How and why did you go vegan?

It was a gradual process for me. The first vegan I met was an eccentric English woman in her mid-thirties. We were both working in a summer school for spoiled Russian children in London in 2005 and eating our lunch in a canteen every day. At first I thought she might have an eating disorder when she mentioned a dairy-free existence but when I saw the huge mounds of food I realised that wasn’t the case! I admired her willingness to be different and from the offset she wasn’t shy about making sure the chef had a well-prepared vegan meal waiting for her.

I didn’t want to know the details of what was happening to animals, nor did I want someone to tell me I should care but I was also curious. I had vegetarian friends I found naive and annoying. I had grown up on a farm after all and I was only too aware of the reality of animal suffering. I loved animals as much as the next person but vegetarians needed to realise we were always going to eat meat.

I asked Amanda about her reasons for being vegan and I had to admit it made sense. Being vegan seemed to offer an alternative solution I had never even considered. That summer I went vegan but I only lasted for a month before I cracked and had a cappuccino.

While I may have failed in my original attempt I did become vegetarian as a compromise. Well, vegetarian in my mind being a fish-eating vegetarian that swapped chicken and red meat for animals who enjoyed swimming if they got half a chance. It was several years later in 2009 before I encountered another vegan who gently reminded me that my ‘vegetarian’ lifestyle was still harming animals.

Remembering how I had been inspired to be vegan that summer in London, I forced myself to watch a video on the fishing industry knowing that would instantly put an end to my fish eating career. Next, I gave up milk and eggs, admittedly spurred on by the alarming acne I had developed and less clear on the ethical reasons. It wasn’t until I met other vegans that I fully comprehended the ethical implications. But I was glad that I had arrived. Somehow I had found my way to being vegan in a non-vegan world.

How do you cope / thrive in a non-vegan world?

I notice some vegan friends seem to get away unscathed in the largely non-vegan world while I find myself in the centre of every scene in a restaurant or in the middle of a blazing argument. Both scenarios I have learned to deal with if not enjoy! I no longer mind if my fellow diners look on disapprovingly at my ‘making a fuss’ as once upon a time I too hated vegetarians. Vegans would have been off the radar!

Being vegan becomes increasingly easy as you arm yourself with a few good recipes and a few nice to know vegan facts and figures. It also feels good to know you are saving lives, your health and the environment. And never underestimate the influence you have just by living vegan every day:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

― Margaret Mead

Do you want to share your story?
Vegans from different walks of life answer to a set of questions. To know the questions, see this article and email us with your answers.