Listen, I get it. If any of this applies to you – trust me you’re not alone.
When I began facing the realities of the world I live in and contemplating changing my entire life (to reflect a new set of ideas in conflict to everything I'd been told my entire life) it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.
I didn't want to seem like I was judging anyone. I didn't want my friends and family to see me as some "smug vegan" looking down on them and every meal they consumed. Nothing could be further from the truth and the idea anyone could think it affected me deeply.
I’ve always been a people-pleaser. I want to make people happy, cause as little damage as possible and make others lives easier, wherever I can. The ideas of which, work both brilliantly and ironically with concepts of veganism.
Veganism embodies doing our best; trying to screw up the planet as little possible, hurt the least amount of animals and be as good to our own bodies as we can. On the flip side, veganism can also mean segregating yourself from your friends, looking like a smug asshole, being difficult at parties and saying “no” to innocent looking things like cupcakes and mini-muffins. No one wants to be the dick in the office saying “no” to Stephie’s birthday cake. Whether you’re “dieting” or politely pointing out that the cake is made of pain and torture, no one wants to be that guy. And if you do? Well, you probably are a smug vegan.
I'm convinced a lifetime of people pleasing made it easier to be a likeable vegan. I've never wanted to rock the boat, stand out in a negative way or make people feel bad about themselves. Many vegans tend to push this idea they are "right" while others are "wrong" and wonder why no one wants to discuss veganism with them ever again!
I admit; I find pushy, judgmental vegans almost as annoying as meat eaters. Surely the end goal should be encouraging this lifestyle? Saving animals? Am I right or did I get lost along the way? Is the goal saving animals and the planet? Okay great, if we can agree on that, can we also agree that being aggressive and rude and preachy is NEVER going to convert ANYONE? I've never seen a successful execution of "I yell at you, tell you you're wrong and you want to be like me".
Being a Scary Vegan
Your approach will usually dictate how people react to you. If you go at someone, guns blazing, defenses up and ready for war, that's most likely what you will get back. Many vegans, I'm sure subconsciously, go at meat-eaters in this way. I've watched kind, loving people with the best intentions act in a way that will do NOTHING for their cause.
Who would want to join a group that seem defensive, angry and miserable? That's not appealing. I want to be part of a group who seem intelligent, well-read, logical and kind. If you are receiving negative reactions, try and assess if you are being overly intense or defensive when you talk about your lifestyle.
And I promise - I GET IT.
I get the passion. I get the anger. I get the frustration. It hits me hard. But, I reserve my anger for people who are cold and arguing their point absent of any compassion. Don’t go attacking any Tom, Dick and Harry for eating meat because chances are, they are either very minimally aware or haven’t had THEIR personal light bulb moment yet.
It could even come from you.
I've been so surprised in the last four years who will come and ask questions. It has even been that same cold person convincing me "they don't care".
How To Encourage (and SEIZE) a "Light Bulb Moment"
My ethos (after the first few “scary vegan” months) has always been: positivity rules.
If someone asks “why are you vegan”, which can be a genuine question or someone trying to get a rise out of you, my response is always along the lines of: “it was the best decision I ever made” or “I did way too much research", which can prompt follow up questions depending on your delivery.
My veganism is a relatively new-found lifestyle, so I cannot and SHOULD NOT judge anyone who hasn't found the right trigger yet. Even if someone doesn't want to become a vegan, they will absolutely have a compassion trigger. Something that makes them understand, even if they don't want to commit.
You can show someone a million animal-cruelty videos and get nothing. Then, randomly, they can see a vegan cartoon or listen to a celebrity they respect and their blinders are ripped right off. I’ve heard so many examples of meat-eaters getting suddenly affected by something I never would have predicted.
We are all different. That’s the most beautiful and frustrating part of life. We are all going to care about different things. Your greatest power is that when someone has their light bulb moment, they may think of you, the closest vegan they know and make a point to talk to you. When this happens, try not to jump out of your skin in excitement, try play it cool, but it is the greatest feeling ever.
No pressure – but you are a part of something really important.
You are a part of trying to save animals, end factory farming, save the planet and get everyone a hell of a lot healthier. So, if you find yourself in a conversation with someone about veganism, whether it’s horrible and negative or whether it’s tiny amount of curiosity, try and be cool about it. Try and be as nice as possible so people don’t think they have to change their entire life or suddenly become a raging hippie to join the club.
You don’t’ have to do ANYTHING to join the club apart from buy different stuff, care about shit and not eat rotting corpses.
Sounds like a fantastic club to me.
1) Throw Vegan Dinner Parties
They work. Get friends around and cook them up a delicious, wholesome vegan feast! It doesn't need to be fancy or impressive, just yummy and abundant. Most people imagine vegan food is boring and will result in starvation. As long as you debunk those two things, you're onto a winner.
2) Show off Your Lunch Box
There's a great smug cloud that forms when your lunch looks like this while every one else is eating cold ham and cheese sandwiches..... muhahaha.
3) DON'T SHARE ANIMAL CRUELTY VIDEOS EVERY DAY
If you have the guts to post about animal cruelty in your news-feed - I salute you! Truly I do. I have my blog for that and keep my personal page pretty people-friendly. I applaud those who share important information and remind people what atrocities are happening BUT - I'm not sure about doing it every day. If you sandwich animal cruelty posts amongst a fairly normal, every-day Facebook profile (my friend Jasmine is a great example) I imagine you're more likely to impact people. You don't want to be "that friend I blocked" ;)
4) Take The Piss Now and Then
Most cool people take the piss out of themselves now and then. Vegans are cool. Vegans should take the piss out of themselves occasionally. End of story.
Overall - remember that being a VEGAN is an important, beautiful and incredible part of who you are, but it shouldn't make you feel alienated from everyone around you. Show your passion, show your brilliance, show your knowledge, but share it in a way that feels inclusive and kind.
Compassion is key. You don't want to give voice to the MOST frustrating vegan stereotype: "vegans care more about animals than people!" (even though it's kinda true sometimes...) har har.
Hey, who doesn't cry more when animals die in films than people? They're the INNOCENTS! We just have made that connection a little earlier than everyone else ;)
I started this blog, nearly four years ago because I found out something truly shocking. I was shocked by the discovery, but even more shocked that so few people seemed to know.
Animals are being tortured, abused and slaughtered by the billions.
If that doesn't mean anything to you - I strongly believe you haven't thought about it for a nano-second.
Let me say it again -
Animals are being tortured, abused and slaughtered by the billions.
And no one seems to care.
Humans have enslaved cows, pigs, chickens, geese, turkeys, ducks, fish, horses, dogs and plenty more to be used for our UNNECESSARY greed. If you want to debate whether animal products are necessary, I highly recommended this AMAZING full-debate "Animals Should Be Off The Menu" and doing as much follow-up research as you desire. Animal products are completely unnecessary for human consumption and there are plenty of walking, talking, living, breathing, THRIVING vegans out there who prove it. The American Dietetic Association even now state that vegan diets are adequate and HEALTHY for humans in ALL stages of life. The debate is over. Move with the times and get over it so we can move the fuck on. YOU DO NOT NEED ANIMAL PRODUCTS. Throw all the tantrums you want - eventually you will have to accept it, whether by force or by choice - that eating cheese on toast, or bacon and egg McMuffins or the finest caviar or fois-fucking-grois is you being an ignorant consumer with no real grasp of what you are participating in.
Am I saying vegan is the ONLY way? No. No I'm not. Am I saying you're a bad person if you're NOT a vegan? No, of course I'm not. Some of my best friends eat meat and I love them. I wish they would watch Earthlings, but I love them either way.
What am I saying? I am saying - get informed, don't be ignorant and, if you truly DON'T CARE about animal welfare then own that fact and don't dress it up in "protein". That's just fucking annoying. You're not eating a rare steak for protein, you are eating it because you like the taste. End of. I have so much more respect for someone who will say (like my beloved brother) "Hannah, I actually just don't care about animals. Sorry."
Do I believe you?
Do I respect your "honesty"? Sure. Why not.
Why don't I believe you? Because I know that if my brother saw a dog being kicked in the street - he would experience emotion and think it was wrong. If my brother was given a knife and told to slit the throat of a cow, he would not want to do it. Especially if he didn't NEED to. If I am fighting for survival, if I need to kill an animal - of course I would. I'm not a retard. I'm not going to starve myself because I put an animal's life before my own.
Veganism makes sense when applied to REALITY. Not this made-up cooky world meat-eaters are constantly referring to where we are stranded on desert islands. Do you have any idea how many times I've been asked "uuugh would you be vegan if you were stranded on a desert island??? Huuuuh Hannah?? Would you? What if you were DYING???"
Then I would eat what I could, you moron.
But guess what? I do NOT live on a desert island. I live in a fucking city, AS DO YOU. We live in a city, with supermarkets and a wealth of choice at our fingertips. We live in a world where meat is factory farmed and delivered to your local shop in MASS quantities. When you are buying meat and dairy - you are buying something that has been bred unnaturally, locked up, tortured, housed in horrific conditions you wouldn't allow your dog to inhabit for a minute, transported to a slaughterhouse, shot with a stun gun (which often misses) and finally - torn apart. Occasionally conscious. That's what you are paying for. Not to mention all the drugs in its diet you're digesting. Along with your "protein". Of course.
Oh, what's that? You get your meat from your local lovely butcher? Of course you do. What's that? Your aunty grows chickens in her backyard and you eat her eggs when you go there for Christmas? Great. Are you one of those people who uses this as an excuse to eat eggs ALL THE TIME?! Regardless of where they've come from? Do you use your local friendly butcher as an excuse to eat meat at restaurants? This is massively common and massively annoys me. The supposed "Achilles heel" people throw at vegans constantly - this ethical vision, the best case scenario, the fact they "could totally kill a chicken" as an excuse to consume animal products in ANY setting.
Obviously, it's great if you are trying genuinely to make the "ethical" choice with all your animal product consumption. That's all we can ask, really. Do your best, be informed, try and do what is right. If you are DESPERATE to eat meat - try and buy the most ethical kind you can. Research, look into it, try and feel good about it. BUT - just promise you will actually research and not just read articles that support your view point (vegans are guilty of this too. Massively.) Researching isn't looking at the butchers poster on his wall where it says "grass-fed!" That ain't research. That's marketing and propaganda and lies. It's bull-shit. Most marketing is. Of any product, not just animals. Researching means: where do these animals live? What food are they eating? And, most importantly, how are they killed?
How are they killed? This was what made me become a vegan.
I watched an animal get slaughtered and knew, with every fiber of my being that it was not okay. On any level. No part of what I was watching was normal, "natural", humane or necessary.
It represented no food-chain I wanted to be a part of.
Quite simply - it's too far. It's gone way too far. Animals are so meaningless to us now we allow machines to hack them to pieces. Machines. By the billions. And guess what? Even your organic, grass-fed bollocks is sent to a slaughterhouse. Ask your friendly neighborhood farmer if he's allowed to slaughter the meat he sells. Ask him. He isn't. He sends it to a slaughterhouse, my friend. It's a legal thing.
See how fun research is?
Just for arguments sake (because I love arguing...) let's say you found a scenario you were comfortable with. Let's say, you found a source for your meat that you felt 100% happy with. The animal was happy, the farmer is kind, he slits its throat himself once it's "time" (when would that be, by the way?? Right on the cows deathbed? When you decided? When it was at its juiciest peak?) and he chopped it up into happy, unoffensive pieces for you to store in your freezer and consume as desired.
Is that a good scenario? I don't know anymore, it all sounds so hideous. But, I'm imagining that's something most meat-eaters would think is an ethical scenario?
Even in a scenario like this - does any part of that really, truly, fundamentally seem okay to you? Does it make you seem like a carnivore? Does it seem WORTH it? Does all that time and effort and moral dilemma (assuming you had a moral dilemma to send you to the farmer in the first place) really seem worth ...... steak?
When you don't even need steak?
Because you don't.
Seems like a lot of time and energy and effort (and lives) just so you can have steak. Right?
And, if you STILL aren't convinced (you fucking dick) then let me ask you this - what about everyone else? If this is the most ethical scenario - how is everyone supposed to eat this meat? Everyone. All the people on this planet.
Supply like that: lovely ethical supply of animal carcass, will never match demand. Ever. That's how factory farms came to exist in the first place. Factory farming didn't appear overnight. Too many people want meat and animals take time and energy to grow. There ain't that much love out there.
The demand is what needs to change. The demand is the problem. With demand the way it is - animals have no chance. No chance at all and this is why vegans get upset.
Vegans get passionate and angry and emotional sometimes because we don't understand how you truly do not care. Do you really not care at all? How is a cow - an intelligent, beautiful, ALIVE cow, who has babies, experiences pain, fear, love and compassion - not worthy of life? A life where it can live without fear of death? A life without having it's baby taken away to become veal? A life of not being hooked up to milking machines three times a day and sucked dry?
And this is just one cow. One.
Ten billion animals are slaughtered every year in the US alone. Ten billion. For human consumption.
It's not okay. Why are so few people saying it's not okay?
And demand, tragically, is only increasing. For all the new vegans out there and all the awareness spreading, we still don't seem to be making a dint. Population is growing and while America is finally lowering their meat intake (um, thanks Bill Clinton and Beyonce I guess??), China is starting to demand more. And this is China, so we all may as well fuck off. It wants more McDonalds, it wants milkshakes, it wants steak, it wants animal products. China wants to do away with their amazing natural diet that has gotten them so far (China Study anyone?) and move towards an American-style, beef and cheese Diet that has left the States fat, sick and undergoing triple-bypass surgeries.
Come the fuck on, China. Aren't you super smart??
I didn't want to become a vegan. At all. I think very few people WANT to become a freakish social outcast, destined to be hated by all waiters. No one wants to be different. No one wants to be in a minority, fighting to stop what everyone loves. I fight cupcakes. Everyone fucking loves cupcakes. People pass cookies around and I say "no" because I'm vegan and everyone looks at me like I'm the fun police. Sorry guys, didn't mean to remind you that there's torture in your cookie. My bad.
But - THERE IS. And you ignoring it doesn't make it go away. Burying your head in the sand doesn't mean there isn't a war going on around you. A baby cow was taken away from its mother so that you could put butter in your cookie batter.
You should know this. You should WANT to know this. Don't let yourself be lied to.
If I could ask anyone reading this who ISN'T a vegan to do one thing for me, it would be this -
Tomorrow, when you go about your day, take notice of every animal product you encounter. Anything that contains animal products. Notice it and think about it, just for a second. If you go to a store or supermarket - look at how much milk is in the fridges. Look at it and THINK about where milk comes from. A living being is attached to that milk - an actual cow pumped that out of her udders. Look at how much is in the fridge. And now, realize you are in ONE shop. On ONE street. In ONE suburb. In ONE town. In ONE city. In ONE country. Now, think about how much milk there is in the world and how it all had to come from somewhere.
Still think those cows can be happy?
Now, go on to the cheese. How many of the sandwiches for sale contain cheese? How much cheese is in the diary aisle? Guess what cheese is made out of? Milk.
Now butter. Now cream cheese. Now cream. Now all the "buttery spreads". Now the flavored milks. Now the ham. Now the salami. Now the pastrami. Now the prosciutto. Now the lamb shanks. Now the chicken breasts. Now the chicken thighs. Now the whole chickens. Now the mince. Now the steaks. Now the fish. THE FISH. All that fish. The oysters. The mussels. The crab. All of it.
Oh, goodie - now the frozen food aisle - plenty of animal products down there. Now - confectionery aisle. Shall we? Look at alllll that dairy. Now, as you're going through the check-out, notice all the baked shit there? Yep, lots of butter and eggs in there. Allllllll the eggs in all the baked shit in your shitty store.
Okay, we've left the supermarket - now, every vending machine? How about that? Your co-workers lunches? Drinks around you? Every latte. Every fucking Starbucks cup is filled with cow-pus.
Welcome to the mind of a vegan. Welcome.
It's a fucked up world around you, isn't it?
This is your homework. I really hope you take it on.
In real life - I am a nice person. I am compassionate, amicable, easy to get along with, not judgmental... I think. I very rarely get into debates with people about meat-eating or animal rights. Mainly because I know there is no point.
But also, because I have this. My blog. My outlet. This is where I get to share and rant about all the things that make me so, so angry, knowing most people reading will understand on some level.
If you read this and didn't like it, or felt offended, remember this is a VEGAN BLOG. It is a blog about veganism and blogs about such things make up a tiny, tiny portion of the internet. You don't have to be here reading this. You are welcome to move on.
The question I get asked more than ANY is: why are you vegan? I can't begin to count how many times I've been asked this. I used to love it, then I would dread it. It overwhelmed me, consumed me, confused me.... how could I answer such a question without strapping the person down and forcing them to watch 48-hours of animal abuse videos on YouTube, then making them read Eating Animals, then the China Study and finally whipping them up a vegan dinner so they know there is life after fried chicken??
How do I answer this so simply?
Well, I can't. I can't answer something so loaded in a few short sentences.
That's why I have a blog.
And this post, right here, is as good of an answer as I can give. I'm a vegan because it's the logical choice. It makes sense. It makes me feel better on every level.
I don't want to live with my head buried in the sand. I want to know. I want to learn and grow and be the best I can be.
All these things brought me to veganism. Please try it.
Or at least - do your homework.
(That's better isn't it?)
I'm lucky to know a lot of wise and amazing people.
My mother is a constant source of inspiration; the most brilliant and accomplished woman I know. She can solve any problem and never fails to make me feel empowered. My Father overflows with wisdom from a phenomenal amount of life experience and is always there if I need his advice or help. I'm currently living with my best friend Dan and he is the smartest, wisest, most compassionate person you'll ever be lucky enough to enter a conversation with. Finally, I have a network of incredible girlfriends and when we get together to unpack each others lives, it's brilliant and complex and inspiring. I want to record everything we say for posts just like these.
My loved ones are constantly helping me. I take little pieces of them all when I need help, a pep-talk or just to feel better as I go about my day. (Especially needed now I live in another country!) I think, thanks to all their wonderful advice over the years and my own life experience, I'm finally starting to understand how to make the most out of life. How to ENJOY it. How to CONQUER it.
It's an amazing feeling.
So, here is a little summary of some of the BEST advice I've received. Some from myself, some from others, some from midnight revelations....
All of which help me on a day-to-day basis.
YOU Are In the Drivers Seat - Don't be a Passenger.
How empowering to just accept the reality that we are in control of our lives? 100%.
That may sound simplistic, but I like to not over-complicate things. Over-complicating can be detrimental, especially when talking about a very simple fact. YOU are the only person who has to live your life. If you're not happy with something, you CAN change it. If you are feeling overworked, you CAN take something off your plate. If you don't like your relationship, you CAN leave it. If you are bored, you CAN find something that excites you. I know life isn't simple, but for the most part - we don't do things because we can't be bothered, or we think it's too hard, or we are worrying about others, or we are simply afraid....
Fear has a lot to answer for.
I find personal control empowering, especially when I'm not happy with decisions I've made. It means I can look at my involvement getting there, instead of just feeling like a victim and being unhappy with my circumstances.
I'll never forget the Skype session when Dan explained this concept to me. He said: "Hannah, on some level, you've chosen this. You WANT to do this, even if it's subconscious ... It's okay to not be happy right now, or regret making that choice, but don't act like you're trapped. You're not. Just start making new choices...."
And he was right. As soon as I realized I didn't want to be doing that anymore - I made new decisions, that eventually took me on a new path. It wasn't overnight, but I did it.
Because I'm in the drivers seat.
Commit to Your Feelings
My Mother always taught me gratitude.
We are some of the luckiest people in the world and we should always be aware of that.
I'm conscious every day to keep my "problems" in perspective. If my "problem" is that I've double booked myself, or I'm having a bad day at work or I'm worried I've pissed someone off, it's a pretty good life, isn't it? My problems aren't how I'm going to feed myself, or how I'm going to leave my abusive relationship or how I'm going to look after my children. I am grateful every single day.
My Mum is so selfless that when she's having a bad day, she will fob it off because "we are so lucky" and it doesn't compare to the suffering of others. I love this amazing woman. What a role model, huh? On these days I'll make her a cup of tea, hold her hand and then say, "Mother, just because people are worse off, doesn't mean you don't deserve to feel upset sometimes, or hard done by."
By denying feelings it makes them harder to get over. It's okay to have bad days and to be upset and give time to our emotions.
We are all human! As long as we spend most of our time being grateful, I think we certainly are entitled to the odd bad day. Better that then let it build up into something far worse. You are not ungrateful for all your blessings if you have a bad day or want to have a cry. I love having a cry!
At least a cup of tea and a hug can solve most of our bad days. Let's be grateful for that.
Self Sabotage is a Safety Net
How terrifying to be confident. To just be really super confident and happy with yourself? Isn't it easier to fail yourself before others can?
I am guilty of this. If everything feels like it's going well and I have no problems, sometimes I'll just create one. I'll start worrying about my body, something that hasn't happened yet, something that MAY happen, money... Things I wouldn't even be thinking of if I had an ACTUAL issue to focus on.
I self sabotage.
I know I can do something, I know I can nail this audition, I know I can talk to that guy, know I can wear that dress ... but I'll talk myself down or make myself feel bad and, essentially, take myself out of the running.
And I finally know why. Thanks to great advice ;)
Because if I was just "happy" with everything: I had my dream body, was the best actress in the world, had flawless confidence, money to burn.... and I STILL failed... I STILL didn't make it ..... Then what do I have to blame? What can I blame if I never become a successful actor? What can I blame if I never fall in love?
Well... nothing. How much easier it is to have a scapegoat. How much easier it would be to say: well, I'm a bit chubby, so I'm not gonna be famous. Or - well, I missed a lot of auditions, so maybe one of those was the big one.
Imagine not having ANYTHING to blame? That's scary.
We need to stop self-sabotaging and let go of the scapegoats. By putting them in front of us, they will become more and more real.
It's Okay To Be Selfish
You will be the best "you" for everyone else around you, when you are well, happy, content, energized and looked after. No question.
Being selfish is NOT a bad thing.
It means you are investing in yourself so you can give more to those in your life. Be better for everyone who is relying on you, who enjoys your company, who needs your help. You can only do these things if you're looked after yourself.
Be selfish. Take time for yourself. Put yourself first. Ironically - it's quite selfless.
No One Is Watching You
(Just a quick hilarious note - I love this photo I took in a coffee-shop of this woman, looking so peaceful and zen. She was in her own little world and it inspired me. I wanted to use it for this point - but it's ironically called "No One is Watching You".... even though I was doing just that. Hehe. Okay, hilarious point made, now on with the wisdom!)
Are you doing anything for other people? Are you still in a degree you don't want to do because you're afraid of what people will think? Are you still in a relationship because you don't want to seem like a failure? Are you not doing what you want to do because you're afraid of judgement?
I'm sorry to sound harsh... but NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU DO WITH YOUR LIFE. If anyone truly cares - it should only be caring that you are happy. Anyone who wants you to do something that is stressful or negative or unsatisfying - are not worth bothering about.
If you are someone who compares your life to others, making assumptions based on news-feeds and engagement rings and happy selfies, I promise - those people are probably comparing their lives to yours and likely not as happy as they seem. The grass is always greener. One person's success is another person's failure. Everyone is (and should be!) too bogged down in their own worries to think about your life.
My friends and I all lead completely different lives. If I chose to - I could get upset thinking: "gosh, I'm just an unpaid actress, still making coffees, living alone ... all my friends have partners and are thinking about buying houses and making so much more money than I am.... " BLAH BLAH BLAH. But what is the point of that? Who knows? Maybe those amazing successful women envy parts of my life that I happen to treasure? Like my freedom, my creativity, my travel? I have DESIGNED my life to be exactly what I want at this point in time. Just as they all have. We all love these differences; it's what gives us our dynamic, our perspective and our empowering conversations! We all come from different perspectives and priorities.
Take inspiration from others, but never comparison. And remember you are in the drivers seat ..... do what YOU truly want to. Whether that's being the President, a Teacher or running a little cafe. People only want you to be happy.
(In my opinion) we only live once. So don't do it for anyone else.
Don't Question What Makes You Happy
I'm through with sweating the small stuff. I'm through with questioning why a Soy Mocha, a few hours and my laptop makes me happy. I'm through with questioning why I don't enjoy wearing make up. I'm through with questioning why I so much prefer to have a night in with friends rather than going out and get smashed.
I know what makes me happy.... IT MAKES ME HAPPY. So, why stress about it?
If you have things that make you happy, provided they don't hurt others, why stress about it? Why question it or worry about it? If having a glass of wine with your friends makes you happy, don't stress about it. If being a waitress makes you happy, don't worry you have to do anything more than just that! If sitting in a coffee-shop makes you happy, don't stress you should be out walking or doing more with your time.
All we really want is happiness. If you're enjoying something - you are succeeding where most of us are searching.
Kick back, relax.... don't question what makes you happy. Whether it's a job, a person, a past-time, an activity.
Published by Chic Vegan - 27/08/14
I have been vegan now for over three years. It was nearly an overnight process and I have never once looked back.
No exaggeration – I went from eating rare steak one day to being disgusted by it the next. Vegan followed vegetarian after a mere few months.
I like to say “the switch flipped”. I’ve heard many vegans and vegetarians talk about a similar moment. Suddenly you just feel like your blinders are ripped off, your switch is flipped and you cannot look at the world the same way.
You are awake. Lame I know, but that’s just how it feels.
But, I don’t really want to talk about how I BECAME vegan, what I want to talk about is living as a vegan. Day-to-day life, the moments, happenings and realities of shirking animal products from your diet.
Do you suddenly become some kind of alien? Does your life flip upside-down? Are restaurants a thing of the past and you are destined to live as a social outcast for the rest of your days?
In case you can’t see where I’m going with this – NO. That is absolutely not the case.
In my (limited) experience lots of people opt out of going vegan out of some fear their life is going to change and become more complicated. I hear a lot of “I couldn’t live without cheese” or “I couldn’t afford to be vegan” or “I wouldn’t know what to cook” or, my favorite: “I just can’t be bothered.”
I once felt all of these things…. the idea of going vegan seemed like an epic mountain to climb and nearly impossible to imagine. What I want to write today is an honest, if slightly gushing, “ode to veganism” about how much it has changed my life for the better. I want to talk about how my life is so much richer because of this choice I made and how, it’s actually insanely easy. Don’t opt out…. don’t opt out of the greatest pleasure you will ever take on.
I am Voting
The main thing I notice about my life now – is that I stand for something. Even just by waking up in the morning and going to bed in the evening. Every day COUNTS, every day is a protest, a vote, a stance for something I really, truly believe in and I think nearly everyone does on some level. Living my life as a vegan means that just by getting up, walking around and eating food, doing what everyone does every day, I am making these actions count for something. I am buying bananas instead of chicken thighs, cabbage instead of rib eye, parsnips instead of sausages and with each of these “votes” – I am sending a message that I want money filtered into the creation of organic fresh fruits and vegetables and not dead animals. I know it’s airy-fairy to think that one person makes a difference, but I think we all do in some way. But more on that later
I am Healthy
It’s amazing and rewarding that I get to be living proof human beings don’t need animal products. I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing vegans brag about how great they feel – but I just have to do it quickly. Since giving up meat and dairy, I feel truly like the best version of myself. All the energy that my body was using to break-down and digest animal flesh, is now just being used to LIVE. I wake up in the morning and (most days!) I want to just get up out of bed, I enjoy every mouthful of food I eat, I rarely get tired, I never get sick, I have an abundance of energy… and if you think I’m exaggerating or bragging, just ask anyone who knows me in real life. I genuinely feel happy and healthy all of the time. Of course, we all have low days, but they are incredibly rare and usually with just cause. Obviously – veganism isn’t a magical cure for everything – but it’s pretty damn close!
I Love Eating and Have a Good Relationship with Food
I didn’t used to love and trust food the way I do now. I don’t mind admitting that. From growing up chubby and not really understanding how to eat and be healthy – it’s insane to me that I now can eat whatever I want, as much of it as I want and not fear any serious weight gain. I love eating healthy food, I love creating vegan feasts, I love playing with my diet and experimenting. I love trying raw food diets, I love eating until I feel completely full and satisfied! You really can’t eat cheese until you’re full and satisfied without worrying about the insane amount of calories and fat you’ve eaten, right?! But you genuinely can do that with whole vegan foods and you’re only putting more and more goodness into your beautiful body. It’s the most wonderful, amazing and logical win-win scenario ever.
I See the World Differently - with No blinders
This point is a little controversial… but hey, isn’t everything these days? Basically – since going vegan I feel like I am walking around looking at everything completely differently and I like that. I can’t look at a fridge full of flavored milks before wondering how people don’t think more about how much milk there is in the world. I watch children drinking hot chocolates with marshmallows and I think about what they are really eating and putting into their bodies…. I hear people talking in every day conversations and saying things that are so contradictory and hypocritical. I work in my hospitality job and see the wastage of food and I can’t be casual about it….
It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s the burden of knowledge. But I’d certainly rather know than turn a blind eye.
I Am Doing the Best I Can
Being vegan isn’t about being perfect. This is a very common misconception about veganism. Being vegan is about doing the LEAST amount of harm possible. Not killing unnecessarily. Not causing unnecessary pain. Valuing life. Doing the absolute best you can in a world that is not doing too well. In this modern time, it’s nearly impossible to lead a fully ethical life and not hurt any living creatures – but veganism cuts out SO MUCH of it. Of course we know that basic farming hurts animals, I know that housemates are going to kill spiders, I know that every cup of coffee I drink maybe has some trail to something unethical, I know that my life isn’t perfect. I’m not trying to be perfect, I’m trying to do the best I can and that is a good feeling.
And – it’s NOT HARD. It’s not hard to say “hold the cheese”, it’s not hard to eat delicious potatoes and hummus and fruits and things, it’s not hard to Google “vegan chocolate cake recipe” and put in some oil instead of eggs. These things are NOT hard. It’s easy. It’s an easy, effortless way to make an enormous difference and that is a bloody good feeling.
I am Learning, Growing and Challenging Myself Every Day
One of the best things that can ever happen to you – is finding out something you believed in, or something you thought was true – absolutely isn’t. Having your beliefs challenged, tested and losing faith or keeping it. The day I realized I had been wrong my entire life about eating meat, that it’s actually not okay and I didn’t understand anything about the way it came to my plate, was an incredible and powerful day. I had to sit down and figure out who I was and what I believed in. I never thought there was anything wrong with eating meat. I thought cows were made to be milked. I thought eggs were healthy and chickens just laid them for us to eat. Having these beliefs blown out of the water is a powerful thing and empowers you to question everything.
This goes for veganism as well. I question my veganism nearly every single day. I believe in it so strongly that, having already had everything I believe in debunked, I know to question this too. Mainly because veganism is still in SUCH a minority and I can’t understand why. I don’t want to live in a bubble and I never want to be ignorant, so I continue to research and I continue to question. I want to be informed. And every time I question, every time I do some research or every time I watch a video of an “ex-vegan” – I come back to the same conclusions. I do my research, I think about how I feel, I think about animal products, I think about industries and I come back to the same beautiful, educated resolve: I am a vegan. This makes sense to me. This is the best thing I’ve ever done and I only ever question it when people tell me to.
I have stopped questioning veganism. I embrace it with all my heart because it has given me so much. It’s made me fit and healthy. It’s made me bright and positive. It’s given me compassion for animals that I really have never had. It’s made me think about the kind of person I want to be, the kind of children I want to raise and the kind of influence I want to have. It’s given me amazing health, new friends, new perspective (and new kitchen supplies!)
I owe a lot to veganism and only wish I’d been a vegan sooner. But then, of course, I wouldn’t have had this amazing journey.
I do have some vegan friends, but the majority of vegans I come across are online.
The mad, weird online world.
I joined some vegan groups three years ago for advice and to feel like I wasn't alone. I rarely comment in these groups (actually, I don't think I ever have) but every now and then I enjoy having a nosy.
Sadly, most of the time, I see debates.
Horrible, mean, negative debates attacking someone because they did something "not vegan." People commonly use these groups to ask questions, advice, health concerns or anything of that nature. Tell you what though - do not come here and expect support (sadly).
A post I read this morning was attacking a girl who wrote in asking about non-leather riding equipment - saddles, bridles, etc. I thought nothing of this post, until I read the horrible responses to her question and noticed the girl could no longer be clicked on.
She was no longer a member of the vegan group.
And, I do not bloody blame her. The comments were awful. Just awful. It made me disgusted to call myself a vegan. People attacked her, some simply, some not. One wrote simply: "is this a joke?" and that was the tamest.
Some called her names, many posted in dictionary definitions of vegansim, some had the gall to talk about her horses like they were these poor victims and didn't she realize what she was subjecting them to?
The gist being: you cannot call yourself a vegan if you ride a horse.
Are you fucking serious?
Okay - I want to put this out there right away: if this is what it takes to be a "vegan" - attacking others, acting like the authority on all-things-vegan, shooting others down because they "aren't doing it right", then I don't want to be associated with the word anymore. This is the behavior that fuels people's correct assumptions that vegans care more about animals than other people!
This girl rides horses. She is a vegan so obviously loves animals! If she owns horses and rides them occasionally, why is that your issue or problem? She's not running a riding school, renting her horse out for seven dollars an hour and running it into the ground for her own profits! She's not operating the horse-drawn carriage system in New York City! She's not the guy from Black Beauty!
Leave her alone.
I understand "vegan" means to live without exploiting animals. But surely, in 2014, there are bigger issues than one vegan girl who owns a horse?
I have no interest in participating with a group of people who are prepared to ATTACK someone who is already a vegan because they have a different opinion one one of the many sub-topics within veganism.
"Vegan" shouldn't be a broad term and that's what upsets a lot these days. It should be a black and white dictionary definition that every "vegan" abides by ... but that just isn't going to happen. That doesn't apply to ANY movement these days, especially when the level of pain, destruction and exploitation of animals is so vast and all-encompassing. When I went vegan, I thought I was a purest and that was all that mattered, but three-years later, I naturally chilled out and realized the world is a difficult place to navigate and I can only do THE BEST I CAN.
That attitude actually makes it easier and less stressful to be a vegan. You do it because you want to and because it's natural, not because you're trying to be perfect.
It's difficult to be 100% vegan. If you want to eat out with friends and be social, if you want to visit relatives, if you want to buy clothing in second-hand shops, if you want to keep pets, if you want to go on holiday, hey, if you want to even buy vegetables, it's hard to be 100% vegan. But - if you're heart is in the right place and you're doing the best you can, does that mean you're not allowed to call yourself a vegan?
TRUE STORY: I had a favorite drink at my regular coffee shop for the first year after going vegan. And after AN ENTIRE YEAR of drinking this thing made on soy milk, the Barista told me there was milk powder in the cocoa they used. AFTER A YEAR of making me soy drinks. Why didn't they mention that before?! So, even though I was a pure vegan in my heart and soul, ate completely vegan, felt completely vegan, etc, does this hilarious story mean I wasn't a vegan that entire year?
Of course not! And if you think I couldn't call myself a vegan because I accidentally drank a quarter teaspoon of milk powder a few times a week, you're ridiculous.
Okay - let's get into these sub-topics! The topics that divide vegans!
Sub-Topics I am NOT Okay With
You are not vegan if you eat fish. Simple.
You are not vegan if you eat eggs. If you have hens in your back yard and you choose to eat their eggs, I do not judge you at all. If you eat a vegan diet apart from the eggs from your own back yard, I do not judge you. But I think it's fair to say you aren't a vegan. Is that fair?
You are not a vegan if you wear dead animal skin on your body. Simple. If you buy "recycled second hand blah blah" leather... I guess this is a grey area... but in my mind - I don't want to be SEEN wearing leather. I don't want any of my actions to look like I support this. Faux fur? I think any true vegan would rather vomit than be seen in anything resembling faux fur. Even if no animal was harmed - it still looks like an animal.
4) Pet Food
OOOOOH This is a tough one.....
Do you give your cat or dog other animals to eat? Sorry.... I'm not in favor of this. There are PLENTY of vegan pet food options now... so please use them. I understand that dogs are carnivores... I'm not debating that at all. They are. But they also can be incredibly healthy on vegan pet food now being made. In this day and age - how can we be vegan and against animal cruelty and then buy the SHIT that is sold in dog food tins? Nah, not okay.
Sub-Topics I Don't Care About But Other Vegans are Nazi About
Some vegans eat honey. Get over it. I don't eat honey, but I'm sick of all the judgement. Chill the fuck out.
2) Horse Riding
This is from this morning.... If you own horses, love animals, eat a vegan diet and decide to ride your own horses... I don't understand how this is evil or wrong? If you love your horse and give them treats and cuddle them and feel like you have a relationship... how is that evil to the horse? In this day and age we HAVE PETS. For fucks sake.
3) Hospitality Free Food
I work in hospitality and I see the WASTE. No part of me wants to eat meat or dairy (ew) but if there was a vegan at my work that wanted to eat a flapjack before it goes in the bin - I don't see how that's an issue. It's literally going in the bin. Do they call these people "Freegans"?
4) Relatives That Don't Get It
Visiting relatives that cook for you - I understand not wanting to make a huge fuss. "Vegetarian" seems fine, but "Vegan" still blows minds. If I tunred up at an Aunt's house and they presented me a with Vegetarian Quiche - I would die. Quiche is my worst nightmare. But, I understand this is a grey area for some vegans. You don't want to be any trouble. A tip - offer to cook! This works for me every time.
The point I'm trying to make is that everyone is DIFFERENT and has their own opinion. I understand that super purest vegans must find it hard to understand how a "vegan" could eat cheese for a special occasion, or have a slice of a friends birthday cake or even ride a horse! But what is the most important thing? In my opinion - it's making veganism an APPEALING life choice.
Do not go around making veganism look like this impossible bench-mark no one can reach. It's not going to work. "Vegan" in an ideal world would mean zero animal exploitation, but, as the carnivores are so quick to remind us, that is nearly impossible these days. Animals are hurt. Animals are killed. Animals are killed making grains! Animals are killed so our houses can be built. It's sad, but true.
We do the best we can and show people how much UNNECESSARY suffering happens these days. Eating a vegan diet (or a 99% vegan diet!) is the easiest way to minimize that suffering. It's not about focusing on every minimal thing, it's looking at the BIG picture. That's why veganism makes sense - it is about LOGIC, the future, sustainability, practicality, BIG PICTURE.
If a vegan girl wants to ride her horse, fucking let her! Don't tell her she can't be a vegan because she does this!
It's not like our club is bursting at the seams! We need members, yo.
Not that long ago - I had to do a bit of repairing. Bit of old rebuilding and investing some time being by myself and just making myself happy. Basically being a bit selfish.
It was great.
The first thing I did was ask a very simple question: "what do I enjoy doing?"
It sounds so simple, doesn't it? Yet how many of us spend time doing what actually makes us happy?
I think we accidentally invest too much time and energy in things that don't matter or do not pay off. We do jobs we don't enjoy, spend time with people we don't actually like, eat foods that don't serve us and before you know it, it's time to go to sleep again and you've spent another day just "existing", but not actually DOING anything worthwhile.
And worthwhile doesn't have to involve inventing something or writing a symphony or saving lives (congrats if you do that, by the way) it can just be whatever is worthwhile for YOU. Investing in yourself, doing what makes you happy.
A long time ago I decided to start living my life a little bit more selfishly. I was investing all my time in other people and, while that is a good thing in some respects, you can only be the best "you" for other people when you're actually happy. Right?
Every day now, I have "Hannah Time". Even if it's just an hour before starting work... I make sure I have some time that is just mine, all by myself. If it can be a full evening: amazing, but that's rare these days. I'm sure it's rare for most people to have an entire day or evening to themselves. Some wouldn't even know what do to with themselves for an entire day!
So, that's exactly why this is homework. Trust me: you will love this.
Find a day. An entire day that is JUST FOR YOU. A day to be selfish. A day to INVEST in yourself. Doing exactly what YOU want to do. I know it seems impossible - even if you start small and just find an EVENING that is yours alone - that'll do for now. But the goal is an entire day.
Yes - I am asking you to organize one complete day off from your life. I'm crazy.
If you have children and a job and all the rest, half a day will do fine, but try and get a solid six or seven hours MINIMUM to yourself.
We are going to design your perfect day.
The is the first day of the rest of your life.
Not literally, obviously. I am not asking you to quit your job. This day is intended to put you into a clear, pure mindset that you can carry over into your normal life. A mindset where you find the simple, easy things that you want to fill your life with and find a way to incorporate them into every day life.
Now: sit down and think about all your favorite things to do; things that make you happy. Things you never get time to do?
It can be anything you like.
Plan a wonderful day, full of activities (or ZERO activities!) that you feel will make you happy, excited and stimulated. Get your hair done? Do a Yoga class? Lie in the park? See a movie? All the above? Do whatever you like.
My Day Went Something Like This
1) Did not set an alarm
2) Cuppa hot lemon.
Sat down for ages, checked some emails, did some stretching .. stared at the sun....
3) Took myself out for Breakfast.
No one needs to witness how much I want to eat in the morning.
4) Walked around for ages and enjoyed the sun.
Stopped in some shops. Didn't buy anything, but enjoyed looking and trying things on.
Vowed to eat less breakfast.
5) Stopped for a coffee. Did some blogging :)
Planned my next recipe for Vilda Magazine. Did some writing as well for my theatrey stuff!
Then - saw a divine friend for lunch :) They weren't very vegan friendly, so I ordered a MASS of side dishes. How well did that work out!
6) Came home. Changed into sweatpants and went for a little walk around the park.
Walking around the park was incredible... especially as the weather is so good right now.
Look what I found! Some kind soul left a deck chair in the middle of the park. Guess the world revolves around me, after all?
I ended up sitting here for ages in the sun, listening to my favorite podcast: Conversations with Richard Fidler. (That my incredible vegan mother produces and my incredible vegan best friend works on! Just sayin...)
7) Home for a real, proper, amazing shower.
Did ALL the beauty routines I never have time for normally. (You know what I mean...)
Then a very lovely, relaxing time MAKING DINNER. Played some music... danced around... chopped vegetables.
8) Dinner and a movie.
All on my own. Perfection.
I cannot tell you how light, happy and fulfilled I feel after spending some time alone with myself, my thoughts and ideas. It’s something we do not get enough time for, but it’s so important. Also: as an entire western world: we put too much emphasis on consumption. It disgusts me a little. We have such an abundance of everything, especially food. Go to the library and read for hours, go volunteer somewhere, go shopping! Go to the beach and drink lemonade! Or maybe go to the DVD store and rent out an entire TV series you’ve been dying to watch. Whatever it may be, do it.
Be the woman you’ve always wanted to be. Even just for a day. Do all the things you want to do. And hopefully, these things can spill over and find their way into your routine.
I honestly believe just taking a day out of life every now and then is one of they keys to happiness. It connects us with the reality that life is not bad. At all. Life is actually very good. We are lucky, LUCKY people. How amazing that one of our biggest problems is that we want to be thinner? Or have more money? Or have more TIME? How amazingly lucky are we? How amazing that we have the power at our fingertips to actually do whatever we want. Life has its restrictions and it’s schedules, we have our own personal restrictions, but ultimately…. We are in charge of our own lives and we determine how happy or unhappy we are. We determine our mindset and we determine how long we stay there.
I really hope you can take a day out yourself soon. One day.
What's a day, really? It can mean nothing.
Or it can be the best day ever!
Yep - that's an old meal of mine. I wasn't always vegan. I once cooked that big breakfast and ate every scrap - the bacon, the eggs... the buttered toast.
I was convinced to go vegan by copious research and nearly every day since then, people try and convince me to go back to meat.
They are DESPERATE for me to not be vegan. For me to explain myself. To come up with any weird, little point that undermines and ridicules my decision.
It would be so convenient if all vegans were mindless hippies, wouldn't it?
If they all smelled bad and they all were high as kites and they didn't think about the "real world"....
Silly, silly vegans with their "morals" and "ideals". Don't they understand how the world works?
Go, take your hummus and your "feelings" and keep them away from my steak! This is how it's always been! People are always going to eat meat, so just get OVER it.
How terrifying it must be, when vegans come along who aren't crazy. When vegans come along who are, kind of... well.... intelligent. They think hard about their choices. They have an answer for every question. They do live in the "real world". In fact - it's this that led them to veganism in the first place.
Makes you wonder if it's YOU who doesn't live in the real world.
The best arguments I've heard against being vegan are:
1) What About the Happy Egg-Laying Chickens in my Back-yard? BOOM. Gotcha. Stupid vegan.
2) This is How it's Always Been
3) I Tried to be a Vegetarian Once and Got Sick. Poor Me
4) What If I'm a Selfish Bastard who doesn't care about the Planet? (You know who you are....) ;)
5) What about small fishing villages in *insert country* who rely on fish for survival?
6) What if you were on a desert island and it was you and a wild hog. Would you starve to death?
That hopefully sounds comical, or like I'm taking the piss. But these are seriously the best arguments I've heard against being Vegan. I think they're all bollocks, but that goes to prove why being Vegan is logical.
The Phantom Chickens in Ma Backyard
The MAJORITY of people do not have chickens in their backyard. Does that surprise you? Does it surprise you to know that so many people say this to me and non of them ACTUALLY get their eggs from a chicken in their backyard?
Do me a favor - if you do NOT have any chickens roaming around in your back yard, dropping their periods on the grass that you so desperately want to scramble up - DO NOT MENTION IT. You cannot use this argument.
If you DO, then fine - I will accept this as a logical argument towards you eating eggs. I'm not stupid. Why am I still a vegan? Because the world egg demand cannot be satisfied in this way. HOW DO YOU THINK FACTORY FARMING BEGAN IN THE FIRST PLACE? They didn't pop up overnight, folks. They are a respond to consumer DEMAND.
If every human being in the world was responsible for making their own food and having their own animals - cool. But that ain't happening anytime soon and while SOMEONE ELSE is getting your eggs - they are likely from a factory farm. I could rant about this all day. EDUCATE YOURSELF.
I haven't even gone into the health on eggs. Another post. Or... JUST GOOGLE. Animal products are not natural for us.
It's How It's ALWAYS Been
I'm not going to waste a lot of time on this. If it's not obvious why, I can't help you.
Firstly - it's NOT how it's always been and that's part of the problem, you idiot. We have NEVER had such high demand for animal products as we do now. Many factors contribute to this, but the main culprits are population growth, China wanting to be like America (as if you would) and general human greed.
We need to EVOLVE. Look into the FUTURE. The future cannot include McDonalds, meat in every meal, osteoporosis, heart-disease and animal agriculture that takes up more room on this planet than we do.
Why? Because that's BONKERS. We eat more meat now than we ever have and health ain't great. All leading health experts agree after hundreds of studies that the focus needs to be on PLANT FOODS. What do animal foods give us again? Oh that's right: NOTHING.
Just because something has always been, does not mean it's good. We are learning more every day... we are getting smarter....
Are you smarter than the billion dollar Dairy Industry convincing you to drink cow milk?
Come on, bro.
I Was a SICK Vegetarian.... SO IT'S STUPID
Sigh, oh sigh.
I'm not going to pretend to be a health expert or to know the ins and outs of a perfect strangers body....
But what I do know is that every person I've met or seen online making this argument did not convince me. In the slightest. I have been able to come up with various possibilities of why their diet may have been flawed.
90% of the time - I will bet person simply didn't really WANT to be a vegetarian anymore. They miss meat. They miss social acceptance. They miss cheese. Whatever it is. They feel ill, maybe... but that can be about ANY problem in the diet. Introducing pus-ridden cheese back into your diet shouldn't cure you of anything. LOGIC PEOPLE. For more on this, check out: Why Do New Vegans Fail?
I hear stories of genuine, very passionate people going back to meat and it does interest me. Obviously they are making the right choice for them and I do not judge anyone.
But, please use your common sense - there are enough healthy, thriving, life-long vegans and vegetarians who prove we have no need for animal products. The human body gets EVERYTHING it requires from plants.
Eat often, eat enough, eat variety. You'll be fine. Do some fucking googling. Don't be a stupid vegan.
What if I'm a Selfish Bastard
This point is a total "wink" to someone I know in real life. (Hey!)
But, he made a good point - which was: "this won't actually affect my life at all. I don't care about animals. I don't care about the planet..."
Well, check mate vegan. The meat-eater wins. If he was being genuine - I guess he wins. It's a very sad attitude... but veganism will have zero appeal to someone who thinks that way. And that's a good thing... being vegan is about being SELFLESS.
You get health benefits not eating animal products, but if you don't care about your health either, I guess that won't tempt you. If you don't care at all about animals or the state of our planet.... I guess you win.
Stop Judging Small Fishing Villages, Vegan! Now, Give Me Some Sushi!
Do you live in a small fishing community? Do you rely on fish for the source of your calories?
I do not judge you.
Do you go to sushi trains and buy fish all the time? Do you eat anchovies and tinned tuna and then use this argument?
I judge you.
Guess what? You live in a fucking first world country and can walk into a supermarket and buy whatever the hell you want. And it's that exact choice that AFFECTS EVERYTHING.
YOU are destroying the oceans. YOU are killing dolphins and turtles. YOU are making unsustainable, shitty choices.
EDUCATE YOURSELF. Stop eating fish.
Next time you go into a supermarket - do me a favor and look at all the fish. Look at all the fresh fish, all the tinned fish.... all of it. All stacked up.
Do you think that's normal? Do you think that's sustainable? You are in ONE supermarket. In ONE location. In ONE aisle. Getting the picture.
Maybe vegans think about this shit.
Vegans would DIE on a Desert Island
The day I become Tom Hanks in Castaway, I'll get back to you.
I can tell you now though -
1) THIS IS MOST LIKELY NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME SO I WON'T LIVE MY LIFE BASED ON A SURVIVAL MODE I WILL NEVER ACTUALLY GO INTO. YOU IDIOT!!!!
2) I will do anything to survive apart from murdering loved ones. If it's me or the pig, of course I choose me.
I'M NOT AN IDIOT.
Well, is there anything I've missed? Any arguments you want me to answer?
Trust me - I've thought about it.
This post is inspired by one of my greatest and most wonderful friends: Jasmine.
She's a babe. She's hilarious. She rocks.
Above is Jaz and I with our other amazing friend Georgie. (Jaz is on the left!) I just love this photo of us.
Jaz moved to Manchester last year to pursue her dreams and now we are pretty much neighbors! After studying at university together, becoming super close and climbing a few creative mountains, I can't believe I now have her in the UK! It's been incredible having a piece of home here and a friend who knows me inside out.
For her first two weeks - Jaz kipped with me in my tiny flat while house hunting and we had a ball.
I do get a bit nervous having guests, due to my severe lack of "normal" staples. I do not stock milk, butter or eggs obviously, which wouldn't be easy for a non-vegan to suddenly not have basics! Making a cup of tea.... making toast.... making cereal.....
But Jaz was an amazing guest and embraced my wacky vegan pantry. There was a lot of vegan meals in those few weeks for poor, old Jaz, but also, lots of late night conversations, True Blood marathons, porridge and even a park picnic.
Now she's all sorted in her own place, job, brilliant friends, a busy social life and Manchester is lapping her up (clever city.) If it weren't for the foul weather, life would be roses.
A few weeks ago, the girl nearly had me in tears.
In a good way.
Totally by surprise.
Jaz spoke to me, in one of the most genuine ways I have experienced yet, about wanting to possibly go vegan.
Whenever people say these words to me (and it doesn't happen too often) I get so excited and nervous I freak out that I'll say all the wrong things and turn them off the idea immediately. It's hilarious how my brain works. I tried to stay calm, but couldn't deny the overwhelming joy I was experiencing.
She spoke about the health benefits... how little things I'd said had made sense and how, really, something just "clicked" in her mind. Jaz is not a closed-minded person. She is a smart woman who doesn't deny logic and facts. The idea of factory farming, the reality of where most commercial meat and dairy come from, the reality that we don't NEED these foods.... she was open to all of it.
She was understanding all of it and wanting to know more....
Cue overwhelming excitement from me, trying to rein it in and not appear like a crazy person.
Of course Jaz has been aware of veganism for years. I'm vegan, we have other vegan friends.... but perspective doesn't change overnight. It takes time. Or it takes that one logical thought or that one weird moment or that one scary documentary.
Veganism is a very complex ideal and it comes in lots of packages. All it takes is one weird vegan to put you off the whole thing for life. One vegan in an annoying t-shirt, or one skinny anemic! Or one mention of "animal rights" to make the whole thing sound hilarious and illogical.
But on the flip side, if you hear just one of the many logical sides, it can flip on a switch.
A scary switch. A switch that's nearly impossible to then turn off.
I cannot believe this switch has flipped for Jasmine. I can and I can't at the same time.
The girl nearly had me in tears describing her change in perspective and how her eyes were opening. Naturally - it's terrifying when you feel this way. When you start to question things. It's not an easy or lighthearted move. It's a big deal that will change your life!
It does feel scary, but exciting too.
Am I ready to change my life? Can I do this? Can I change a massive part of who I am? What will this mean?
For a few weeks Jaz transitioned and handled things amazingly, in my opinion. Every time we saw each other, she spoke about when she was still eating meat and dairy, the circumstances, but how she could feel her body genuinely not really wanting these foods anymore (save a 3am kebab, but we are all human!) and how it was usually born out of total convenience or a social pressure.
Last time we were together (yes, a True Blood marathon) I did something I don't usually do. I showed Jaz a few of my favorite You Tube videos about vegansim and... the holy grail....I gave her Skinny Bitch.
If you have not yet read Skinny Bitch, or you have a friend who you think needs a bit of a kick up the but on ANYTHING in life - give them this book.
It puts veganism in the most sensible, logical and empowering way I've ever heard.
It would be nearly impossible to read this book and eat meat again. In fact - I challenge you to!
Like I say, I wouldn't normally go down those routes of bombarding friends with vegan ideas and videos and what-not, but this was different.
When Jasmine sat there and said "I WANT to be a vegan..." she wasn't saying it for anyone other than herself.
Jaz doesn't bull-shit you, she doesn't say things because you want to hear them and she wasn't trying to get in my pants. She meant it. She felt a 100% genuine connection with the ideals behind being vegan. Her switch had flipped.
So, why shouldn't I help her in any way I can? Why did I feel nervous about showing her a great video or giving her an amazing book? Because I am now so terrified of looking like I'm trying to convert people I'm scared to actually do it?
Yes. If I'm honest - yes.
As a vegan I am so afraid of looking bad, I shy away from actually HELPING people. People complement me on this blog, but the truth is: it's a cowards way out.
I write on this blog everything I'm scared to say and rant about in real life. Anyone who knows me, knows that I never make a face if you order dairy, I never judge a meat-eater, I never rant about factory farms. But I want to. So I do it here...
This blog is my way of living a socially acceptable life.
I know that going vegan is one of the healthiest and most incredible things anyone could do. So why do I stay quiet about it? Because I want to be "cool" and "liked"?
It's these little social pressures that have built up over time, so now when someone sits opposite me, GENUINELY wanting to discuss veganism with me, I feel automatic censors on everything I say.
"Don't sound too eager!" "Don't sound like a crazy vegan!"
Well, fuck it. I AM a crazy vegan. I am eager! And if you come to me and say you want to go vegan I'm going to jump from the rooftops and scream and cry with joy. because it is the BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOURSELF AND FOR OTHERS!! Why shouldn't we celebrate it?!
So my dear Jasmine - I am going to do for you what no one did for me: CONGRATULAIONS, WELL DONE.... and, most importantly: YOU ARE A SUPERHERO.
You are a superhero for opening your eyes, for taking responsibility for what you buy! For taking responsibility over what you eat, what you support. You are standing up for innocent, tortured animals! You are trying to make the world a better place for your children! You are going to be healthy and vibrant! You are a superhero for going against what EVERYONE says. What we've grown up with. The lies of the industries!
You now join the ranks of Alicia Silverstone, Bill Clinton, Joaquin Phoenix, Casey Affleck, Ellen DeGeneres, Jared Leto, Woody Harrelson, Russell Brand, James Cameron, T Cooper, Alan Cumming and all the other vegan superheros out there trying to save animals and make the world a better place.
I hope this journey is as amazing for you as it was for me. You are an inspiration. I lurve ya!
Love and Sweet Potatoes ;)
Well... firstly... Thanks everyone.
I posted about things being a bit negative and have been inundated with LOVE left, right and center. Now of course, life suddenly feels rich with love, friendship, potential and excitement. I ready to SEIZE! All these people and opportunities I have and need to savor every day.
I'm ready to get back to being the best version of myself.
That woman I want to be. The woman I know is in there... she is real, she's often here... but she's been forgotten about.
How do I get her back? How do we all get it back?
I have a simple formula to try and will let you know how it goes.
Remember what works....
When are you at your most relaxed and happy?
The last few days I've been trying to remember. When do I feel like myself? When do I not question things? When am I relaxed?
Think about spaces that make you happy... environments... people.
I will not feel guilty that sitting in a cafe makes me feel happy. It does. (It's also when I'm my most productive!)
See people. Make the time.
Not just anyone. The special people. The ones who make you feel like yourself. The ones who know you inside out and know in just a look that something isn't right. This usually also means you will be talking more, being honest more and therefore: minimal repression. It's genius.
Be Kind to Yourself
Use the language inside your own mind that you would use for the person you love most. Your mother... your best friend? Who ever it is. Give yourself that same love, care and admiration. Don't speak to yourself how you wouldn't speak of others.
None of us are superheros. We can't be perfect all the time. But we can give ourselves the best damn shot and that will involve some kind words. Some trust. Some love.
The List of Good Moments
Yes I'm a genius and one day I will dedicate an entire post to this and how it has impacted me... but the essential point is - sit down with a lovely piece of paper and write down a list of all the best things that have happened to you or moments that have made you happy.
It can be a complement someone paid you (I know the best one I ever got!), validation from someone you respect, being told "I Love You", whatever it may be. Write a list and look at it when you feel like shit. Deep stuff.
Love My Space.... Get the Zen
I am so guilty of this....I am happier when I put love into my home.
So do it! Your home, your bedroom, whatever your personal space.
If you're lucky enough to have your own place, make sure you are NESTING in it. Love it. Make it a sanctuary where you feel zen-like and comfortable. Have your own little private happy place. Cushions, candles, pretty pictures, mattress in the living room... .whatever floats your boat.
Respect My Body
If there's one thing I know about myself - I'm happier when I respect my body.
Love it. Respect it. Try to put good things in....
What's Your Mountain? Are you on it?
Don't feel shitty if you don't know what your mountain is, but if you know what it is: are you on it? I know my mountain is Acting and being so far way from it was putting me down in the dumps.
Even just today I've made changes to turn it around; simple ones, but it makes all the difference!
Even if you aren't climbing the mountain fast.... just getting on it in any way, even emotionally, helps :)
Use Your DAY! SEIZE it!
I have spent spectacular days sitting around doing nothing, but I can't pretend it makes me overjoyed long-term. I need to ACHIEVE. I know myself now and I just need to own this. I am happiest when I have achievements to show for my day, even if it's just a blog post! When I've been at work all day, I still want to have something to show for the last 12 hours... even if it's aching muscles from having done a gym class? Or perhaps a plate of brownies on the worktop?
Best is completing a full day of rehearsals or doing some writing :) Seize the day, make them all count!
Don't Look Back
Speaks for itself. What's done is done. All we can do is look forward. My divine friend, Jasmine, was talking about this earlier and hit it spot on. It's one of those things we know, but never really embrace.
A lot of the "cliches" are cliches for a reason, people! Because they're damn good advice that we don't embrace!
Stop dwelling on what's past. If you are holding negative feelings about things that have happened, stressing about them, stewing over them, you will only keep that negativity with you going forward.
Try to let go :)
An enormous "thank you" to everyone who contacted me after the last post. I truly am the luckiest person alive....
"Love and Sweet Potatoes" ;) xx
I can't lie.
It's a bit of a weird time at the moment. Lots of things are uncertain and there are changes on the horizon.
I don't know if they're good or bad.
As usual in the life of a "first world problems" kinda gal, when I break it down, nothing is really wrong. I am ridiculously blessed, happy and loved. That goes without saying. BUT, sometimes it is just that little bit harder to smile widely and jump out of bed enthusiastically and care enormously about every single thing other people say because, honestly, things may be just a little bit shit right now.
Usually, I am the most bubbly person alive. It gets comments. I have an abundance of energy and genuine care for everyone around me (well, nearly everyone, I'm not a saint) but lately, as my own life takes uncertain turns, it's harder to keep the veil high and pretend everything is peachy when it isn't.
Which, begs the question: why pretend?
Because we are SO lucky in comparison to most of the world, I think we feel slightly guilty when feeling out of sorts or "depressed", for lack of a better word. If we feel a bit sad and low for no reason, it's automatically - "oh my God, pull yourself together, some people have it SO much worse!" Which is a great attitude, but, sometimes I do think we need to commit to our emotions and just let them be.
Let them be.
If you don't feel great today - don't pretend you do, at least not with the people who know you and care about you. Especially not to yourself. I've spent a lot of time inside my own mind battling these "low" feelings over the last few weeks and in the end, you have to give yourself a different kind of slap around. "Seriously, Hannah, just BE SAD for a little bit and then, when it passes, you'll be back to your old self! All is fine."
Let it be.
You may be wondering what is wrong at this point? (Or you may not care.)
The truth is exactly as I said above - there isn't anything seriously wrong when I break it down, which is why I felt compelled to write this post. I can analyze why I feel out of sorts and understand all the different reasons, but then I judge them! I judge myself for feeling low! So I have to give myself the slap around and say: "it's okay to feel sad for no reason."
I know that the catalyst was going home for Christmas. I went home for Christmas, saw all my loved ones, glimpsed the life I said "good-bye" to, felt wonderfully happy and healthy, lived in sunshine, talked with my friends into the wee hours, assessed my life, went for walks... It was bliss.
Then, at 7am I touched down in depressing, wet, FREEZING Manchester, where there was not a single cafe open for my wonderful UK friends and I to go sit together, so we were forced to crack the door to my equally depressing, freezing flat that hasn't had the boiler on for 2 weeks and sit there eating porridge in our jackets.
Yes, that has it's own brilliance and of course, I loved it on many levels. How lucky am I that I have phenomenal UK friends to make this experience bearable and sit in my freezing flat with me? How lucky am I that I had a freezing flat to sit in? How lucky am I....etc...
And this is what we do. It's okay to just say "it was a bit shit. It made me homesick. I wanted to cry."
I think I skyped with Mum non-stop for those first few days. I felt in Limbo. Why did I move here again? Oh, right... to act.... yeah. But, can't I do that in Australia where I feel happy? Why do I live in England?
To all readers: Acting and Theatre is an amazing profession to pursue, but it's a lot easier when things are going well. When things aren't going so well (even if it's NOT RELATED to theatre. Even if things just aren't going well at home) it can be really hard to drum up the motivation, passion and confidence to put yourself out there, find auditions and create work for yourself. Really bloody hard.
Also - blogging has become a bit hard. Hard because I'm financially stressed..... it's not easy to go out and buy hemp seeds when I can barely afford porridge oats, so my blogs are becoming a bit samey. I swear - if I post one more picture of sweet potato I'll have no followers left!
So, what do we do? What do we do when we are in a bit of a spiral?
EMBRACE. If my blog has to become a blog about how you can be vegan and broke - so be it. That will be what my blog is about. If my blog has to be "101 Things to Do with a Sweet Potato" (minds out of the gutter, folks) than so be it.
I know the challenge isn't the money, it's the emotional investment. I want to write about happy things and a wonderful life.... but it's not easy sitting down to write about a wonderful life that isn't quite happening at the moment.
I always want to be honest and truthful... why bother otherwise? We are all just people, doing our best, navigating our way through this really weird world full of disappointment and doubt. Sometimes we get it wrong and sometimes we have no bloody idea.
Either way, that's okay.
Did I make a mistake moving to Manchester? Even writing that sentence I know it's not true. I absolutely did not. Moving here was the best decision I ever made and I know that in my gut. So, I think that means it's okay to doubt it every now and then. You can stumble on your way up the mountain, as long as you keep going up.
So, what do I promise?
I promise to stay honest. If I literally am eating sweet potato and nothing else that week - that is what my pictures will be :) If things aren't so bright and happy - that is what I will say. Equally - this time tomorrow, or perhaps even after hitting "Publish" on this post, I know that I will feel better already. Because I've committed to the slump and that's the only way to get out of it.
I don't even know why I'm posting this to be honest....I think I want to say "I'm still alive, sorry I haven't posted for a while.... this is why.... now, hopefully some money will fall out of the sky (it's been known to happen) some motivation will hit me in the face (often happens) and this blog will get back on track. "
Maybe I'll re-title it "Life of a Broke, Cold, Dramatic Vegan". Get many readers do you think?
The worst thing, I think, is when we are going down this "what am i doing with my liiiiifffeeeeeee??" spiral. It's hard to get off and it's obviously a total waste of time. Unless you are sitting down, motivated, pen in hand, going "what am I doing with my life?" ready to make conscious plans, it's a question best avoided.
Do what makes you happy, have a plan if you know what it is, try and smile, have amazing friends and try to be the person you want to be.
I haven't felt like myself lately, but she's coming back. I know the woman I want to be, and I'm lucky to be able to say that. I'm lucky to be able to say I know what I want to do with my life and I know how to achieve it.
How lucky am I? Seriously.
I'm also lucky that I love sweet potato.
This "meal" cost me two pounds. Two pounds, people.
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