Friday, June 19, 2009

Evyl Shnukums' Guide to Vegan Living

Because I have all the zeal of a recent convert, and because switching to veganism can be tricky in a place like South Africa, I have decided to write mine very own beginner's guide to being vegan.

First off examine your motives and ideas. If you approach this as a huge sacrifice, you will probably endure pain. If you approach it as a conscious, "fcuk you I won't buy what you tell me" decision, you'll have a lot more fun.

Bear in mind that a. this list is hardly exhaustive and b. I have been vegan for a total of 6 months, so I am hardly an expert. And of course the links here are rather lazily added, I'll add more when I can be bothered.

  1. Let's get the worst out of the way. Say goodbye to cheese. This is the one thing you probably will miss. Few cheese replacements are any good although Bute Island Cream Sheese is awesome, and Free Food's No-D Cheese (available from Fresh Earth) melts well in white sauces etc.

  2. You gotta like veggies. This may seem obvious, but I hear whispers of people who don't like vegetables. I feel sorry for them :)

  3. Meat is actually quite expensive so going vegan means you can afford to buy awesome stuff like cashews and capers and other tasty things you can eat instead of meat and animal products.

  4. Learn to cook. If you can toss up a nice veggie meal you will a. save money, b. eat less frankenfoods, c. have a prettier plate and d. still get all those nutrients people are forever quizzing you about. Find lots of recipes here.

  5. Don't let all your food consist of substitutes but do make use of them when convenience is an issue. Some substitutes (e.g Fry's, Bassets' Tofu Treats Ice Cream) are as good as the oringinal.

  6. Pack a lunchbox. Even if you have a work cafeteria, the chips and/or green salad will seem a bit samey by the third week.

  7. Get recommendations from people about restaurants, or go there and check out the menu. Don't be afraid to ask waiters, caterers etc what is in the food. They will usually be quite helpful, considering that some food allergies can be fatal they will usually be happy to tell you exactly what goes into a dish. Shahi Khana in Norwood and Sho Ming in Kensington, for example, are very understanding and helpful.

  8. Be prepared to get flak from people. The majority of people are cool with veganism but some people seem genuinely offended that a person may not want to eat dead animals.

  9. Arm yourself with knowledge. Read up on nutrition. Neutral sources like Patrick Holford will be a good start, as will veggie websites and recipe books. Also read up on general facts. E.g. if someone tells you that the Amazon is being cleared to grow soy for vegans, tell them that "85 percent of the world’s soybean crop is processed into meal and vegetable oil, and virtually all of that meal is used in animal feed. Some two percent of the soybean meal is further processed into soy flours and proteins for food use…" . Even better, refer them to Livestock's Long Shadow, published by the FAO.

  10. Join the Vegan Society.

  11. Do not be discouraged. Be assured that however small the difference *you personally* make, the cumulative difference made by all people who try, will have an effect.

  12. Remember that veganism is not really just a dietary preference. It is a lifestyle choice, and in some cases a political statement. It includes boycotting companies who test on animals (and trust me the bastards are everywhere), boycotting fur, boycotting products with animal ingredients. In a similar vein I avoid buying clothes made in China. It's that "fcuk you I won't buy what you tell me" approach again. No I'm sorry I will not buy your factory farmed chicken, your cosmetics tested on helpless animals, your tissues made from old-growth forests' trees, or your branded crap made in a sweatshop.

Real men don't rape

I read this article about a rather scary research study conducted by the MRC regarding rape and HIV/Aids. Do read the comments section too.

I responded to the article (and the commenters):

"Firstly, in the context of polygamy, virginity testing, women being violently abused for wearing trousers or short skirts, dry sex, jackrolling, female genital mutilation, and voting against the UN declaring rape an act of war, I am going to be so bold as to say that Africa has some serious problems when it comes to the issue of women's rights, and men's sense of entitlement. This does not mean that Africa is the only place where this is true, but many of these sexist practices are socially sactioned. If you do not oppose the practices I've listed, in my opinion you do hold that problematic ideal of masculinity Prof Jewkes refers to.

Secondly, my studies tell me that rape (by and large) is not a problem of "sick people". It is a problem of a society with skewed beliefs about women and sexuality. Be honest, how many of the men (even women) on here truly believe that an incident was rape if the woman did not physically resist and scream? Even if there was a weapon involved. How many people would say that a drunk woman in a bar was "asking for it"? All cultures have been subjected to pathological ideas about women's rights and about rape for centuries. As Gareth said, marital rape, "corrective" rape, date rape etc are not seen as rape. I agree with Delia that a more in-depth study of the motivating behaviour and the thinking behind rape would be beneficial, but such studies have been conducted on convicted rapists and the results are not particularly surprising. Entitlement and sexual myths play a huge role.

Thirdly, do remember that the study (if not the newspaper article) is peer-reviewed and the raw data, workings etc must be published and *will* be ripped to shreds if not rigourous. I am not sure about the provinces and the age group apparently used, but the sample size seems reasonable. The stats don't literally imply that if I'm on a bus with 4 men that one of them *is* a rapist.

Has any of the commenters actually read the report? And why do some of the men here seem so precious about this? Kind of like that ad with Charlize Theron. Can anyone deny the seriousness of the problem?

Oh and finally this is not a race issue. It's a gender rights issue."

Mysogyny should never be confused with traditionalism.