I had been planning to go vegetarian for a couple of weeks, but hadn’t taken the big step just yet. With the start of Semester Two, the meat completely disappeared from my fridge shelf. I felt good about myself: physically, morally – my conscious was completely guilt-free. When I went on to do more research to support my new lifestyle, I stumbled upon another even more extreme, more rewarding diet plan: Veganism. Upon hearing more of the facts behind veganism, I was intrigued, inspired and challenged. I began questioning my daily dietary choices. Had I been too hasty in assuming that being a vegetarian was the answer?
I have given up other things for Lent before: three years ago it was chocolate, two years ago, my Facebook account was deactivated for the month. These were – embarrassingly enough – two of the most difficult times I have had to endure, yet very rewarding experiences. I decided that this year to live on a vegan diet for the entire 40 days of Lent. That entails: no meat, no fish, no dairy products, no eggs and no honey.
You may be thinking, what’s wrong with milk and eggs? The cows need to be milked, and the chicken lay their daily eggs anyway, right? Simply said, in order to produce milk, the cow needs to be permanently pregnant. The new-born calves then often get slaughtered right away, since they are not needed. Additionally, hormones fed to the cow to increase milk production cause infections and disease of the cows. Chickens, meanwhile, often live in horrendous conditions, unable to move their wings in cramped spaces. Even ‘free range’ eggs have very loose restrictions on what conditions the farm needs to be provide for the chickens to live in. The male chicks, since they are of no use, are gassed or crunched alive. As horrific as these examples of animal cruelty are, they are admittedly not the main reason I am experimenting with a new diet. Instead, it is based more on a curiosity in recognising my personal dependency on animal products.
The challenge is set. Now, where to start? For the last couple of days I have been mentally and practically preparing for this quest. I have tried my first dairy-free bar of chocolate – surprisingly okay – as well as dairy-free soya milk. One major problem I have already encountered: how on earth do vegans handle the late-night munchies? Free Janetta’s ice cream at the DRA ball is almost impossible to resist. Which makes me think – there’s still a lot to be learnt…