NQ London asks what it means to choose a vegan lifestyle

NQ London asks what it means to choose a vegan lifestyleSwitching to a vegan lifestyle is no longer reserved for peace loving hippies. Veganism has come a long way and interest in a totally animal-free diet and lifestyle is at an all-time high. Celebrities like Brad Pitt, Ariande Grande and RZA from WU Tang Clan have all adopted this lifestyle. It certainly hasn't done the vegan movement any harm.NQ London asks what it means to choose a vegan lifestyleBefore you jump on the no-meat-eggs-or-dairy bandwagon, you should know what you're getting into. This is not some passing fad. There are so many untruths and misunderstanding about a vegan lifestyle, and at times the movement has got some bad press. What better way is there to understand this lifestyle choice? So we decided to exactly that. NQ London asks what it means to choose a vegan lifestyle to those that have done exactly that.We asked a cross section of people various questions. Here are just a few. We are certainly surprised at some of the answers, honesty and passion that lies at the heart of vegan culture.How long have you been a vegan? What brought about/ influenced this change in your lifestyle? Is your career/work in any way related to your vegan lifestyle? Could you give brief details.Isabelle: I became Vegan one year ago, after watching a documentary called Cowspiracy which teaches about how animal agriculture is one of the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. I never ate anything from an animal ever again! I also work for a Superfoods company which promotes a Vegan lifestyle.Dina: I have been vegan for approx. 7 years. I was vegetarian for most of my life, having eaten meat for a few years. The moment I became vegan was when I realized what happens to dairy cows in the dairy industry – it was like a light switch for me and I decided in an instant that I did not wish to be part of their suffering.Sarah:  Lifelong vegetarian (although avoided milk and eggs) I tried hard to kick the love of cheese a few times, however visiting New York around a year ago and dining in the most amazing vegan restaurants made me realise I could actually expand my diet by becoming vegan and have a more balanced approach to food. I have been fully vegan a year.Maggie: I've been a vegan for the last two months. I had been a vegetarian for 8 months previously. I had been vegetarian for 8 years between 13 and 21 and then it stopped meaning so much, I kind of grew out of alignment with myself and my values changed. Now, coming up to my 40th birthday, something just clicked. I always wanted to be someone who didn't cause pain to others and now it feels the right time to step into the person I always wanted to be. Also the health benefits are huge and I feel so much better. What does being vegan mean to you?Isabelle: Being Vegan means that I’m making a change in the world only by making a slight change to my lifestyle. Being Vegan also ensures that I live a healthy, sustainable and cruelty-free life.Dina: Treading as carefully as possible on this earth and treating each and every one of it’s inhabitants equally, meaning not contributing as far as possible to harm to animals which in effect positively impacts this earth.Sarah: Amazing digestion! and a clear conscience. It has highlighted for me so many areas in the realms of food and agriculture/farming that are so abhorrent and unsustainable, it’s like taking a massive wake – up call from that world and realising that are so many misconceptions with what people consider to be food. It has also made me experiment with food and now I avoid pretty much all processed food and cook from scratch.Maggie: Energy, connection, love, kindness, health and vitality. Do you influence your meat eating friends to make a change to veganism?Isabelle: Yes! Since I’ve become Vegan, so many people I know have seen how easy it is and how much energy so they have all made changes to their diets and lifestyle.Dina: Yes – through giving talks at fairs and events as well as through social media as well as through general conversation. It is all done through facts and education.Sarah: I really don’t think being a vegan is for everyone, it’s a diet that needs knowledge about food and time to create meals from scratch, I know some of my friends buy everything pre-prepared/take away and there isn’t the choice in supermarkets yet for alternatives, look how crazy we all went for the Gary in Sainsburys! when there is aisle upon aisle of cheese. Friends will have a vegan meal with me, and certainly the ones I have travelled with find this enhances their experience of a new place. I hope it makes them question the need for excessive animal products in packaged foods – milk in crisps?! I quite often bring my food to work and colleagues are curious and pleasantly surprised usually when they try it! My mum went vegan shortly after I did and hasn’t looked back. I find the most challenged are vegetarians who still eat dairy – I get some grief from my veggie friends – I think it a conscience thing, I think most people don’t realise how terrible the dairy industry is and genuinely think cows want to give us their milk and are all grazing in fields.Maggie: Not in a preachy sense. I only talk about it if someone asks me and even then I stress it's my personal choice, I'm not pushing it on others. However seeing the change in me, how much healthier I am and my increased energy levels has inspired some of my friends to reduce their meat/dairy intake. Every little helps! :-)Do you believe there is cruelty associated with leather products? If so what are your views.Isabelle: An animal should not be farmed and killed for its skin or for anything else! I think it’s evil. Also, animal agriculture, whether it be farming for leather or food, is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s completely unsustainable for the planet and cruel to the animal.Dina: ABSOLUTELY! Baby calves are skinned for soft leather when they are a few weeks old. Some soft leather is from the unborn calf. ANYONE that uses leather and is proud of using it, knowing they are wearing the skin of another animal really need to ask themselves whether they could skin these animals themselves for the fickle reason of fashion!Sarah: Yes. I choose non leather handbags and shoes. I do have some historic leather purchases that I still use.Maggie: I think it all depends on how animals are kept and killed. I don't see why we need to do that anymore when we have so many other options. Why take a life unless you absolutely need to? I've still got suede boots and we have leather furniture in the house. I won't get rid of them, but I won't buy leather ever again. Do you have an opinion/views on taking wool from sheep?Isabelle: Sheep shed their wool naturally when it if beneficial to them, we do not need to do it for them prematurely.Dina: Wool belongs to sheep. Not to humans.Sarah: I won’t wear sheep’s wool. I purposefully avoid any animal by products.Maggie: Good question!! Again, it depends on the condition animals are kept in, how they are treated. If they are treated well, not harmed or stressed out by the process then I'm not adverse to it, I just wonder when things are mass produced what is the by product for the animals?What would you say to someone who says “plants have feeling too?”Isabelle: It is true that plats do have some primitive form of cognition, but they do not possess any known form of higher cognition, and they cannot feel pain in the scientific sense of the word, because pain is defined as stimulation of certain nervous cells that plants do not have.Dina: My response would be, ‘show me a cabbage that has a nervous system or a cucumber that bleeds when I cut into it, or a carrot that cries in pain when I slice into its core!’Sarah: Rubbish, plants aren’t sentient beings.Maggie: I saw a great quote the other day in response to that, which was 'yeah because cutting a cows throat and mowing the lawn are the same thing'. In my limited knowledge I don't think plants have the same sense of pain that we in the animal kingdom have. We don't make them suffer. And I could either stop eating everything and die to make a point or I could reduce suffering where I can. For someone who has limited knowledge of vegan principles and beliefs, can I ask are there levels of being a vegan to you. How strict you are about your choices of food and animal products?Isabelle: I am very strict about my food choices, I won’t knowingly eat any animal products and I try to choose products like beauty products and cleaning products etc. which are animal friendly. Dina: Yes there appear to be levels – however I come more from the abolitionist approach. We didn’t allow racism to continue only on Mondays and we didn’t allow slavery at weekends only!Finally, is there anything you would like to add on this topic, whether it is from your own personal experience or something that could help people to better understand about a vegan lifestyle?Isabelle: Becoming Vegan is the best choice anyone can make ?Dina: Being vegan is not hard at all once you see yourself what pain and suffering eating meat and dairy contributes to. How can we be human and continue to eat those things knowing that by doing so, we contribute to the enslavement and systematic abuse of animals?! Why should we love a dog, eat a cow and wear a pig? How does that make sense? We are killing the planet with the animal agricultural industry and we owe it to the animals and future generations to come to enquire and understand more and to make change.Sarah: I don’t think anything has enhanced my lifestyle like going vegan, it’s been an amazing journey, and has improved my relationship with food and health, I really hope that at some point there will at least one TV cooking show that features a vegan menu!Maggie: That I would never go back. My health, energy and general sense of vitality is so much improved. I feel more connected and grounded spiritually. I'm on a much higher vibration energetically. I used to suffer from anxiety which is massively reduced, which makes sense because I'm not ingesting trauma anymore. I'm not intentionally causing pain anymore (I was intentionally eating dairy before, didn't think I could live without cheese!). It's so much easier than I thought it would be. It's now my new life motto 'it's not difficult, it's just different'. I just love this way of life, and am finally becoming the person I always wanted to be. ❤We'd like to thank Isabelle Judlin who works for Supernutrients. Sarah Cox, a lifelong vegetarian and now vegan. Maggie Albrecht from Life Redefined.Dina Aherne, a lawyer and lecturer. She often gives talks on a vegan lifestyle and animal cruelty. Dina recently gave a talk in Leicester discussing the effect of dairy consumption and the reality of the dairy industry. Future talks by Dina Aherne:

  • 29 April 2017 Leicester Animal Rights
  •  7 May 2017 Vegan Fair Birmingham
  • 27 May 2017 Vegan Fair Kettering
  •  3 June 2017 Viva Vegan Festival Brighton

Dina can be contacted by email imperfectlyvegan1@gmail.com and will shortly be live on her Youtube Channel Imperfectly VeganNQ London asks what it means to choose a vegan lifestyle