We probably all have someone that we consider would be the last person ever to go vegan.
Mine was Steve, my kind of brother-in-law (it’s complicated).
Steve is from North-East England, Hull in fact, which is a world away from the vegan stronghold’s in London, Bristol and Brighton. In Hull the men are men, the weather is generally bad and nothing exciting has come out of there since The Housemartins.
Many will disagree that The Housemartins were exciting, they were OK and went on to become The Beautiful South, which I always found a tad ironic.
Happy Cow doesn’t have one single vegan restaurant or cafe listed in Hull.
Steve is a no nonsense kind of guy. He’ll always say it as it is. Not particularly sociable, but a decent bloke who for the most part chooses to keep himself to himself.
Because of our tenuous relationship he will visit our home every now and then for family gatherings. The last time I saw him was maybe six weeks ago, it was early May.
When we have gatherings at our home, all of the food is vegan. People either like it or go home hungry. I really don’t mean that in an unkind way, but people know the score and for the most part are pleased and surprised.
Steve’s been here more than a few times and is used to it. I don’t think he was ever particularly happy about the offerings and would probably have been the one who rushed home to cook some chicken or sausages afterwards, complaining as he went.
When Steve was here in May we were talking about veganism. I probably did most of the talking to be honest and he probably didn’t listen to much of it, but I did manage to catch his attention when I started talking about health.
I told him he was overweight.
Now this is not a tactic I use regularly when speaking to people about veganism, I certainly wouldn’t use it on a stranger, but this was OK. Steve denied it of course; he’s not particularly big but had the standard pot belly.
I suggested we check his BMI out of curiosity.
I know what you’re thinking and you’re probably right. It was a party, a celebration and this guy is weighing his relations. How obsessed is he! I doubt many reading this will be in any hurry to invite me to their parties.
I was right though. His BMI was over 28 so he was heading towards obesity.
I gave a talk at a vegan festival earlier in the year and I took a prop. It’s a box that weighs two stone or 13 kilos. I used it during the talk to demonstrate how much extra weight all of us are carrying now compared to back in 1960. It’s quite heavy and shocks some people as weight is hard to imagine and two stone doesn’t sound a great deal.
This was about how much weight Steve needed to lose to get his BMI down into the normal range. So he held the box, we talked some and although he didn’t commit to anything, it definitely caught his attention.
Three weeks later we got a text from him which read “THREE WEEKS VEGAN!” That was it, I did say he was a man of few words.
Today, maybe six or seven weeks later, my partner spoke to her sister who is Steve’s partner, who reported that he’s lost a load of weight, feels amazing, has incredible energy levels and basically won’t stop talking to her about it.
She did also mention that he’s driving her mad.
I haven’t seen him since the day of the party. He hasn’t contacted me directly or asked for any other help of info, which is fine. By all accounts he doesn’t want to meet other vegans. My thought is yet.
I doubt he talks about it to his friends or colleagues; maybe he’s a little embarrassed. He’s over 60 and it’s a big leap for someone who’s lived on meat all of his life and probably spent most of it arguing against it. I honestly don’t know. It doesn’t matter.
So I don’t expect him to be joining me at a vigil any time soon. I doubt he’ll be handing out leaflets on the high street or offering advice to people and I’m sure he won’t be taking his laptop on the tube and showing footage of animal cruelty whilst wearing an anonymous mask.
But that’s OK. It’s another vegan, another person not contributing to the insanity.
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