Why did it take me so long to write a blog post about it?
Well maybe I was afraid, maybe I just wanted to avoid being put in a vegan club, where no mistakes are usually not acceptable. The club I heard more bad than good about. I don´t really like rules. But here I am, talking about it, because I think that it´s too important, to not be talked about.
What is the difference between plant-based and vegan diet anyways?
Plant-based means eliminating all animal products from your diet. So eating vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, wheat… and eliminating meat, dairy and fish, gelatin and other animal byproducts from one’s diet.
Vegan isn’t just a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Veganism is a philosophy deeply devoted to animal rights, and being a vegan. And as a vegan, you are not only eliminating animal products from your diet but from all aspects of your lives. We’re talking – no leather, fur, wool or silk; products derived from insects (i.e. honey and beeswax); or toiletries that may be derived from and/or tested on animals.
How and when I went vegan?
I´ve been vegan for around 5-6 years now. I don´t really have an exact date, because, well I “failed” (I blame cookies) a few times. Before going vegan, I was vegetarian for 12 years and in between, for a year or two I even ate some meat and fish. That´s the truth. Those were the hardest years of my life and that´s where the care for my health and care for animals dropped to the last place on my list of things I care about.
It´s not about being perfect and doing it all or nothing. Even if some people will tell you so.
I went vegetarian at age 13 and I definitely did it for the animals. That´s also why I went vegan 5 years ago. But the reason I stayed vegan was also for the environment and because I saw the positive effect it has on my health and skin. And I believe that if you have a good reason (or more of them), you will more likely stick to this lifestyle.
While food is something really personal and people don´t like talking about it. When that diet aka “personal choice” affects someone else’s life, we should be able to talk about and take responsibility. We should all educate ourselves, stand behind our choices and not spread hate. If you eat animals or not.
It is not about being perfect
Yes, there are passionate vegans and there are passionate meat eaters. In all 17 years, that I haven´t been eating meat I´ve heard so many rude comments from meat eaters at the table and I hardly gave any back. And they are the ones that should ask themselves “Why does this upset me so much?”.
When you first read or see what´s happening in the meat and dairy industry and how it affects the environment. How it´s contributing to our climate crisis. You just want to go out on the street and tell everyone. But not everyone wants to hear that. But I believe people really don´t know how bad the climate crisis is, or how bad meat is for their health. Or that processed meat has been classified as carcinogenic by the World health organization.
But if you are an influencer (political or the new modern one), doctor, journalist, teacher, celebrity, or any influential person, you have an opportunity and responsibility to research and tell people the truth (in a non-preachy way) so more people are informed and can than make a decision. I´m not saying everyone should and can go vegan overnight, but cutting down on cheap and red meat consumption would make a big difference, for people, animals and the environment. But if you watched one documentary, please take a chill pill and don´t go out attacking people. You are doing more harm than good. Instead, try to inspire others with your actions. And be loud and preachy when it´s time and place for that. Leave your poor grandma alone at your Sunday lunch.
You don´t even need to mention it to anyone that you are trying to eat less or no animal products. This way there will be less pressure if you make a “mistake”. And believe me, it will happen. Maybe you will eat something you had no idea contains milk or you will be travelling and the cream soup is the only vegetarian (vegan) meal that restaurant offers. Don´t beat your self up. If you make a mistake that should you not stop you.
It took me a while to stop having milk in my coffee or stop eating cookies and chocolate. Those were definitely the last to go. I scraped cheese of foods, I had a pastry or some candy before realising it has milk in it, I had cookies with milk in the chocolate coating …
When my friend Ana and I went vegan we travelled to Georgian mountains just a month after that. If you´ve ever been to those remote places, you will understand that you eat what they give you. And everything this lovely family in the middle of the mountains cooked for us had dairy in it. So yes, we ate khachapuris (Georgian cheese pie) and other cheese products while staying with this family. We were in the middle of the mountains, far away from shops or restaurants. We were hiking and snowboarding all day. We brought as many fruits and nuts as we could, but they didn´t last long. On that trip, we also stayed in a hotel and we were lucky enough to get raw vegan meals there. And after coming back home we both went and stayed vegan. So it´s doing what you can.
Today I would call myself a practical plant based human
Because I´m against wasting food and wasting all perfectly good products that required lots of resources to be created.
So let´s say I´m in a restaurant and they bring me my big salad, but even if I asked clearly, it still has a little bit of cheese on the top. I would probably rather take the cheese out than to waste the whole bowl of salad. I did the same with pizza in the Philippines but then I definitely returned my pizza in a restaurant on Hvar (rude service and cheese all over the place).
I would also rather buy or used old (2nd hand) leather shoes/belt or whatever than going out and buying new cheap plastic shoes just because they are vegan. They also do more damage to animals and the environment than that old used leather product. I don´t want to promote leather, so I would not wear a leather jacket for instance. But I don´t mind having my wool sweater from a charity shop. It´s by far more sustainable than a polyester plastic sweater. My priority is to choose something that already exists, avoid creating waste and buying used natural materials. And if I buy something new I definitely make sure it´s vegan and made from sustainable materials and by a fair fashion brand. So I do have both; old leather shoes and also vegan boots by Vegeterian shoes made from Vegetan Micro and made in Italy.
Here is an interesting video and discussion about Vegan grey areas.
So be kind to yourself and others. It´s not a contest, it´s not about being perfect vegan, it´s definitely not all or nothing. I know what some are thinking now “If you are not all in, then you can´t call yourself vegan”. We should not turn on each other, if we are doing this to stop animal cruelty, health and survival of humanity and our health. And if for some health reasons you need to take some products that are not 100% vegan, please make that a priority.
So when it comes to me and my labels, you can have my Vegan label right here and now 🙂 I am a practical plant based human that will buy a 2nd hand silk top, wool sweater or merino longsleeve and feed my dog with normal dog food. 💛
Thank you and stay kind,
I will state this in every post because it is something we have to always take into consideration. And that is the privilege of a choice. There are a lot of people with disabilities, people living on a very tight budget, people with allergies, people in extremely poor communities or developing countries (where most of our waste ends up) that pay the cost of pollution, busy working parents that do not have time to make these changes. There are people that do not have the choice I have. I am speaking from the position of a privileged, white, European woman, living in safe Austrian mountains, with a budget, health and options big enough to be able to choose. Choosing to spend less and have less is different than being required to live on less.