Aside from the obvious – and completely uninformed – questions concerning where I get my protein from, or how I could possibly live without cheese, one question always pops up when I tell someone I’m vegan; what do I miss the most? I find this a really odd thing to ask. It assumes that by cutting out animal products from my life I have in turn backed myself into a limited resource corner; in which I am deprived of what are clearly the most desirable things in life. Oh poor vegan me, people must think. No chocolate, ice cream, lamb chops, macaroni cheese, leather belts, “luxury” cosmetics etc etc. Surely I would miss all those things as they are so engrained in our culture, our history and more importantly, our habits.
But the strange thing is I don’t miss any of those things. After almost a year of going vegan I don’t long for a cheese sandwiches, or feel tempted to order a mixed grill. Not once have I secretly browsed websites of sexy leather shoes or bought an expensively luxurious (but otherwise tested on animals) lipstick. That’s because the whole ethos behind why I became, and have stayed, vegan is deep rooted in my disgust for these products. Knowing what cows go through to create the dairy we binge on, or being aware of the millions of male chicks which are brutally crushed alive minutes after birth, just so we can have mass produced eggs, stops me from missing any of it.
I don’t “deprive” myself of these products to stand on some moral high ground and judge others. I am genuinely repulsed by our treatment of animals by the meat, dairy and egg industries and how their production affects our planet. And I truly believe if more people were brave enough to discover for themselves what’s really happening – and not hide behind pretty images of local organic farms – these practices would not be supported, maintained and funded by us as they currently are.
That said, there are some things I miss about being a vegan. Though they are probably not what you think:
5 Things I Miss as a Vegan:
1. Eating what I fancy
As the profile of veganism rises, so too do the products and services on offer. There are plenty of vegan friendly restaurants and if you call ahead something will always be arranged for you. However, I must admit I do miss just rocking up on the day and choosing from the menu based on what I fancy not what can be veganised. I also feel left out at impromptu foodie moments like office birthday cake time!
2. Not being labelled based on diet
Seems ironic when some people assume Vegans are judgmental, aggressive animal activists! But by being vegan I often feel labelled based on stereotypes. Some even say “you don’t look like a vegan!” I didn’t realise we were a race of people!! Equally frustrating, but coming from a nice place, is when someone apologises to me for eating meat or cheese next to me; as though I will be horribly offended!
3. Being oblivious
With an awareness of certain things comes a feeling of responsibility and determination. Sometimes I miss being oblivious and not feeling so passionate, sad and angry a lot of the time. My first 6 months of veganism was filled with despair that no one else seemed to care about the things I did. Even now I have to bite my tongue at times when I see or hear something which is against my ethics. But even though they are horrific to look at, images and videos of animal cruelty are what remind me why I do what I do and why ignorance is not bliss!
4. Having slip ups
We all have slip ups from time to time on lifestyle changes, but as a vegan it can sometimes feel like people are just waiting to catch you slipping up! In our bid to prove it’s easy to do and that we stand by our choice, we are also wary about admitting any slip ups. I once ate a falafel wrap late one night at an airport, even though it contained a yogurt dip. I felt instantly guilty and ashamed, and wondered if I should fess up. What’s with that? Who exactly have I let down by a one off break in my usually tight veganism?
This is a surprising one, but I have to admit that I miss greasy, dirty junk food from time to time. Vegan food is just so darn healthy! You can make pretty much anything in a vegan style and alternatives products cover everything from bacon to gooey cheese; but even plant based grease isn’t really that greasy! I don’t miss a the grossness of KFC as such; but when you are hung-over, hormonal or simply wanting to be naughty, your vegan alternatives don’t really cut it!