Can you remember Ben, my friend Ben? July last year he challenged himself to the one month Vegan Challenge & he was kind enough to let me blog about it; Ben’s Story: The Beginning, Ben’s Story: Week Two., Ben’s Story: Week Three., Ben’s Story: End.
I couldn’t believe a year has passed since then, so I politely asked him if he could let us know what, if anything had changed.
So apparently it’s been a year. Hana had to remind me because it stopped being a challenge extremely quickly, and soon became the norm.
Becoming a vegan coincided with me moving to Berlin. It had felt like the next logical step after my year of vegetarianism and I certainly don’t intend to go back.
I can’t say it’s been a perfect year. There have been very occasional moments when I’m half way through chewing something that I’ve assumed is safe, discovered that it isn’t and carried on anyway. There have been moments of weakness, giving into my sweet tooth and secretly slamming a piece of chocolate cake into my face at a birthday party after having a few too many. There was the time that a waiter inexplicably served me a vegan pizza and sprinkled parmesan cheese ontop. But my rare lapses have been chiefly down to my disdain for waste and hatred of complaining in restaurants rather than any lack of commitment to my new lifestyle.
I get asked a lot of questions: “What about honey?”
“What about eggs if you keep the hens yourself?”
“What about wearing wool”?
Quite often at first, I didn’t have an answer to some of these, but I was always learning. I still am. Researching stuff and talking to others about their views leads you down so many different paths and I am constantly finding out about new things. I am always asking myself how I feel about this, that and the other and this doesn’t just end with veganism.
I’m pretty sure that the swimming shorts I bought from Primark today were produced, in all likelihood, to the substantial detriment of a worker. Are these human beings less important than the animals I don’t eat? Why aren’t I taking a stand against their suffering? There’s perhaps an argument to be made that ultimately, even in the face of dire personal circumstances, a human will have an element of free will, but it brings me on to my main point.
Once you start to ask yourself why you do certain things and how you feel, a whole new world of possibilities opens up.
“If I watched, first hand, the journey of this leg of lamb from the farm to the plate, would I still eat it?” – no I wouldn’t. It’s so easy to pretend things aren’t happening, things that we aren’t entirely comfortable with, we aren’t directly involved in them and therefore ignorance is bliss. There came a time, for me anyway, where I didn’t want to just keep ignoring things that made me feel uncomfortable.
And that’s what this is ultimately about. We all try to take actions every day in our lives that we can live with and we hope to look into the mirror and be reasonably satisfied that the person staring back at you has done some good, perhaps made some small difference.
So in parting I would just say that it’s ok to challenge your beliefs. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself questions. You may not have the answer right now but it’s so important that you ask in the first place.
It is great to see that Ben is strong with his Veganism, as his friend I am super proud! As for making mistakes it’s understandable, someone offered me a crisp the other day, I they were Vegan & they said yes, so I had one, luckily I didn’t like them. Later when I looked at the pack I found out they contained milk, the person offering them to me didn’t do it on purpose, they just saw the ‘V’ & assumed I could have them. Of course I was annoyed but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. However I have never knowingly broken my Veganism, it’s something I couldn’t do!
Likewise I agree with Ben, it is a learning curve. It’s also knowing where to draw the line. I’m Vegan 100%, no animal products are in my life, I don’t use products tested on animals or wear anything that once belonged to an animal. I’m as green as I can possibly be, I live in a flat & I even grow a few of my own veggies. However there are still things I’m doing that aren’t the best for our world. Like Ben, I buy clothes from Primark! I don’t pay nearly enough attention to others human rights as I should.
However I know I’m doing something, in fact I’m doing more than most, & as I grow & learn I’ll continue to do more.