“I’ll never be vegan” (yet I am)

If you asked me a few years back what I thought about being or becoming vegan, I probably would have laughed. I couldn’t live without my meat, fish, eggs and mostly: cheese! But by now I’m eating (mostly) vegan for almost 3 years already. Why? Because I became aware…

A few years back I got an invite to a ‘vegan festival’ here on the island. I told the girl who invited me that I was considering eating a bit less meat and fish. She told me it was really important to not eat it at all. To be honest, my first reaction was “Yeah… I know you vegans always trying to convince everyone.”. But then she said something that made me think. She said: “If you’re not vegan, it’s because you’re unaware, or you just don’t care.”. I didn’t want to belong to any of those groups, so I thought it might be a good idea to at least make myself aware.

She suggested that I’d watch ‘Earthlings’. I didn’t feel much for it at first, because I didn’t want anything to spoil my good appetite for yummy spareribs, bacon, shrimps, eggs and again: cheese. But then I realised that if a documentary could ruin my appetite, then maybe there was some truth in it that I was unaware of? Why didn’t I want myself to be aware?

I didn’t immediately watch the documentary, but her comment was still in my thoughts. At that moment I was mostly thinking about how to live without cheese, as my aunt had just came to visit me and she brought me a big piece of some of the best Dutch farmers cheese I had in a long time. And then it happened that while I was driving, I decided to stop at a supermarket where I had never been before. In that particular supermarket there was a whole range of vegan cheeses! I had to laugh… I took it as a sign and bought a variety of vegan cheeses and prepared myself to watch the documentary, from which I sensed it wouldn’t be a pleasant watch.

It turned out that ‘Earthlings’ is an amazing documentary, which is not just showing a lot of horrific images of animals getting slaughtered, but there’s an important theory in it. It states that after racism and sexism – in which it is believed we can do anything we want to another race or sexe because we think we are superior to them – now we’re practising “specicism”. Which means that because we think we are superior to animals, we can use them to our own benefit: for entertainment, for science, for clothing, for breading them as pets and for food. It continues to show how animals do have emotions, family bonds and experience pain. Maybe in a different way than us humans, but it’s undeniable.

I’ve been crying during almost the whole documentary. Of course I knew that for the meat/fish I ate animals were killed, but I never gave it any thought. It was completely normal to me, as to most people, as this is how we’re being raised. But now I fully realised, fully became aware of it, I lost all appetite to eat any meat/fish or even cheese again! Who was I to decide an animal should have a shitty life, being taken away from their family and being killed, just for my pleasure of eating it?

Regarding cheese: did you know that for a cow to give milk, it needs to be pregnant first? I didn’t, or never really thought about it. As a kid we learn “a cow gives milk”, but it only does after being pregnant! Just like any other mammal. And the milk is meant for her baby. But as the milk industry wants to get as much milk as possible to sell or to make it into cheese, they take away her baby as soon as possible. Also they milk the cow over and over and over again, to keep the milk going. Where a cow would give 2500 liter of milk per year in 1910, now a milkcow gives up to 12.000 liter per year! (source: Wikipedia) Cows are being used as a milk factory, to the point they can’t even stand on their legs anymore. Goodbye appetite for cheese! I couldn’t even finish the Dutch farmers cheese I still had… I decided to give it away to someone who’d happily eat it, as throwing it in the trash felt even worse.

So after watching ‘Earthlings’ I gave up eating all animal products! And I never even missed it…

Almost 3 years later, I’ve only ate meat once again: my first time flying long distance and having forgotten to specify my dietary wishes. So there was only a choice between chicken or fish. I choose the chicken meal, but it didn’t taste good. Sometimes, when eating out or eating with friends, I still eat something that contains milk, butter, eggs or cheese, mostly out of convenience, or simply not having another option. But when I can, I choose a good vegan alternative.

It turns out that there’s a lot to explore in the vegan cuisine! Food doesn’t need to become boring, tasteless or difficult. It just needs a little adjustment and some creativity. There’s a lot of amazing vegan recipes out there on the internet and I haven’t lost my joy for cooking nor eating! As both cooking and eating good food are still part of my passions, I love to start sharing some of my favourite recipes with you here on my website.

PS: I’m not trying to convince anyone into becoming vegan, as I know for most people (just like for me until a few years back) it will only have the opposite effect. But if you’re ready to become aware: watch ‘Earthlings’ (you can find it on YouTube with subtitles in any language of your choice) and be prepared to change your opinion on eating anything that comes from an animal. And even if you don’t, make sure to try the recipes I share, as they’re just too good not to!