Born or Born Again Vegan

This is a bit of a no brainer (to my mind at least), but I firmly believe that all humans are born vegan and then educated or trained to eat animal products. I often quote the example given by Gary Yourofsky which goes something like “If you put a small child in a cot with an apple and a rabbit, which one will it eat and which one will it play with?” Gary follows this with “if you can get the child to eat the rabbit I’ll buy you a house, or a car, or something?” I know if I put my cat in a cot with a mouse and an apple what he would do. This to me says we are not natural carnivores or even naturally omnivores.

Imagine a utopia where children are born into an environment where everyone is vegan and animals are treated with the same respect that we offer each other. I can’t imagine this way of life would even be questioned in the way that we question the current status quo. I can’t quite see groups of carnivore activists protesting outside a greengrocers shop, carnivore outreach on the streets or Carnfest at London Olympia.

A large group of us did outreach in London on Saturday and afterwards all went for a pizza. I knew a few of the people there but not many and these events are always fantastic opportunities to meet new like-minded people. Inevitably when you talk to new people the conversation turns to “how long have you been vegan?” I’m sure you’ve all either asked or been asked the question. I’ve always answered this question honestly but (and I hate to say), I’m beginning to get a little uncomfortable about it and am considering making up a different, possibly more normal story.

Despite being born into a carnivorous family of six, I stopped eating all animal products at the age of four or five. This was my choice and was firmly against the wishes of my parents. I’ve always been very stubborn and I guess with three other children (all younger than me) to look after, eventually they just got on with it. Almost 50 years later, I’m still the same.

The problem is that when I tell people my story, they either think I’m making it up to appear a “better vegan” or they congratulate me on being such a wonderful human being. I am neither; I was simply able (lucky) that something switched in my brain a very young age. The truth is, veganism is the easiest thing in the world to me, I’m just doing what comes naturally, it’s like breathing and speaking English.

It must be so much harder for the majority who lived 15/20/30 or even more years under the conditioning that was forced upon them as children and somehow found the inner strength and courage to beat it. They are the ones who deserve the plaudits, they (you) are the heroes.

Veganism has nothing to do with time; it doesn’t matter if you found it (found yourself) last week or 50 years ago. I am no wiser than the next bloke, like I say, I just got lucky.

A Slow Walk To Veganism

According to a recent study by researchers from the University of Illinois, meat and dairy consumers are increasingly interested in how their food is produced and are looking evermore closely at labels in an attempt to choose products that avoid growth hormones and antibiotics, that were humanely raised in a free-range or cage-free environment, that were grass fed (or at least fed a vegetarian diet) and certified as organic.

I want nothing more than the world to stop consuming animal products today, but as a realist I know it will be a gradual process. This is the beginning of that gradual process. The vegan message grows louder by the day, news of the health benefits, the environmental damage and the horrendous cruelty associated with animal agriculture is becoming unavoidable and is beginning to get through.

And the main reason people are getting this message is because of the brave activists across the world. We have no government behind us, no official backing, even the law is on the side of the industry but we are making our voices heard in a way that can only happen when you have truth and justice on your side.

To the growing number of people attending save vigils, to those reaching out to the public via outreach in our towns and cities. To the festival organisers and attendees, the inspirational writers and speakers, the ethical clothing designers, the cooks, the chefs, the vegan cafes, restaurants and food bars. To the millions passionately spreading the message on social media, to the chalkers sharing it via our streets.

You can make a difference, you will make a difference and you are making a difference. Stand up, stand together, you will never walk this path alone. In every country, in every city town and village there are people who will stand proudly beside you.

#GoVegan #GoVegans

Milk is Murder Too

When I was growing up, one of the most common sights on our street and around the neighbourhood was the milkman. A cheerful fella in gloves that had the finger tips missing so he could grip the bottles, driving his float around the town shortly after, sometimes even before dawn.

He was an everyday sight and was well known to most of the residents. A few of my friends even had a job with him at various times as the “milk boy”.

I can’t remember exactly when the milkman stopped being a thing; I seem to remember less and less people got their milk delivered until I guess it became uneconomic and the “dairy”, which was on the high street, shut down.

I mention this with some nostalgia, not because I was ever a customer of his, just because it reminds me of my youth, living with my brother and sisters, at home with my parents.

As a child (albeit a vegan child) I never really understood the misery imposed on the animals that provide us with milk. As an adult and a vegan activist I am fully aware of the horrors associated with it. Most though it appears are not. Milk is in so many of the foods that we eat even though it is entirely unnecessary.

None of us could ever imagine being eaten and the stories of cannibalistic tribes, deep in the jungle, are the thing of childhood nightmares. Neither though could any of us imagine a life of extreme torture and torment, of incarceration, heartbreak and agony, and then being eaten. This though is the difference between an animal raised for meat and one raised for milk. Drinking milk is in every way as bad as eating meat and when you really think about it, it’s far worse.

Gone are the days when vegetarians got a pass because they “only drink milk and eat cheese” and we can debate all we like about how a vegetarians footprint on the world of animal suffering is smaller than a carnivore, it’s simply not. Vegetarianism was fine in the past as we were waking up to the horrors of animal agriculture, now our eyes are fully open, veganism has to be the baseline.

I don’t have a problem with reminiscing about my youth, the cheerful milkman plying his trade of a morning, whistling a happy tune as he went, but those days are gone. We have no need to forcefully impregnate cows and to separate mothers from their children; we have no need for their milk.

We Couldn’t Save Them

This morning, as on numerous other occasions, I attended an Animal Save. Today we were in Guildford, Surrey outside the APB Food Group Slaughterhouse. We witnessed six or seven trucks pull in, all full of sad, scared animals who had no say in their fate and who are all now not only dead, but have been cut into pieces. Their body parts will now be sold to line the pockets of the APB shareholders and fill the stomachs of heartless, ignorant consumers. It is a joyless place.

There were no police in attendance which is unusual and this gave the APB staff licence to push us around however they liked, one of our group was almost caught under the wheels of one of the trucks, which was a frightening moment that could have ended very differently. All we ask is that the trucks stop for two minutes so we can whisper one last word of kindness to the animals, they would not even permit this.

It’s on a busy main road and we got quite a lot of support from the passing motorists and a fair amount of abuse. Most of the cars slowed down to see what we were there for and from the way many of them looked at us, troubled in some way, I have to think they wondered if they should at least think a little more about their eating habits.

It wasn’t a large group today, maybe 20 at most, but if I was ever going to be stranded on a desert island, these are the people I would most like to be with. Huge hearted men and women who give up their time and travel, what is often quite some distance at their own expense, to try and show these poor creatures that not all humans are monsters.

Jake, who just turned 16 this week, took a little camping stove, few boxes of Linda McCartney sausages, bread and ketchup and cooked for everyone. Olivia & Megan made a dozen or so fantastic looking cupcakes and gave them to anyone who wanted one. I took flask of Jasmine green tea and seitan sandwiches. No one left hungry.

The feeling of unity, of understanding, of empathy is difficult to explain. As we left, the hugs and kisses we got from people we’d never or hardly met before were completely sincere. We are family.

Unlike on previous vigils, we barely disrupted the working day of APB. We may have made a few of those passing a little more aware of the suffering of animals, I have to hope we did. One day we will put an end to this insanity, today sadly we couldn’t save them.

Why Vegans & Vegetarians Just Can’t Get Along

My brief response to an article by Brian Kateman entitled “Can’t vegans and vegetarians just get along?

During the 70s, the 80s and even the 90s I was a vegetarian. Not because I ate eggs or cheese, not because I drank milk or even had the occasional bit of fish, because I didn’t. I was a vegetarian because that was the term you used back then. I now know that I was actually a vegan, but if anyone asked, I was a vegetarian.

I became a vegan when I was four or five and it was difficult. I survived for the most part on bread, potatoes and baked beans. Eating out was tough, if chips weren’t a thing I’m not sure I would have survived!

I knew a few other vegetarians back then, most of them did it because it was in some way cool to do so, none of them lasted past their early 20s.

I can understand why back in the day people chose not to eat meat but continued to eat eggs and dairy. The information wasn’t available, it’s hard to imagine now but there actually was a time before the Internet existed! What the hell did we do with ourselves?

Nowadays though not only is the information everywhere but also you can get a vegan version of almost everything you would ever want to eat. With vegan options becoming ever more plentiful in shops and restaurants, there really is no justification for being vegetarian other than personal preferance and that stinks of slefishness.

The dairy and egg industries are in many ways even more cruel than the meat industry, eating these items are not healthy and the production of them contributes to the massive environmental damage caused the animal agriculture industry.

We as individuals have a responsibility to do all we can to protect our fragile planet and those that we share it with; going vegan is one of the most effective statements you can make as an individual. We simply can’t rely on our leaders, on our governments to do the right thing.

Personally I would like to lose the word vegetarian from the English language as I feel it’s basically obsolete. You’re either a vegan or you eat animal products. In saying that, I can accept people being vegetarian in the short term so long as they use it to transition to veganism. It doesn’t really need a label though.