Thursday, 1 November 2012

Making History on World #Vegan Day

Today is World Vegan Day.  If you are vegan already then I am sure you are celebrating along with me and an ever growing army of vegans around the World.  If you are not (or not yet) vegan then perhaps you are wondering what all the fuss is about.  Maybe my story will be helpful, but even if it isn't, if you read to the end there is a link to the Making History video that definitely will be.

I have been a dietary vegan for almost 3 years and a lifestyle vegan for exactly 2 years and 2 months, having taken the Vegan Pledge on 1st September 2010 as a 45 year old, Scottish (very Glaswegian actually), businessman and possibly the most unlikely vegan you might be introduced to.  It certainly surprises a lot of people when I tell them and I rather enjoy that reaction now.

In case I have given anyone the wrong idea, the Vegan Pledge does not oblige you to renounce your old ways forever, it simply requires you to commit to trying vegan for a set period of time.

When you sign up you are given the choice of 1 week, 2 weeks or 1 month.  You are also put in touch with a mentor.  If your mentors get it right, you probably will renounce your old ways, as I did, but they will get it right by being supportive and definitely not preachy.

My mentors were the wonderful Sasha and Mitsu who run the website To Happy Vegans and Rob, the Vice Chair of Sea Shepherd UK and a lifetime activist for Sea Shepherd, the amazing marine conservation organisation that he also recruited me into as a volunteer.  Together, their help, advice and guidance meant that there was never any chance of me reverting back to my unhappy and very unhealthy, life-shortening carnivore ways.

With all this help from the Vegan Society, To Happy Vegans and Rob's Sea Shepherd family I had it very easy for my own journey to a better lifestyle.  So my earnest advice if you are not yet vegan is to surround yourself with caring, decent, subject matter experts who care about you as a person and genuinely want to help - the Vegan Society have got lots of trusted mentors all around the UK and beyond and they will be delighted to put you in touch.

Sea Shepherd chef Laura Dakin cooking in her
100% vegan galley on board the MV Steve Irwin

I want to finish today with what has had the biggest impact on my decision to get here and also to stay here.  The Vegan Society will tell you that there are 3 main reasons for someone being vegan: Vegan for the animals, living ethically; Vegan for the planet, living sustainably; Vegan for your health, living well.

Any Sea Shepherd will tell you that there is a 4th reason, Vegan by example, living by leadership.

As Sea Shepherds we maintain ships at sea and volunteer teams on the ground wherever in the World there are atrocities being committed against marine wildlife.  We insist that individuals and nation-states abide by their obligation under the UN World Charter for nature not to murder the animals they have targeted either as brass-necked, we don't care what you think of us "exotic meat" or - as in the case of the Japanese Government - for bogus research, as if they're fooling anybody.  The "defense" we hear most often from these countries is that we kill cows and sheep and pigs and hens so why shouldn't they kill whales and dolphins?

I have a very simple answer to that. I don't. Neither does anyone on board our ships during campaigns. Nor does anyone I consider as a true friend. Nor does anyone who could genuinely consider themselves a friend to the planet.

So how about it?  If you are reading my blog you are probably on the side of whales and dolphins anyway.  Today, on World Vegan Day, will you take the Vegan Pledge - even just for 1 week - and get yourself on the side of all our other companions on this great big journey on Spaceship Earth?

Here's the Making History video.  Enjoy: