Belinda Marsh

Veganism – The Cult of V

illustration by Iva Vopenkova

Recently on The Big Smoke there has been debate regarding what to/what not to eat – many of you will have read Mark Chu’s article Dog is organic, right? and Jordan Rivkin’s rebuttal Beyond Meat: Save the planet by not eating dog.

And the instant anyone discusses the majority’s omnivorous diet, the vegans weigh in with, “Go Vegan!” comments that make me want to facepalm my keyboard.

Veganism is not for everyone, but it is still spouted as one of the most ethical ways of eating by those who have sanctimoniously joined the cult of V.

The path towards it starts with questioning whether we indeed should be supporting the often vicious and inhumane treatment and killing of animals to feed our collective desire for red meat. Questioning production of chicken, pork and lamb follows a little further along the trail. As the path narrows, you consider by-products of these beasts such as butter, cheese, milk and eggs. The path starts to grow over with brambles as you think about honey, your new pair of leather shoes and where the cotton in your shirt comes from. You wonder if the sugar you are putting in your tea has been through a charcoal filter that may or may not have animal bones in it.

At the end of the path, which is by this stage only a dirt walking track as wide as your shoulders you have to slash through with a machete because it’s so overgrown with complexity, you’re wondering what there is left to eat. Despite your best environmental intentions, you’ve realised your soy milk (which replaced milk) is contributing to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and your farts are so wicked due to your increased bean intake that you are forming a new hole in the ozone layer, directly above your house.

Around five years ago, veganism led me into the most unhealthy spiral regarding food and my personal psychological attitude that I have ever been down, causing me to collapse on a treadmill at the gym because I had no B12 left and was dreadfully anaemic.

The more you think about what you eat, what you wear and what you do, the more it leads to that wonderful veggo/vegan holier-than-thou attitude the cult of V are famous for. (As an aside, I’d like to point out that veganism is not an environmental answer. Where does your electricity come from, vegan? What about the gas to cook your food? What about the petrol in your car, and the fumes said car emits? What about the non-leather alternatives, how are they produced, hmmm? Have a good, hard look at your ‘I’m saving the planet’ lifestyle.)

Naturally, there are many vegans who just keep it to themselves and get on with life, only mentioning it when it comes to the crunch (ie Sunday roast dinner). But others are so vociferous in their crusade that they make up for the quiet ones.

It got to the point where I started to consider the ethics of everything, and I mean everything. It did my head in. In my (now much healthier) mind it appears that we do indeed need B12. Funnily enough, the only place we can get B12 naturally is through meat and meat by-products. Ergo, we human beings are meant to eat meat or at the very least products, such as milk (which has B12 in it) that come from animals. Full stop. End of argument.

Granted, we omnivores are left with little choice regarding ethical meat consumption because it has become such a huge industrial machine, both greedy and inhumane. But there are options out there for those willing to do a bit of research. And don’t forget, we really don’t need as much meat as we think we do to get the nutrients we require, so spending a little more money on better quality and well-raised, ‘happy’ meat and maybe eating a little less of it because it costs more is an ethically and un-industrialised step in the right direction.

Always remember the Omnivore Michael Pollan who said: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants” (read his NY Times article) and, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.”

We simply all need to draw a personal line in the sand and do our best.

And vegans need to stop hassling those who refuse to join their unnatural cult.

Belinda Marsh

If Belinda could be a superhero, she would be Apostrophe Woman, using her powers to change misplaced and abused apostrophes. She has been known to explode in red-headed rages, so it’s best to be nice to her (offerings of chocolate have been known to help, albeit temporarily). Belinda likes to think she’s a writer, and has recently been thinking about a Masters. She has added this to her to-do list, somewhere after ‘buy more chocolate’ and ‘shave underarm hair’.

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  1. Robin Lillian said:

    I realize you are an ex-vegan, so maybe you have the perspective to explain:

    If vegans are coming from a place of compassion, why are so many of them so mean? (No, I did not approach them and demand that they defend their diet.)

    Why do I see so many diatribes about meat eaters being murders or even serial killers? What about people like Freelee the Banana Girl who actually said all meat eaters should be killed?

    Why is it I can’t find a vegan who accepts that someone who eats meat could be a decent person who cares about the environment? Why can’t they live and let live or agree to disagree? The only excuse I can think of is that malnutrition is affecting their brains.

    I think many of them only really value the lives of animals and hate people.

  2. David Young said:

    Veganism certainly is for everyone. Now more than ever.

  3. Kat Skull said:

    As en ex-vegan I think it fair to say that never in my life did I experience so many people thinking that I wanted to hear their thoughts on why my lifestyle choice was a stupid decision. They were essentially the holier than thou carnivore version. These sort of people people suck and are found across many social/recreational/professional groups. IE: Cyclists at a cafe at 7am on a Saturday morning and recently graduated lawyers at a bar on any evening. I think it’s important to remember that ultimately (as a rule), vegans are coming from a place of compassion. As you mentioned, our food system is greedy and inhumane but because the final product reaches us nicely packaged and ready to be delicious it’s easy to make the choice to ignore how it got there. Vegans are taking a stand while maybe the rest of us can’t be arsed.

    Personally, I never felt better than when I was a vegan but I found it consumed me as I living around every meal time. People are different and bodies are different. I have a girlfriend who DREAMS about meat if she doesn’t have any for a few days but when she does eat it (like me) she sources it ethically and avoids the mass produced and chemically laden tripe that Coles lines their shelves with.

    I feel that you were a little unfair here,

    “Where does your electricity come from, vegan? What about the gas to cook your food? ”

    Living a conscious lifestyle is fucking hard these days! Capitalism and the pursuit of profit or die has lead to unethical practices in pretty much every industry but (like you said) if we all make a some effort to be a little more aware of what we are choosing buy (Michael Pollan, “Vote with your dollar.”) with out being preachy we might all be a little better off. GIve the vegans a break, man. Go have some cheese.

  4. yalei wang said:

    haha, i agree with this article. I hate it when vegans go to such drastic measures such as not using a chopping board that meat has come into contact with or something extreme like that. There certainly seems to be a big of a haughty attitude that SOME but not all vegans possess.

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