I just read that there’s a green cat wandering around Bulgaria, that someone just paid $78k for a letter written to Marilyn Monroe, and that a driver has just been jailed after blaming his dog for speeding. Now for me, all of these things seem a bit weird, but strangely when I tell people that I’m a vegan many seem to find that more strange than the truly crazy random things that happen all around us each and every day.
In my line of work I’m certainly not the only one though. As UK Director for The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW1), many people in my work circles have also committed to a life without meat, eggs or dairy in line with their commitment to animal welfare and protection. IFAW is not a vegan organisation, and it doesn’t need to be, nor are most animal welfare or conservation charities, but for many in my line of work, there is a natural affinity to animals that comes from working day and night for the cause.
So coming back to this whole perception thing – weird: to be or not to be, or I guess in vegan cases to bean or not to bean (sorry – bad vegan joke). The truth is veganism is becoming more mainstream and for me that’s a great thing. You don’t need dreadlocks and tie die to be a vegan anymore (but if you want them then that’s very fine with me), and I have to confess that it’s not uncommon for people to say ‘really….but you don’t look like a vegan’, when I ‘come out’ for the first time.
In London, where I live, across the UK and in many parts of Europe, being vegan is starting to be a little more normal. With vegan burger bars cropping up from Barcelona, to Warsaw to Paris and new restaurants who don’t sell meat, no longer even feeling the need to distinguish themselves as vegetarian or vegan anymore, it’s great to see people who would normally be tucking into meat as their default meal option, blissfully unaware that the delicious and healthy meal option they’re having is animal friendly.
I think I can say this now….. and don’t try to fight this…. veganism just got cool. It just got acceptable and it just got easy. It could even be coming to a home near you soon. But only if you give it a try! Don’t think for one minute trying to be vegan for Veganuary2 will be a complete walk in the park, because it won’t. It will take a bit of effort and a bit of time. But don’t think it will make you turn into a freak – ‘cos it won’t do that either. Think less about what others will think and more about what you’ll be achieving: reaching a goal, keeping healthy, shifting a bit of weight and knowing that you are being super environmentally conscious. So give it a go. It’s just a month after all, but the difference you’ll make will last way longer than that.
Philip Mansbridge is the UK Director at IFAW.
Veganuary2 seeks to inspire people from across the globe to try vegan for the month of January.
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