I Want To Go Vegan, But What’s In It For Me?

As you know, the word ‘vegan’ ultimately defines a lifestyle not complicit in the violence, cruelty and killing of non-human animals.

For lots of people, this is ample reason to be vegan. To know that no-one is suffering for you is benefit enough.

If you DID want any more reasons to go vegan, I GET IT – honestly.

After all, everyone else eats animal products, it’s so normalised in this culture. Every other commercial outlet on the High/Main Street is a kebab shop, a fast food joint, a fried chicken place.

Celebrities are posing with milk moustaches and doing yoghurt commercials.

Every lummox on the planet seems to be prattling on about their love for baaayycuuhhn (when did the whole bacon reinvention start? It was old man’s food when I was growing up). Now, apparently, if you don’t guzzle bacon, you are not living life to the fullest.

Every other ad is for burgers, butter, ice cream. Where are the ads for broccoli? For walnuts? For beetroot?

On top of this, lots of energy and money is being spent trying to make meat cool.  More and more ‘gourmet’ burger (WTF?) places are opening every day. I even see this in my own neighbourhood. A ‘restaurant’ called ‘Chicken Shop,’ owned by a well-known private members club group, has just launched near my house. It has chickens on a spit, and the menu is chicken, chicken or chicken, with either chips or corn. Lots of painfully ‘cool’ types are flocking there. For chicken. And corn.

Seriously, no-one could blame you for thinking that vegan is too ‘different,’ too ‘against the grain.’

I truly get that this is not (yet) a vegan world and that you need as much motivation as possible to help you go vegan. What are the benefits? What will help you tolerate all the above shizzoula?

Well, I’ll tell you of some of them, but there are many others that you will discover for yourself too.

Health

By avoiding animal products (and eating whole foods, of course), you have reduced your risk for heart disease and lots of cancers significantly, in fact some doctors in the field would say you are at almost zero risk of heart disease, eating this way.

You have also side- stepped diabetes, (or will be able to improve it, if you have it already), and are at lower risk for Alzheimer’s. There are a whole host of conditions that can be prevented or improved with a whole foods vegan diet, including asthma, and multiple sclerosis.

Skin/Appearance

A whole-foods plant-based diet will have you glowing, radiant, and oozing sparkle. Your skin and body will be the best they’ve ever been – and if you’re exercising, sleeping and relaxing enough too – well, baby, you’ve never looked so good.

Is this a superficial incentive? Perhaps. But don’t forget; the more you look after yourself and ensure that you feel great and confident and happy, the better you can help and look after other people; the more present you will be when you spend time with them, and the more joyful your interactions will be.

The ripple out effect of YOU feeling good is immense. When you feel lethargic, depressed, achy, insecure, or worse, then you cannot be much help, or bring much joy to anyone.

Other Silly, Limiting Constructs Become Clear – And Evaporate

Another benefit is that when you realise how ridiculous the ‘certain animals are food but others are pets,’ paradigm is (and all the rest we have around how we perceive animals as ‘other’), you begin to see lots of other things clearly, and all other ridiculous paradigms crumble.

Just as you’ve realised what humans do so they can justify eating certain beings; you recognise all the other silly human constructs that abound.

You see all the boxes, compartments and pigeon holes that lots of people need in order to feel secure, or a part of something – and you don’t need them any more. This is one of the most liberating things I found, and probably my absolute favourite extra benefit!

Environment

Do you have children? Grandchildren? Just know some good kids?

After you’ve gone do you want them to live on a clean planet, full of natural wonders, with fresh air and clean water?  Well, being vegan is the best thing you can do for the planet. The livestock industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transport combined, and is the prime cause of air and water pollution, deforestation, drought, and wildlife habitat destruction.

You CANNOT proclaim to be an environmentalist and eat meat. That would be silly. Like being a pacifist and a gun manufacturer. Or like being a nun and a porn star (!?).

World Hunger

Feeding grain to animals, to then feed the animals to humans is hardly energy or resource efficient.

Can we really justify this with so many people starving? When we know that if we all ate plant-based there would be enough food to go around, and then some? Knowing that you are not contributing to world hunger, while it may not directly benefit you, has to make you feel lighter, I’ll bet.

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You will discover lots of other incredible benefits for yourself, lots of them interlinked. As Dr T. Colin Campbell says in his life-saving book, The China Study:  “Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected.”

Trust me; the personal benefits of being vegan vastly outweigh being the odd one out who doesn’t eat baaaayyycuuuhnn, or not fitting in at ‘Gourmet Burger.’

How To Choose A Good Cow’s Milk Alternative

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As for which non-dairy milk is the best? This is subjective, and ultimately, completely down to your taste. Whichever one(s) tastes the best to you, is the one that will help you transition to and sustain a satisfying plant-based diet, so go forth and try them all till you find one (or a few) that suits.

There are superior and inferior, healthy and less healthy products however, so here’s the deal.

Firstly, you may well find you don’t really need a cow’s milk alternative. I sometimes just use water on my breakfast of oats, raisins, nuts and seeds, and it’s just fine, the liquid is just to moisten the dry oats (and the water kind of turns to oat milk in the bowl!), so it works perfectly.

As I mostly drink white/jasmine/green tea, no milk is needed for this either.

Ok, so let’s tackle the most controversial, common, non-dairy milk first. The milk of the soy.

Concerned about what you’ve read about soy making you gay, making men grow boobs, giving you cancer etc? Worry no more, really. No, REALLY.

Some people don’t digest soy too well, so if this is you, or if you’re allergic to soy- you have PLENTY of other options.

Ideally you want your milk to have as few ingredients as possible – just soy beans and water. The best one in the UK is Provamel Organic Unsweetened, which has just these two ingredients, but it is quite expensive. The Tesco and Asda Organic Soy Milks have water, soy beans, and natural flavouring. I’m not sure what the natural flavouring is, but I don’t use this milk often, and it’s a more acceptable price, so this is fine for me right now. Lots of US brands tend to have several other ingredients in, including added thickeners, salt, or vitamins.

The best US soy milk products I’ve found are Westsoy Organic Unsweetened, Edensoy Organic Unsweetened, and Trader Joes Organic Unsweetened. All these are just good ol’ soy beans and water.

Guess what? Exactly the same paradigm applies to all the other non-dairy milk alternatives. Whether its oat, hemp, almond, cashew, coconut, flax, brazil nut, rice, hazelnut, tomato or spinach milk (ok, I made those last two up), my recommendations are always the same:

If you can, make your own. There are plenty of ‘how-to’ vids on Youtube, and a few on the Vitamix site. Again, only if you can, make sure the ingredients are organic. You’ll be saving money by not buying cartons of milk. Don’t worry if you can’t budget for organic – you are still avoiding a ton of bad stuff by not drinking cow’s milk.

If you do buy your milk, make sure to choose the one with the least amount of ingredients (ideally just *nut/seed/grain*, water). If you need it sweetened, it should only have apple juice added.

If you are desperate, and can only find your chosen non-dairy alternative with a bucketload of ingredients – you REALLY don’t want it to contain sugar. Try above all to get one without sugar. Even salt as an ingredient is better than sugar.

Although I mainly use soy milk, I love almond and coconut milk. I must admit I’ve yet to try flax milk, but it’s on my to-do list for my next visit to the US, where it’s more widely available.

What do kiddos like? I’m sure this varies too, but I’ve given very neutral tasting soy milk sweetened with apple juice to non-vegan kids, and also rice milk without any complaints. If you have a kid that goes crazy for a certain non-dairy milk, please let us know in the comments!

Don’t Let Your Valentines Day Be A Flop (Yes, THAT Kind Of Flop!)

Go into any card shop right now, and all you’ll see are red cards with big ol’ hearts on them with schmaltzy messages inside. Except for the obscene ones. Is it me or are Valentines cards getting more vulgar every year? ‘Happy Valentine’s Day Sugar Tits’ anyone? I’m not even kidding. I stared at this card in disbelief. Any kid could see it.  Can you see the kid going home to his mum and saying ‘can I watch TV sugar tits?’  Or a little girl seeing the card and thinking that this is something she should aspire to being called one day? I have a point, right? I’m not just losing my sense of humour?

I was going to take the opportunity to write about heart health for V D (haha), and then thought it’s probably more interesting to use the occasion to write about sex. But, I just realised I can combine heart health AND sex.

How?

BECAUSE….heart disease and erectile dysfunction are basically the same disease.

Cholesterol, which is ONLY found in animal products; and saturated fat, which is mostly found in animal products (the only other source is coconut oil), are the main culprits behind erectile dysfunction. Why? Because they are responsible for blocked arteries, whether those arteries are to the heart or the penis. Blood flow is blood flow, and if blood can’t get to the heart because of blockages, heart disease ensues. If it can’t get down below because of blockages, bedroom problems ensue (yes, that is the correct medical term).

Therefore, the more animal products you eat, the more likely you are to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Don’t think you’re exempt from problems just for being female either. Women also need blood flow to their nether regions (I know! I really need to start being ok with using the correct terms) in just the same way men do, and if that doesn’t happen because not enough blood can get where it needs to go, then you’re not having the best time in the sack either.

These doctors tell it like it is.

Then there’s the energy factor. Plant-based foods deliver the best quality energy, especially complex carbohydrates (whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat products, oats, quinoa etc). This page from PCRM talks about the best food for athletes needing endurance and stamina – not bad advice to follow if you want optimal ‘boudoir’ performance.

Bottom line, the more whole food and plant-based you are, the better sex you’ll have. The myth of the meat-devouring male sex god is so dead it’s dust.

Happy Valentine’s Day! And remember, more plants = more fun!

Why I Blew A Fuse (Or Three) Last Week…

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, AAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGHHHH, RWOOOOOOAARR! BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECCCHHHHHH!

I am angry. Can you tell?

Apologies in advance for the ranty post.

What’s the problem you ask?

HA!

First this Huffington Post UK article last week, and then this one in Salon.com.

Lets tackle the shameless ass-hattery (that would be hilarious if it weren’t so damaging) of the Huffpost UK article first.

It starts by mentioning that there are around 150,000 vegans in the UK (several UK articles on veganism recently have begun the same way).  I’d love to know WHO COUNTED THEM AND HOW? NO-ONE ASKED ME OR MY PARTNER IF WE WERE VEGANS, EVER. And it wasn’t a question on the census as far as I can recall. So, there’s that questionable fact that just keeps on being spewed out. (The fewer vegans there are reported to be, the more ‘niche’ it looks, and the happier the meat and dairy industries are, so it’s not like there’s no agenda for this BS).

The ””’writer””’ says she tried to be vegan for a week based on the fact that some high profile, famous people are vegan or have recently tried it. Now I have NO problem with people going vegan’ish’, or trying vegan temporarily to see how it feels (any reduction in animal product consumption is, of course, to be encouraged), but this has to be the most capricious, superficial reason ever  – it was clear at the outset she wasn’t exactly going to throw her heart and mind into it.

With ZILCH research into the lifestyle, she embarked on it by ordering in all her vegan meals for the week (does she do this even when not vegan? Or does she only enter the kitchen if animals are to be cooked?).

Buying your own food IS difficult if you’ve given it as little thought as she did, but to say that vegan chocolate is expensive at £5 a bar is wrong and offensive. I JUST ATE A STARBUCKS BAR OF DARK CHOCOLATE THAT COST ME £1. And for those of you in the UK, M&S do a dark chocolate bar for 65p. Asda and Sainsburys (in their ‘free from’ sections, do vegan chocolate buttons and chocolate bars for around 45p. I know I’ve bought chocolate in the US – even from expensive Whole Foods – for way less than £5. See what she could’ve found out if she’d researched a tad?

And aren’t we beyond the protein question by now? Don’t we all now know that protein is in practically all plant-based foods and that it’s extremely rare in developed countries to be protein deficient whatever your diet ? Yet this person whines that she feels like eating a chicken breast does a better job of giving her protein than any plant-based food could.

She finishes by misinforming us that it’s harder to eat out with friends if you’re vegan. NO. IT’S. NOT.

Any ideas as to why this person was allowed to ‘write’ this execreble piece?

ARRRGHHH.

As for the salon.com article, this person is very commendably reducing her animal protein intake. But is very desperate to point out she will never be fully vegan. With phrases like…

‘I’ll never give up meat completely…’

‘I think a roast chicken is proof of heaven.’

[The way she ate] ‘…wasn’t restrictive.’

[She’s doing] ‘Nothing dramatic, nothing that screams of absolutism.’

‘You don’t have to go all PETA if you don’t want to.’

…it’s obvious she is eager to distance herself from vegans and portray their lifestyle as extreme and limited (which she bases on nothing but her own prejudice; or is it perhaps that because she can’t go fully vegan, she feels the need to discredit people who are?). She badly wants us to know that she is still ‘a regular Joe’ (my words) and that she still likes chicken the same as everyone else.

(For the record, NOT ALL VEGANS ARE INTO PETA. I can’t stand them. I don’t see the point in them campaigning to stop people commodifying animals, when they commodify women in most of their campaigns. To me that’s counter-productive. Shouldn’t we be commodifying precisely NO SENTIENT BEING EVER?).

She then says that she doesn’t like the idea of eating the amount of processed meat and dairy alternatives that ‘seems to be involved in giving up animals entirely.’

*slow hand clap*

…aaaaand well done for perpetuating the stereotype of vegans eating cardboard sausages and soy burgers for every meal.

Apparently she hated a vegan brownie that she tried. It tasted ‘like wet garbage smells.’ Yes, there are bad vegan treats, But GUESS WHAT? There are bad non-vegan treats too! For the love of God, have a vegan red velvet cupcake from Babycakes NYC and tell me THAT tastes bad I dare you! Complaining about one bad vegan brownie (which has the potential to make people think a vegan diet is boring and tastes bad) is not objective journalism.

With interest in plant-based eating going through the roof, there is of course the inevitable backlash that comes with it.

There are also people that are interested enough to dip their toes in the water, but have such warped perceptions of vegans, they feel they have to disassociate themselves with what they perceive them to be.

YOU are interested in a vegan lifestyle. I know this because you are reading this post right now. I’m sure you are reading many posts and articles on the subject, not just mine. This is fantastic; we absolutely should always be informing and educating ourselves on this amazing way to heal our bodies, the planet and to save animals. BUT, read carefully and question continually, I beg you. There’s a LOT of misinformation, prejudice and agenda-based nonsense out there.

Next week I’ll be happier, I promise!

 

 

Keep Colds At Bay The Plant-Based Way!

No273 13 Oct 2009 Sneeze from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 mcfarlandmo, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

So, if you’re in this hemisphere, you’ll know it’s winter. And if you have to travel by public transport every day like I do, you’ll have had the pleasure of dodging the sneezes and splutters of fellow travellers for a few months now. Maybe you’ve been the offender? Hell, it’s the best way to get a seat right?

On a train the other day, someone actually sneezed ON MY HEAD. I was sitting down, and as there were no seats left a girl was standing over me, holding on to my seat and reading her phone. I heard her sneeze build-up and didn’t sweat it too much as I assumed she would turn her head and the, um, sneeze rain (?) would land well away from me.

Instead she stayed where she was and put her hand over her nose. This would have been fine except the sneeze escaped from under her hand and landed on my head. Yes. The sneeze rain settled, droplet by droplet, On. My. Head.

Have you ever been laying on your back in yoga in the relaxation position, been caught off guard by a sneeze, and then felt the fine mist slowly land on your face? Me neither (Just kidding!) This felt similar, but on my scalp. I may wear a rain hat for the rest of the winter.

Needless to say, I didn’t know what to do with this. I sat with it for a while, and then decided to erase it from history. Then I got off the train at Streatham Hill.

What am I leading to? Well, I’m pretty sure you’ve had similar experiences at some point this season, and in order to avoid catching the lurgy it’s a good idea to give our immune systems a little help at this time of year.

Some swear by chicken soup, but as this is a meat-free zone, my plant-based tips for keeping away the snot-goblins are as follows:

  • This is a no-brainer, but I’m still gonna say it, dammit. Include more than ever lots of green leafy veg and plenty of citrus fruit in your diet. The clementines and navel oranges around at this time of year are vitamin C bombs and I’m positive they were invented for us public transport users. Eat them. Eat them on the train too. I love it when someone cracks open an orange on the train – it smells divine, and makes me want one too.
  • As we learned in this post, keep up the health of your gut, as this is the majority of your immune system. Make sure to eat some kimchi or sauerkraut several times a week, or at the very least, take a non-dairy probiotic every day throughout winter.
  • Garlic is your best friend in winter. It is good for your immune system by helping keep your gut in order, but on top of that it has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties and is a potent anti-inflammatory. You can crush it and put it in dishes at the end of cooking, and it will do it’s darndest to prevent you getting sick.

These next two are based on empirical evidence solely. I know they work for me, and that they will not harm you should you decide to try them (as indicated) too.

  • There is a product called Citricidal (GSE in the US). It is grapefruit seed extract, and a very powerful anti-viral, anti-biotic, and anti-fungal. If I’ve been travelling with lots of sniffly commuters, when I get home I put 2 drops of Citricidal in about a whiskey shot amount of water, and stir. I then take a cotton bud, dip one end it in the water and then swirl it around one nostril, then do the same with the other end in the other nostril, all the while sniffing slightly, so a tiny bit goes up my nose. I also do this before embarking on a plane journey, and it truly seems to keep me free from the lurgy.
  • If I feel like I have the first signs of a cold – the bone-ache, the slightly swollen feeling in the back of the throat etc, then I take half an umeboshi plum. If you don’t know these already, they are salted Japanese plums (available in health stores) and are the sourest little mofo’s you ever did taste – and that’s the point. They are extremely acidic, but they have an alkalising effect once in the body. And as you may be aware, the more alkaline your body is, the less disease it can harbour. If I remember to take half a plum in time, the cold-feelings are gone by the next day. Just remember to take a couple of mouthfuls of water afterwards, to rinse excess acid from your teeth. If they are too sour for you to eat as they are, then you can mash half a plum and stir it into some cooked brown rice. This actually flavours the rice nicely, and kids like it too. They are around ten pounds for a jar (around fifteen bucks in the US?), but if you only take them when you need them, they last an absolute age.

May the rest of your winter be cold free!

Why a Whole Food Vegan Lifestyle is Best for Weight Loss and Maintenance.

Start diet today from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 Alan Cleaver, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Recently, I’ve noticed lots of friends on social media bemoaning the fact that they’ve over-indulged during the holidays. They are now back on the ‘diet’ and are, quite understandably, miserable about it.

I am heartily grateful that I haven’t dieted for a very long time, and know that I’ll NEVER have to.

I’ve lost count of the number of insane diets and weight-loss programmes out there. Dukan, Atkins, Weightwatchers, Slimming World, it never ends, each year brings new diets, or old ones in new clothes (Hi Paleo! Didn’t you used to be Atkins?). Why? Because even though most of these diets DO work in the short term, they are not sustainable.

You’ve heard about conventional medicine only treating the symptoms, while holistic medicine treats the cause of the symptoms?

Well, it’s the same thing here.

These diets only treat the symptoms of a bad lifestyle, i.e. the excess weight, and don’t challenge the lifestyle itself. Therefore, most people will end up going back to their old habits, and in lots of cases even putting on extra weight.

We all know people who have done this. In fact, I don’t know anyone who has followed one of these diets and kept the weight off. And so, there is always a market for new diets, and always enough people to buy into them and hope that this next one will work.

I’ve always had a huge appetite. I know for a fact that if I was on, say, the Weightwatchers diet, I couldn’t possibly have two bites of a cheesecake instead of two slices. Once you’ve tasted the cheesecake (or whatever happens to be your favourite treat), that’s it, you’ve got the taste for it!

How horrific to have the taste for it but to not be able to eat as much of it as you want! And people say vegans are depriving themselves!

Better to make a healthy plant-based cheesecake, and be able to eat as much as you desire – but guess what? You won’t be able to eat that much as it’s made with whole foods, and is really filling.

The best cheesecake I ever had was at Cafe Gratitude, a vegan restaurant in San Francisco. It was better than any dairy cheesecake by far.

You can get very similar cheesecakes in some Whole Foods in the US (and I just saw you can also order them online!).

Some branches of Whole Foods in the UK sell the Saf White chocolate and jasmine tart (tastes like cheesecake!), and Inspiral cheesecakes are available online.

Or, if this is unavailable to you – you can make your own. They all taste just as good, if not better than dairy cheesecake – I promise! Wow, I just realised I’m coming across as obsessed with cheesecake – but, the same is true for any treat. You can nearly always make a veganized version, and in the rare case where you cannot, you still have a multitude of other treats to discover, that will keep you satisfied and happy.

It’s easier to change your lifestyle and mindset to a vegan one, and therefore not have the dairy cheesecake in the house in the first place and so not be tempted by it, than have it in close proximity constantly calling your name!  Rather fill your house up with plant-based whole food treats that will not make you pile on the poundage!

As we all know, it’s not a vegan diet in itself that is good for weight loss. Chips, cola and white bread are usually vegan, and of course they aren’t going to do anyone’s waistline any favours. Also, exercise is a vital part of any lifestyle, and equally as important to health and weight maintenance as a plant-based diet.

I mostly coach a whole food vegan lifestyle, that is to say, a vegan diet, with no refined carbohydrates (such as white sugar, white bread, white pasta and rice) just healthy, whole products (brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa. whole wheat bread etc). This is the optimal way to lose weight gradually and healthily), and in a way that will last.

If you are interested in losing weight in the healthiest and most sustainable way possible this year (no artery-clogging meat or ketosis bad breath with this lifestyle!), I am here to guide you through the transition, to inspire you with ideas for gorgeous, decadent meals and treats so you NEVER feel deprived , or like you’re on a ‘diet’. Who the hell wants the misery of a diet? Not me, and I’m betting, not you.

Vegan? Plant-based? Wtf?

I want to clarify what these terms are and how they came about. Firstly, let it be known that in terms of diet, these words are used interchangeably.

The term ‘vegan’ came about in 1944, and was coined by a guy called Donald Watson – founder of the Vegan Society in the UK, who wanted to distinguish between a vegetarian, who doesn’t eat animal flesh but eats other animal products, and people who didn’t eat any animal produce at all. He took the first three, and last two letters of the word ‘vegetarian,’ and voila! The term ‘vegan’ came about.

This was the word used for years to describe people who ate this way, until there came a time when there were so many negative associations with this word, that some people decided to use the term ‘plant-based’ instead.

Technically – there IS a difference in the meaning of these words. ‘Veganism’ can involve a whole lifestyle of ways in which to avoid cruelty to animals, i.e. not wearing fur, leather, wool etc, and not using any products containing animals or that have been tested on animals, whereas plant-based tends to refer to diet only.

I noticed recently, on some new health coach type websites, the term ‘plant-based’ being used. Upon further investigation, I realised that animal products were involved in their diet suggestions, so they really meant ‘mostly plant-based.’ I’m not suggesting these people are purposely usurping the dialogue, (or am I?) (Of course I’m not!) (Or am I?) but they are clearly not aware of the genesis of the term, and are (ok, most likely unwittingly) mis-using it so it fits their purpose. So I thought clarification was needed.

Which term do I use? I always used to say vegan. Then I learned the term ‘plant-based’ and totally latched on to that. Now? I really don’t care. I use them both. Thankfully, and not before time, vegan is not the dirty word it once was, and if someone really does have a problem with that word? Well, it’s exactly that – their problem.

People will project what they will whatEVER lifestyle you choose, so whatever term(s) you use to describe your diet – just own it, and know that any negative reactions are nothing to do with you.

Do you prefer one term over the other? Why? Please let me know in the comments.

I Hardly Eat Any Meat/Dairy/Eggs…

What is the most common response I get to people finding out I’m vegan?

I bet it’s not at all what you’d think.

I’m rarely met with the ‘but how do you get your protein?’ question that other vegans seem to get so often, and equally rarely do I get an indignant snort, followed by something along the lines of ‘good for you, now pass the bacon.’

Occasionally, I’m met with an ‘ooh, I don’t know how you do that, I couldn’t do it.’ But the most common response goes a bit like this:

‘Well, I don’t eat much meat, and I don’t really eat dairy either.’

Or:

‘I hardly ever eat meat, and I only have a tiny bit of milk in tea.’

Or:

‘Oh, I only eat meat for Saturday lunch, and rarely eat dairy.’

You get the gist.

I must say at this point, that it only ever comes up that I’m vegan in a natural, organic, way, when it is relevant to the conversation, and I never carry the subject any further, unless asked. So the people uttering the above phrases were not about to be judged in any way. No-one was asking them what they ate, and there was no need conversationally to offer this information.

My best guess as to why this is a common response is this.

They have heard the negative associations attached to the word vegan – one of them being that vegans are judgemental. Ironically, because of these preconceived ideas, they have judged ME as being judgemental before I’ve said a word on the subject. They thus feel the need to justify or explain their eating habits to a very bemused listener who had asked them precisely nothing.

My other issue with this response (though I would only bring this up in actual conversation if asked), is that we all tend to think we eat less of something than we actually do. The truth is, we never know how much we eat of something until we stop. And with dairy especially (as it has so many forms – whey, lactose etc), it crops up in everything, from cookies to cakes to tablets to sauces, so it can be difficult to keep track.

After all this time I’m still learning and trying to improve the ways in which I respond to the reactions I get if it comes up that I’m vegan. This one has always kind of stumped me, I usually just mumble something lame like ‘oh…ok.’

Any ideas?