Many thanks to Marcel Behringer, for answering our questions. If you too want to participate and share your story, read our questions and email your answers to us at www.vegan.ie or vegansireland@gmail.com.

Why and how did you go vegan?

Before going vegan I had been a vegetarian, together with my back-then girlfriend, for quite some years. I always felt like it was not enough to satisfy the moral implications of food but fell for the misconceptions of “sound nutrition”, e.g. “you at least need some dairy to stay healthy”.

At that time I had as well been subscribed to the newsletter of my favourite band (which is probably fairly unknown in Ireland) and one day I received one issue of it, stating that the band was now officially “endorsed” by a vegan brand (Avenging Animals). And that, by the way, everyone who was not vegan should stop listening to their music and sell the CD’s they own (pretty elitist, which fits their image well but is something I strongly dislike). I was reading that newsletter while having my morning coffee with milk and checked the designs of the brand – I immediately was hooked, especially since finally someone sparked the right thought in my mind. I said “let’s go vegan” to my girlfriend, to which she said “alright” – I put my coffee into the sink, had my first cup of black coffee and ever since that day have been vegan (and am still having my coffee black, even with the delicious dairy substitutes widely available nowadays).

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

This is a really tricky question – I generally find it hard to cope with the world – or, to be more precise, with human society. There is just too much cruelty, abuse, violence, egoism beyond words and injustice in the world. It get’s even harder when considering that it is already almost impossible to get the people one loves, as in the core family, to think about their own morals and Janus-like lifestyles.

I strongly believe in the concept that every choice matters and I try to be the best person I can be when it comes to decisions regarding my impact on the world. Whenever I learn about something, for example the problems farmers in south America face due to the rising demand in Quinoa, I try to adjust my “personal” choices (as in this case by exclusively buying not only organic, but also fairly traded Quinoa). I don’t believe there are many truly personal choices, since almost everything has an impact on other people as well, so we buy solely organic and as much as possible fairly traded (or local) goods.

Besides that, I try to be “on top of the game” and “to do my homework” – knowledge is a mighty thing and I try to always be informed regarding nutrition as well as the implications of foodstuffs, not only to the animals but to human health as well. Of course this includes knowing about alternatives so that you can offer a solution and not only tell people to stop doing something. It is better, in my opinion anyway, to be able to offer ways in which people are empowered to change. By not saying “stop consuming dairy” but “yesterday I had this wonderful traditional dish, made with oat-milk instead of dairy” you can get people to (re-)think their own choices.

For this I also find it important to be a good “role model” – being healthy and fit while/because being vegan is maybe the best thing one can do – only after I stopped metaphorically shouting in my sisters face about all the cruelty a non-vegan lifestyle causes and started just being happy with my own food choices and letting her try my food, while staying healthy and fit she at least started to “move in the right direction”, even though I still find it hard to understand why she doesn’t fully “come to our side (we have cookies!)”.

To be really honest, the fact that I am living with an understanding and loving wife who is vegan herself for nearly half her live is the single most important thing for myself to “keep on going” (not with being vegan, but life itself). It is most important to have people one can talk to and who understand what is going on when facing the “cruel world” and experience what some call “Weltschmerz”. But living with a healthy, cute beyond words, vegan rescue Staffie (and rescue animals in general) helps a lot as well. :)

There’s one quote (there probably are thousands, I was just thinking of this one) which describes my general feeling about being vegan quite well, I stumbled upon it on the mighty internet, by someone called Michele McCowan “I don’t feel superior because I’m vegan. The truth is I am vegan because I don’t feel superior to others.”

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.