Vegans take over the world

As we race into 2020 and another promising start to Veganuary, it seems that retailers are falling over themselves in a bid to get some of the vegan pounds – especially since 300,000 people have signed up to take part this year. That’s in addition to the vegan army already marching through the world’s supermarket aisles.

With Greggs receiving most of the publicity in the new year for their Vegan Steak Bake the predictable response on every Facebook thread was “It’s not a steak bake if it’s vegan”. One would think that non-vegans are becoming seriously obsessed with all things vegan – their displeasure is seriously good publicity though, I think Piers Morgan alone drove Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll Success Van.

Iceland Vegan Products

For me personally, it was the Iceland Vegan Cheese and Onion Pastie I was most excited about. As a vegan of 20 years, that is the thing I still miss and I was heartbroken that my local branch had sold out this afternoon. I had one from an independent vegan shop in Leicester a few years ago and that one was divine, so I’m hoping for more of the same from Iceland. I did notice, however, they now have No Yolk Vegan Mayo and Piri Piri Mayo, which I can’t wait to try and they’ve added mushroom steaks to the range too. Mushrooms are my favourite food in the world – so I’m excited about these too.

In the battle for publicity pixels, KFC has been biting hard at Gregg’s heels with their Vegan Chicken Burger. And, while this means that young vegans can eat fast food with their meat-eating friends without feeling left out, it also provokes fierce debate on vegan forums. Personally, I’d never eat in KFC or McDonalds, their direct link to the meat industry makes it hard for me to stomach, but not all vegans agree with me.

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Something else which excited me was the Tofish and Chips addition to MArks & Spencer’s Plant Kitchen range, Sadly the vegan fish is tasteless and you get about seven chips with it. I had half a packet of their Dirty Fries with the meal too and I was still left wanting more. Some vegan meals are better than others.

It does seem much easier to eat a vegan diet these days, but it’s also much easier to live on processed food alone. This article is about the mass of new lines on supermarket shelves this Veganuary.

When I became vegan, you could only really get processed vegan food from the local health food shop and I’m sure many vegans cooked from scratch out of necessity. So it was the launch of Jack Monroe’s Veganish which excited me most. I’ve long been an advocate of cheap and easy vegan cooking and Jack’s recipes are absolutely spot on in that respect. Very tasty too.

I am optimistic about the growth in veganism but would like to see more people using smaller independent fully vegan traders.

Veganuary ad

 

The only vegan in the office

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Being a vegan at work can be hard, well, work.

Even with the 4 billion per cent rise in veganism (figures curtesy of the Leave Campaign and Diane Abbott), many people just don’t “get it”.

“But what do you eat.” Food mainly.

“You can’t even eat eggs?” Even eggs? Most people don’t actually die from a lack of egg consumption.

“Don’t you miss bacon?” No I don’t miss a fried slice of pig skin too much.

And so on.

To be fair, many people do try hard.

My former employers used to ask about vegan options on the menu for Christmas meals out. One restaurant forgot to get vegan cheese in and offered me a vegan alternative – and a free round of drinks for my table! Everyone wanted to be friends with the vegan that night.

But I did once go to an Italian restaurant whose vegan option was a pizza without cheese – that actually turned out to be a base with tomato sauce on it and two bits of asparagus. I like asparagus, but two pieces a pizza topping do not make.

But people do forget that it goes beyond diet sometimes. We won’t bet on the Grand National, go dog racing, give to Cancer Research etc etc.

Sometimes explaining these things can get a little bit tiresome – but when that happens, remember that it gives you an opportunity to explain your stance. In effect, you are being asked to be a “preachy vegan” – so go for it. You never know, you might open someone’s eyes.

I asked people on social media for their experiences. One Facebook friend mentioned how friends were raising their child vegan and said this on the ill-informed response she received: “Apparently, it’s ‘borderline child cruelty to impose veganism on someone who can’t think for themselves.’ Like animals can think for themselves, yeah?”

Somebody else had slightly more positive experiences: “People at my office are generally pretty good – and interested in talking about veganism. My boss is ace and has sourced me Vego bars for Easter and vegan cider for Xmas. However, I wasn’t able to go to the Xmas meal as they had a really rubbish vegan option – so it’s not always at the forefront of people’s minds. Also, people always bring in cake for their birthday and I can never eat it.”

Personally, I like the response from one office worker, who said: “My boss’s response “well there must be other normal vegans out there because you’re quite normal”.”

You see, we are normal!

Canteens were another issue, with many vegans bringing in packed lunches even when this facility is available in a workplace. One worker had this to say about company-provided food: “For the last company event I asked in advance if a vegan option could be possible. They ordered me 6 dry bread rolls. Compare that to the treatment I got when I recently visited our sister company in Sweden – they had informed the hotel in advance, arranged a vegan lunch for me every day and had informed the restaurant where we had an evening function that a member of the party was vegan and planned a menu for me.”

To be fair, the first time I ever encountered avocado was at a training event where a vegan meal was provided for me.

Several vegans I asked on Facebook said they were known as “the vegan” at work – something I find a bit laced with prejudice, although it can be done affectionately.

The most blunt response I received was from a builder friend: “Try telling someone you are vegetarian or vegan on a building site it’s almost as bad as telling them you sh***ed their granny the night before.” Quite!

It was also pointed out that “Case law has shown that veganism is a protected belief.” Something that is worth remembering if you get bullied or singled out in the workplace.

One respondent in charge of tea and coffee had been using soya milk instead of cows’ milk for months before anybody noticed… It’s worth checking that nobody has a soya allergy before doing this, however, the same applies to nut milks.

It is a bit difficult when someone brings a smelly McDonalds into work, the same applies to Tuna or egg, all of them smell like hot death to a vegan’s sensitive nostrils. To the death eater, we are a bit weird. Being a bit weird is generally OK you know – especially considering the alternative.

Vegans and the dating game

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Vegans are people too.

We have, you know, the same issues as everyone else – and we also like to fall in love.

Hereth begineth the debate… To say there’s a lot written about vegan dating on social media is like saying “vegans like to argue on Facebook”, but the truth is, there is one simple rule – there are no rules!

The first law of Vegan Fight Club is that “vegan shall talk about it to everyone, everywhere – ever!”

There are so many vegan groups on Facebook, and dating is a subject that comes up again and again and again and again…

Should vegans only date vegans? Should people who become vegan while in a relationship finish that relationship? Should vegans banish meat-eating partners to the shed to eat their dinner? And so on and so on and on and on…

Again, I say, there are no rules. The human brain is a complex thing, it falls in and out of love more often than a Bon Jovi song called “In And Out Of Love” and it doesn’t always adhere to the rules of the vegan heart.

In other words, it’s up to you.

The dating game has changed beyond all recognition over the last 10 years. Now, people are just as likely to meet online as they are over a vodka and orange in the local pub. But, this means that people are able to stipulate specifically the type of person they are looking for in a partner – short, tall, fat, thin, athletic, lazy, geeky, funny, serious, vegan….

Obviously, this can mean that a huge number of potential partners are thrown into the bin of “nah” automatically!

I, personally, use Plenty Of Fish and message someone every six months or so – such are the restrictions of veganism (and being too tight to pay to find love) and I have recently signed up to Grazer.

There was a lot of excitement in vegan forums around the launch of Grazer – it’s free and it’s pretty much the vegan version of Tinder – although there are vegans on Tinder too – I know, I’ve been on there too!

The whole “swipe left” thing seems a bit cold to me – but such is the fame of Tinder that the phrase “swipe left” has become part of modern language. The main problem is that if you don’t live in London, there might be relatively few local vegans on the site. However, it is relatively new, so give it time. I also found that a lot of people don’t actually tell you anything about themselves on their profile – so you are solely judging them on a picture.

So, basically, Grazer has the same advantages and disadvantages as Tinder, but it is growing and so it’s worth joining and if there’s no one there for you, check back in a few weeks.

The likes of Plenty of Fish also have vegan profiles – but finding them can be a bit like finding a vegan in your local pub – although you can search for “vegan” and find the nearest one to have used that description lives 75 miles away – not all vegans call themselves vegans on their profile.

Then there’s Facebook. Other than having to sell your soul to Satan to sign up, this is also free – and there are plenty of vegan singles groups and pages on there – there’s even one for Vegan Singles in their 40’s (I dislike the rogue apostrophe, but otherwise it’s an excellent group) and there’s naughtier ones for vegans who like to talk about sex – A LOT. Shock, horror, vegans are interested in sex – and not just which brands of condoms are vegan-friendly.

Let’s be honest, most people are on Facebook, so joining a dating group on there is just as likely to bring you success as any “paid for” or “traditional” online dating site. I have met former partners, new friends and dates just by chatting to new friends on Facebook in the past – just the act of interacting online can bring people together.

Then there’s “real life dating”. Yes, people still meet in the pub, club, at gigs, in the gym, at work and while out bird watching (not so much). And, if you’re a vegan singleton, there are local vegan groups, food shares, animal rights meetings, vegan fairs etc etc. You can meet potential partners at all of these (vegan fairs often have speed dating events these days), but, more importantly, you can make new friends, share ideas and enjoy a social life with like-minded folks. You could always run into a sexy vegan by the “meat-free” section of your local supermarket – although I don’t recommend spending a day there on the off-chance – people might think you’re weird…And you could be asked to leave, doing your “street cred” no favours at all.

People become vegan at many stages of life – some are already in relationships with omnivores, some have been vegetarian first and some are now vegan from birth. Also, everybody’s life story is different, so the important thing is not to judge. Some people are comfortable with dating meat-eaters, some with dating vegetarians, some with only dating vegans, we all have our own preferences.

It is also worth adding that there’s a lot of advice and support available in social media forums when it comes to vegan dating, vegan love and vegan sex – vegan squirty cream wasn’t invented without sex in mind you know!

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Vegan on a desert Island

I wrote this about a year ago for a news site that vanished without getting in touch with me! Seeing as this page shares a title with the blog, I thought I’d revamp it very slightly and publish it here – because I can!

 

There are many things that can happen unexpectedly in our daily lives – lottery win, car crash, puncture, TV going wrong – but we vegans have an extra peril to face every day – we might end up alone on a desert island!

To be fair, sending vegans to desert islands isn’t merely a social media phenomenon; people in pubs, work mates and even family members all suddenly become curious about our survival options should we be stranded on one of the few uninhabited desert islands left in the world. Not only that, but there will be no phone signal, no 3 or 4G and no radar tracking the area in which we vanished.

I really was totally unaware of how dangerous being a vegan could be when I ditched the dairy. If you’re not vegan, never get on a plane or boat with us, it will sink or crash and everybody else will die leaving the sole vegan stranded in the middle of nowhere. It happens all the time.

But a vegan can’t be stranded on just any remote, unpopulated desert island, oh no! In order to be a vegan stranding-friendly desert island, it can have no edible plants or vegetables and be populated only by animals – edible animals of course, or the scenario won’t work.

You see, if there is the option of eating vegetation, then we can’t be forced to hunt animals in order to survive on said desert island. The fact that there needs to be some kind of food chain in place so that carnivores survive goes out of the boat window when it comes to random vegan strandings. You see, carnivores have to prey on animals that are, in general herbivores and herbivores need vegetation to survive, so the whole desert island eco system needs to be totally messed up in order to accommodate vegan strandings.

There will be fresh water on the island of course – the carnivorous beasts need it to survive too, and there will be trees – there has to be something with which to make fire, so said carnivores’ flesh is edible. However, these trees cannot be the type of trees that produce fruit, oh no, or else stranded vegan will become fruitarian and mess up the whole hypothetical stranding horror.

Another issue for the stranded vegan is that, generally humans don’t eat carnivores. Why this is so is down to speculation really – the smell, evolution meaning we haven’t developed a taste for them and the fact that they are harder to catch could all be reasons. Also, said carnivores are often dangerous, so our poor stranded vegan would probably die while trying to break his or her moral code. Don’t forget, most people are stranded without a gun (especially if they’re vegan), so they will probably be hunting with a home-made bow and arrow. Most people that go on cruises or fly abroad don’t carry weapons you see, customs aren’t usually very friendly towards people packing high-powered rifles!

I used to make bows and arrows as a kid, and I wasn’t very good at hitting my brother with them, so I’m sure I’d be useless when it came down to trying to kill a mountain lion. And I’m not sure there’d be enough string or sharp flint kicking about on the island to make the bow and arrows either!

But, fish are carnivores. So, it seems, the desolated desert island would have to be surrounded by an abundance of sea life – no edible seaweed though – to give our hapless, soon to be lapsed vegan any chance of survival. Of course, there will be a tree (without edible fruit) to provide the necessary weapon for catching the poor fish which will provide 100 per cent of your balanced diet – you see, wooden speared fish are the solution to all castaways’ problems!

The message to all vegans is, unless you want to become a seal, avoid getting stranded on desert islands at all costs. When going to work, to the pub, to a vegan fair, or down the shops, take a route that avoids any desert islands on which you can become accidentally stranded.