There is a social movement on the rise, not only in Melbourne but globally. Despite its controversial nature and its ability to strongly divide people based on opinion, it is a topic that is entirely important and relevant to everyone.
Veganism can be called many things: a diet, a fad, a lifestyle choice, a peaceful protest, or even a cult. And just like there will never be a unanimous decision about whether or not Shannon Noll was really robbed of a first place title on Australian Idol Season 1, I doubt there will ever be a unanimous decision or a definitive conclusion about the issue of veganism. That’s the beauty of opinion; everyone is entitled to their own. So I am not here to force my opinions on you or condemn you for your sins, I am here to write a piece about what veganism is, how to go about it, and hopefully because you’ve clicked on this article and you are teasing yourself with this ongoing flirtation that is going vegan, I can help shed some light on some darker areas.
What is a vegan?
A vegan is a rare mythical creature who chooses not to part take in the consumption, or exploitation of animals or their by-products. This includes not eating animals or anything they produce such as milk, eggs, and honey, not wearing animal products such as leather, wool, or silk, not buying or using products that have been tested on animals and also not attending events that use animals for entertainment such as a circus. You also can’t get a vegan wet or feed them after midnight, you know, just basic rules.
Don’t you need to eat animal products to be healthy?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to eat animal products to be healthy, in fact, studies show that a diet without animal products is healthier. A study published by The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine shows that people who consume fewer animal products, particularly red meat, reduce the risk of getting cancer by more than half, and The World Health Organization has released new statistics that meat can actually be considered a stage one carcinogen, in the same group as tobacco and asbestos. In terms of the whole protein/iron/vitamin B-12 debate, don’t you worry your organic ethically sourced hemp socks, all protein comes from plant-based products, there are dozens of foods with high levels of iron, and a lot of vegan products have B-12 in them. However, if you’re still lacking in the vitamin department, there is a wide range of vitamin supplements available that you can take. Don’t worry too much though, no one has ever died from a protein deficiency.
Why are vegans so preachy?
Because animal agriculture is the number one contributor to global warming and the industry emits more greenhouse gases than the whole world’s transportation industry, combined. With an expected increase of emission of 80% by the year 2050, if we don’t “preach” about a vegan lifestyle in the hopes of more people taking on a plant-based diet, then we are looking at fishless oceans by 2048 and unbreathable air in the next 100 years.
What do vegans really eat?
It’s really not all soy turmeric lattes and munching on gum tree leaves for vegans. The endless cornucopia that is vegan food offers so many alternatives to animal products that you love and also amazing food that comes straight from mother earth. Legitimately every animal product has a vegan version, including cheese, milk, eggs, bacon, chicken, beef, ice-cream, and chocolate, and they all taste just as good, minus the murder, and minus all the pus in your milk (that’s right, there’s pus in milk). A vegan diet will most definitely teach you how to cook, and it will also force you to pre-plan your meals to ensure you’re eating enough food, and that you are getting the right nutrients. This being said, it is so easy to have a vegan diet, particularly living in Melbourne which is slowly becoming one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, and you might even get special vegan super powers.
Is being vegan expensive?
No. In fact, it’s cheaper than eating animal products. Here are over 30 vegan recipes that demonstrate how cheap vegan food can be.
5 facts about veganism that will haunt you for life:
- Livestock and animal agriculture cover 45% of the earth’s total land.
- Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
- As many as 2.7 trillion animals are pulled from the ocean every year.
- Every second, 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared for animal agriculture.
- We are currently producing enough food to feed 10 billion people, yet 11.3% of the world’s total population is undernourished, living in poverty, and starving.
Documentaries on veganism that deal with:
Environmental factors: Cowspiracy (2014), Food Inc (2008), A Delicate Balance – The Truth (2008)
Health factors: Forks Over Knives (2011), What The Health (2017), Fat, Sick, And Nearly Dead (2010), Food Choices (2016), Vegucated (2011)
Ethical/moral factors: Earthlings (2005), Unity (2015), Speciesism (2013), Lucent (2013)
Speeches on veganism that will change your life:
Gary Yourofsky – Best Speech You Will Ever Hear
James Aspey – This Speech Is Your Wake Up Call
Modern Warrior: Damien Mander at TEDxSydney
Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Degeneres, Brad Pitt, Venus and Serena Williams, Rhonda Rousey, Olivia Wilde, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Alicia Silverstone, Woody Harrelson, Kate and Rooney Mara, Liam Hemsworth, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Natalie Portman, Jared Leto, Casey Affleck, Anne Hathaway, Pamela Anderson, Joaquin Phoenix, Tobey Maguire, Zooey Deschanel, Jessica Chastain, Ellen Page, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ellie Goulding.
Best vegan books:
- ‘Eating Animals’ by Jonothan Safran Foer
- ‘Project Animal Farm’ by Sonia Faruqi
- ‘How Not To Die’ by Dr Michael Greger
- ‘Animal Liberation’ by Peter Singer
- ‘Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World Of Animals’ by Mark Hawthorne
- ‘Uncaged’ by Ben Davidow
Best vegan cafes and restaurants in Melbourne:
- Serotonin Eatery – Richmond
- Smith And Daughters – Fitzroy
- Veggie Bar – Fitzroy
- Yong Green – Fitzroy
- Transformer – Fitzroy
- Girls and Boys – Fitzroy
- Trippy Taco – St Kilda & Fitzroy
- Red Sparrow – Collingwood
- Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant – Carlton & South Melbourne
- Sister Of Soul – St Kilda
- Matcha Mylkbar – St Kilda
- Supercharger – Melbourne CBD
- Lord Of The Fries – Various locations
Best vegan stores:
- The Cruelty-Free Shop – Collingwood
- Vegan Wares – Collingwood
- Prahran Convenience – Prahran
- The Organic Food And Wine Deli – Melbourne
- Vegan and Vegetarian Shop – Ormond
Best vegan/cruelty-free beauty brands:
- Bondi Sands
- Grown Alchemist
- Nude by Nature
Vegan websites and resources:
- Vegan Australia
- Happy Cow
- Peta – Accidentally Vegan
- Vegan Online
- The Vegan Calculator – use this little tool to work out how much of the planet you have saved by eating a plant based diet.
This overwhelming amount of information just scrapes the surface of what veganism is really all about. But if you’re going to take just one thing away from this article then it should be this: veganism is inherently a movement that deals with conserving the planet’s natural resources, improving the health of yourself and of the earth, and showing compassion to those that we share this planet with. The stereotypes and stigmas that come with being a vegan are not the point of becoming a vegan, and should not deter you to try this way of life. Whether you choose to try veganism for good, you think it’s a ridiculous concept, or you have an on and off romance with veganism for years to come, it’s something that will benefit you in more ways than one, and ultimately change your life for the better.