From Broccoli is bargain:

1)  How long have you been vegan for?

I went Vegan on October 1st 2012. It felt incredibly good even just after a couple of days, and am every day prouder for such an achievement.

2)  What made you become a vegan?

I had been considering going vegetarian for quite some time as I always liked animals, but never really appreciated what it would mean to ‘love them enough not to eat them’. To motivate myself I watched the documentary ‘Earthlings’, not knowing it would change my life forever. The reality of animal farming, mistreating and exploitation hit me like a truck at full speed and I decided I was not going to participate in any of that cruelty any longer. I vegan that same day and never looked back.

3)  How is it affecting your lifestyle?

The positives outweigh the negatives, and anyone stating the opposite is doing it wrong… Being vegan is something which not only brings peace of mind, but opens you to a whole new outlook on life and behaviour, it makes you even more compassionate and empathetic, and truly motivates into ‘doing good’ everywhere. I have increased my eco-consciousness as well as my desire to educate people into all the options life has to offer without harming and instead, being positive minded.

However, I did find making the transition quite difficult as four years ago the information and options available was not quite as ‘out there’. I did a lot of research on the internet, bought a whole library on veganism (both ethical and cooking books) and even got myself a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition and Plant based cooking! I realized it would be a lot easier for me to take care of myself and my new habits instead of relying on others to do that, so even though I realised restaurants and supermarkets should have catered more for everyone’s needs, I sorted myself out pretty well. Thankfully people are evolving into thinking outside the box, and I can see that making the transition today is becoming easier and easier, and I encourage everyone to do it.

4)  What is the greatest prejudice about vegans in western society?

Unfortunately the concept of ‘vegan’ is often translated as ‘forceful activists wanting to change people’, and even though some vegans do it for the right reasons, they can be a little extreme and end up getting misunderstood and pushed away. I believe in educating people in a positive and encouraging way, which is why even though I strongly believe exploiting animals in any way is very wrong, I praise people who demonstrate even the slightest desire to improve by taking small steps, such as buying only organic meats and cheeses, wearing less leather and ditching all the furs. They are great steps if we consider until now there was ‘nothing wrong’ with eating animals and using their by-products in our culture! I would be a hypocrite if I were to attack someone for not yet having made the connection, as I was not born a vegan but educated myself to be one. I am proud to see the change I have slowly created in my family, friends and colleagues, as well as the much higher consciousness about the concept I have introduced with education instead of closing them out of my circles and avoiding dialogue unless to denigrate their choices.

5)  What are the benefits of being vegan?

Where to begin… The benefits are never-ending, from an emotional perspective to health improvement: vitality and energy, everything seems to become heightened! I remember going for blood tests on the day I went vegan, then again months later, and all my levels seemed to have improved! Weight loss is also something which a lot of people notice in the beginning, even though if like me you start cooking more, especially pasta and pizza, it does not last for long. But seriously, it is like signing a contract to extend your life for at least another ten years.

6)  Can one be vegan but not environmentalist and vice versa?

Yes of course, it all depends on your original motivation. Some people go vegan just to lose weight, for the health benefits it entails or simply not to eat animals regardless of the impact their choice might have on the planet. In the long run however I do believe the two are connected and from experience I see most vegans tend to choose a more environmental-friendly life.

7)  Do you wear garments made of wool or leather? Plastic? What would you reply to the objection that plastic shoes don’t kill animals directly but are pollutant?

No, as the concept of being vegan is not to exploit animals in ANY way. I also try not to use plastics as much as I can for the environment rather than for the animals, and often get complaints in the house for how many glass jars I use in the kitchen etc, but am very proud to say my wardrobe is fully made out of cotton, linen and synthetic fabric rather than living being or parts of them.

8)  What’s your view on veganism in Gibraltar compared to the rest of the world?

Veganism in Gibraltar is at its early stages, but has increased at a massive rate compared to the neighbouring countries. I have high hopes that if locals continue to embrace it as they have done so far it shortly might end up offering an incredible selection of vegan options, not only limited to foods but also to garments and social gatherings. There are already existing pages on the web for local people to find each other, share ideas and products they find in stores as well as places to eat around town, and they are getting more and more posts as the availability increases.

9) High holidays: how does a vegan cope with Christmas and Easter?

Vegans should not worry about holidays or celebrations that are not generally seen as ‘vegan friendly’. The solution is simple: make or ask for vegan options to be available. If invited to dinners with friends and family, I always ensure to bring something I made for all to share, and if we go out for dinner I call the place in advance and ensure they can cater for me (and they always can with due notice). Being vegan is no different than someone who does not like certain ingredients; you just have to ask the chefs either not to use any animal product and instead make something you are happy to eat and share with all, or adapt yourself to eating what is on the menu which caters to your requirements. It’s a no brainer really.

10) Final thoughts?

Most restaurants are happy to adapt any dish for vegans so long as they are asked nicely and with due time, as it can be quite stressful for some to be ‘demanded’ to have options for all (especially with all the various dietary requirements people have nowadays). If you are making food at home, there is no better resource as the internet, where people can look up information and recipes to help them out impress family and friends with incredible food yet without hurting animals. I myself have a page called VegaNom-Noms where I share lots of interesting recipes I find online and have often tried out myself.