Why I'm not vegan anymore
At UCG, there is a big scene of vegetarianism and veganism. Many meat-eaters almost feel guilty eating meat in front of all us hummus and carrot fanatics. It is understandable: all this talk we do, about being sustainable and saving the environment, will force you to consider going vegan/vegetarian at some point during your student life at UCG. Although at first you may seem like an environmental hero as a vegan, a more mindful and flexitarian approach might be better for your consciousness, the local economy and the environment.
Flexitarianism is a diet that encourages a mainly plant-based diet but allows animal products in moderation. As a vegan, you restrict yourself too much. I may have been brought up vegetarian, and I really can’t imagine eating meat, but during my time as a strict vegan, I indeed felt very limited. Especially at events that aren’t catered to the younger alternative scene, when travelling through Asia, or when visiting my grandparents. I often encountered situations where people offered me non-vegan dishes out of kindness and hospitality and refusing them would have been rude or disrespectful. Also: chocolate and cheese are just really yummy, and if, once in a while, I want to indulge in that, I am not going to beat myself up for a week. I still go for fair-trade and bio options after all. You don’t have to see dietary choices as an ‘all or nothing’ sort of thing. I totally respect every person who is more mindful of what they eat, and even if you’re only doing one meatless day a week, you are already making a difference. Imagine everyone doing that.
Many of the vegan staple foods such as quinoa, avocado and mango have to be imported and be grown using a lot of land, water and other resources. They also cause Human Rights related issues, such as the welfare of the workers. So while you are trying to save animal lives, you are still damaging the planet and the lives of the people who live in these foreign countries, growing your exotic foods. So going flexitarian and local would be much better for your local farmers and the environment.
The vegan community is almost frowned upon. Supposedly it’s too exclusive, demanding and rude. But I want to remind you that these ‘Facebook Vegans’ are only a small sample that screams very loudly. When I was vegan, I made my diet a part of my identity: I put myself in a box and thus believed I was better (or at least different) than others. But the impression of superiority and labelling, in general, is never a good idea. You don’t have to be vegan to be a good person and make a difference in the world. Every little bit helps.
I am not strictly vegan anymore, I allow myself small treats and don’t suppress my desires. Dinners with friends have become much more relaxed and easy to arrange, and I do not put myself in a box that encourages ingroup-outgroup thinking. I am happier this way. Don’t force yourself into something you are not ready for. Be mindful, but do follow your heart. Or, in this case: your stomach!
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