When I started The Indian Guy with my wife in July 2018, I was a full on meat eater. As I’ve said many times before, our food has always been vegetarian (and then vegan) not because of personal beliefs, but because that’s how the best street food dishes are born in India, due to the climate.
However, by coincidence I personally went vegan in the summer of 2019. Nothing to do with the business at all. During lockdown 1.0, I had some time on my hands so wrote about my journey into veganism…
It was around 11pm, maybe a Tuesday. I don’t know if it was raining outside. It doesn’t matter.
I was in bed with my wife fast asleep beside me while I allowed my mind to cause havoc, preventing me from sleeping. I did what I usually do in this situation – I put on some clothes, went downstairs, made a cup of green tea and went for a walk around the block. Just kidding, I obviously did what most normal people do: I reached for my phone and started scrolling through Facebook.
The usual nonsense flickered in front of my half-open eyes: someone showing off the fact they were on holiday (hashtag no filter – so cool), some other guy making a bold political statement on subjects I don’t understand and, my favourite, an abundance of memes. Further down my feed I spotted a link to a video clip:
“2015 Expose – the dark side of dairy”. I clicked it.
Over the next 4 minutes, I learnt very quickly that I knew nothing about where my milk, cheese and butter comes from. As in, I knew it came from cows, but I didn’t quite understand the process. Not even close. I won’t go into detail, that’s not relevant right now. It’s impact on me was the following:
I saw the face of my dog in one of the calves that was being beaten over the head shortly after being born. There’s no propaganda here, I’m just saying what I saw. Clearly the baby calf wasn’t enjoying this process and obviously it was disturbing to see. We have a Staffie-cross (a breed of dog for you non-doggers) and, for some reason, the facial structure, facial expression, the eyes…whatever you want to call it, reminded me of our dog who was sleeping in the next room – its own bloody room, might I add. In a few seconds, I had this crazy realisation that I was a moral hypocrite.
Why was I literally giving my money, time and love to one animal and eating the carcass and drinking the secretions of others? It didn’t make sense. This baby calf was being battered to death so that we humans can drink milk and eat cheese. Admittedly, this slaughterhouse was particularly brutal and messed up, but male calves being killed within 24-48 hours of birth in the dairy industry is standard practise. They’re a waste product unless reared for veal, so what else they gonna do with them? Surely, this is completely messed up?! I’d made up my mind there and then – no more dairy. I went to sleep at peace with my decision and mentally disturbed by the images I’d just seen.
The next morning I told my wife that I didn’t want to eat dairy anymore. I explained the story of the video and the connection I made with Kodi, our dog. At this point, I wasn’t really thinking about meat. I’ve eaten everything since I was about 13. My family are “Jain” (a branch of Hinduism…ish. Closer to Buddhism I think – look it up), and although I wasn’t religious I was still brought up in a vegetarian environment. Even the meat-eating Indians I knew wouldn’t eat the “Holy Cow”. It’s sacred to Hindus. It’s a massive Hin-don’t. But I ate it all. How else was I gonna enjoy a (large) Big Mac Meal?
I couldn’t stop eating dairy and carry on eating animals, though, could I? That would be ridiculous. The definition of moral hypocrisy would be “I don’t want to drink or eat cow secretions (milk, cheese, butter), but I’ll eat any dead animal put in front of me.” Nah. That’s even more messed up. So there it was – I had to become a vegan. I WANTED to become a vegan.
As a result, my wife and I decided to become vegans. We were never massive meat eaters anyway, but it was still going to be a big change.
Psychologically, it was easy, as I knew I wanted my actions to align with my morals. But practically, my wife took on the task like a trooper and immediately started researching recipes etc. And this is where it all began. A 4-minute video led to a dramatic overnight change. What are my carnivorous mates (with their enormous canines) going to say? People hate vegans – how am I going to cope with being ridiculed more so than usual? I wasn’t sure how I’d cope. But I just knew I couldn’t continue my current eating habits. Something felt deeply wrong about it. If that’s what an animal has to endure to satisfy my taste pleasures, it had to stop. There will be a few bumps in the road, but each bump made me even more determined about what I had to do. However tasty said bump was.