Ian Shaw

From Broccoli is bargain:

How long have you been vegan for?

I became vegetarian on the 1st of January 2014. Eliminating cheese from my pizza took another year, so I’ve been completely vegan for two years now.

What made you become a vegan?

Quite a few reasons: animal suffering is, obviously, my priority. As we work towards more rights for more diverse groups of people, it is becoming obvious that the next step will be rights, protection and liberation for our furry cousins – why not be ahead of the curve?

It is very energy inefficient and with starving people in the world it makes it very difficult to justify wasting so much food potential along the meat, dairy and egg production chain. It is recommended that only one portion of meat and one of fish in the week with vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds making up the deficit. The easy abundance of meat at an undervalued price harms our farmers, harms our health and harms the welfare of the animals as we attempt to get cheaper and more torturous methods to provide for an insatiable hunger that the meat industry itself created (cheap creates demand, demand creates competition). It’s a vicious cycle feeding itself.

How is it affecting your lifestyle?

Dining out can be an issue. But if you ask nicely most places will accommodate! Watch your vitamins! B12 is essential as well as iron supplements!

But you feel great, both physically and conscientiously! Although this depends on making sure you DO have your fruit, nut, veg and seed mix; stick to your vitamins and give it time.

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

There is a stigma. But I find that goes away when you refrain from the hyperbolic “meat is murder” and address your concerns all the way up the food chain in an informative but non-patronising manner.

I guess being perceived as weak. Especially for a male, the compassion shown by refraining from meat is easily derided. But it is rare and once you explain that the findings of bacon being a carcinogen are scientific fact, they soon fall silent.

What are the benefits of being vegan?

You feel great both physically and conscientiously. It’s a great conversation starter (I love when I make a meal “Vegan” and people look on at my vegan equivalent with envy) and you save a bundle in the weekly shop! The key slogan shouldn’t be “Meat is Murder” but “Broccoli is a Bargain!”

Can one be vegan but not environmentalist and vice versa?

Yes. Easily. One of my points above was energy efficiency. I’m pro nuclear power which usually sends environmentalists into a fury but for me it’s about optimising the capabilities of the resources available to us AND ensuring the well-being of all creatures.

Do you wear garments made of wool? Cotton? Linen? Leather shoes? Plastic?

Plastic shoes last longer! This is the one difficulty with veganism. It isn’t absolute, it’s on a spectrum – I watch what I eat, but appreciate that sometimes animal testing is necessary in medicine and trying to remove all animal products in everything we use is a futile task. It’s about doing what you can, not doing it all. It will take us all to change, not one person doing everything. However, I know people who have made their own shampoos and soaps and refuse some medicine as it’s coated with lactose.

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

Well, for both Gibraltar and Spain I wouldn’t say there is much stigma. Meat is very cultural in this part of the world and, while over-consumed, has a relaxed attitude to diet than, say, the UK, where choice seems to have created division.

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

Easy: lots of spuds and Brussels sprouts!

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