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 ;)
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