On Being a Vegan
For Nearly 30 Years
I’ve been a vegan since 1989. I don’t remember it ever being as popular as it is now to talk about veganism: whether you’ve gone vegan, you think it’s healthy, or you think it’s a bad idea, it seems everyone has something to say about vegan. Firstly, it’s kind of weird to me that suddenly everyone has an opinion. But after reading yet another article on why it is not possible to be a healthy vegan, I realised that I too had something to say.
I believe everything is possible. I believe humans are wonderful, incredible creatures with unlimited potential, and we have the power to mould our world whatever way we wish, if we would only step into that potential. So immediately, to say, vegan is not possible, gets my back up, I want to do it even more to prove that we are free to be vegan if that’s our heart’s desire.
For me personally, I don’t feel that vegan is even a choice, it’s who I am. Think of parts of your identity that you utterly take for granted, and wouldn’t even think to question: maybe that you’re English, or a woman. Maybe that you are a good person, or intelligent; we all walk around with countless subconscious assumptions about who we are and the space we deserve to occupy in the world.
That’s how I feel about vegan, I became vegan as soon as I was able to make my own decisions around my food choices, and it’s fair to say I’ve never looked back and never consciously deliberately decided to eat animal products since that point.
We’ll get to the nutritional aspects in a minute, and I am not about to argue that animal products cannot provide some dense and necessary nutrition, which is harder to find on a vegan diet, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. When I read a convincing argument for eating meat, I pause and think. How would it be to try some meat? How would it feel, how would it taste? When I am tired and have had a long and difficult day, and I read an article like that, I wonder, maybe I am not tired because life can be tiring, maybe something is wrong with me! What if they are right, and by choosing to be a vegan, I am failing myself somehow?
But my initial and strongest emotion when I consider eating dead animals is one of great sadness. If you forced me to do it, if you sat me down and persuaded me for whatever reasons it was necessary for my health and safety to eat a meal containing meat, I still don’t know if I could get it past my lips. I was talking to a friend about it earlier, and I actually started to cry. I started to cry just thinking about it! Call me over-sensitive, but the thought of eating animals just breaks my heart, and the thought of eating something dead repulses me.
I didn’t become vegan because I “cared about the animals,” I became vegan because of a wordless, instinctive knowing that plants were the foods that suited me best. But over the years, the animals have become more and more important to me. And not just the animals; the birds, the trees, the whole of Mother Earth provides me with such a richness of connection I never before could have dreamed of. I remember in the early days of eating a plant-based diet, and how it was to see nature in technicolour for the first time. As a city girl, London born and bred, I barely took notice of nature, or registered it as something important. If my mum wanted us to go out for a family walk on a Sunday, that was so boring to me; being in nature really had no appeal. But when I became vegan, the natural world began to speak to me for the first time. I saw depths of colour that had previously been hidden, I felt a peace and contentment that had hitherto been missing. When we eat foods that are close to the source, we connect to the source. The source is sunlight: plants are fed directly by sunlight, animals are fed by plants. The more light in our foods, the more light in our bodies. And light is what we are all reaching for.
When we eat foods borne out of suffering, we become inured to that suffering, we have to, in order to function. The cleaner and purer our diets become, the more clearly we can recognize that suffering for what it is: cruel and unnecessary. For me, this might be the defining feature of veganism: an increased capacity for compassion and empathy, a deeper connection to the planet, and an understanding that all really is one, everything is connected, and whatever you do to the outside you are really doing to yourself. I wouldn’t want to harm another living creature, because I feel connected to that creature, and asking me to hurt it is like asking me to hurt myself, slice into my skin or chop off a digit. It’s painful and it’s scary and I don’t want to do it.
Everything is vibration, everything is energy, I’m fond of repeating. All food holds a vibration, and when you eat it, that vibration is entering your body and becoming a part of you. When you eat foods of a high vibration, you elevate your own vibration, when you eat foods of a denser vibration, you stay dense. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I thought spiritual elevation is why we are here. I thought we reincarnate for one simple reason – in order to experience soul growth, and the pure joy that that brings. Some people might tell you money and status are the point to life, but since I was that teenager, I always saw it differently. Money and status come and go, but the spiritual path is something real, that goes way beyond this dimension and this single lifetime, and is a way through which we connect to the cosmos and the all-one. This cosmos is a benign and truly beneficent being when we are moving along in harmony with it, it’s only when we lose connection that we perceive it as a harsh and unfriendly place. Being raw vegan elevates our vibration to a point where we experience the all-one of the cosmos, and as such it’s an intensely spiritual diet, suitable only for those who are seeking to remove ego barriers, and stand authentic and naked in front of the universe. To people who find it hard to sustain, I would ask, are you committed to the spiritual life? Do you maintain your spiritual practice? Because if ego is your motivating factor in life, you will need to go ahead and eat those denser animal foods in order to maintain and support your ego.
We are all unique beings, we all have different choices to make. If your choice is to include animal products, then I choose to respect that as where you are and who you are in this world. But please extend the same respect to me, as someone who chooses to occupy a different space and honour a different vibration.
And just so you don’t think I am a complete space cake; this is what I understand about vegan nutrition, in a nutshell:
- If you’re omitting animal products, you need to replace that dense nutrition with other plant foods, you can’t get it from just salads and fruit. I believe superfoods are the key to getting what we need, especially where protein is concerned eg chlorella, spirulina, hemp protein, maca. I would recommend minimum 1 tbsp green powder a day for a vegan.
- Lecithin contains an important nutrient that is only otherwise found in eggs. It’s an often overlooked nutrient by vegans. I take 1tbsp most days.
- A plant-based DHA-EPA supplement is also essential: we can’t efficiently metabolise the healthy fats found in plants in significant amounts. Again often overlooked by vegans who wrongly assume they can get what they need from nuts and seeds.
- The more widely recognised vitamins, B12, D3 and K2 also need supplementing. You may be getting trace amounts, but not enough to ensure long term robust health. I would recommend a food-based supplement; I use Garden of Life.
That’s it! That’s how I’ve raised my kids, that’s how I eat. Lots of vegetables, as well as fruits, nuts and seeds, sprouts, and sea vegetables. Supplemented with the little list above. Like I say, heading for 30 years, and I see it working for another 30 ahead, and even another 30 after that….