This subject has a lot of controversy to it. To make it easier let’s define some terms.
- A vegan– is the person who follows the practice of veganism. From my understanding this means restraining from eating meat and using products that, in their process of being made, harmed any animals. So, this includes, using vegan shampoo, vegan eye cream, vegan clothes and so on.
- A vegetarian– is the person who follows the practice of vegetarianism. Why is this different from veganism? Well, some vegetarian people still eat animal products even if it is not their meat. Some will eat cheese or eggs, some will even have fish. For example a vegetarian will eat honey but a vegan person will say no to it, because it comes from an animal.
- Plant based diet– this is not a practice. This is something that people choose to feel healthier after eating. Some will use it to lose weight and some will use it because of dietary restrictions. At the core of a plant based diet is a vegetarian mindset, but people will still have meat or other animal products if they feel like it.
I decided to find more about how it is to be vegan. So I asked Mark some questions about his life and how he goes about being a vegan.
I met Mark during my time working for Vermaat in one of the Booking.com offices, he is a 40 years old funny guy full of life with a hint of “whatever” in his attitude. .
He moved to Amsterdam in 2017 with his partner. They are living in the suburbs where they have a garden and a dog. Mark says: “I love Indian food (or the western versions of it) and really need to learn to make vegan versions.”
Now, let’s find out more about how it is to be vegan.
1. When did you realise that you want to make a change and what made you change?
“It was the night before a funeral, and I guess I was feeling a bit more emotional than usual. I couldn’t stop thinking about the origins of my food, and eventually couldn’t finish it. I met my partner who joined my journey from vegetarian to vegan.”
2. How was your transition and what would you advise people that want to switch to do to make it easier?
“The UK was already pretty good for vegan food. The Netherlands less so. Since moving here, it’s been a challenge. I think it’s important to do your best and not criticise yourself for mistakes as long as you’re on the right path.”
3. Do you think it’s possible to be vegan on a budget?
“Absolutely. Perhaps pre-prepared meals aren’t as abundant in choice, but if you’re willing to cook, I’m pretty sure vegetables are cheaper by weight.”
4. The most asked question- Where do you get your protein?
“I hear lentils are good, and I love dhal.”
5. Is being vegan referring only to the way you eat?
“I understand veganism is defined as reducing harm to animals, so there’s a lot of scope from clothing to communicating the message.”
6. What is one thing you wish people would know about being vegan?
“It’s about reducing harm and no one is perfect. Also, pushing people aggressively will make them defensive.”
7. Do you think there will ever be a period of time where we see a majority of people going vegan?
“I think we’ll swing back and forth a bit, like politics, but eventually it’ll be accepted as normal.”
8. What is your opinion on lab made “meat”? Would you give that a try?
“I think a lot of vegans will be critical of this, but I grew up with meat and I still see it as an easy source of nutrients. If they can produce meat without the harm, I’m all for it.”
9. Did this affect your dating life?
“It actually improved it. I will date non-vegans, and it gives me something in common to discuss with vegans. I’ve only seen a couple of “carnist only” profiles.”