statement and not all fit into this category.
There are many testimonials for pro-vegan as there are many testimonials of that gone vegan and returned to eating meat for health reasons. Here again, it is an individual choice. I am super proud of those that make it the whole nine yards. I am also sure many people out there are inspired by your testimonials. Testimonials also mean nothing in the grander scheme of things, simply because it may work for you but it may not work for another person and that is also ok. I think the problem comes in when one needs to angrily oppose the vegan diet when their health suffers because they automatically get put on the judgment stand for relapsing into eating meat again. Then it comes back to the point that the dogmatic and judgemental stigma attached to veganism makes those that relapse to react in a ‘push back’ manner, so lovingly and gently does it and easing into it makes the lifestyle last longer.
I also think we are not dietitians or nutritionists or doctors that are qualified to advise anyone to be vegans. If someone wants to become a vegan I would certainly tell them to see a nutritionist as that should be the first place one should start. I am not responsible for anyone else’s malnutrition, that has gone vegan under my advice.
Dairy industry is worse than the meat industry
In my opinion, I find the dairy industry far more cruel than the meat industry. Yes, I know both industries are very unethical, but for the future, I think we can do without the dairy industry altogether as the meat industry can evolve to be the lesser of two evils. Well, we can all do without both the industries, that would be awesome, but for reasons I have already deduced above, it is a very idealistic and unrealistic view. With the dairy industry, the cows are kept in lactation just so they can produce milk regularly and not forgetting the other indecencies that take place, which I will cover in another post in the future. If we had to move forward realistically, I think giving an animal a beautiful life before being slaughtered for food would be the most decent thing to do. With the dairy industry that cannot happen even when some believe they can, like the Hare Krishna movement. We are also living in a very glutinous, consumerism society right now, as the need for all the meat is truly unnecessary for our bodies and I will talk about that in another post,
Militant Vegans – Do we really need them? Are they the Victims?
Absolutely! They are the ones that give a voice to the voiceless. Their passion and drive to change the way animals are being treated is exactly what any cause needs. They certainly have the personal capacity and manpower to change the face of the dairy and animal farming industry. The most I am willing to do is sit behind my laptop in my home office and create awareness through my blog and social media. I am NOT a ‘go out there and placard’ type of person. I also do not donate money as I already have four mouths to feed, neither do I sign online petitions. That is who I am. We need all types of people to change the world [someone on the vegan group reminded me of this] or to create awareness. Militant vegans have their hearts in the right place like all other vegans do but attacking their own kind or those that ARE making small or large changes gives them a bad name and also assuming or having fallacy articles to back scientific claims as One Size Fits All is a tad bit far-fetched in my opinion.
Only an individual can create a victim space for themselves. If vegans are feeling that way, it is because of the backlash they are experiencing which is a consequence of their own dogmatic, high horse scenario, unkind ways to their own fellow humans.
Vegans are genuinely trying to make a change so no, they are not the victims, the actual victims are those poor animals that they are fighting so hard for. They may come out all angry with the world and feel great injustice being done to sentient beings but their heart is certainly in the right place. We need to create a world that inflicts the least amount of pain as possible. I believe this can only be done through love and understanding of our fellow human beings and for the love of the animals we share this planet with.
I cannot say much on how a meat eater actually justifies cruelty to animals beyond a reasonable doubt. Vegans are doing the best they can to create a world that is better for the future generations. Maybe instead of also discriminating and acting on cognitive dissonance, take the time to understand what the cause is about. Making small changes can contribute to the whole. One single vegan saves the lives of approximately 200 animals a year.
And in all honesty, a meat eater giving the excuse of “I really love meat and will not change” is not an excuse I understand easily, I respect it but I absolutely cannot understand it. Maybe stand with vegans to change the production of the meat in the farming industry. I cannot understand that you are actually OK with animals being treated so atrociously. I know I have eaten meat that was not ethically sourced because of my finance but I certainly did not, not understand my actions as a human being. Why not explore alternatives to milk and other substitutes before deciding you cannot do this? If you cannot stay without cheese, then do not stay without it, but if you can get away with having rice milk then change that.
The animal farming industry is a nightmare for animals. The dairy industry should not even exist in my opinion. Educate yourself and stand for inhumane treatment of animals. Death is inevitable but how we live and what actions we have upon a living being is a choice.
I also do not approve of meat eaters saying this like “Oh I cannot eat that soy shit!” and that I have picked up some people who are not even aware they are saying it. Food no matter what it is, it is NOT shit! The problem lies right here in our vocabulary and the use of words that can be somewhat ignorant and disrespectful. Vegan jokes are also taken a bit too far and are overused and have become stale, just like the meat that lies in the frozen section of the supersized money making elite bourgeoisie.
Why am I aligning with this lifestyle and say I am a fraudulent vegan.
Everyone has an opinion; everyone feels their way is the right way. I would like to end up by saying, there is no right or wrong way but there is an ethical way, which we are all doing the best we can. I love my lifestyle not because I am sitting on a high horse feeling superior to others, but simply because I love plant-based foods and l love creating with food, and I love nutrition and I do not like dairy products very much, I do not like eggs and I do not like hurting anything or anyone unnecessarily. It does break my heart to see animals and people suffer on a daily basis and I used to cry myself to sleep quite often by these encounters. Vegan aligns with my own personal values.
As I got older I learned to be emotionally stronger and learned to deal with it in better ways. I have also grown with knowledge and understanding of the way things are and the way they should be and what I can and cannot control and what I value the most in life is my family and my relationships with another human being or an animal for that matter.
I also learned not to be too hard on myself. Like the palm oil issue, I am honestly doing the best I can. By default, I do not buy a lot of things with palm oil as I mostly cook from scratch for my family, but if I buy Oreos once in a while, cos I love Oreos, so I really do it without any guilt. We are living in a world, in order for us to be truly vegan, it would be impossible to even take in the air we breathe because an insect may get stuck up your nostril.
Would I eat meat again? Yes, I would if it is necessary to my health or if I am traveling somewhere that does not give me options or if I am in another culture and feel I want to experience it, which means eating meat, I would. But then I am in fair health (as I do battle at times), supplementing it where I can and I am not into traveling all that often (for now).
So for all that I have explained here, I believe I am a fraudulent vegan as I can never be truly vegan in my opinion and the current lifestyle that I live I am too immersed in a society that is already steeped in so much of immorality, whichever way I turn or can afford.
Cha, A.E. (2016, March 30). Cornell study finds some people may be genetically programmed to be vegetarians. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/vegan
Vegan biologist. (2016, January 04). Humans are not herbivores. Vegan Biologist. Retrieved from https://veganbiologist.com/2016/01/04/humans-are-not-herbivores/
Petra, A. (2016, July 29). What is a vegan and what do vegans eat. Healthline. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-a-vegan#section1
Vegan speak. (2016, October 26). 5 things vegan say that are wrong. Vegan speak. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJgxw90-Lp4
NB – This blog post will be updated whenever I find more empirical research been done regarding this post itself. Many aspects of this post [Vit B12, the actual meat, and dairy industry, how to make small changes] will be explored more in future blogposts.