THE VEGAN PLEDGE: FEELING GOOD!
It happened a few weeks ago. I was walking into my local supermarket when a board outside attracted my eye. “The Boy and the Lamb,” read the sign.
It sounded heart-warming. I prepared myself for a tale of a young boy who had, perhaps, found an orphaned young lamb, adrift in the unseasonal British snowy Easter, and who was now raising and caring it for it. A tale to warm the heart, I thought with a smile.
But, alas, my smile, like the snow, soon froze over on closer inspection of the poster. The Boy and the Lamb was not the charming story conjured up by my imagination, but rather to me, the more stomach-churning account of a well-known chef who, as a young boy, travelled to Provence and learned how to cook lamb using garlic, rosemary and anchovies and who is now grown-up and doing it for a living.
And, just to ram the point home, instead of the photo of the sweet little lamb I had been hoping to see, I was instead assailed by a picture of a huge leg of roast lamb. As if this was supposed to make my mouth water and make me want to run into the supermarket and raid the contents of their meat counter. I think not, rather it had the effect of making me wanted to run out and head for my local greengrocer – which I would have done, if there was still a local greengrocer left that hadn’t been swallowed up by supermarkets. But that’s another story.
But a greengrocer? Some people ask me on hearing that I’m a vegan: “Don’t carrots have feelings?” There’s an old chestnut if ever there was one. Honestly, if I had a carrot for every time someone asked me that question, why, all my jewellery would be 24 carrot by now!
I can honestly say that I don’t know if carrots have feelings. They may have vibrations and they are certainly living when they are in the earth. But do I know how they feel when they are pulled out of the earth? Grinded to a pulp in a food processor? No, I don’t know, I guess you’d have to ask the carrot.
But I do know that animals have feelings. I’ve no doubt about that. I’ve held audiences with cows in a field when they’ve approached me and stood around me in a friendly and interested manner; I’ve had a flock of sheep run down the hillside and bleat at me, I’ve had a mother pig proudly approach me accompanied by nine delightful, muddy piglets and it’s been a wonderful, wonderful feeling. And isn’t that what it’s all about at the end of the day? Feelings.
From a young age, it never felt right to be eating meat. “This is meat and we eat it?” I questioned myself and my shepherd’s pie at the age of six. It didn’t feel right to be eating an animal when I loved animals but I was told by my elders that I had to eat meat “to grow up big and strong.”
It was only later on that I realised, despite having been forced to eat meat during my childhood, when finally grown to my full height of 5ft 1½, that I hadn’t grown up big and strong after all!
Well, although I may have had to toe the line when living at home, as soon as I left, I set upon the path of becoming vegetarian. When I left home and moved to London, one of the proudest moments of my life was to write in the dietary request book in the hostel I was staying in was “No meat, no fish please”. There then followed three months of cheese salad from the unimaginative hostel caterers before I could finally move out and start catering for myself.
Of course, it wasn’t quite cheese salad all the time. During that time, I went on a date with a guy who I really liked but who took me out to dinner and insisted on ordering veal for himself while I tucked into a dish of ratatouille. “But veal?” I protested to him. “Don’t you know where veal comes from? Don’t you know what happens to the little baby calf?” Needless to say, he didn’t stick around for very long!
And, of course, the other perennial question we are always asked is: “Where do you get your protein from?” Well, after over 20 years as a vegan, I’m still here so I must have been getting the protein somewhere: from nuts and seeds and lentils and beans and pulses and tofu and ….
So, if you too feel that actually you don’t want to be eating animals and you like this idea of becoming vegan but aren’t too sure how to go about it, then where do you start?
Well, one excellent way is to join the Vegan Pledge. If you live in London, this is an wonderful initiative run every year by the Vegan Campaigns group http://www.vegancampaigns.org.uk/ Participants pledge to go vegan for a month and are invited to two free days of weekend workshops, to be held this year in central London on Sunday 12th May and Sunday 9th June 2013. The workshops include talks about health and nutrition, cookery demonstrations where you’ll learn how to make simple, delicious vegan recipes, free recipe leaflets, films about what happens to the animals in the meat industry, a free delicious lunch and an ongoing support system from a vegan buddy who will support you through the whole process. You can find out more details about this year’s Vegan Pledge in London at http://www.vegancampaigns.org.uk/pledge
Of course, there are also Vegan Pledges taking place around the world. In the US, for instance, the Peace Advocacy Network (PAN) runs a 30 days vegan pledge in a number of cities. Details at http://www.panveganpledge.org/signup.html. Or if you’re in Australia, check out Animals Australia’s Veg Pledge at http://www.animalsaustralia.org/features/veg-week/pledge.php
And even if you can’t get to a vegan pledge event in person, you can still join in with an online pledge, to start at anytime, with the Vegan Society at http://www.vegansociety.com/veganpledge.aspx
And, if you want to meet fellow vegans who share your feelings, if you’re in London, you can join us for regular events involving vegan food, drinks, pot-lucks and a whole lot more at the London Vegan Meetup http://www.londonveganmeetup.co.uk/ or check out the Meetup website for details of vegan events near you. http://www.meetup.com
Well, I’m off for a carrot juice now. I still don’t know if they have feelings, but I have good feelings about it and I know that, on a vegan diet, like the song, “I’m feeling good ….”
For more details about the Vegan Pledge and veganism, please visit:
Vegan Campaigns, London http://www.vegancampaigns.org.uk/
Vegan Campaigns Pledge, London: http://www.vegancampaigns.org.uk/pledge
Vegan Society UK http://www.vegansociety.com/
Vegan Society UK online pledge http://www.vegansociety.com/veganpledge.aspx
London Vegan Meetup for vegan social events in London http://www.londonveganmeetup.co.uk/
Vegan Pledge in the US: http://www.panveganpledge.org/signup.html.
American Vegan Society http://www.americanvegan.org/
Animals Australia Veg Pledge