Black and white labels aren’t productive
By Hannah Jump
The prospects for our planet are a bit shit – livestock produce more than 526000kg of excreted waste per second. This all adds up, livestock and their byproducts account for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions per year. And if you don’t like being greedy, then think about the fact that the land required to feed a meat-eater is 18 times more than that needed to feed a vegan.
We need to be more vegan. I’m not suggesting that everyone should be vegan. I am suggesting that everyone should be more vegan. If everyone reduced their consumption of animal products the world would be a happier place. But the fact is that ‘doing’ vegan intimidates many who have considered it. Veganism is often perceived as a fad – one belonging to ‘middle-class’ hippies and health obsessed ‘clean eaters’. But it needn’t be.
I think that more people would consume fewer animal products if they knew that they didn’t have to commit to being a full-time vegan. The idea of consuming absolutely no animal products under any circumstances freaks people out. But diets need not be binary categories; there is a spectrum from eating meat to being vegan.
Humans create identity by organising themselves into groups. Our behaviour – what we do and don’t do – helps to enforce our identity. It helps us to know where we stand, and (more particularly) where we don’t. Freud argued that communities enforce their identity by behaving in a relatively harmless, but nonetheless aggressive, way to those most similar to them. This is an instinctual process which makes sure that the unique core of the community identity is not threatened.
This identity-preserving phenomenon seems to extend to those with different dietary choices. Vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters all debate with one another. Vegans and vegetarians might feel awkward ‘coming out’, and those they are telling might feel the need to defend their love for a steak sandwich. In this case, the process of grouping and othering is harmful as it stops people trying different things. Sometimes, it’s okay to want to be a bit like ‘them’, but still retain the core of ‘us’.
So forget the binary labels; everyone just be a bit vegan. For those of you out there who love bacon, you can eat vegan food all the time, and just eat bacon when you want bacon.
For those of you that can’t give up chocolate, keep chocolate in your life but give up animal products. For the cheese lover, how about cutting down on dairy milk? All it takes is creativity.
Here is what you can do to be more vegan:
- Begin by eating two vegan meals a day. Meera Sodha’s recipes are simple, inexpensive, and delicious if you want some inspiration, but you will probably find that a lot of the things you already cook can be easily turned vegan. Try stir fry with cashew nuts or tofu (I recommend Taifun tofu) for a quick meal, bean burgers or a bean chilli. In general, beans and pulses are great – high in protein and versatile, cheap and tasty. Breakfast is a good place to start. Porridge can easily be vegan with some non-dairy milk (which will also add a new flavour), and peanut butter is cheap and really tasty on toast.
- Don’t put cheese on top of everything, sometimes a dollop of hummus or a sprinkling of nuts or seeds adds that extra satisfaction. Sometimes you will realise you just don’t need it. Then, when you eat cheese you will appreciate it more – trust me!
- Most places now do a vegan option, so why not try it and forget the faff of not being able to decide what to eat. A lot of Indian restaurants will serve many vegan options as the norm, and they won’t be pricey. If there is a vegan cake that looks good (lots of places now have an option) then why not give it a go?
- Be a vegan when you snack. Lots of foods are ‘accidentally vegan’, including Oreos and Hobnobs. Nuts are filling and good for you – Lidl nuts are some of the best value. Try dark chocolate. I genuinely think Booja Booja’s ice cream is better than dairy ice cream. Bake Nigella’s vegan chocolate cake, if it is good enough for Nigella…
- Think about what you buy – do you need leather trainers, or will canvas ones do the same job? Matt and Natt make some super cool bags, or if you want something even more ethical try m24’s bags, made out of recycled truck tarpaulin.
Finally, here is a shout out to some of my favourite vegan and vegan-friendly eateries:
- Try Jai Krishna for brilliant thali (London)
- The mushroom tapenade sandwich at Kin tastes really meaty (London)
- Vegan Yes manages to make Korean Italian fusion food work (honestly!) (London)
- Hoxton Beach falafel trucks serve up brilliant streat food (London)
- Try fine food at Food for Friends – one of my favourite restaurants ever (Brighton)
- Iydea is a great place for a salad or vegan breakfast (Brighton)
- Moshimo makes vegan sushi that is more than just cucumber rolls (Brighton)
- Shout out to Mama Ghanoushe for bringing great vegan options to Hassocks (Nr Brighton) and The Corner House for feeding me vegan cake in Berwick- Upon- Tweed
- Cafe Thrive offers many creative vegan choices, and the Art House is a community cafe that offers brilliant mezzes (Southampton)
- The Bagelry fuels Liverpool with vegan cream cheese bagels (Liverpool)