Hippies, Anarchists and Hipsters.
Going Vegan? Could You? Wait, what!?
It’s one of those love/hate things. Even the word, “Vegan”, can stir up a lot of stuff in people. Until you love it, you probably hate it and you’re likely to know plenty of people in your circle who do! The dreaded V word. UGH! Me? I love it! No surprise there I guess. Loud and proud baby!
I mean what kind of middle class, middle aged, conservative career cop would leave their respectable and secure, government employment and open a VEGAN B&B unless they were all kinds of crazy!
Prior to my jumping off point in 2012, the word “Vegan” was still seen as some kind of leftie/socialist/extremist thing. At least in the circles I moved in. It was way before Beyonce, top ranked tennis players and F1 drivers started to give it their golden thumbs up. I mean would anyone even come to a VEGAN B&B?
Until the past couple of years, the conservative collective disdain for Veganism allowed the masses to neatly compartmentalise those of us who enjoyed “cardboard and weeds” as either “Bloody Hippies” “Bloody Anarchists” or “Bloody Hipsters”. Depending on which side of Fitzroy Street you hung out on, one of them may still be quite accurate thanks very much.
But the tipping point is coming fast my lovelies! Going Vegan has never been easier or more supported.
The Year of The Mainstream Vegan.
And we straightedge types were here all the time of course.
Boring AF really, not worth getting a Steak Salivators knickers in a twist. Out of sight, out of mind, we green tinged, beige people are kinda invisible. Yawn.
We walked among you and many of you didn’t even know it. In fact some of you knew us but liked us despite of it.. We tended to shut up, ate our veggies quietly and didn’t shove a Dominion banner under your nose. But you know how it is with the quiet ones right!
But what’s been going on with you lately? Maybe something vaguely disconcerting…
Despite a penchant for anti-vegan memes and declarations of devotion to dairy and bacon, maybe you’ve experienced a recent sense of discomfort as you go to order a BLT on a sunny, summer Sunday and then, by some weird compulsion, choose the falafel wrap instead. Maybe it looked more appealing or maybe it was that glimpse of gas chamber footage on a Vegan friend’s Facebook feed…
Or perhaps you secretly donated to Animals Australia. Those images on prime time TV of dying sheep laying in their own filth on ships bound for the Middle East made you feel kind of sick in the stomach…
Or you’ve been pondering your 5 year old’s future. Consideration of the various livestock industries hefty contribution to global warming providing more than one sobering reality check. I mean with Sir David and Jane Goodall and even Arnie giving meat its marching orders to save the planet, we know this veggie thing isn’t just a “personal choice” any more.
In my age group, it’s often decades of “life’s short, eat what you want” lifestyle choices catching up. Then the realisation that your brother’s cardiac event came right after he smashed that Bacon Deluxe Hunger Tamer from Hungry Jack’s. The place you take the kids to once a week for a treat…
Whatever the source of a shift, you’ve realised you’re not finding that annoying colleague who brings vegan donuts to meetings, quite so aggravating of late…
Going Vegan? Could you? Would you?
Meat Free Monday and cheese free pizza from time to time is one thing right, but isn’t going vegan a bit/lot extreme?
Well, I guess it’s all dependent on where you’re coming from; Geographically, intellectually or emotionally.
Born and bred on a cattle station in Southern Queensland? Roo shooting, pig dogging, rodeos and getting drunk as your main form of entertainment? Hell yes it’s extreme. In fact, it’s bloody un-Australian mate!
Those of us raised closer to the coast or exposed to alternative lifestyles and options, going vegan may be seeming less and less so. Seems everyone knows someone who’s Vegan these days.
For those prepared to learn the reality of consuming animal products, it often shifts from choice to imperative mighty fast.
Happily, with the proliferation of so many plant based options in supermarkets, cafes and online, it’s never been easier to get started. Being Lactose Intolerant has become more a blessing than a curse with so many delicious plant based alternatives. You’re almost there Dairy Free comrades. The Dark Side awaits!
But what about eggs? Well, the ethics of grinding up useless male baby chicks alive aside, there’s continuing confusion fuelled by personal trainers and the muscle obsessed that if 1 egg is ok, a dozen a day is equal to “Gainz bro”…
Cholesterol be damned right.
Good news about bad habits sell like nothing else. Tell the people what they want to hear..and eat. Fat is back. The inconvenient fact that our bodies naturally produce all the cholesterol we need is overlooked in our rush to eat 4 eggs for breakfast and dump butter in our coffee.
And so years of environmentally irresponsible dietary fads persist, despite many now experiencing first hand the hazards of consuming a diet high in animal fat and protein. IGF-1? Arachidonic Acid? Who cares? High in calories, low in nutrient density and diversity? Pffffttt.
But I don’t like vegetables!
The Beet Retreat may crush on sexy salads and vibrant veggies, but all that plant food at one sitting can look pretty daunting at the start. I get it. Not all of you are Rainbow People!
100’s of people have come through The Beet Retreat cooking classes now, with 3/4 being “Veggie Curious” rather than vegan. It’s great to see people from every demographic having a desire to know more and do more. Now that I am located in Noosa with a smaller kitchen I no longer do the big group classes I did in the Yarra Valley but am always available for private classes for up to 3 people so hit me up if you’re keen. I think it’s a nicer way for people to learn when they can have a face to face, small group connection with someone they can call on later who gets it.
Now “re-heating” this post that I originally made in 2018, I also have a downloadable Meal Planner and Nutrition Guide that was especially created with other midlife women in mind but of course is suitable for anyone wanting a solid intro to simple, nutrient dense meals and guidance about bone health and other factors we need to be mindful of as we age.
Is Vegan. Is Good!
Most the time anyway. If you have any interest in going vegan, how you navigate that food-wise should be directed by your current health and activity level. The younger, healthier and active you are, the more liberties you may be able to take as you salivate over the stands at the plethora of vegan markets abounding. In honesty, if your anywhere near “fat, sick and nearly dead” so to speak, you don’t want to stuff around.
No vegan donuts for you if you want to pull back from the brink and yeah, you may well feel like you’ve landed in a parallel universe of Mung beans and Acai Bowls for a while but I promise you, you’ll learn to love it and you sure will love how it makes you feel when you dump the meds and hospital visits and can live life to the full again!
Family Friendly Crowd Pleasers
If you’re ready to at least try going vegan in the new year, there’s a stack of great resources to guide you on your way right now.
Veganuary has become a worldwide phenomenon, helping more and more people shift to a Vegan diet each January! Sign up for free and enjoy the support of other newbies from all around the globe! They are expecting over 300,000 to sign up for going vegan in 2019!
My beloved Animal Liberation Victoria has a great program for those who seek familiar Aussie fare that won’t be too much of a shock to the system if comfort food is your thing. Check it out here and sign up for the free 30 day challenge! Veganeasy
I also love these guys… I’m pretty sure everyone does! Irish brothers The Happy Pear! Great food, great vibe. Check out their Youtube channel for free recipes that will get all the family on board and they also have a great 4 week Heart Healthy programme that you do have to pay for but may be worth a look. They have a Gut Health one too.
Nutrition and Recipe Resources:
One of my favourite YouTube channels and “influencers” is Sadia Badiei, a Dietetics graduate, with https://www.pickuplimes.com Go there for stunning and healthful recipes and loads of great information regarding nutrition and lifestyle. And updating this in 2023 she’s JUST launched an APP that is magnificent!! Well worth considering IMHO.
My other favourite, and home grown Aussie, resource is Simon Hill’s The Proof. Go there for all things evidence based nutrition, great (free!) recipes, a really fabulous podcast and a book! https://plantproof.com/category/recipes/
For those seeking simple, low fat, sugar and salt whole food recipes check out local Aussie platform Cooking With Plants Anja’s Youtube channel recipes are easy to follow and no frills. She has lots of ebooks also.
Lastly, check out the awesome Not-For-Profit Doctors For Nutrition.
Jump on the website if you’re thinking of going vegan, or already are, as this will provide you with a wealth of information from some of the most respected health practitioners in plant based nutrition. This is a GREAT resource for health professionals!
If I can, you can.
In closing, I want to share this with you. When I went vegan it was all about the animals. I simply could not be part of their suffering any longer. I knew so little about the delicious possibilities of a plant based diet that I really thought I was giving up pancakes forever! TRUE STORY! Yup, zero clue!
Animals meant far more to me than my love of pancakes of course but what happiness it was to discover that it wasn’t only pancakes I could still enjoy but just about every dish I’d ever loved! Just Veganised!
More so, I found myself deep diving into some of the most delicious food I’d eaten in my life! It felt and still does like some kind of cosmic reward for showing empathy and respect toward other beings. Maybe I do believe in Karma after all!
No matter where you are right now on the animal eating v plant eating spectrum, or how you feel about animals as human food, or what you may know or not know about nutrition, or how old or how young you are, how active or how sedentary, how conservative or enlivened your tastebuds or mind, this way of life, done properly with a willingness to learn and explore a little, will create more and more magic and happiness in your life.
Trust me. On the radical extremist front I wasn’t even a blip on the radar. I didn’t know a Chia Seed from a Cacao Bean and I was the loser asked to bring the coke and bread sticks on Christmas Day… You know how families tend to delegate that one to the relatives who are crap in the kitchen?
Just look at me NOW baby!!!
Who says you can’t teach an
old dog middle aged woman new tricks! If you also fall into that category you can also follow me on the Instagram page of my “alter ego” Marvellously Midlife which is where I share all things related to my post 50 (now post 60!) journey that you may hopefully find beneficial, informative and inspiring.
For me going Vegan or Plant Based/Strong/Centric or whatever you may like to call this change of how you eat/live and the way your values have shifted is a way of life based on giving a shit. That is how I see it. Be it for animals, planet or our health. Whatever it represents for you is your business my friend. The thing is you do you yeah? Living Vegan is the thing I am probably most proud of in this life of mine. Cos it was the catalyst of all the things I did that mattered most and harmed least since 2012.
It may become that for you too. But the only way you find out is in the doing and the being. I wish you all the joy I found and more. And as always, if I can be of assistance, just ask. That’s part of what I am proud of too. Being here for you.