This was meant to be a straight forward style post showcasing my new Vegan DM’s and distressed khaki jumper from Missguided, but I’ve had an urge to touch on something important inbetween the snaps while I have your gaze.
You will have noticed an increase in vegan/cruelty free posts on here and my YouTube over the last 12 months. This isn’t because I have made this kind lifestyle choice myself, but because even though I haven’t/can’t, I believe the heart of the message is positive and something I should be encouraging others to consider via my videos and posts. While none of my old friends that reside locally are vegetarian or vegan, a huge percentage of my friends I know through the music industry are either making the transition, or have been living this lifestyle for a while. When such a large chunk of your social circle makes an adaptation to their lives and speaks so frequently and passionate about it, it’s impossible to ignore, even if part of you really wants to. What I mean is, that truth can be inconvenient and gruesome, it can force you to stop being so selfish, and it may even mean you giving up something you have really enjoyed your whole life.
However, if you do as your vegan friends all urge and sit through all the documentaries regarding the meat trade and agricultures impact on the environment, it’s very hard to go back to living how you were before. I have one friend who dated what they call a ‘hardcore Vegan’ and activist, and was forced to watch numerous videos showing disgusting animal cruelty conducted within the meat/fur trade, and he said from that point onwards he knew he couldn’t eat it again. He felt physically sick at the thought of having a burger, something which he would have salivated over and relished on a regular occasion prior to educating himself.
And that’s the key point here…education. Many people are actively avoiding such videos, as well as all the articles that are attempting to inform us of what’s going on and how its not only effecting the animals, but how it will (and is) affecting us humans and our planet. It’s the ignorance is bliss mindset.
Like most things that people are stubborn, or at least slightly blinkered about, it’s all down to conditioning and nurture. I grew up in a household that would regularly serve meat, not just for Sunday Roast, but during the week too – a steak, bangers or a pork chop or fish (which I’d have to smother in ketchup because I hated it). I was also always encouraged to have large glasses of milk too, being told it would help me be strong and have good teeth and bones.
And that’s where the difficulty starts. When we’re young we not only do we take on the things our parents say (or anyone around us for that matter) as fact – and they may well have been ‘fact’ at that time or in their opinion – we also develop our tastes, preferances and habits. Old habits die hard is a cliche phrase for a reason. Things you have been doing/eating for years CAN be really hard to give up. Some people no only have to go against all they have learned or believed, all the influence and opinion of their familys, but also against the cravings and tastes they’ve developed over their life as a non vegan.
Now I know this isn’t a reason to stay ignorant to the horrors that are happening, and the very real threats to our planet, but I’m just trying to explain why for some people it’s not been that instant switch it would be in an ideal world.
I also know that for some people the transition has been extremely easy and swift because they love fruit and vegetables, and they don’t fall in to the fussy-eater catagory. They’ve always loved plates full of roasted vegetables, snack on fruit, and already enjoy vegetable alternatives to many dishes. Some of these lucky people find it very hard to understand why others find it such a tricky decision, and why they believe veganism as limiting in terms of what they can eat.
I’ll use my own story as example to show that there are people that would find the transition a bit more difficult, and potentially ill-advised.
I was undiagnosed, but quite poorly for over a decade. During this time while doctors tried to understand what was going on with my body and causing the extreme IBS, fatigue, rashes and so on, I was put on some very extreme diets. There was the stone age diet, and one that didn’t allow me to eat anything that had touched plastic, then there was one that was so restrictive I became dangerously underweight that I felt even more ill than I did before seeking help from the doctor. Some of these diets were so limited I was eating pretty much the same thing for every meal, which meant that eventually some of these foods became repugnant to me, and even wretch-worthy. While I was a guinea pig for clueless GP’s guesswork, I racked up a huge list of foods that I associated with these awful diets, the repetitive nature of my meals made foods I once loved into foods I despised.
Now with a diagnosis and awareness of the foods that are genuinely bad for me (the ones I am intolerant to and unhelpful when twinned with my various ailments) there are even more foods which I should try and avoid – many of them being fruits, vegetables, seasoning, spices, grains. In short, lot of stuff that makes up a vegan diet.
Whenever I’ve posted videos about my health issues there has always been at least one comment saying ‘You should go Vegan, I’m sure you’d feel a lot better’…or something of that ilk. While I appreciate people taking the time to leave what they believe to be helpful advice, this isn’t a one formula fits all scenario. It’s a fact that a lot of people would feel better by cutting out cows milk, It’s not great for sinuses or skin, and I know that many people with IBS find it extremely difficult to digest red meat, however the assumption that going vegan will cure everything bothers me somewhat, particularly when they don’t have full understanding of someone’s medical history. I also feel like I can’t say this because people will think I’m making excuses. However every body is unique, everyone has different intolerances, sensitivites, more prone to certain conditions, different mental states etc so one diet isn’t going to work seamlessly and perfectly for every single human. So before you demonise someone for not being a vegan, please consider that there may well be a well informed and valid reason behind it, and it doesn’t mean they don’t want to be, and it doesn’t mean that they don’t encourage others to be.
I drink rice milk, and Si and I have turned to Linda McCartney and Quorn when making things like burgers, bolognase, curry’s and so on. I don’t drink and I’m slowly but surely trying to swap out my make up for cruelty free and vegan alternatives.
But if you saw the list of foods that I should try and avoid in order to prevent the life ruining level of IBS, the insightly and confidence crushing rashes and reactions, and career hindering lack of energy, then you’d see that it is pretty hard for me to ever be 100% Vegan. While I can try my best at home, when Si who is a great cook can create and invent dishes that are both vegan and kind to my issues, vegan options in restaurants, and even vegan restaurants, will never cater to my very unique restrictions. Most, if not all, of the dishes you’ll find on Vegan menu’s will contain ingredients that I need to avoid for a few weeks every month or two when my Salicylate levels are too high, so if I’m out all day I may well have to eat something that contains an animal ingredient to ensure I have enough energy to get through a day.
My vegan friends often post shocking information on social media, within it often calling out meat eaters for their selfishness, and although I admire their dedication for spreading awareness, every time they do I end up feeling guilty, even though I’m pretty confident I’m not in the position healthwise to be able to make the transition fully. In the last few weeks though quite a few people have reached out to my having noticed me cooking vegan meals in vlogs, presumed I had become 100% Vegan, and actually voiced concern. I’ve been sent numerous links and research articles that outline that it’s not actually reccommended to become Vegan if you have CFS, something which I already suspected. I felt a weight lifted when they confirmed what I felt already.
Now I’m finally getting to the point I wanted to make in this post. Although I won’t be fully Vegan for the forseeable future, it doesn’t mean I can’t make changes in that direction. I will carry on drinking rice milk, using vegan spread and trying out all the vegan options I can find in the supermarkets. I will also carry on trying to find cruelty free and vegan beauty products that work for me – (because of my allergies some I have tried have caused bad reactions). My transition may never been complete, and each level of progress may be slow, but it’s still a step in the right direction, and surely every bit helps.
Some people may call be hypocrite by encouraging others to try being Vegan, but if it is possible for you to do it, maintain your health and do it intelligently and safely, then this can only be a positive move. And by the by, vegan food can be absolutely delicious – you only have to see the dinners Si cooks me on the Hungry Sizzle Instagram, my friend Leila’s amazing cakes, and my snaps from Champs Diner in New York to confirm that. What I’m saying is, for a lot of people, it won’t even feel like a sacrifice.
The cruelty that happens within the meat industry is largely because of the huge demand for meat. The sheer level of produce that’s needed to cater to consumers means that ethics, care, kindness and ensuring that the animals have a nice and comfortable life, has largely gone out of the window. Even many of the products that have labels suggesting they have been farmed in a moralsistic way, are masking a gruesome truth with clever/deceptive wording. So if we work to reduce this amount of people eating/buying meat, we may stand a better chance of conditions for these animals improving.
Tonight it came up on conversation at a girly night with my oldest and dearest gal pals. One of them is a personal trainer, and she said that she’s frequently encountering people who are using clean eating, plant based diets, and veganism to mask their eating disorders. It’s a new way for them to limit and control what they eat, but make it appear they are doing it for responsible, healthy or kind reasons. She said it has increased noticeably in the last year or so, and this is something that’s actually concerned me about some people I’ve come across on social media.
You can’t argue with the fact that it has become a bit trendy to become Vegan. A lot of people in the public eye, people who have a big following or who are considerd cool have had a huge impact on the amount of people adopting this lifestyle. Of course using their influence and power to encouarge people to go vegan seems like an extremely positive and inspiring thing, but there is a danger that should be considered.
If you adopt a new diet, of any kind, it’s important to ensure you are still getting all your body needs to function properly. So once again we are back to ‘education.’ If we should be encouraging as many people as possible to go meat free/vegan, I believe we should also be encouraging people to educate themselves on ingredients, the vitamins and nutrients they contain, and how to create balanced meals that will maintain every aspect of their health in this new lifestyle, one which may be very different to what you body has become accustomed to.
There are many people that have chosen to become vegan, or felt compelled to make the transition, to imitate the lifestyle of their idols. Unfortunately many of them don’t have the cooking skills or knowledge about ingredients to make this change in a safe and responsible way, and end up making themselves ill.
If this is a move we should all aim to make not only to consider the welfare of the animals, but for the future of our planet, perhaps it’s something that should be taught in schools, only with classes regarding safety online and body confidence.
We could have cooking classes at school that teach pupils to cook dishes that contain all the vital elements to ensure our body is strong an has the ability to grow and repair. The kids could be taught to what non animal products contain protein, zinc, calcium etc. Perhaps if we want to go vegan we should be able to access nutrionists or experts who can guide us.
A few of my friends who have been vegan for a while, and are extremely dedicated to it, have had to take a break because they found themselves run dowd, faint and fatigued. I don’t think this is because their body can’t cope with being vegan, I think it’s probably because they’ve not been making sure their vegan meals are giving them all the things their body needs. For some people it may take a bit more time and care to curate and create meals that are vegan, but also delicious and delivering health. If it’s new to them shopping may take a bit more time for a while, coming up with winning combinations make be a case of trial and error, and they may have to learn completely new culinary skills.
Rather than hurrying people to make complete this big change in their lives in an instant, I think we should be supportive of their decision, but try and make sure they have the ability to shop sensibly, kit out their cupboards with all the necessary ingredients, and equip them with the skills to ensure this is positive for their health as it is for their morals. Perhaps we can point them in the direction of helpful websites, books, or vegan chefs. We don’t want people going vegan and living on a diet of mash potato every day (as great as that sounds) just because they don’t know how to make vegetables and meat alternatives delicious. If they know they’re fussy eaters and going vegan will limit their already restricted palette, then they may want to ask their doctor for advice on supplements.
I hope what I’ve said in this post appears and balanced and thought out, but if anyone reading thinks I’ve said anything that’s complete garbage or inaccurate, please feel to let me know, because as I said, it’s all about education, and I don’t have a problem with anyone trying to give me important or helpful factual information on these complex subjects.
If like me you don’t feel you can immediately make the change for health reasons, then there’s plenty you still can do. Looks at the products you have in your house and see if there are opportunities to swap for cruelty free/vegan options. Next time you make a shoe or accessorise purchase consider whether you really need to opt for leather. Perhaps you can just reduce to amount of animal products you consume. Perhaps you can support your friend who is a wonderful vegan cook. There’s always something you can do.
Now let’s talk fashion….This faux fur coat is from Missguided a few years ago and feels like your getting a lovely hug. It doesn’t really look like real fur, it’s got that trashy 90’s Richie Manic Street Preachers vibe, and I love that. There are plenty of fabulous faux fur brands that do have exactly the same texture, feel and look of real fur (like Jakke) so there’s no reason to buy fur in 2016.
The chocker is also vegan and from Regal Rose and has that western vibe. The khaki distressed jumper from missguided looks fab set against Autumn hues, but if you’re clumsy like me it is a dangerous item to wear. I’ve found myself attached to trees, gates, door knobs and kitchen drawers. After one wear you will have had a near injury experience or have a top that requires some repair work. The jeans are from Primark and have a distressed knee without exposing the skin the chill. On my face we have a complete cruelty free face using Lime Crime, Kat Von D, Tarte and Inka,
Let’s just talk about these Vegan DM’s
quickly. They’re not the stunning Cambridge Brush ones I’d wanted for my
birthday, but that’s a whole other very longwinded story, however these
classic black ones are fast becoming my everyday favourite. They have
the iconic and recogniseable appearance without the use of leather, and I
think they are far better for it. While making a more responsible
purchase you are also being kinder to your feet. I’ve heard horror
stories about the breaking in process of Dr.Martens, but I am yet to
suffer any pain or injury. I wore them for the first time on Thursday
walking round London and attending a gig, and on quite a hilly walk in
the woods today, and still no blister. I can only deduce that the
materials used in place of the leather is softer and more malleable.
It’s a win win scenario here.
Missguided Distressed Khaki Jumper
Vegan Regal Rose choker
Missguided Faux Fur Coat
Primark Skinny jeans
Regal Rose Choker
So let me know your thought on what I’ve mulled over here? Are you already a Vegan, how easy was the transition for you? Are you thinking about it?
If you’d rather keep your comments fashion based, feel free to let me know what you think of this outfit. But it would be interesting to know whether you’d consider looking for faux leather items instead?
Photos taken by me on my Lumix GM1