Not so okay veganism

Vegetarians make some people feel uncomfortable.  Vegans make many people feel very uncomfortable.

I’ve had an interesting day.  I’ve turned down work because I don’t feel I can freelance (albeit briefly) for a company that makes its money selling animal products, and I’ve returned a pair of bloody gorgeous shoes, because, well, they are the outcome of a bloody process.

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I’ve also had someone declare I’m a hypocrite because I have leather products in my cupboard.

And I’d agree.  It is hypocritical to refrain from eating all animal products and yet still have a leather belt.  The thing is, for me veganism is a process, and a new one at that.  I’m not about to throw away any animal products I’ve accumulated over the last 15 or so years of consumerism – that  feels entirely wasteful and disrespectful.  I am however going commit to not buying new leather belts and shoes and handbags,  or leather wallets, or cars with leather seats, or any of the other animal-sourced merchandise abounding the world over.

The honest truth is that this is the hardest thing about being a vegan for me.  Not giving up cheesecake and milk chocolate; no, it’s the shopping.  I like shopping. I have a career in fashion and I love clothes.  And shoes.  And watches.  I often get swept away by aesthetics.

The other truth is that as uncomfortable as my dietary choices make people feel, they make me feel a lot more uncomfortable.  It’s hard to discern when enough is enough; whether it’s fair for my omnivore boyfriend not to have meat in the fridge, when worrying about where my food has been grown, where my clothes were made, how heavy my carbon footprint is, and whether my cosmetics (and medication) are tested on animals is going to tip me over the edge and do my head in.  This is often the case.  How do I reconcile my desire for certain things with their potential moral load?

It’s also uncomfortable to make people feel uncomfortable.  Social situations become a minefield and I’m quizzed often and usually to the point of exhaustion about why I eat the way I do.  It’s uncomfortable to know that people are wondering what the hell they are going to feed me at a dinner party and it’s a complete pain in the ass when a coffee shop doesn’t offer soya milk, not to mention the absence of vegan dishes on most restaurant menus.

The crux of the matter is that no-one enters into veganism lightly, and certainly not to make you feel uncomfortable about your own food choices.  Any discomfort is entirely your own.

Okay veganism

I’ve been a vegan before (for about two years in my late teens), and I’m 95% vegan these days (the other 5% made up of the odd bit of eggy/buttery cake, Sunday croissants, dinners cooked lovingly for me where the pasta may contain eggs, the odd scoffed piece of milk chocolate, and social gatherings where I can’t be too sure if there’s parmesan in the pesto).  I’m reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer at the moment,  have watched parts of Earthlings again, and am enjoying the insight of South African Veg-IT, and all are leading me further down the path of a fully plant-based diet.

The hardest bit is the social aspect: most people can cope with cooking for a vegetarian, but few manage the idea of vegan cooking without a little blanching.  In actual fact though, it’s really not that hard.  There are MANY wonderful blogs dedicated to the art of tasty and nutritious vegan cuisine, The First Mess being one.

I made an utterly mouthwatering dinner today based on a recipe on The First Mess (spaghetti squash noodle bowl with lime peanut sauce), although I swopped out the squash for what I had in the house (orange sweet potatoes and carrots).  I’ve made the dish with butternut squash before though, and it’s sublime.  I used baby spinach instead of kale (kale seems exceedingly hard to come by in SA), used almond butter to replace the peanut butter (this makes very little difference to the deliciousness of the dressing, while boosting the nutritional aspects a bunch), and replaced the grapeseed oil with extra virgin olive oil.  I also added some smoked tofu.

So much yum factor.

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Coming down

I’m very keen on long weekends.  I look forward to them for months.  And then I get a Friday and a Monday off and I sink into putty-like depression.  It’s the being thrown right out of routine that does it I think.  And perhaps the sugar overload.  And red wine drinking.

Easter was spent on a lovely farm in Dullstroom, eating, drinking and talking myself into a state of shut-down.

On the plus side, the pomegranate rice dish I made was delicious and had meat-eaters queuing up for seconds.

Now just to get back into my work week.  I think I need an evening ashtanga practice and this:

Looks delectable right?  Find the recipe here.