Shifting The Perspective On Veganism


Being a vegan in 2014 is not as easy as it would seem. First of all there is the daily struggle of finding somewhere to quickly grab some food. Even on a diverse campus like ours, trying to find something more than fruit that you can eat is nearing impossible. Some changes are starting to be made after criticism from Aberdeen University Veggie Society (something which I will always thank you for.) 

For a vegan at University, besides studying (of course) our number one priority is to eat as many calories in the shortest amount of time as is possible. It’s a way of life that only fellow vegans, veggies and heartbroken teenage girls know. Apart from the obvious, ‘all you eat are vegetables’ definition of being a vegan, not many people actually know what it entails. There are arguably three types of vegans in this world: the moral vegans, those who choose not to eat or (importantly) wear animal products as they are against animal suffering. There are the environmental vegans, saving the planet by using less water and crops to feed the animals, and less fuel to transport them to supermarkets and restaurants. And finally the category - in which I fall - the health vegans. My belief in the fact that animal products are ‘a bit gross’, resulted in my decision six months ago to embark on a dairy-free, meat-free existence. The issue with these subcategories is that eventually you end up concerning yourself with all three. Whether it’s a choice to be vegan for health, ultimately you help both other causes.

Apart from the obvious struggles we face everyday, being ‘openly-vegan and proud’ is actually quite uncommon in today’s collegiette world, and here’s why…

Stereotypically the world sees one kind of vegan: an armpit-hair growing, potentially not washing hippie whose only care in life is to free the animals and ‘make love, not war’. To me, this seems all very 1960s and not at all like the open-minded society of today. Sure some of these vegans may exist, but the majority of us are quite normal, and unless we openly discus our dietary habits you would never have known. We are also not anemic looking people who have no idea where to get our protein. (Therefore, don’t ask us where we get our protein from…) As for the hippie stereotype, not only are we not retro-dressed, believe it or not we can actually be quite fashionable. As a health vegan, to avoid the feeling of being a hypocrite, I also choose to not wear animal products. In 2014, this should be easy to do, right? Very wrong- especially when, as a shopper thinking that ‘leather is best, as it will last longer’ is so ingrained into our minds. Retailers are very aware of this, and I have come to the acceptance that I will never buy a pair of Top Shop shoes again. In contrast by default many items of clothing are simply vegan, and as a result cheaper on the pocket, cha-ching. 


Please realise; we do not smell bad- companies like Lush and brands which use natural sources for their products ensure we smell as fruity (if not more so) than the average meat eater, and that, yes we can be, and are interested in fashion. Deciding to not wear leather, fur, wool, suede and silk should not and (definitely) does not exclude us from enjoying this.

The flip side to being vegan however, is that as a fashion conscience girl, the idea of never owning a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s or having a Louis Vuitton bag on her arm was one sacrifice that definitely hurt a little…