Vegan Challenge // Inspirerende notitie

what you don't understand

Zoals beloofd, deel ik ook “kleine” dingetjes of weetjes met jullie tijdens de Vegan Challenge. Ik begin m’n notitie vandaag met een tip: als je ook meedoet of plant eens mee te doen, moet je zeker lid worden van de groep VeganChallenge deelnemers op Facebook. Hier kom je dagelijks mensen tegen die ook niet compleet bekend zijn met het veganisme, je kunt er vragen stellen en je komt er “veteraan” Vegan Challengers tegen. Heel leuk dus!

Ook kwam ik er een tekst tegen van Sophia Visbeek. Ik vond ‘m heel mooi en eerlijk. Na wat heen-en-weer berichtjes, mocht ik haar tekst publiceren op mijn site! Dus, bij deze:

In April I took part in the online 30 day Vegan Challenge. The challenge is to not eat any animal product for 1 month. No meat, no fish, no egg, no dairy products.
What I learned, is that a lot of people think of vegans as ‘freaks’, ‘extremists’ or skinny, slightly grumpy, pedantic people who wear hemp blouses and no make up. Actually, that last one just might have been my own image of vegan people.

I myself am an epicurean. I like luxurious (seafood) dinners, drinking excessive amounts of wine and I’m Dutch, which means I have an almost twisted love for cheese and dairy. Plus: I seriously dislike fussy eaters, they annoy the hell out of me.
Needless to say, my expectations of going vegan were not only positive ones.
Something many people wondered: why? Well, for several reasons. For me it was mostly out of curiosity. I like to cook, love vegetables and already didn’t eat a lot of meat, I figured it would be a fun way to be more creative in the kitchen, eat healthy and make the world a tiny bit better.

The month started off really easy. You don’t have to be a great chef to create a nice vegetable stir-fry with rice or a simple quinoa salad. I brought my own lunch to work and was being creative with all sorts of green juices and shakes. I made the most amazing cakes and desserts. And if I needed some inspiration, I went online and looked for recipes. What also helped, is that I participated in a documentary about veganism, and the crew took me and the other participant to vegan shops, regular supermarkets, cooking classes and restaurants to experience how being vegan in the ‘real world’ is. We were also guided by a nutritionist, who helped us create an eating schedule so we wouldn’t miss out on any vitamins and other healthy stuff.
I learned a lot about nutrition and how our body works, I ate more vegetables and fruits (400 grams of veggies and 400 grams of fruit a day!) in that month than in MY. ENTIRE. LIFE. I ate a whole lot of beans, sprouts, nuts and grains and tons of hummus, which lead to a serious hummus addiction. And I cooked delicious dinners for my friends and family, to make sure they would experience how tasty vegan food can be. I was doing goooooood.

But after about two weeks more difficult situations arose. A dinner with friends, a birthday party. At times it wasn’t so easy. I’ll be very honest about that. It’s no fun at all being at a birthday party and having to turn down the delicious-looking birthday cake, nibbling on a carrot and being super boring because you can’t drink wine and dislike beer. I’m a singer, so if I’d have to perform somewhere and dinner was provided for the band, I’d have to take my own food or make all kinds of requests and feeling guilty about it. The problem was not the food itself, it was the feeling of being difficult and demanding.
In restaurants, I quickly learned what to order and what possibilities there (usually) are, and that chefs are often willing to help you out, but when I felt like I was being that ‘fussy eater’, I pretended to have food allergies in stead of wanting to eat vegan.

I also struggled with the questions. Over and over and over again: ‘Why vegan? Why so extreme?’ And statements: ‘You’re looking a bit pale…’ or: ‘I don’t think it’s healthy, you should eat more protein.’ As much as I learned about the bio-industry and the poor quality of the meat we eat, and as much as I learned about the negative effect of the livestock market on the environment, at one point I just didn’t want to talk about it anymore. People acted like MY eating habits affected THEIR lives. I wasn’t being a freakish extremist, I was just eating plants!
Luckily, my friends and family were happy to hear my stories and enjoy my vegan pizza’s and tofu chocolate mousse.

I just learned not to try to convince people and not talk about it too much, especially with people who already have their opinions ready and are not willing to actually listen to you, but trying to get their point across by taking a bite out of their big fat steak while looking you dead in the eye. You go ahead and enjoy your steak, I’m not shocked. Neither am I missing out, I don’t even like steak.

A few months have past, and I can’t say I’m still 100% vegan now. After those 30 intense days I kind of let it go a bit. I do eat dairy every once in a while (I was craaaaaaving for a grilled cheese), and sometimes I drink a protein shake after workout. On my vacation in Bali I ate the best seafood ever.
And about my lifestyle… Well, I won’t talk about that now.
I think ANY improvement is good, and my way to contribute to creating a better world is through food.
I’m happy with the awareness the 30 day Vegan Challenge brought me, and happy with the way my eating habits have changed.

The 1st of October, another 30 day Vegan Challenge will start. And I will participate again. I’ll get back on my strict regime, enjoy my homemade dishes and realize the importance again. A better world starts with awareness and a first small step.”

Ik zit pas op de derde dag van de Vegan Challenge, maar kan me nu al vinden in Sophie’s woorden. Heb jij iets leuks om te delen of wil je je eigen ervaringen kwijt? Reageer dan vooral onder deze blogpost!

Lees alle blogposts over mijn Vegan Challenge hier.

Liefs, Marte

Je kunt me volgen op Instagram (@mh_marte), Twitter (@modernehippies) en Facebook (/martevanliere).