Vegans can be a little evangelical from time to timeTakver

How can you tell if somebody’s a vegan? They’ll tell you. It’s a joke that’s been doing the rounds for some time; if you meet a vegan, they’ll start spouting bean sprouts and preaching lentils before you can even say “steak and chips”. We’re an evangelical bunch, I’ve been told. Admittedly, deciding to write an article centred on veganism (and its cousin vegetarianism) doesn’t exactly help…

Personally, I am usually quite happy minding my own hummus; it’s none of my business what’s on your plate, so long as you don’t start poking around my own. Often, though, people want to know why my plate is so full of vegetables. Surprisingly regularly, somebody wants a food fight. I became a vegan three years ago because I was recovering from an illness and wanted to see how much healthier I could be, and people like Deliciously Ella were telling me from their spotless kitchens filled with expensive blenders and chia seeds that veganism makes you feel good. Turns out, they were right.

“You can be an unhealthy vegan if you want (Oreos are vegan!)”

Nowadays, I am pretty ambivalent about the green/lean/£500-for-a-fava-bean movement. Being a vegan or a vegetarian doesn’t mean spending ludicrous amounts on ‘superfood’ status symbols, nor does it entail having the body of an athlete and the mind of a yogi guru. You can be an unhealthy vegan if you want (Oreos are vegan!), and chickpeas and vegetables don’t cost the earth (see what I did there?).

As a vegan, you really have to know your food-facts, because you will be called upon to explain yourself almost every time you sit down to eat with a new person (unless that person is another veggie or vegan, in which case, we can obviously get on with knitting our own guacamole and building yurts out of tofu blocks).

'Being a vegan or a vegetarian doesn’t mean spending ludicrous amounts on ‘superfood’ status symbols.'Devanath

We all know about the ethics of the meat industry. Even when meat comes in sterilised containers that tell you that you’re consuming ‘steak’ not ‘cow muscle’ (gross, right?), or when it comes concealed within two pieces of bread from Maccy D’s, somewhere are the back of your mind, you know what you’re eating has come from an animal. Most people have been exposed to a harrowing video of a slaughterhouse; some people have even been shown feature-lengths like Cowspiracy or Food, Inc.

It’s becoming increasingly well-known that the dairy industry isn’t so great for the cows either, and clips of male chicks being chucked in incomprehensible numbers into mass-blenders tell us what we might already have suspected: that male chicks can’t lay eggs. I think the issues surrounding the morality of meat and dairy consumption are a really touchy subject. Simply put: it’s too sad and too difficult to think about for most people, and mostly we’d rather pretend it’s not happening.

“Swapping in cow milk for oat milk and steaks for aubergines would clean up our act like nobody’s business”

But what about climate change – that’s something most people can get on board with, right? Unless you’re the President of the United States, you most likely accept that we’re not doing great things to the environment right now. If you’ve got any kind of eco-warrior leanings within you (and all of us should), literally the biggest positive impact you as an individual can have is if you stop consuming animal products. More than your recycling, more even than never getting in a car again, never having a full-fat latte or a cheeseburger are the things that will most reduce your carbon footprint. 

I could bury you with facts about this, but PETA says it better. From the devastation of the world’s rainforests to the destruction of the seabed, to global warming and the wellbeing of bees, swapping in cow milk for oat milk and steaks for aubergines would clean up our act like nobody’s (or everybody’s) business