How to be a Smug Vegan
So we recently took the big step and our whole family became vegan, something a few years ago I would have never imagined happening! We feel excited lighter and maybe a little bit smug about our health and the fact we are now inflicting less suffering on the world. So here is my tongue in cheek guide to doing that and being a little smug about it at the same time!
We became vegan initially for health reasons. I wanted to lose a bit of weight and also wanted to improve my and my family’s health. The more I read about diet and health the more a plant based diet appealed to me. I mean it’s pretty simple eat your greens and healthful you will become! Once we learned about how to live a vegan lifestyle, the opposite of veganism or rather “omnivorism” and the dark truth about factory farming and sustainability of this came to light. It was like the shadows had been removed from our eyes. We are fairly new to this vegan game so I’m not claiming to know everything but what I do know is how good it feels to base our food choices in health, sustainability and to be cruelty free.
The first and most important step to being a smug vegan is being healthy. EAT LOADS OF PLANTS, seeds, nuts, beans lentils and starchy vege. You also need to take a B12 supplement because the earth is depleted in that nowadays and it’s vital: If you’re not eating animals and therefore not digesting the ton of pollutants and fear their meat contains then you are also not consuming the B12 nutrients that meat would have given you from the animal’s consumption of greens or fish with algae. So once you cut out the middleman make sure you eat the greens yourself. Being healthy will not only improve your life and mental health, but will inspire other people to join the vegan revolution and that for the sake of the planet is obviously AMAZING! So I guess rather than being smug about it, what i really want to say is lead by example and people will be inspired by your glowing healthy happy self.
Secondly, go in for this prepared. There are two ways you can handle this vegan business, research and practice first or hit it cold turkey. We did it slowly. For two years before becoming vegan I researched and starting incorporating more and more delicious vegan meals into our menu to ease the eventual transition. I made recipes and followed the blogs of Deliciously Ella (amazing and simple but extremely smug, and not in a funny way), Thug Kitchen (very cool vegan dudes from LA with an emphasis on Mexican cuisine), Clean food dirty girl, and a lovely London group who run yoga and vegan brunches: Kali Cooking. Excitingly Brighton now too has a yoga supper with vegan food. Downward dog yoga.
I was listening to a podcast by the no meat athlete the other day who noted that by becoming vegan and then sticking to that lifestyle choice you really need to eventually come at it from a health perspective. It’s easier to stick to something you can see the results of daily in how you feel healthfully rather than more abstract ideas such as the planet or animal rights.
Physically and mentally I feel fitter, lighter and happier knowing where my food comes from and how it makes me feel. My children are almost always mucus free and rarely get stomach bugs. We are all clearly thriving.
Thirdly and obviously animal suffering: I used to eat free range organic meat that I told myself and anyone who would listen was the reason why the way I ate meat, albeit occasionally, was okay. Maybe I thought they actually surrendered themselves to the farmer on the day of their death. The more organic free range I bought the more I heard about what a great life they had but I never heard about their death. The fact is that no animal wants to die, be taken from their young/ parents and enslaved on whatever beautiful farm they’re on (that’s if they are very lucky and not factory farmed). Did you know cows have best friends? They even take walks with them! They are herd animals. Lets stop torturing these beautiful intelligent beings.
Dairy is no better; in fact those cows often have a worse life. I never knew cows had to be pregnant or breastfeeding to produce milk. How did I not think about this!? Where are the calves? They are killed or raised for the same fate. Cows are made to produce, for human consumption, four and a half times the amount of milk they are supposed to. They often get mastitis, (infected milk ducts are very painful, I’ve had them when breastfeeding my own children and felt so ill.) They are routinely given antibiotics for this, which then goes into our milk. Once they have been milked for about 4 to 5 years they collapse and are dragged out for what? We do not need milk past infancy; you can get all you need from plants.
Finally the environment: They produce a massive proportion of the world’s greenhouse gases, not to mention the amount of rainforest being pulled down to raise animals for meat or dairy. Plus if one more person blames the rainforest on vegans I am gonna lose it! Soya beans are primarily grown for cattle feed, plus they are used mainly in meat and dairy products to cheaply bulk them out. So yes be responsible with your soya consumption or just drink alternative milks, like almond milk etc, like all the vegans I know! Save some of your carbon karma for something else.
What to Cut Out First.
Well we started with milk; you don’t need milk past infancy. My four year old found it hard but after a strike of refusing any alternative milk she now downs almond milk. Then comes the bad boy cheese. If one more person tells me “oh I can take or leave everything else but cheese…” Yes that’s because it's addictive, it’s heavily processed milk, which contains hormones to make the calves feed and feed so they become as big as, cows. I tried vegan cheese and gipt but nut cheese is different, if you consider it a dip it’s bloody yummy! Super enjoying www.rawfoodrosie.com tree nut cheese atm. The meat and fish was fairly easy, loads of alternatives and once you’ve drowned yourself in vegan propaganda it’s a bit hard to look at a steak again without seeing a crying cow.
To keep on track watch some slaughterhouse or dairy farm footage…. Know your food and where it really comes from.. Watch some documentaries. “What the health” and “Cowspiracy” are amazing but very biased I will admit. “Earthings” is amazing and turned us pretty much and a few people I know. “Carnage” is very cool very Simon Amstell.
4) Finally be a smug vegan socialite, in person or online. We live in Brighton so it’s pretty damn easy for us to find a vegan community. We have a Whatsapp group where we share recipes and nutritional advice and just enjoy being superior to everyone else (sort of kidding….) Also meetup has a Brighton vegan group. Brighton also has a vegan runners club that is becoming quite a hit nationally, and a vegan facebook group. You can go to vegan places to eat. The Happycow app is AMAZING and finds you any vegan or vegan friendly place around the world and they’re all listed. In Brighton we have a ton of yummy eateries from Happy Maki to Terre a terre the queen of vegan cuisine.
So there you go that’s how to be a smug vegan, the revolution is coming. There’s been over a 350% increase in vegans in the UK over the last few years. Each day more and more people will question where their dairy, meat and fish is coming from and the ethics behind shelves in supermarkets lined up with produce derived from suffering or exploitation of dwindling planet resources. As my daughter said to a bunch of cows in a field last weekend, “don’t worry all the world will be vegan one day.” Lets hope so for her sake.
By Sarah Perez