I have been vegan for roughly five years and, considering I am 21, it is a quirk I like to flex in classic Gen-Z style. Since lockdown I have had a lot, almost too much, time to reflect on my life choices.
Now, most of the time I’m distracted by the anxiety and embarrassment of minor mishaps that happened in primary school which no-one bar me remembers; like the time I laughed in science and spat my chewing gum out into my hair, or when I sent a three-page letter to my mum asking for a training bra at the ripe age of 11.
Recently, my musings have been centred around the comical juxtapositions within my vegan lifestyle. Delve with me into the top five most ridiculous vegan guilts I hold.
1. Nothing beats a bag of baby leaf, pre-washed and plastic-armoured spinach. I am sorry, but you know I am right. This feels poignant as we enter plastic-free July; I am very aware of the detrimental impact plastic packaging has on the environment. I know how critical I am of non-recyclable packing, especially in supermarkets. I am more than ‘woke’ to the fact since in Northern Ireland, where I live, there are plenty of farms that offer locally produced, package-free and in-season produce. Yet, those crisp, non-bitter, and pre-prepared spinach leaves do just hit the spot differently.
2. I am adamant that without tomato ketchup my life would be significantly less pleasurable. People say that the trick to veganism is seasoning. I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. As a girl who finds pepper spicy, and gets joy from dipping raw veggies into tomato ketchup and calling it gourmet, seasoning is something I like to defer to on special occasions. True, I should probably be downloading e-books by the unhealthy number of vegan chefs I ritualistically stalk on Instagram – but food envy will have to suffice for now when you are as lazy as I am in the kitchen.
3. I am a sucker for marketing. Paying extra for that vegan tick? Yes, please. Feeling like a top-tier vegan walking to the free-from, plant-based section of the supermarket in hopes of catching the eye of a fellow attractive vegan? You betcha. Following multiple foodie accounts to find new, overpriced vegan finds from brands who have hopped onto the veggie train? Of course. My guilt here is based on my ability to subconsciously recognise big brands perpetuating capitalist inequalities and continual abuse of the environment whilst, simultaneously, getting giddy seeing Jammy Dodgers with that glorious sunflower stamp of approval.
4. I fake an allergy when getting takeaways. My jealousy of watching others carelessly flip through a menu without vigorous scrutiny, and the acts of peering over the counter to check that the barista definitely used oat milk, or ringing to double check that the chips aren’t fried in the same oil as the burgers, has led me here. It’s just easier. After years of having a carnivore of an older brother threaten to baste my food in meat juices I have become paranoid, so forgive me for being overly cautious.
5. If I am ever lucky enough to have children of my own, I will most likely raise them eating vegetarian or pescatarian. Hear me out. I understand that a lot of parents wait until the child can decide whether or not to consume animal produce. This is a completely reasonable decision, often with the aim of avoiding diet culture, restriction, and maintaining a healthy relationship with food privilege. I mirror this view, but my guilt comes from feeling insecure in my own ability to cater for myself, let alone another human (no matter how tiny they are). Granted, there is so much information available for free on how to raise plant-based children which, more than likely, I will follow if the time comes. But right now? I am so lazy that the thought of responsibly researching another person’s intake bores me. Selfish I know, but at least I recognise it now so that, in time, I will make the effort to be more motivated.
Image: Joenomias via Pixabay