I have blogged before about being the ultimate people pleaser and, get ready, it's that time again!
Being a people pleaser who hates conflict and a passionate vegan, is kind of like being an atheist who prays every night. They really do not go together at all and these two parts of me are often in conflict.
When you are an ethical, passionate vegan - you see things pretty much all day every day that conflict with your fundamental beliefs. Nearly all your friends and family eat animals and drink milk, every shop or cafe you go into is making coffee after coffee after coffee with cow milk that had to come from somewhere and no one seems to be aware of any of it.
It is hard. I can't pretend that it isn't.
When people say things that make me sad, upset, angry or passionate, I find myself 90% of the time having to repress what I want to say because I want to avoid judgement and not send them running for the hills thinking of me as a cliche "angry vegan".
I am weak. I admit it. Sometimes - I am weak.
It's easy to wonder, "why do I do this to myself? Why do I make my life difficult?" I refuse to eat the chocolate brownie because of my "ethics" and all that people see is some idiot who's on a diet or is a pretentious "vegan".
Why do I CARE about something that no one else seems to care about? All it does is make people think I'm weird and means I can't eat brownies! Why would anyone choose to live such a miserable life, right?
So what keeps me strong? What's the secret weapon that makes brownies unappealing and veganism easy? Why would I now choose to devour strawberries and dark chocolate ANY DAY over a dairy-filled cake? Or just bake one myself! Why do I walk into bakeries and feel revolted by the sight of all of it?
The secret is - it's not about me at all. My suffering is NOTHING. My "suffering" is laughable. Am I kept impregnated my entire life so that humans can drink milk? Am I attached to machines three times a day and sucked of all my natural milk that should have gone to my baby? Is my baby now being served to a human in a restaurant somewhere as "veal" with red-wine sauce?
No. And it's this connection that makes veganism so easy. A cake is not a cake. A cake is full of things that cause enormous pain and suffering to innocent, loving, intelligent creatures. Scrambled eggs on toast represents an industry that is responsible for more animal deaths than ANY OTHER. Nearly every male chicken that is born in the egg industry is ground up alive at birth or simply thrown in the bin. Literally. They are useless, they cannot lay eggs and their breasts will never be big enough for humans to be satisfied with, no matter how many hormones we pump into them.
That is what eggs represent.
No one should ever resent knowlege. Knowledge is power. People seem to shy away from learning things that are going to force them to make change or make them examine their actions and take responsibility for things that they don't want to be bothered with. People don't want to hear about how their favourite store exploits twelve-year olds or what they are ultimately agreeing for when they pay for things and support an industry. "Does that mean I"ll have to buy more expensive clothes? Well, forget it!" It's sad, but that seems to be our subconcious attitude on most of these big issues. "I don't like eggplant, I could never be a vegetarian, sorry!"
These attitudes mean shoving your head under the sand and ignoring information that is REAL. It is not a myth that factory farming is the leading cause of global warming. If you want to bitch and moan about the state of the planet and then eat chicken nuggets, I'm sorry, but you are going to hear me pipe up. Because KNOWLEDGE is power.
Last week I had an amazing conversation with one of the girls I rehearse with about why I'm a vegan and she was so affected by my words. She didn't know anything about the process of milking cows, as so many do not. She didn't understand that happy family farms make up a tiny per cent of commercial meat and dairy sales. She didn't understand anything about animal agricuture. She ate meat, like so many, because it is a habit she has grown up with and never really questioned.
I do not enjoy shattering peoples illusions. I hate seeing guilt as I explain how animals are raised for meat. And I hate that I AM THE ONE who is causing them to feel this guilt. It's awful.
Remember - I am a people pleaser! Ask any of my friends! I do not take any pleasure in these conversations...
But, if they ask me, I cannot lie. It will sound really lame...but the animals need me too. The animals who are held in factory farms are relying on people to start getting informed and making different choices.
We all participate in causing this suffering, so at least be aware that you are. If you want to eat meat - at least understand what you're supporitng. Try and find the most happy, family farm, watch them send the animal off to a slaughterhouse and see if you feel okay about that. And if you do feel okay about a cow being dismembered by machines inside a slaughterhouse, can you then take on board that it is IMPOSSIBLE for every human being on the planet to eat "ethically sourced" meat from a happy family farm? Impossible. This is how factory farming begun in the first place and this is why veganism is growing. People are beginning to understand that the way forward, to ensure we have enough food, enough water and enough resources for our children and grandchildren is by going GREEN. Meat is not green.
I'm going to finish off by linking to one of the greatest speeches I've heard on the topic. Phillip Wollen was second speaker at the "Animals Should be Off the Menu" debate that took place in Australia last year. If you have the time, watch the entire debate as it is a fantastic way to figure out who you agree with and what rings true to you.
Ultimately, we can only do what sits right with us, what makes us happy and what feels "right".
It would be impossible for me to eat meat again because I know that the only scenario I could feel okay about taking an animal's life would be when my own was at risk. Hopefully that won't happen...if I get stranded on a dessert island and there are NO edible plants, I'll get back to you :)
Cruelty has many faces.
....doesn't make you think of this.....
Even though that's exactly what it is.
Luckily, there are lovely things like this:
Or even this....yum!....
Which are not only delicious, but also so so good for your body! No yucky mercury, no devastating effects on the environment and equally easy to order at your favourite sushi restaurant.
Not many people are aware of the issue of "bycatch".
Bycatch refers to the fish and other sea creatures caught in nets while commercial fishing enterprises go out hunting. These creatures are mostly just thrown dead or dying back into the sea. This is a devastating and disgusting reality, hugely responsible for the environmental devastation eating seafood causes.
In some trawls for shrimp - the discard may be 90 per cent of the catch. This discard can include seabirds, turtles and dolphins, sometimes in huge numbers.
Each day I am amazed by how delicious simple food can be. The real magic of wholefoods is that they are uncomplicated and truly satisfying.
I am equally amazed how many people cannot fathom what a vegan eats, how they prepare food or how they can POSSIBLY feel satisfied merely with vegetables.
Yesterday I had, honestly, a blissful day. It began with the usual mania of jumping out of bed, putting the kettle on for my morning hot lemon (never too busy for that!), getting ready while listening to a podcast of Conversations with Richard Fidler and then jumping out of the house while pulling on my cardigan.
It was a divine sunny day in Manchester, which is all-too-rare, so I walked half the way in to town and then caught the bus as I really couldn't be late for rehearsal. Besides - I love grabbing my free Metro paper and squeezing in some good people watching.
There is a market stall at my bus stop that sells fresh fruit and veg - truly! So now my new favourite routine is grabbing bananas for a mere pound to have handy for that day and the next! Breakfast is done - and oh so cheap.
I had the pleasure of a full day of rehearsals, sunshine and even a coffee date with one of the cast members. We found a lovely beer garden that we crashed to merely drink water, basked in the sunshine and soaked up some Vitamin D.
As evening dawned - I went home to do some long overdue cleaning (don't tell my Mum) before thinking what I would have for dinner. I have to mention here that I really don't think anyone warned me how often cleaning has to happen.
When you live alone, you can't blame anyone else for that hair on the floor....or how dirty the sink is. The buck stops here, my friend.
By the time I'd cleaned and performed enthusiastically to my bad sing-along music, I was starving hungry and couldn't be bothered to go out and grab anything. Luckily - I had a random sweet potato lying on the shelf plus some basic vegetables....
How could you possibly make a dinner out of that, Hannah? Well - very easily.
Hacked into the sweet potato (left the skin on, personal preference) did a bit of olive oil drizzling and some rosemary scattering....into the oven! Easy.
Then I prepped some simple fresh, raw vegetables and I have to say - as I sat down with my meal, lit some candles and relished in my clean flat, I felt pretty damn happy and content.
There's a lot of pleasure to be found in simple, wholesome food. I do believe that simple food is the most easy to digest and also TASTES AMAZING. So, we don't always have to get complicated. Simpler can be better.
Simple food is truly my favourite. I am always happy to have an adventure and try to make something crazy and complicated - but in terms of my body, health and busy schedule...nothing satisfies me more than a few ingredients, prepared well.
Here are a few other basic dinner ideas:
A Four Ingredient Salad! Lettuce, capsicum, sun-dried tomatoes and basil. I know it sounds simple, but the key is VOLUME. Making something simple and delicious like this - you get to make it enormous. Remember - I'm living on a budget, usually that's another cause for my limited ingredients. But I promise you - 'tis a blessing not a curse.
The Best Bruschetta: I've posted about this bruschetta a shameful amount of times. Find an amazing loaf of bread and pop a few slices under the grill for a minute. When they're nice and toasted - scrape a clove of garlic over them for flavour and drizzle on some olive oil.
In a small bowl dice up some fresh tomatoes, add oil, chopped basil, salt and pepper. Add to the bread. IT'S AMAZING.
Or you could even make my raw bruschetta (pictured below). Swap the bread for lettuce leaves, maybe add some tahini dressing and throw portion size to the wind!
Bit'a brown rice with some sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, parsley, salt and pepper!
And to sign off - always gotta have a dedication to my humble potato. I do live in England now, after all. And I will passionately take it to my grave: TAT'RS DON'T MAKE YA FAT
This one is a humble spud with hummus and roasted vegetables
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