There is change in the air. Just over 2 years ago, the UK vegan population apparently numbered around 2%, or 1.2 million. Now apparently it stands at 7 million, and it's still growing.
We only need to look at the shelves in our supermarkets to realise that something is happening.
First, we saw a dramatic rise in the presence of 'free from' aisles, no longer assigned to some dark corner of the shop and covered in dusty old unappealing boxes. Then came the visible growth in plant-based products being stocked in fridges, shelves and the freezer sections of most mainstream supermarkets. More recently we have seen celebrity vegan chefs growing in visibility and increasing the 'cool' factor of veganism, and in my mind, that's no bad thing. People may finally stop thinking veganism = deprivation, a dour attitude and a shocking health status, when in fact quite the opposite is true.
Derek & Chad Sarno are two brothers bringing compassionate cooking and heart centred eating into the mainstream, and there are many fabulous vegan and raw food chefs who've been raising awareness for decades before this too. In Derek & Chad's case, their brand Wicked Healthy has started to revolutionise the aisles in Tesco! OK, for me there are some "issues" in so far as most of the meals are microwaveable only at present, and come in standard plastic containers, 2 things that bug the hell out of me, however, these are good guys doing good things to change people's perspectives, and Rome wasn't built in a day right? Their pizzas are delicious! The other stuff is too if you don't mind microwaves.
So why are more people being called to a plant based life and what are the reasons for doing so?
1. Health awareness
2. Environmental awareness
3. Animal cruelty and suffering awareness.
These three things are generally the leading reasons why people start to make a shift.
For me, I knew many years ago that my food wasn't making me well and that my body was struggling to process meat, refined foods, sugar, dairy, gluten and more, but I had no idea how to really change that. I knew tons about juicing for health, but little about food, and as someone less confident in that area, I was worried I'd live off falafels and hummus alone, as many have done in the not too distant past I'm sure!
I had been successfully conditioned to believe that no meat = deprived of protein, and if I'm honest at that point, also of flavour. I'd grown up on meat and dairy, yet I never really liked milk or the flavour of lots of meat based products. The more we do something though, the more 'natural' it seems to be. Eating habits are trained, become 'normalised' and suddenly choices to become vegan are deemed "politically correct" rather than being heart led, or compassion led, which they certainly are for me.
I don't actually give much of a damn about "political correctness" - sure I'm sensitive to life and to views differing from my own, but my choices to become vegan weren't born from that at all. Health was the thing that started me on the road to changing my diet, and the cleaner I got, the better I felt, and the better I felt, the more I looked into stuff.
I looked into the environmental impact of farming, air miles, pesticides, processing, pollution, the whole shebang, which also applies to fruit and veggies too of course. Then both of my daughters went vegan; one previously a die-hard meat consumer who literally went vegan overnight after watching Earthlings, Forks Over Knives and Conspiracy (all available on Netflix and some on Youtube too.) She watched them pretty much back to back, wept and wept, and then simply said "I will never eat meat again". And she hasn't.
Observing her commitment and passion, I realised that my trendy "plant based" label was allowing me to avoid making that last 5% switch to veganism. If I say I'm "plant based" I won't be lying if I sneak in the odd bit of dairy right? I didn't want to say I was vegan as I equated that, rightly or wrongly, with militancy, deprivation (still) and rigidity, so why was I afraid of making the leap into committed veganism?
I think I've worked that out now and in part, it relates to the image above.
People choosing veganism are often called out for being "preachy" or needing to tell you about their veganism. Well of course we do! If I don't I don't get the food I want to eat, and if I know its been prepared without a real awareness of, or caring about the use of animal based ingredients, I'm gonna let you know! Just because meat has been the mainstream and therefore omnivores don't need to tell you what they can't eat, well that doesn't make non-meat eaters 'preachy' for having to ask or speak up. Also, I've never liked 'labels' but what I do like is principles, so I began to realise that sticking to my 'principles' was what I was doing, rather than labelling myself.
And then there's the activism that starts to come your way....
Once you've seen for yourself how things work, how this food gets to your plate, it's pretty impossible to ignore the level of suffering involved. Once seen, you can't 'unsee' and so for me, things just began to unravel. How could I let my money pay for the suffering of another sentient being? I couldn't. Politics and political correctness didn't event come into it, it was my heart that led the way. I don't miss anything I used to eat any more. I've finally made peace with the 'cheese thing' too. There are so many incredible alternatives around these days.
People change, the world changes, traditions change. If they didn't we wouldn't evolve. We wouldn't know how to 'grow' as a human race, we would question nothing, and stay locked in our conditioning, but we do know how to enquire, listen, observe and create change, and how wonderful is that ability to be discerning.
As this well known quote by Margaret Mead says:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
So, with another well known quote "keep on doing what you've always done, and you'll always get what you've always got" I'll end here. I could say more, I probably will in another blog, but for now, let's just talk about this stuff and stay open to change. Let's support businesses that are doing more for the animals, the earth and our health, and make the 7 million, 7 billion and rising! It's totes possible!
CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
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