I was a self-proclaimed “ethical vegetarian”: I bought into the humane myth, and sought out “ethical” dairy and eggs. It somehow did not occur to me that dairy cows didn’t live out their lives in pasture, and neither did laying hens. I started to do some digging, and soon realised that there is no such thing as ethical dairy or eggs: cows are enslaved for their mammary secretions and chickens for their menstrual products; male calves are torn away long before their natural weaning period, and killed for their soft flesh (veal) and skin; billions of male chicks in the egg industry are killed every year, at just a day old, by gassing, maceration or suffocation.
As I was starting to learn all of these terrible realities, which the media and big business had quite carefully hidden from me, I had the opportunity to try vegan for 40 days with Brendan. He was looking for something to do for Lent, and couldn’t think of anything meaningful. I suggested we do the vegan challenge. BEST IDEA EVER. It wasn’t scary (I didn’t have to give up cheese “forever”) and it was awesome not to do it alone. Long story short, I never looked back. As I did more reading and met other vegans, I became happier and more comfortable in turning my back on that horrendous industry, and instead, discovering dozens of new foods. I bought my first vegan cookbook (The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau), and learnt to love cooking. I’d always enjoyed baking, and I loved the challenge of baking without eggs and butter.
Being vegan today, in Cape Town, is easy as (vegan) pie. Seriously. There are hundreds of awesome vegan people here, and loads of “alternative” products in the supermarkets, and restaurant menus are becoming more and more vegan-friendly. Oh and of course, living in the Google age, there’s really no excuse!