From Broccoli is bargain:

Eyleen Shiel

1) How long have you been vegan for?

I have been vegan for over a year now. At first I was vegetarian but once I educated myself about how the dairy and egg industries operate I became vegan.

2) What made you become a vegan?

When I rescued my five-week-old puppy, Molly, I quickly fell in love with her and realised that if I did something to another animal that I couldn’t to her, I would be both a hypocrite and a speciesist. Now I can actually say I love animals and not be selective about which animals I choose to love or not.

3) How is it affecting your lifestyle?

My boyfriend, friends and family have all been supportive and accommodating. For example, my boyfriend Paul, cooks and/or eats vegan meals at home no problem and will only dine in restaurants where I get good options. Both our families always cater for me without a second thought. My friends happily make vegan dishes for me when I go around for a BBQ or dinner.

However, eating out is harder than eating in but it is getting easier. More and more restaurants are providing vegan options that are more than just a vegetarian dish without the cheese. But there is still a long way to go regarding this. I definitely have a better selection at home than I do eating out.

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

Some people wrongly believe vegans feel they are superior to others, this is wrong because vegans believe they are not even superior to animals, we are all equal. Some people do not like to feel that they are wrong to do something, so attack a person who no longer participates in the abuse of animals.

Some people also assume you lack certain vitamins, iron and protein and like to inform you of this as if they are qualified nutritionists. Anyone not eating a balanced diet will lack these things not just vegans.

5) What are the benefits of being vegan?

Everything, there is no downside. But to give you a more rounded answer, I never look at my food and think of the pain and suffering an animal went through for me to eat it. I am helping the environment. It’s positive for your health also, but of course like any “diet” a balanced diet is important.

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

Yes, there are vegans who will drive around in petrol guzzling cars, do not recycle, take ten-minute showers and never turn the lights off in their home. These people are still true vegans.

However, in my opinion you cannot be an environmentalist if you eat meat. The food non-vegans eat is one of the biggest things that is destroying our planet more than anything else. Therefore, no matter how green your life is elsewhere, I believe you are not a true environmentalist if you are not vegan.

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

Yes, I still wear items made from wool, leather and silk because these are items I already had before becoming vegan. I have not bought new items made with these materials since.

I understand when people say plastic shoes are more a pollutant than leather, my thought is recycle plastic shoes once they are worn out.  With other materials out there such as canvas, hemp etc products do not need to be made from plastic.

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

There are two types of people I have encountered, one type – a rare type – loves to tell you about the bloody steak they had for dinner last night or makes animal noises and the other, the more common type, who accept what you eat is different to what they do. The second type also often ask me why I became vegan with genuine interest.

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

I do not have a sweet tooth so Easter and eggs are not something I miss. But you can get vegan chocolate, and other goodies. I go home to Ireland for Christmas and my sister, cooks up the biggest ranges of vegetables, tasty stuffing and nut loafs. With vegan cheese sauce, my dinner is more delicious than ever before.

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