For nearly half my life I’ve been keeping a secret about who I really am... I’ve been hiding how I really feel, biting my tongue and pretending to be ‘normal’. I’ve been making excuses and avoiding situations in case the truth is revealed in front of an unaccepting crowd. Only those close to me have really known who I am and a lot of them were very surprised when they found out. When they did, some of them said things like, “wow, you don’t look/act like one of THOSE people...”. A lot of people think that it’s a passing phase and that I’ll grow out of it, and so when they find out how long I’ve been this way they assume that my parents must’ve influenced me. To be fair, my auntie was a strong influence, but she was on the other side of the planet...
The fear comes from the raft of negative responses that I’ve received over the last 18 years when I’ve told people I’m vegan. But that’s changing. There’s been a rapid rise in the number of vegans, for reasons increasingly associated with environmental and health benefits as well as animal welfare reasons. I don’t believe that we’ll save the world just by all turning vegan, and I do believe that it’s important to remember eat a balanced diet whatever that diet choice is... but there is no doubt that reducing the amount of meat and dairy we consume will provide numerous benefits across the board, hence the uprising. It’s becoming easier to be honest about being vegan as this lifestyle choice becomes more and more ‘normal’.
I’m a bit of a foul-mouthed, beer-swilling, blonde bimbo (not the image that some people would associate with veganism) but I do have some very strong values. I do wish that I’d come out earlier to help dispel myths about what being a vegan means, and to show that it is in fact perfectly ‘normal’. Don’t underestimate the size of your sphere of influence.
Words Hilary Lennox