Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Trending Vending and Depending

Our Christmas was a quiet, subdued affair. We really are not big on it anyway but the absence of both my parents in our lives certainly made it a thoughtful time of year for me.  I was in no mood to put pen to paper; hence the lack of blogging recently.  Instead I've been sitting back and taking in all the vegan news and offerings available from the ever increasing and widening sources.  

The World of Vegan has grown immensely over the last few years for sure but the run up to Christmas and Veganuary has seen a veritable volcano in such a few short weeks; more so I think than at any other time in the 30 odd years we have been vegan.  To us it is just unbelievable and way beyond what our earlier vegan selves would have ever hoped or imagined. Veganism is certainly 'trending' big style and there is a warm, cosy feeling in being trendsetters and now extremely trendy in our middle age!  That doesn't happen much these days.  Now we are no longer the aliens society once perceived us to be (remember people accusing you of just going through a fad?), we will have to find something else to be controversial about.

In one week alone we watched three programmes on mainstream television with a vegan theme.  Although Channel 4's Dispatches - The Truth About Vegans, wasn't exactly, in my humble opinion, a very well researched piece (since when do vegans "need more iron than meat eaters"? And insinuating Viva! and founder Juliet Gellatley fall into the extremist category wasn't the brightest move), it did put veganism in the spotlight in the mainstream media, especially as the presenter led us to believe that he was convinced enough to give veganism a go.

Dispatches was closely followed by a vegan edition of Jamie and Jimmy's Friday Night Feast.  Another Channel 4 offering, this was a more positive view of good, tasty vegan food delivered in an entertaining fashion.  The recipes were amazing and have made it into our 'food file' to cook up at some point soon.  If only Jamie had responded to our letter a few years ago, he would have been ahead of the game (as would the Food Network if they had listened to the viewers comments we offered back in 2013).  I guess everything has its time and veganism can hardly be ignored now.

A man that has definitely taken the 'rescued bull by the horns' is a certain Mathew Pritchard with his very entertaining Dirty Vegan series currently viewing on BBC Wales.  For such a tearaway nutter during his Dirty Sanchez years, Mathew offers a remarkably gentle approach to veganism with a hint of bubbling enthusiasm and mischief.  If you aren't in reach of BBC Wales you can catch up on BBC iplayer.  It's a fun and informative watch for newbies and oldies alike, with a wonderfully subtle way of busting myths about veganism without being preachy in any way.

It isn't just in the media that veganism has breached the mainstream walls of society.  The supermarkets, who had already started to 'walk the walk', have suddenly gone to running full steam ahead in the vegan million dollar race to grab their piece of the action.  The chiller sections are filling up, with whole sections marked vegan or currently Veganuary. There is also a noticeable increase in the frozen sections, recently vacated by Christmas turkeys.  There have been times when it has been difficult to squeeze in for a look and it is quite an interesting place to hang out for a little while to listen to conversations between clearly new vegans or vegan curious customers.  I've even found myself offering advice and sparking up conversations.  Yes, it certainly is a different vegan world when it comes to shopping now.

However, as much as all this is wonderfully encouraging, and indeed I wouldn't want to change this march towards a more vegan world, there is a danger of losing sight of other important considerations.  Shiny new vegan products available at all the supermarkets do I'm sure make the transition to veganism possibly easier and more 'the norm', but we really wouldn't want to hold these up as the mainstay of a good quality vegan diet.  I enjoy trying these products for sure, and yes buying them as an occasional quick dinner, but as an 'oldie' vegan thrown into the earlier less convenient days of vegan shopping, I damn well learnt how to cook from scratch very quickly; as did most vegans of earlier generations, out of necessity.  It would be a real shame if this generation of vegans grew up lacking basic cooking skills (an issue that already exists with some omnivores in our modern society I feel).  Plus, at a time when we are trying to reduce plastics, packaging and food miles, it would be a shame for those vegans concerned with the environment to fully depend on such products.  As I was having this exact thought when exploring ideas for this blogpost, this very subject came up for discussion on the  Cornwall Vegans Facebook group.  We have so many good Cornish vegan producers and providers, we should be looking to support them and reduce our food miles and fancy supermarket packaging as much as we can.

Of course, we embrace the trending of veganism, as long as the trend continues in an upwards direction and ultimately leads to a more positive outcome for animals, people and the environment.  We also embrace the vending, and all the new and exciting vegan products that seem to appear more and more frequently.  However, what we wouldn't embrace is depending on such products and their multinational corporate clutches.  In your heart and in your home is where your journey to veganism should have its main base. Veganism is also about more freedom for yourself and less reliance on others.

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