My mother was from Belgium, my father was from Hungary and both of them were great cooks. Goulash, stuffed cabbage rolls, Jarlsberg cheese, ox tongue, sour cream, paprika chicken, speck, salami and liverwurst were staples and I loved them all.
The kids in my primary class wanted to swap their Vegemite sandwiches for my salami sandwiches. No way mate, Vegemite tasted disgusting.
I’ve never liked steak, but I loved chicken, veal, tuna and pork. I drank milk by the litre and drowned everything in butter. I ate two eggs on most days.
I loved my veggies, but only ever thought that I could get my protein from animals and their bi-products. That is, after all, what all the TV commercials by the meat and dairy industry informed me. So I did my best to create healthy and balanced meals with palm-sized portions of meat accompanied by a big plate of vegetables.
Somewhere along the line my tastes altered and I changed from cows milk to soy milk in tea and on cereal, but I still ate dairy ice cream and yoghurt by the litre.
In my late 20s I changed to a mainly vegetarian diet for my health – there wasn’t a single thought given to the animals. I had a couple of dogs, that I loved with all my heart, but I believed that all the farm animals were just born to die. Their welfare and right to live never even registered with me.
I can’t remember when I first heard the word ‘vegan’, but I remember thinking that it was the most extreme thing to do – I put vegans in the same class as aliens. I could never be vegan. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to be vegan. All that deprivation – a life without eggs, tuna, chocolate, ice cream, lasagne, cheese, Cheese, CHEESE… No way. Never going to happen!
The animals, so what about the animals? I couldn’t imagine my life without all my favourite foods. The idea of it felt empty, bleak and depressing. What was the point of even living? Tuna, cheese and honey were too important to me and I couldn’t let them go. I could never be vegan.
Anyone who knew me would say that I loved animals, but there was a questioning voice inside me that was getting louder and louder, ‘If you love animals, how can you eat them?’
Midway through 2016, I wanted to change a few things in my life – transitioning to veganism was on the top of my list. That voice was now screaming at me and I felt like a fraud and a hypocrite – I needed to align my actions with my beliefs to feel peace within myself.
I made a point of joining vegan Facebook groups, I did lots of reading on veganism, talked to people about veganism; I fed myself knowledge, and armed myself with recipes, and most importantly I found substitutes for the foods that I knew I would miss in my life so I wouldn’t feel deprived. The transition was a breeze.
For me veganism isn’t about willpower or sacrifice, veganism is an absolute joy. Veganism isn’t about my tastebuds or my palate pleasure. Veganism isn’t a diet, it is a way of life. Veganism is about taking myself out of the equation, ensuring I don’t participate in the chain of cruelty. Vegan for the Animals. Vegan for Life.
Angela lives in the beautiful Byron Shire and loves her vegan life, animals, cooking, eating, dancing, tattoos and dirty chai.
For anyone thinking about transitioning to veganism, Angela would be happy to share her journey and the things that she has learned along the way. Just email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.