I am… Not an ill hippie who wants to challenge you.

What is a vegan and what do they look like? This is a question I asked on social media last Wednesday and although I received the actual definition of a Vegan I also received a lot of stupid stereotypes.. of course! Here’s just a few:

“Some of them, not all, look ill.” “Someone who eats bare grass.” “You know if someone’s vegan because they’ll let you know within the first 5 minutes of meeting them.” “Malnourished.” “Sitting round singing Kumbya”.

Apparently Vegans are all anorexic preaching hippies? So I took to the streets (and by streets I mean I wrote a status on my personal account to ask for Vegans and Vegetarians to come forward and private message me) to find out what a real Vegan/Vegetarian looks like… It turns out none of them were anorexic, none of them were preachers… in fact I have actually known some of the people for years and had no idea they were veggie or vegan! and I’m pretty sure none of them are hippies singing Kumbya.

Veganism/Vegetarianism is on the rise in the UK among the younger generation. Another stereotype is this is because its seen as ‘cool’ or ‘hipster’ but after the reactions of my facebook status that also doesn’t seem to be the case? When I was younger I was seen as unusual for being vegetarian as there were only about 3 others in my school. And I had to deal with the stereotype “You’re black and you don’t eat chicken?!” You’re probably laughing at that but I actual had to and still do put up with this on a daily basis. So here is the real reasons why the younger generation are being Vegan and Vegetarian. And here’s what they actually look like… (I feel like this is going to be shocking for most… plot twist… they’re “normal”).

Ella Daniel-Lowe, 24 (she also makes some awesome Tee’s–>)  @LunalotusUk

How long have you been vegetarian?
Since last July, so about 10 months
Why did you become vegetarian?
The main reason I did it back then was because I started having loads of issues with my hormones – I never really ate meat much anyway though I did eat loads and loads of cheese haha. Also it was something I’d been thinking of doing for a long time for ethical/ecological reasons and once I cut meat out I stopped having the desire to eat it very quickly. It did sort my hormones out btw!
Whats been the hardest part?
Feeling guilty when having to turn down food my friends have made!
Tips for anyone who wants to become vegetarian?
You can make loads of meals easily as tasty as ones with meat in if you look up some good recipes and make an effort to use seasoning!! Also don’t worry if you slip up every once in a while – cutting out meat is a positive thing!

Rob Gallacher, 20 @Rob_gallacher

How long have you been vegan?
Since December 2015 so 18months or so
Why did you become vegan?
I watched a couple documentaries on it and felt mean and I realized how much healthier I’d be on a plant based diet.
Whats been the hardest part?
When you go to Nandos and have to order a quinoa salad!
Tips for anyone who wants to become vegan?
It’s important to make sure you’re eating nutritious foods as opposed to vegan junk, ensure you’re getting all the nutrients and benefits from being a vegan.

Cicely Parsons, 20 @C1cely6066

How long have you been vegetarian?
4 Years
Why did you become vegetarian?
Ethical reasons, didn’t like the intensive farming methods ect… or what animals had to go for just for our plates, there’s so many more ethical and tastier alternatives I believe.
Whats been the hardest part?
I guess there’s still judgement and jokes made from others and also if friends want to quickly go out to grab food and it isn’t a place which sells veggie.
Tips for anyone who wants to become vegetarian?
Its a lot easier to go veggie than you think. Stick with it, try cooking and planning some good veggie meals from scratch.

 

 

Bethan Doel, 20 @bethan_doel

How long have you been vegan?
A year and 2 months
Why did you become vegan?
For the animals, originally watched ‘Dairy is Scary’ which got me thinking, and then talking to 2 other vegans was what gave me the courage.
Whats been the hardest part?
The confrontation and anger I receive from other people, simply for not ordering a meat option. Just general teasing about my food and making fun.
Tips for anyone who wants to become vegan?
Just go for it – read up on accidentally vegan products to buy when shopping and just read labels of everything, speak to another vegan too!

Emily Comens, 18 @emily_comens

How long have you been vegetarian?
Since I was about 7 I think.
Why did you become vegetarian?
I don’t like the taste of meat but mainly the ethical side. I don’t believe animals should have to die for us.
Whats been the hardest part?
Going abroad and finding vegetarian meals in restaurants. They always assume you can eat fish.
Tips for anyone who wants to become vegetarian?
Watch videos on how animals are really killed. Jokes! Commit to the change. Try foods that are inspired by meat, for example Quorn sausage rolls or veggie spaghetti because you cant tell the difference.

Alix Lund, 19 @_a.lund_

How long have you been vegan?
Been veggie for a year and vegan for 3 months.
Why did you become vegan?
I saw cowspiracy and the earthlings, it was mad, so health, environmental and ethical issues
Whats been the hardest part?
Cheese! I love cheese but the main thing was milk powder in things like crisps and stuff you wouldn’t expect it to be in.
Tips for anyone who wants to become vegan?
Just to cut things out slowly and no t go teetotal, don’t feel like you have to do it all in one go.

Alexandra Waters, 19

How long have you been vegetarian?
About 10 years
Why did you become vegetarian?
Mainly because I don’t agree with the idea of animals being killed for the benefit of humans. My dad worked at an abattoir which he took me to once when he forgot his keys and I saw a lot of stuff that sort of reinforced how I already felt. Its purely ethical, nothing to do with health or anything.
Whats been the hardest part?
Well I don’t really miss anything about eating meat, since being so young. I’ve had a problem with being anaemic, (a condition in which there is a deficiency of red cells or of haemoglobin in the blood) which being veggie can make it harder. Other circumstances contributed to it but I have to be more aware of my diet as being veggie doesn’t help. Its easy to get around now though!
Tips for anyone who wants to become vegetarian?
Once you’re veggie check ingredients!!! There are so many things that aren’t veggie (like some sweets, mousse, yogurt etc) that you wouldn’t expect, and you don’t want to realize they’re full of gelatin after eating half a bag of sweets haha. Oh and ignore anyone who says stuff like “But carrots are alive too and you eat them?” I think we’ve all had to deal with those people in the past haha.

Emily Jolliff, 20 @Angryblackgirl5

How long have you been vegan?
I’ve been vegan for a couple months but I’ve been a vegetarian for a year.
Why did you become vegan?
For me its mostly environmental. The meat industry is responsible for more carbon emotions than the transport sector which seems super crazy but it’s true. When you break down how much resources we are using to rear life stock, cutting down rainforest to rear cows, the grain harvesting for animals that could be ending famines everywhere, it all adds up. For me veganism is the best way to make a difference environmentally. But there is also a health element for me too. Our digestive systems aren’t designed to digest meat, and you don’t even want to know all of the sh*t that is in milk! Digesting all those hormones from forsably impregnated cows and stressed animals being abused in abattoirs isn’t just immoral but is super bad for you.
What’s been the hardest part?
I love cheese so giving that up was super hard. It’s mostly after a long day and you’re knackered or in a bad mood and you have s tress craving (for me its either cheese, fried chicken or chocolate). I think starting out and getting used to reading all the ingredients is a struggle, going from a meat eater to a vegan must be super tough. But for me I struggle with social side more, people assume your judging them or going to lecture them; people feel uncomfortable
Tips for anyone who wants to become a vegan?
I feel like other vegetarians and vegans need to be more honest about struggling, starting out is so hard and if you do slip or don’t read the ingredients to something or whatever, don’t beat yourself up! I also feel like finding other vegans and vegetarians is important, cooking for each other, finding grey substitutes and exchanging recipes and stuff. My other advice would be use brands to make things easier, free from do amazing vegan cheese that when melted you really cant tell the difference, and I love Lynda McCartney. Know that you still can eat amazing food and still have loads of options, you just need to know where to look.

Niamh Phillips, 24 @niamhgabriellex

How long have you been vegan?
About 2 and a half years, I went vegan in January 2015 but for about two weeks before that I was veggie.
Why did you become vegan?
For the animals. I made the connection and decided that the lives of these animals were much more important to just satisfy my tastebuds. I didn’t want to exploit animals or take what isn’t mine. When you think about it drinking another animals milk is pretty strange! And drinking milk past infancy isn’t seen in any other species! Other benefits came along after; more energy, clearer skin etc… I felt more peace with the world because I felt more compassionate.
What’s been the hardest part?
I’d say the hardest part is criticism from others who don’t share your views, then just trying to justify yourself without conforming to the “vegan stereotype”. But saying that I do think it’s getting easier now that veganism is on the rise among young people! If you don’t know how to cook from scratch it could be a bit of a learning curve. But the availability of more “convenience” vegan food is increasing. Once you know what you can eat it becomes second nature.
Tips for anyone who wants to become a vegan?
Don’t give up! Everyone is on their own path and it may take a few attempts to fully make the transition. Veganism is a lifestyle, not just a diet. It’s about reducing exploitation to animals as much as possible/practical. It’s not possible to be a “perfect vegan” so don’t worry if you slip up.

Starting with a plant based diet is often the first step of a vegan lifestyle. Switch out toiletries/cosmetics/clothing etc.. When you run out or need to replace with vegan and cruelty free brands over time. It doesn’t just happen over night!

Make sure when you switch your diet you’re still getting the right nutrients. Unsure? Take some multivitamins.

Finally educate yourself and arm yourself with real facts so you are well prepared when somebody challenges you. You never know you could change their views!

Amber Douglas, 21 @amberdouglasx

How long have you been a transitioning vegan?
At the beginning of last year.
Why did you decide to become vegan?
I currently study marine biology at university and have been really big on caring for the ocean, so i first decided to give up on fish because of the over fishing and pollution in the oceans. I’m also really interested in climate change and from watching documentaries on animal agriculture being one of the biggest sources of green house gases, I decided I was going to cut that out too. So mainly for environmental reasons. But learning how animals suffered confirmed that I wanted to become vegan. We need to look after our planet better.
What has been the hardest part?
At first I thought it would be giving up all of my favourite things, like chocolate and pizza etc… But I have found great alternatives! I think doing it on my own is hard like none of my family and friends are vegan. But last year in halls I lived with a girl who was also vegan so we cooked meals and went shopping together.
Any tips for anyone becoming vegan?
That any change will be hard at first to adapt to, but as long as you remember why you are doing it for, it’ll get easier and you’ll feel better in yourself for doing something great!

So there you have it. Vegans and vegetarians are just people, people who are fed up of being criticised for their views. Let me just give you a final example;

Meat eating friend: what are you eating? Me: a sausage roll? Friend: OH MY GOD BUT I THOUGHT YOU WERE VEGETARIAN!!!!!!!!

Meat eating friend: what are you eating? Me: a veggie sausage roll? Friend: OH MY GOD WE GET IT YOU’RE VEGETARIAN YOU DONT HAVE TO GO ON ABOUT IT!!!

Maybe it’s not the vegans and vegetarians who are judgemental and defensive? Just a thought. Thank you for all my helpers! If anyone wants any advice on veganism or vegetarianism just message below or message anyone in this post using the insta links provided!

2 Comments

  1. Jane
    24th June 2017 / 12:30 pm

    Oh come on, I am 64 years young and know many vegans and vegetarians older than myself.

    • iyalouisa
      24th June 2017 / 12:47 pm

      Of course we’re not saying this is new thing! in fact your point makes this even worse that still in this day and age people are still stereotyping vegetarians and vegans even among the younger generation! Hopefully some people may read this and understand that it is just a lifestyle choice and vegans and vegetarians are just everyday people aswell as it not just being a phase or as said in the post “cool or hipster” thing to do (:

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