I don’t know about you but everywhere I look there seems to be that little green symbol saying “Vegan”! Whether it is on menus, food packaging or staring you in the face from a restaurant window there is no escaping the big V word.
Now, there are many different views and opinions on the vegan diet, or should I say plant based lifestyle. You get the people who become vegan for environmental reasons, then there are the animal lovers, the I-want-to-jump-on-the-band-wagoners, and also people who want to see if it will help them loose an extra few kgs. No matter what view a veganer (a nice new term I made up) has, it all results in the
same thing…. No meat, dairy or eggs.
I have been doing quite a bit of traveling around Europe over the past year but every time I come back to Cape Town's food scene I am blown away by the prevalence of the vegan movement. Not even forward-thinking Sweden or Norway or Instagram loving Australia have the same amount of vegan food options. Take for example Knead Bakery. I went there the other day to find they now have 10 vegan options. TEN!! And the best part is that most of them are cheaper than the regular options. Whereas in New Zealand for example, a restaurant seems to think if they slap the word vegan next to an option it gives them the right to increase the cost by 10%! So, I congratulate South Africa for this and for making veganism less of a rich person’s diet.
I’ll be honest with you, I’ve tried being vegan twice. Both times were actually very successful for what I wanted to get out of it. I wanted to do a month of clean eating and lots of exercise which is exactly what I did and both times lost 5kgs in a month. The greenery was a welcome change to the endless pasta and gelato I had been consuming while living in Italy.
It’s all well and good to say you’re a vegan but the practicality of it can be a problem. One of the main problems about being a vegan is the inconvenience on your social life. Turning up to a braai with your aubergine and veggie skewers is just not the same as turning up with a big fat juicy steak. However, I feel like that is slowly changing, I see more salads and vegetables turning up on the serving table and more men seem to be evening out their meat to veg ratio. But the number one challenge for me was my older family members, mainly my grandparents. Every time I turned up at their house I was always welcomed with tea and buttery cookies. Lunch would involve a lot of cheeses and cold meats and supper was meat meat meat plus a boring salad. I would try to avoid going to their houses just to avoid the awkward conversation about my lack of meat and they make you feel guilty! The older generation just don’t seem to comprehend that we don’t need meat to survive.
I’m not sure how many of you have watched the very talked about Netflix Game Changers movie. If you have I’m sure you were swayed in some way to reduce your meat and dairy intake, if you weren’t I would be very surprised because when you have James Cameron steering the ship and Arnold Schwarzenegger telling you he is stronger without meat it’s hard to see why you shouldn’t give vegan a go. However, if you are considering reducing your meat intake be vigilant of your energy levels because many people find they have a drop in energy and this is mainly due to a lack of B12 and iron. The best way to overcome this is by taking supplements. But I’m no nutritionist so don’t trust me!
All in all I’m very impressed that so many of us are giving the old (or should I say new) vegan lifestyle a go. There’s no harm in trying it, plus you realise that vegetables can actually be more tasty than meat!