Let a real vegan tell you about veganism.

Having a vegan colleague raises issues that would never pop into your head otherwise. Here are some thoughts and personal life struggles that she has shared with us over lunch break discussions.

1. First dates: Vegans don’t do dinner

To all the guys (and girls) who go on a dinner date with a vegan for the first time and pretend to be overly interested in veganism: you’re doing it wrong. This type of conversation generally ends up in an argument where everyone has become an expert in nutrition. Our colleague’s advice? If you’re not genuinely interested, don’t go down this road.

2. Your Palaeolithic ancestor was mostly vegan

Going back a few million years from now, killing a mammoth did not happen overnight. It was harder back then to include animal products in one’s daily intake and meat was probably more seen as a ‘treat’. Palaeolithic men therefore got most of their nutrition from plant sources. They were the true vegans here!

It was only much later that humans started incorporating meat and dairy products into their diet and as a result developed the enzymes necessary to break down these new substances. Just as we have been introducing chemicals to make our food look better – some of us still can’t cope with lactose and becoming gluten-free is now a common thing. Why do humans always need to over consume one thing before switching to something else?

3. Vegans eat more than just leaves

Apparently, all vegans should relate to this one. When a restaurant seems to offer a vegan option and all they bring you is a couple of salad leaves, your enjoyable night out turns into a quite frustrating experience. Vegan meals can be just as tasty and diverse as omnivorous ones – creativity is all it takes!

4. Cow’s milk is for baby cows

When you think about it, humans are the only animals to drink the milk of another species. Where did this idea come from? What was the man who discovered milk doing with his cow at the time? This is for sure an odd question to ask oneself…

5. Being vegan when Christmas comes

Christmas is surely the worst time to go vegan, especially when your entire family does not understand you. Whilst they eat seafood, turkey and foie-gras, you just have to sit there with your vegetables and pretend you are not offended by their not-so-funny jokes and total lack of understanding.

6. “Sorry, I’m a Pescatarian”

The term ‘pescatarian’ in itself will make you frown and laugh at the same time. Pescatarians are people who have cut down ‘earth-animals’ but still eat fish and seafood products. They are grossed out by insects but manage to eat foods like shrimps without any problem. Isn’t that an insect of the sea? Is a fish not the same as a bird but living in the opposite environment? Our vegan colleague does not seem to get it.

What was the man who discovered milk doing with his cow at the time? This is for sure an odd question to ask oneself…

7. Always being perceived as difficult

She says the hardest part is probably having to refuse gifts which aren’t vegan, trying to be discreet when starting a new job, or navigating difficult social situations, such as meeting a new boyfriend’s parents for the first time and refusing certain foods without offending anyone. Vegans do not want to appear difficult and certainly do not want to be left out because of what they eat. Just like any of us really.

8. When you find out the guy you fancy is the ultimate meat-lover

Our colleague says there’s nothing worse for a vegan than finding out your crush is the type who orders a Meat Feast pizza for dinner – sausage, minced beef and all else included. This might be the worst mood killer and turn-off ever; even worse than bad sex.

9. What if plants have feelings?

Some people go even further than veganism and believe plants may have feelings too! Our colleague’s theory is that humans developed an empathy towards animals but not towards plants, which must guide some of our eating habits. A lion does not care about the zebra he kills for dinner because this is what he is designed to eat. Would we have developed this empathy towards animals if we were meant to eat like a lion? Maybe plants do have feelings, but we don’t relate to them in any way and have a perfect hunter-prey relationship with them – in most cases.

10. Most vegans are not perfect

She says there is no such thing as a 100% perfect vegan. We live in a world that is only starting to adapt to this lifestyle and most of the time, there is always one product that even vegans are unable to avoid. For our colleague, this vice is candy. A lot of candies contain palm oil, which although is free of animal by-product, is supposedly not ‘vegan’ due to the unethical practices involved in its production. You can’t blame her though; when it comes to candy, who is perfect anyway?

To adapt to the change in lifestyle, brands are slowly adjusting the way they operate internally.  For example, since 2015, Google is including more plant-based options in its cafeteria menu so as to cater for the different diets of its employees. When veganism was regarded as foreign and too alternative, it is now being treated as the norm and society as a whole is trying hard to diversify and be open to different lifestyle options.

Photography credit
Arrangements by Melissa Gamache