Thinking of breaking my veganism.

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  • So, it's been about 14 months now - and while it's been relatively straightforward, I can't actually say it's been easy. By that I mean, while it's easy to know what to eat, it's not so easy to find it in every situation, in fact some situations have been nightmarish.


    So, in the last week I've really considered breaking my veganism, probably more so than I did when I began...


    Fuss...


    This week (as already shared) I've been in Poland, and while the hotel staff bent over backwards to accommodate me, the amount of fuss it involved really impacted on my experience of the place.


    And I really hate making a fuss, and when I was merely vegetarian I didn't have to - I could always find food, even in the most awkward of places and rarely had to make an issue of it. More than anything I just don't like having to discuss my diet with people (unless I choose to), deal with the questions or contend with the sheer lack of options.


    Health...


    I think that cutting out dairy has done some good, but I'm not convinced that veganism has made me healthier overall - I've had a much harder job of balancing my nutritional needs than ever before. I've had issues with weight gain, oh and hairloss that I've only been able to resolve from supplementation in the form of B12 and Iron.


    Oh, and flatulence! :o


    The Environment...


    By wearing cotton I'm contributing to a pesticide-intensive industry, by wearing synthetics I'm contributing to the petrochemical industry - I'm not entirely convinced that avoiding wool is actually helping anyone (not even the sheep really)


    Yeah I could wear hemp I suppose, but unlike some people I don't actually want to look like a hippy all the time! :p


    Other stuff...


    Not all eggs and honey (for instance) come from cruel sources - yes a lot does, but there are plenty of grey areas around food production that don't involve nastiness.


    Personal pleasure / hobbies etc.


    I used to do a fair amount of film photography (which I believe is superior) that I've stopped because of the gelatin in film, I've missed out on other things because of a mere smidgen of animal product ... for instance, trying to find a car that didn't have leather around the gearstick gaiter proved to be another bloody nightmare.


    I honestly think I've sent myself mad with this! :insane:


    -----


    So, with all that in mind, I wonder if I've just become a little too fixated on the "vegan" label to the point of ignoring issues like conservation, the environment and, of course, my own health (including emotional health).


    I'd love to hear the experiences of other vegans, ex-vegans and vegetarians - If you've been vegan and gone back to veggie-ism, what were your reasons for this?


    I'm not really interested in hearing the opinions of meat eaters.


    Or, if you've remained vegan for many years, how did you address the issues above without turning into a strange axe-grinding alien being who constantly tuts at labels and menus? :beard:

  • I feel it is good to explain things to people, not to harassed waiting staff in a hurry but other people I meet that ask my reasons, occasionally they may chose to change their choice regarding their eating habits.


    However you shouldn't get too hung up about it, I think you need to find a balance that is right for you. You don't need to be labelled, I tend not to tell people I am vegan until they ask. I don't mind being anal about the things I buy but I don't buy much that is new & I'm more flexible with second hand items; I wouldn't buy a leather jacket but if a jacket had a small strip of leather it wouldn't put me off.


    If you have a friend or relative that produces their own honey without smoking out the bees in winter, killing most of them or feeding them sugared water then by all means encourage them to continue doing so. I would prefer they kept the bees without taking any product but the ethical approach should be encouraged over commercial efforts.


    Flatulence is a common side effect of a change in diet especially to one that is higher in fibre, it usually goes after a couple of weeks as long as you maintain a similar diet. If you eat a lot of beans one week then not for a few then you won't get past it.


    Bamboo clothing is the way forward. That said, how much new clothing do you buy?


    Bah film sucks, I was so glad to go digital. I still have boxes & boxes of slides & negatives that I really can't be bothered to scan.

  • Bah film sucks, I was so glad to go digital. I still have boxes & boxes of slides & negatives that I really can't be bothered to scan.

    I'll get back to the other points as the thread unfolds, but even if you buy a (high end) digital camera it invariably comes with a leather strap and leather lens pouches. It's like there's no getting away from it.

  • True. I have asked them to take the pouches out in the past to re-use but do still have a number of leather pouches. It is awkward but by requesting alternatives you are ensuring a market for them. As we have said before the mainstream is too ready to accept casual violence as the norm.

  • If you can find someone who has rescued some battery hens that have been give the opportunity to live out their life in a fully free range way then I cannot see the harm in eating the odd egg. Eggs are a source of B12 but I read somewhere that it is lost when it is cooked. i am not sure about that though so you may have to research that further.


    paul

  • Not really on thread topic, as im not a vegan, but rehomed battery hens make lovely pets. I had three, until we rehomed them due to a split up, but they laid eggs everyday, in a trade for a chin fuss and a knee to sit on. You can rehome them for relatively cheap, i think my chickens cost me £1.50 each at the time, and it stopped them going to slaughter, to i suppose, if you wanted eggs that are ethical, that's the way forward....:)

  • What's going on with you, seems like only a few weeks ago that you were fighting the vegan cause single handedly.....Sounds to me like your putting too much pressure on yourself with regards the label vegan...If your doing it for health reasons then you have to consider your mental health too, and if your doing it for moral reasons then you also need to consider your mental health with regards to how you feel about eating certain foods... I was strict when I first started, and then kinda relaxed a bit, and it became easier to be more vegan when I relaxed and went easy on myself....I wouldn't kick up a fuss personally because it's not in my personality, I would've gone with the most vegetarian option that I liked, and then just returned to my vegan type diet...I'm not bothered about being classed as vegan, I do my best because it's fairly easy in most, tho not all situations....but be aware that just because you eat some eggs or cheese when there is no other easy option available, it doesn't mean that you have to eat cheese and eggs all the time, which often happens with struggling vegans...Just do what you can in the situations you find yourself without losing too much of yourself...

  • i became vegetarian for the first time when i was 14 and didn't do it well - my mum kept on putting gravy on things and serving me things saying, 'oh it's just a bit of chicken it won't hurt...', and as a consequence i wasn't eating right and got unwell so i went back to eating meat.


    then i tried again when i was in my twenties and able to take control of my own diet.........it was fairly easy and i was healthy but the more i thought about it, the deeper i got and i started to question everything. i was moving toward veganism but i had problems knowing where to draw the line....i was disappearing up my own arsehole worrying about what i should and shouldn't be doing.


    in the end i went back to eating meat.


    not saying you should or shouldn't remain vegan paul, just giving you my own experience of the mental battles you seem to be experiencing.

  • Paul I don't see that there are any rules that state what you can and can't eat. Deciding to be Vegan is putting self imposed limitations on yourself. There is no vegan police that will throw you in jail if you don't adhere to the rules. So since these are self imposed limitations, you can decide yourself where to draw the line. If you can get eggs and honey that you are happy with ethically then what's to stop you eating them if you want to. Just relax and go with what feels right for you. If you stop obsessing and cut yourself some slack now, you may find that over time you make further small steps in the future, and finally get back to where you are now but without all the stress and angst.

  • I've been vegetarian for 30 years - Ive had periods of veganism lasting several years - the most recent one nine or so months - I think you just have to sometimes stop labelling yourself and do what you can. When Im at home I eat pretty much all vegan - I would say at least 95 percent. I dont eat Gluten so going out is a NIGHT MARE - and I just end up eating crap - I get sick of eating chips and salad - I am a really healthy person and would much rather eat a rice dish or something - but find out it has butter/cheese in it. I recently went to India and it was impossible - when I wan restaurants coffee shops I ordered mostly vegan stuff but i was in a remote himalayan village, mostly living with locals who spoke no english - they understood'vegetarian - no egg' and went out of their way to cook for me so I ate whatever they presented me with. To turn down chai made with milk from their herd is a huge insult - plus to feed me was expensive - and I appreciated their hospitatility - it was a big lesson for me - and one I was happy I did - these were wonderful people and I did not want to offend.
    It also affects me in two major parts of my life - I take a lot of painkillers - they contain lactose - I have tried many alternatives - but this is the only way I can cope.
    I know for a living - I am permanently surrounded by wool of all types - I dont buy it, it's donated to me so I use what ever I am given - its recyleced art - Im not able to be picky as I work with what I am kindly given.
    Its a tricky one, I turn my head inside out on a regular basis - just do what you can :)

  • What's going on with you, seems like only a few weeks ago that you were fighting the vegan cause single handedly.....

    Offering an opinion on a messageboard where relevant isn't quite the same as living it in a meat-focused world ... it's slightly different when people behave like you're calling them out every time you order a meal. But yeah I get why you said that.


    I think it's the trip to Poland, and getting attention from meateaters trying to make me happy ... like, as much as it was appreciated, I'm not too good with fuss being made. Sometimes I just wanna feel "normal" and have a laugh and a joke without a food debate - and I'm a huge social eater.


    Also, I always reassess my values - it's not like I have any opinion that can't be changed, and as such I'm happy to question myself and continually check my motives.

  • There's good advice here Paul about not putting pressure on yourself.
    I guess I made my post because I can be an all or nothing sort of person. I couldn't commit to all without being slightly insane about it.....so while I chose a different path to you I experienced similar turmoil at the time.


    I hope you can find your way without too much damage, but, finding your way isn't meant to be easy....


    Abby x

  • I feel it is good to explain things to people, not to harassed waiting staff in a hurry but other people I meet that ask my reasons, occasionally they may chose to change their choice regarding their eating habits

    True and it's happened. I can think of at least three people (off the top of my head)who've stopped eating meat because of my influence.


    But, it's not so much the waiting staff I have the issue with, it's more to do with just being able to pick something straight from the menu without having to alter anything or answer anyone's questions - so, minimal fuss and a bit of invisibility please.


    (like being able to pick up a ready made sandwich in a supermarket for once, or a bar of chocolate, or order a roll in a bakery or something else equally mainstream).


    I wouldn't buy a leather jacket but if a jacket had a small strip of leather it wouldn't put me off.

    There have been a few items that I've not bought because of that small leather toggle or zipper tag. It's incredibly irritating that an otherwise well made garment has that shit on it.


    Flatulence is a common side effect of a change in diet especially to one that is higher in fibre, it usually goes after a couple of weeks as long as you maintain a similar diet. If you eat a lot of beans one week then not for a few then you won't get past it.

    Yup it varies, and my diet varies - I'm not consistently eating the same thing - It's hard enough if I eat chickpea-based food more than twice a week.


    Bamboo clothing is the way forward. That said, how much new clothing do you buy?

    A fair bit when I can afford it, but I'm really fussy and hate online clothes shopping - nothing I ever buy online fits my shape.


    Also it's really bloody tough finding a non-wool suit unless it's from a cheap shop like Primark, and then the chances are it won't fit me properly. Same applies for overcoats too.


    I think ultimately I'm feeling the frustration of the effort ... that almost everything I do, from food to clothing to household products needs thinking about. Sometimes I just don't wanna think about stuff or research or read labels. It really does consume me at times.

  • You`ve kind of become your own vegan police force policing yourself! If i were you i`d forget about the word vegan altogether and just eat/wear what you feel comfortable with. It`s your body and your conscience and everyone draws their line in a different place you just have to find where exactly yours is.


    I suppose it depends on what your main motivation is for becoming vegan is but for me it`s not some big philosophy. I just don`t want to contribute financially to an industry that i don`t agree with. I`m not really a social eater so that side of things doesn`t affect me much but i`ve certainly eaten non vegan stuff abroad at times when there`s been no other option an not really felt that guilty to be honest. You do what you can in a world where it`s impossible to be completely `vegan`..

  • It's great that you have persuaded a few people, probably a few more on here. If we all persuade a few maybe in a couple of generations things will be different.


    I would say I'm an all or nothing person as well (great song by the way). But everyone needs limits; I will eat chocolate that "may" contain milk. That said, I was pretty pissed off when a brand I had been eating for a while turned out to contain a milk derivative that I should have known of.


    But surely it's about the end result? If you try too hard and it puts you off then you have achieved nothing. If you do your best and relax your restrictions when it means you only have chips and lettuce to eat then you still do a lot of good.


    Edit: Eek, had to remove the video. Small faces - all or nothing. It kind of ruined the post.

  • You`ve kind of become your own vegan police force policing yourself! If i were you i`d forget about the word vegan altogether and just eat/wear what you feel comfortable with. It`s your body and your conscience and everyone draws their line in a different place you just have to find where exactly yours is.

    I agree and sometimes I really can't decide where my ethical stance lies ... on one hand I question whether every use of animals is wrong (including horse riding and guide dogs) and on the other hand I wonder if I should just say "fuck it, I'm past caring".


    So this really applies to me too, it's the way I've always been:


    I would say I'm an all or nothing person as well (great song by the way). But everyone needs limits; I will eat chocolate that "may" contain milk. That said, I was pretty pissed off when a brand I had been eating for a while turned out to contain a milk derivative that I should have known of.

    I'm not too worried about the cross-contamination disclaimer - but I still don't know how I feel about certain types of wool etc. For instance, if I buy a coat with 5% wool, is it any worse than buying a coat that's 100% polyester and potentially made in a sweatshop ... I simply don't know and haven't got the energy to adopt every single cause.


    I don't blindly follow the "animals are not ours" motto, as nothing on this earth is "ours" really - I kinda think at some point we have to have some sort of symbiotic relationship with our planet, I'm just not too sure where I draw the line.


    Another example, from a vegan (not a conservation) perspective is, why is saving the bees any more important than all the thousands of bugs we kill to produce cotton?


    I just seem to end up with more questions than answers. :S


    But surely it's about the end result? If you try too hard and it puts you off then you have achieved nothing. If you do your best and relax your restrictions when it means you only have chips and lettuce to eat then you still do a lot of good.

    Yup, 'tis a very good point :)

  • why is saving the bees any more important than all the thousands of bugs we kill to produce cotton?


    I hadn't thought of that one!


    It is all terribly confusing and we could debate about it forever. As you know, I've been in Amsterdam this last week, and the number of meat dishes and people ordering meat has made me come to a conclusion - there isn't a chance in hell that people are going to stop eating meat! Ever. At least, not until something really terrible happens. I went to a French restaurant with my colleagues and we were served a "duckling" appetiser. I didn't have one, obviously but, duckling?!!


    You can't change the world single-handedly. I get that it's not necessarily about the individual but, we all work together. However, if it makes your life stressful or makes you physically or mentally ill, or stops you enjoying your life, I don't think it's worth it - not for the label, at least. You can decide what to do and what not to do based on your own beliefs, needs and limitations. It's good to do something. It's even just good to care and be aware.

  • Not for the label certainly. However it would stress me out much more to eat duckling than to get snotty with an uppity waiter that isn't even willing to ask a chef whether they can veganise a meal for me, in my experience chefs are happy to change things. One of my best experiences was in a restaurant run by ex bullfighters in Spain, I had convinced myself it was lettuce & chips but the owner asked the chef to come talk to me & he then made me the most amazing salad (& chips).


    But yes as you say Starling, it is good to do something. I really do hope that over time things will change, people will see the error of their ways and start to treat animals with compassion, perhaps realising they are sentient & deserve more. Till then we do the best we can.

  • I don't think it's worth it - not for the label, at least.

    I think what I mean by the label thing is, when I started just I didn't really consider how many things I would need to change - food and clothing were kinda obvious ... but when I started to really think deeply about it, I realised that by following this lifestyle, I really would start to alienate myself from much more of the mainstream - and it's that alienation bit I find quite tough.


    Also, pretty much instantly I started to notice just how sanctimonious some vegans can be - even more than many meateaters. Like it's not good enough to do your best.


    Veganism (well at least online veganism) seems to be full of condescending twats who love to point out how there's a smidgen of animal product in *insert product here* or how *company x* is unacceptable because they use palm oil, or something else.


    When I was a vegetarian, meateaters would occasionally accuse me of hypocrisy for some pretty fair reasons - since I've quit other animal products I see more of that coming from other vegans. who seem to be playing a game of "I'm more vegan than you".


    I swear that some of them live in trees, eat bark and wear leaves. :D

  • I've been lucky to avoid people like that. I'm pretty anal with my own veganism but with others I feel I'd rather not alienate them and anything they do is better than nothing. I think most people are too lazy or don't have time to go fully vegan, it's hard work. I was looking at some American recipes earlier, there was soya/tofu in almost everything, I try to avoid it as much as possible but it's not surprising that meat eaters get a negative view of us when that is the first thing they see when searching for vegan recipes.


    I don't think you'll ever escape the sanctimonious, so, do you think you could be a carefree vegan that is able to ignore that little piece of leather labelling & perhaps accepts there might be some milk in his sauce while abroad, or will you throw in the towel?

  • so, do you think you could be a carefree vegan that is able to ignore that little piece of leather labelling & perhaps accepts there might be some milk in his sauce while abroad, or will you throw in the towel?

    I don't think I have an answer - because somewhere in my mind I have the idea that the former implies the latter.


    It's almost like, if I don't do it right then I'm just not doing it - and I think it's my propensity towards getting it right at high cost is where the problem lies ... I do think I need to relax my expectations of myself as there are certainly a lot of unresolved issues that nobody seems know the answer to.


    One thing though, is that I prefer to make decisions when I'm feeling inspired rather than frustrated. I don't think eating an egg (for instance) out of frustration is a good idea, as frustration rarely lasts.

  • You know vegans get stick, and some allergy people get stick, and to be fair if your running a busy small pub it will be difficult to keep a check on whats in what, but an old bloke in the village was aheavy meat eater beer drinker etc, worked hard etc, a real old school builder type almost dogmatic type bloke a man who d have probably scoffed at allergies etc, guess what a few years ago he thought he had cancer of the colon, turns out he had a gluten allergy so now he cant eat bread, drink beer etc, so he drinks cider and gets gluten free bread, etc etc, just shows some people are intollerant but if its an allergy people are tollerant, if i had a business id do all i coould economically possible to cater for a reasonable range but i guess it would be difficult.

  • So, with all that in mind, I wonder if I've just become a little too fixated on the "vegan" label to the point of ignoring issues like conservation, the environment and, of course, my own health (including emotional health).


    Paul I think your statement above is perhaps the best summary of all the points that you make. Making a choice to try and live by is one thing but becoming fixated on it is another. I personally wont think any less of you (or anyone else) if you decided to wind back the vegan a tad, or have to compromise because it is nigh on impossible not to. The world we live in today makes being totally vegan impossible unless you have tons of dosh.


    Ian

  • I think in some ways the term vegan is somewhat flawed because of the questions it raises.


    The Vegan Society says something like the following ..


    "... a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose."


    I think for me the problem is defining "as far as possible and practicable" as I don't know what that actually is ... I mean, it's possible to climb a mountain, but it's not exactly practicable in most circumstances. Even Donald Watson, the inventor of the word "vegan" was a keen photographer (gelatin film) and violinist (probably using a horsehair bow).


    So, and while this is somewhat philosophical, if the ideal of veganism is to eliminate animal suffering as much as "possible and practicable", then by that definition, even non-vegans could be classed as vegans.


    *implodes* :insane:

  • I had the above discussion with a long term vegan once - he said there is no limit - it just cant be done - the term is merely arbitrary in many ways - you end up questioning over and over and like you say probably end up living in a cave. So many things can be traced back to animal origin or involvement its impossible to draw a line. I had to stop chewing my head up about it because it was making me so unhappy - the more I read the more upset I got about all the bad shit and that I couldn't do anything about it. It really is your choice, I think vegan is a convenient term to use for labelling food products, or as an explanation of your BASIC dietary needs but beyond that it gets muddy. I worry about EVERYTHING where I buy crochet hooks from, is this charity shop better than that one, is eating stuff shaped like sausages as bad as real ones cos the intention is the same blah blah, seriously being in my head is hard work. I think its a kind of *stop and see the bigger picture* thing- we are lucky that we *have* these choices - it really is a first world issue that we can be this selective and even have these discussions. I don't have an answer for you - in fact this probably hasn't helped at all - but anyway -thats my theory.

  • I quite like Linda McCartney veggie sausages - I mean, when have sausages ever looked like meat anyway? Plus they make a change from tofu, nut roast and chickeas.


    Also (apart from the stodge aspect) is it really any different to wearing synthetic leather, wool or fur?