My New Years resolution in 2017 was to stop eating meat. And surprising even myself, I stuck to it. In fact I think it is the only New Years resolution I’ve ever fully committed to. So here we are at the end of 2017. Will I be reverting back to eating meat? The answer is a resounding NO!
Being concerned with animal ethics (which is primarily the reason I cut meat out of my diet), surely the next step is to cut out all animal produce from my diet and go VEGAN. Isn’t it?
The image of being a vegan has undergone a rapid transformation over the past five years or so, from the militant, lentil munching, dreadlocked tree hugger…
…to the toned, tanned California blonde, posing with her Acai bowl topped with chia seeds while contorted in the downward dog in her Lulu lemons…
Well, I’m neither of these. I bet you aren’t either. The truth is that both of these clichés perpetuate stereotypes which are not particularly helpful for the vegan community.
But one thing is for certain – and that is the fact that Veganism is on the rise.
Even before surveys such as those carried out by Ipsos MORI for the Vegan Society and Vegan Life magazine which showed that the number of British vegans had risen by 360% over the past decade, or the survey by research firm Global Data which showed a whopping 600% increase amongst Americans between 2014 and 2017, it was obvious that a major vegan movement is taking place, and it’s happening now.
Celebrities from Beyonce to Ariana Grande, are promoting veganism. Even Lewis Hamilton credited it as the reason for feeling the best he’s ever felt.
This rise in vegans is resulting in a higher demand for vegan products than ever before. And the industry have no choice but to listen.
Just five years ago, soya milk was the only common alternative to dairy, whereas now shelves are filled with dairy alternatives from rice milk to coconut yoghurt. Companies like Ben & Jerrys have introduced dairy free versions of their bestselling ice-creams and supermarkets such as Aldi are stocking vegan ranges. All of this is leading to a more accepting attitude to Veganism, and making it easier than ever to find a variety of vegan food other than lentils and beans.
So with the start of a new year, and with ‘Veganuary‘ taking over social media and the supermarkets, surely there is no better time than now to go Vegan?
But what exactly is a vegan?
A vegan is a person who omits animal produce from their lifestyle and diet. They remove meat and indeed all animal produce from their diet, from milk to eggs to honey. Less talked about, is the non dietary aspect which involves abstaining from wearing leather, fur and silk.
According to the Vegan Society, “Veganism is a 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.”
So in layman’s terms, veganism is a life free of animal cruelty.
So is it just a fad diet? What’s so bad about cow’s milk anyway?
Many people understand the practice of going meat free, as they can readily make a direct correlation with the burgers they eat and the cow from which they come.
However, shockingly there is increasingly more evidence that the dairy industry, is at least as cruel if not more so, than the rest of the meat and slaughter industry.
I confess, up until around one year ago when I watched a compelling speech by Gary Yourofsky, a passionate vegan and animal activist, I was completely unaware of the cruelty of the dairy industry.
It might sound ridiculous, but I did not realise that cows have to be pregnant in order to produce milk. I genuinely thought that female cows, or perhaps some breeds of cows (you know those black and white ones on the adverts) just produced milk as a matter of course.
Gary’s speech opened my eyes up to a whole new way of thinking. He brought to my attention that cows have to be forcibly impregnated (over and over) in order to constantly produce milk, or in other words artificially inseminated, or in stronger terms repeatedly ‘raped’.
What happens to her calf when she gives birth?
The calf is removed from his or her mother within the first 48 hours of birth. Remember, this animal has feelings and emotions, just like a dog, cat or horse, and the Mother has the innate instinct to protect her young.
So what happens when the calf is forcibly removed from its Mother?
Well, if she’s female then she’s likely to become a dairy cow and live a life similar to that of her Mother: nothing more than a breeding and milking machine for around six years until she is ‘knackered’ and can no longer produce milk. Now she’s deemed useless and so will be slaughtered, her flesh used for burger meat or pet food.
If the calf is male, he has little use other than being slaughtered for veal. He will live a short life, likely less than twenty weeks. Compare this to his natural lifespan of around twenty years. He is unlikely to ever see natural sunlight, and is instead confined to a life preparing him for death, just so us humans can enjoy that tasty tender slab of veal on our plates.
So what can I do?
Make steps towards a cruelty free way of living. The first month of the New year is always a turning point; a time of change & reflection, an opportunity to reduce calories, a point of focus for health & wellbeing. January is a perfect time to trial a vegan lifestyle through ‘veganuary’– making vegan changes in the month of January.
By making some simple swaps- cow milk to almond for example, you will send a message to the industry that we want change.
And if you still need convincing..
This youtube video went viral explaining why ‘dairy is scary’.
This Guardian article exposes the realities of dairy farming.
The Vegan Society gives detail on the the hidden truths of the dairy industry
Peta give a hard hitting message about where your milk comes from.
This speech by Gary Yourofsky
Cowspiracy (on Netflix)
Forks over knives (on Netflix)
Sign up for Veganuary here
Hi, I live and work in Dubai. I enjoy getting out and about and seeing what Dubai has to offer, travelling in my holidays and spare time – prepare for blog posts about this, and cooking vegetarian recipes. I am passionate about travel and animals.