The growth of veganism is a worldwide phenomenon and with my hometown of Peterborough welcoming members of the Eastern European community to live and work here, I decided to interview Polish vegan Artur on what veganism means to him and the cultural differences between being a Polish vegan and being a British vegan.
How long have you been vegan? What made you go vegan?
For me it’s quite hard to answer really. I never was into milk, because I didn’t feel well after drinking it. Than I was seeking the truth and wondering what’s the reason why people eat dogs or cat in some countries and what’s the truth – is it right or not? Is it right to eat cow then? I just asked myself this question. (It is a bit longer story, because previously I had some series of talks with a Buddhist from Sri Lanka, he was not eating the meat of land animals. He was mostly plant-based with fish from time to time. So that made me reconsider many things as well, and also the question came is he right to eat fishes? His thoughts were not representing the acts fully – but he was eating fish only because he didn’t really have the knowledge that he doesn’t need the animal protein to maintain health and longevity).
So at that point, I was eating meat and my thoughts were mostly like, I love animals but not so much to shorten my life. I thought you can’t live healthy life without meat – I knew at that time that meat is full of antibiotics and hormones but I tried to pick “good sources”. So after some time I did my research read some serious studies, involving thousands of people, about the omnivore diet based on fats and proteins of animals and its comparison to the vegan diet and I found that veganism really is preventing many chronic diseases, also cancer, diabetes, and promotes longevity etc. Also that it is full of antioxidants and really good for your body.
Overnight I stopped all kind of meat and eggs, and only from time to time I had cheese. Now I am fully vegan but I don’t really remember exactly the date. It is about 2 years since I stopped meat and eggs than gradually day by day went fully vegan.
Are there many vegetarians and vegans in Poland or among the Polish community in the UK?
I don’t really have any idea about any Polish vegans in UK, all my Polish friends in UK I know are omnivores. I know one polish guy in UK who went vegetarian just to cure himself from cancer as a part of treatment he had, what’s funny is he cured himself and went back to the omnivore diet but he doesn’t eat so much meat now. He also tries to avoid cheese, now he is fine, but his decision was only based on health.
What are the main differences between the vegan foods available in Poland and in the UK?
I can say just about the city I am living here in UK (Peterborough) we don’t have one strictly vegan restaurant. In Poland a comparable size of city has about five restaurants with only vegan food, which is really nice. Still you can eat vegan food in our city in the UK which is very good. And don’t forget, most vegans are good at cooking so it helps in any kind of situations.
In the UK, Poland is often seen as having a diet that is traditionally centred around meat – is this so?
I can probably say Polish people do eat a lot of meat nowadays, but most of the Earth is eating a lot of meat now. (Only in America from 1950s to 2000 chicken consumption in pounds per person tripled). Back to Poland. There are some traditional dishes which include meat, but potatoes are their base and they are served with meat so the main source of carbohydrates is still potatoes.
Is it easy to buy vegan food in Poland – are there many shops that sell only vegan food?
I never went to an only vegan food shop in Poland, but most of the bigger shops have vegan sections. But you can still have problems with processed vegan foods like cheese. You can get them in eco-shops in Poland but sometimes it’s not easy, that’s why I think variety of processed vegan foods in UK is bigger.
What is your favourite vegan dish?
I love a lot of vegan foods, but if it must be one: Pizza!
Can you share a Polish vegan recipe with us please? (I really like the dumplings you bought to the food share)
In future I will upload a recipe for vegan dumplings on my YouTube channel because explaining that for me is quite hard and there are many different methods of doing this.
At this time I can send you a link of some other vegan dumplings: