A cute, fun YouTube video I found today that makes some EXCELLENT and well-articulated points. Go Shelly! And if I had a nickel for every time I got asked some of these questions....
I was not proud of myself the other night. Not proud at all; forever proving that I have a long way to go before I am the person I want to be. But also realising that life is never black and white and we really do just have to live moment by moment and do our best with whatever life throws at us.
What am I going on about?
Well, the other night I found myself hanging out with some lovely gentlemen (friends of a friend). Both myself and my friend, who I’m staying with in Vancouver, got invited for drinks, my friend had to work, so I just went alone. I had met them all before, but this was the first time I'd had real, long conversations with all of them. We were...getting to know each other I suppose. Over alcohol.
One of the guys there is a Vegetarian. When I first met him we had the slightly awkward “Oh cool, I’m a Vegetarian too! Well...Vegan actually,” him: “Vegan. Oh right.” Why does it feel like two sides of a war meeting? It should feel the opposite!
He said: “God, I could never give up milk.” I laughed airily (trying to keep the mood light) “Yeah, I felt the same way. But honestly, now I don’t miss it at all.” He just nodded and it seemed like this very awkward "are we both judging each other?" thing. I hate that Vegan meets Vegetarian goes this way. It's really not how it should be at all, but unfortunately most of my experiences go the same.
So, back to the drinks. Perhaps an inevitable part of any drinks night, one guy announced “I’m ordering Pizza!” and a pizza arrived twenty minutes later. They were tucking in, offered me a slice and, before I had to say anything, they remembered and then made an awkward apology for eating the pizza in front of me. I assured them I wasn’t offended by the presence of pizza, I’m aware I’m in a minority etc. All was well. But then, the Vegetarian couldn’t resist saying (through a mouthful of congealed cow pus) “you must miss cheese! It’s so good!”
Me: “I just did too much googling. Seriously. Google ‘cheese’ and you won’t miss it.”
Then, guy number three pulls out: “But what’s wrong with milk? I mean milk is good for you.”
Me: “honestly, I’d rather not go into it….”
I was reading my audience and I knew there would be no conversions here, folks. I really just wanted to have fun. Also: my mind was a little fuzzy with all the booze. I knew that if I went into it, I was going to really go for it, making me look like a total dick to all these guys. Thus: my shame spiral. I didn't want to look bad....I admit it.
Him: “No, let’s go into it.”
Me: “People think milk is good for us because that’s what we’ve been sold by the diary industry our entire lives….”
Guy number 2: “Oh! You got her just with one line! She’s goin’ for it!”
Ahhhh! Assholes. Hot assholes.
Me: “You asked!”
Guy number 3: “I’ve heard about the whole ‘we’re the only species that drink milk’ thing, but like…we’re the only species that drive cars.”
Me: "Yes, but don’t you want to drink milk because it’s “healthy”? Isn’t that what you said?”
Guy number 2 then starts trying to be all cutsie by listing all the things that man do, from playing video games to yoga. I took his lead and together we took the mood to a lighter place.
I completely stopped at this point for many reasons. One: it was going nowhere. Two: with alcohol involved no one was paying attention and three: I was just becoming someone that they didn’t want to really be around. And I hate that this topic, which is so close to my heart, creates that social scenario. It’s really, really upsetting.
But you do have to just read the situation you’re in. I honestly believe that delving into raping cows, the processing of cheese and the connection with the veal industry would not have done me or the Vegan movement any favours in that moment. They were already resistant, and only asking because they knew they could gang up on me and sometimes guys like to tease girls. I get it. Therefore: I made a judgement call and changed the subject.
Also: I have to note here: that I have always had most success with converting people to the ideas of Veganism and understanding by just being a great example of it. If people get to know me just as a person, see that I live a completely normal life and like my personality, they are more likely to then be genuinely intrigued by my ideas. Also: if they respect me already, they’re more likely to respect my Veganism. Starting out meeting someone and having Vegan discussions never really goes well. You just come across as the bad cliché we are all trying to avoid.
So, I was slightly ashamed that being surrounded by attractive guys quashed my “fighting for the Vegan cause”, but at the same time: I know it was the right choice, not just for my social life, but for the cause too. I left that night with them all liking me as a person, even after the awkward 5 minute Vegan chat. All the other conversations were fun, I got appropriately drunk and we have had similar nights since.
Now they can all say: “I knew a Vegan once. She was pretty cool”.
As apposed to: “Fuck, don’t invite that psycho Vegan again. Talk about a guilt trip.”
I know what I prefer.
This morning I got up at 6am (thank you body clock) and headed straight to the Organic markets.
Look, obviously not everyone is going to be into everything. People are all different and that's what makes the world interesting etc....so I absolutely do not expect everyone (or even many people really) to read this and understand, but for the few people out there who do, this one is for you! Hmm...that rhymed.
Nothing is nicer than the feeling of arriving at the markets, full of like-minded people, seeing how many of them are out and about and filling your shopping bag (hessian, of course) full of food that is good for the planet and for my body. My first stop is the Raw Food stand. Now, I love the idea of trying to eat raw food...still find it a bit too much effort to think about most of the time, but when it's right there in front of me, I love eating it and experimenting! I grabbed a slice of raw pizza and a raw chocolate brownie. Both of which are incredible. For those of you who are scratching your heads, raw food is finally hitting popularity. It's based on the obvious fact that when you cook food, you remove more than half the vitamins and nutrients. So, thus, a huge health market emerges: Raw Food. And these days, bloody hell, it ain't all raw carrot sticks and lettuce. They've found a way to make lots of amazing, raw treats. And, as I said, when it's right there to sample: it's delicious. And really good for your body. Also: for anyone who hasn't tried raw chocolate.....do. It will change your life.
Becoming really into health food is something that I've started to put in the same category as Religion. I personally, am not religious at all, so when people talk about their own spirituality or worse, their religion, I'm kind of interested up to a point...I wonder how they can invest so much time in something that I just don't understand, and then after a certain amount of time, I really wish they'd just shut up. I can see that thought process in people's eyes if I ever talk about being Vegan. Or about Organic produce. It's really interesting. Even more interesting, is how PERSONALLY people can take it and react when one says they are Vegan or Vegetarian. It's as if they automatically feel I am somehow judging their choices, which I promise, I am NOT. I ate meat and whatever the hell I wanted my entire life up until a year ago. Suddenly I just wanted to start making different choices.....and yes, I think it has changed me as a person, but I still want to keep all my friends and all the same people around me, so of course it doesn't mean I care what other people put into their mouths.
All of this comes together in creating the blissful feeling of entering the Markets. When I walk around and see so many signs for : Vegan Desserts, or Organic Bruschetta here! I just feel like I'm not alone. Probably the same feeling a Catholic feels when they step into church. They experience perhaps all to often these days, attacked for believing in God, attacked for supporting an institution like the Catholic Church etc and so forth, but then when they step into church, they are reminded that there are people out there who share their beliefs. They are not alone.
I feel at least once a day I have to defend my Veganism to someone or on some level, whether it be my carnivore brother who declares "we're animals!" (Don't even get me started on that one) or my co-workers "Oh, Hannah...smell that bacon? I know you want it!" (That dirty frying carcass...yeah, really tempting) so, when I step into the markets, I automatically feel like it's okay. I'm not alone. There are people out there like me who value what they put into their bodies and think seriously about food choices. It makes me happy.
So, why the title: "I'm a Wanker"? Because I can acknowledge that to people who just think food is food and why the hell do people get so hyped up about it....I must seem like a wanker. I remember back when I ate meat, my friend had a crush on a girl who was a Vegan. I remember specifically saying that Vegans were just trying to be cool, and what the hell is the reason to not eat eggs or milk? I mean, cows have to be milked! Chickens lay eggs! If you have such an objection, buy organic and shut up about it. So...yes...I've changed slightly since those days. But I remember feeling that way and feeling passionate about it. So I will never judge anyone who feels that way. It's nice having been on both sides. A luxury not many people get on such a hot topic.
Why care so much about food? Why spend extra money on Organic food? These are questions that I think pretty much anyone would know the answer....it just depends on whether or not you agree with the answers. I have entered a stage in my life where I've decided my body is priority one, and I am very passionate about needing action where our planet is concerned. Many people do not understand (and it's not their fault at all....the information is only there if you go looking for it) that the biggest impact we as individuals have on our planet and the environment; is the plate in front of you. People who go around switching off light switches and not putting on the air-conditioning, that's great and certainly is better than leaving stuff on all the time. But if you really care about the environment and your carbon footprint, the best thing you could possibly do, would be to stop eating meat. The land and resources required to satisfy the world's meat demand, is what is killing our planet. From the food the cows have to eat, all the way down to the shit that comes out of their backsides, that is what is killing our planet. The millions and millions of animals that get slaughtered daily to satisfy our world's hunger is something that I pray in many years time we will look back at and be baffled. It's unsustainable. We literally cannot continue living this way. If you don't want to cut out meat - even just cut down a bit, you will do your bit for the planet. It's not all about tree-hugging and animal rights, it's about sustaining our planet and having a good kick up the backside and realising the truth about the world we live in. It's completely ludicrous to think we can go on living this way.
I implore anyone to look into this further. If you are remotely curious about what I have said, hit the web (or my site!) and see for yourself. There are plenty of fantastic sites that have way more facts and figures than I do. The new film "Vegucated" is a great place to start. And regardless of how we feel about these things, I find it's just nice to be informed. Even if you don't want to cut down on meat, it's important to be in the know about these industries and what is really happening.
I put out there to everyone: do not ask questions if you don't want to know the answer. If you meet someone who is Vegetarian, only ask them why they don't eat meat if you're prepared to not attack their answer. This has happened to me too many times and I'm sick of it. My new response is: "Do you really want to know? I've been caught in this trap before". But, if you are curious about why someone would cut out animal products from their diet, and genuinely want to know the answer, than ask away! Good, open communication is something we cannot loose. And good curiosity about how different people live their very different lives is a good thing. Although I do not identify with any religion, I do still find it fascinating to hear about why people believe in God. That is, until they start trying to convert me....then they can piss off.
I have been in Vancouver for six glorious days! What an amazing city. This is a place where I will be standing in line at some random place and overhear the following conversation "yeah, you really think you're going to miss cheese, but you don't!"
Seriously! That happened yesterday. I have never felt like less of an outcast, then I do here in Vancouver. Vegan products are everywhere and every place I have gone to eat offers Vegan options. It's amazing.
I have been doing a lot of Yoga in the Vancouver bracket of my trip, as I'm here visiting a friend, who has a life to live, so I can basically spend my days as I please. Why not spend my days giving my body an amazing Yoga work out and then exploring the streets and cafes of Vancouver? Sounds pretty fantastic to me. I'm pretty much living my dream life. All the Yoga instructors are every bit the Canadian cliche I hoped they'd be. They begin classes with readings from their favourite Yoga journals, or teachings that inspire them. I love it. And the best part is that they all seem to be Vegans, or at least promote that peaceful, non-harm lifestyle. So if they aren't Vegans, I'm very confused. For example: last night I went to a Yin class, which is where you hold simple poses for long periods of time, stretching out your entire body. You finish the class feeling absolutely amazing. The instructor said at one point, while we were working our feet "if this is difficult for you, you've probably been wearing dead animals on your feet for too long."
I just can't help but look around and smile. The message is being spread! More and more people are becoming aware of this. I have no doubts that most people in a Yoga studio are there for a "work out", not to become enlightened, so therefore they probably are not even Vegetarians, although a Vegetarian diet is one of the basics of Yoga practice. Although many will not have this basic in place, it makes me smile that there are so many people getting into Yoga, vegetarian or not, they are there: exposing themselves to these ideas. These seeds are being planted and hopefully one day it will all click into place. It makes me smile.
The best (and worst!) thing about Vancouver so far is that Vegan food is everywhere. Just everywhere. In Australia, you really have to search for it: but here: I'll just be walking through Whole Foods and BAM: Vegan Chocolate Cupcake, right in front of me. This is also why my Yoga practice will not provide me with my dream body. There are too many cupcakes around for that.
Whole Foods is a massive, massive company in the USA and in Canada. They have a lot of influence and feed a lot of people, so I take great, GREAT happiness in seeing how Vegan-orientated they seem to be. In the center of the store they have a self-help area where you can pack a lunch. I walked over to it yesterday to have a sneaky-peek and nearly all the food was Vegan. No kidding. I am so curious to know how just the normal, every day person views this! In my dream world they think: "wow, Vegan hey? Maybe there's something in that. I should look into it and see why Whole Foods promotes Veganism..." Yeah. That's my dream-world. I'm sure they just think "where's the chicken in this hippy store? I need my protein! Oh, there it is. Free range hey? Awesome."
But: overall, I really love Vancouver and I'm loving the awareness that Veganism is a growing movement and something that is a lot bigger overseas that in Australia (as I suspected). Here are some more pictures of the wonderful food and the wonderful Vancouver. First picture: a "steak" I had at Naan restaurant last night. I'm fairly sure they grated Beetroot into the mix so it had a red texture. Hilarious! And delicious!
My travel adventures have begun! And first stop: the gorgeous Auckland, New Zealand. I'm in my second day in Auckland and have to say I'm pretty impressed by all counts. Firstly: I have only seen two McDonalds "restaurants", secondly: they have "Green Cabs" and finally: seen PLENTY of Vegetarian and Vegan places. Woo hoo.
Now: when I travel, food is kind of the number one thing that excites me. I love exploring and I love finding beautiful parks, interesting shops and all the "tourist" stuff: but ultimately, I love sitting in cosy cafes, watching people and eating yummy food. My first morning, I went out to begin exploring the city and found a really "hip" looking cafe in the first lane way I discovered. They didn't scoff when I ordered a soy cappuccino, so that's a good start. The menu was pretty fancy, but they did have porridge! Made with water they assured me. So I ordered that with a side of soy milk and it was completely delicious! With poached rhubarb and banana. Yummy!
As I walk and explore: it seems like Auckland is a pretty "green" orientated place. Most of the stores seem to boast environmental awareness, and the Vegetarian places I have found all seem to be packed! There is a particularly awesome one here called "Revive", and I've seen at least two of them.
How cute is that sign?! I just love it. The fundamentals can escape the best of us. Before I left for my trip: I was working three jobs to fund the bloody thing, and a lot of the above, I'm ashamed to say, fell away as "not important". Sleep being the number one. So, so ashamed! But no fear: since I have been "travelling" I have slept like a crazy woman. Last night I slept for TWELVE hours and the night before: TEN! So I think it's safe to say I'm catching up. This is both the problem and the bliss of not having an alarm :) To the left is my yummy lunch at Revive. A curry hotpot with silver beet salad. So yummy.
So, I will continue to post about how easy it is to travel Vegan! To finish off I'll post some great photos of how vegucated Auckland seems to be!
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