Finally a Veganby Stephanie Jane
Published on December 15, 2020
Format: eBook Source: Book Tour
Stephanie Jane took part in #Veganuary, the month-long global challenge to try veganism, for January 2019. In Finally a Vegan she describes how her changing attitudes to animal welfare and exploitation led her from staunch omnivore to vegetarianism in the preceding years. She recalls her excitement at taking part in the challenge itself and shares her daily food diary, failures as well as triumphs.
Ideal for vegan-curious readers, Finally a Vegan is an insightful memoir inspired by one life-changing month.
10% of Finally A Vegan profits will be donated to vegan projects and charities.
I interviewed author Stephanie James about her book Finally A Vegan. This book was a good introduction to what it is like to decide to make a change to your diet and lifestyle.
What do you feel is the biggest benefit and greatest downside you have discovered from going vegan?
The biggest benefit for me is the great lift in my mood which began in my first Veganuary and
has continued ever since. As I mention in Finally a Vegan, I must have been subconsciously
stressing myself about my daily support of the animal agriculture industry that I found
increasingly abhorrent. I spent years trying to be more ethical, buying higher welfare and more
locally sourced animal products, but it wasn’t enough. Once the penny dropped that I could just
stop buying them altogether, I felt so much happier. I now start each day with a far more positive
outlook which influences all aspects of my life.
A downside I suppose is the destruction of my trust in the honesty of food labelling. In the UK,
and no doubt in other countries too, marketing phrases like ‘sustainable’, ‘free range’ and
‘organic’ can be used to mask some truly inhumane practices so I now do a lot more research
into the businesses I choose to give my money to. It’s time-consuming, but I feel it is worthwhile.
Plus, there’s a vegan joke that even when a product is clearly marked vegan, we all still squint
at the tiny-font ingredients list just to be sure. I frequently catch myself doing this!
There are trends now to differentiate between the diet (plant-based) and the diet plus ethical lifestyle (vegan). What do you feel about the importance of labels and what are the pros and cons of this?
Personally I like the differentiation between the plantbased and vegan labels because I found
this useful myself. I didn’t call myself vegan for several months until I felt I really had a grip on
the lifestyle. For those of us who came to veganism in stages, it seemed somehow less
overwhelming to gradually upgrade our labels so using plantbased was a good stopgap. The
word vegan itself now does also have negative connotations in some circles, so I can also
understand people preferring to say plantbased as it can be less triggering. To be honest
though, I think that people, particularly on social media, do get too hung up arguing about labels
when their energy could be directed towards actions instead.
I’ve noticed that when I’m asked about my diet, people tend to respond very emotionally. They can get defensive and give long explanations about why they still eat meat or they want to argue about my choices. What are some responses that you get when people find out that you are vegan?
I tend to find that people are either intrigued or completely dismissive (or already vegan
themselves which is becoming more common and is a delight). Like you say, responses are
frequently determined on a purely emotional level with people leaping to defend themselves
from their ideas about what I ‘must’ think. I sometimes feel as if my mere existence is pricking
consciences even if I haven’t actually said anything contentious.
I often encounter people who announce that they only buy local meat as if they possess some
magic forcefield that prevents mistreatment of any animal within a 20 mile radius. The most
frequent protest though is from people who would absolutely love to be vegan except they just
can’t imagine giving up dairy cheese. I have started to suggest a few months of being vegan in
everything else, then to gradually work in vegan cheeses. The usual response to that is a flurry
of other excuses, but a couple of chats have resulted in the idea being taken on board which is
encouraging. Every plantbased meal chosen instead of an animal based meal does make a
difference, especially to the animal who did not become that meal.
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