street x vegan

 

There are countless people everywhere doing their part. Elite athletes are testifying to it, high-profile actors pushing for change, documentary film makers breaking it all down for us, regular folks posting and sharing recipes and inspiration with each other, and now, here I am, addressing the small niche of people that enjoy my work. For now at least, this is my part.

 

It’s something I’d wanted to do for a long time, but swayed by advertising, the common conscious, my own selfishness, and most definitely a victim to my own ignorance, I’ve only just recently committed. It took me 32 years to get here, but I feel healthier and happier, with higher energy levels and a less heavy conscious. Better late than never.

 

I am vegan.

Why? The reasons are numerous.

 

The reasons against it however, are few, or more specifically, two:

 

  1. It’s inconvenient.

  2. A taste/texture preference to meat.

 

That’s how I ended up deciding to make the change. It was my convenience and preference versus a long list of ethical and health reasons. I now believe strongly in the importance of veganism, but I have no high horse to sit upon, I’m a newly minted vegan, not some saint of Gaia, not yet. So take my words for what they are - friendly council.

I’ve been into health and fitness for several years now, but two of my (many) exceptions were fried chicken and hamburgers. I was the meat guy among most of my groups of friends. If there wasn’t meat in a meal, then a meal it was not. Protein was the single most important nutrient, everything else be damned. And to be fair, it is important...it’s just also very much available on a plant-based diet. You don’t have to support greedy conglomerates, disgusting industries, and the painfully unethical systematic exploitation, abuse, and killing of animals to ensure your gains, let alone your survival. Not at all.

As it turns out, Jack was on to something - beans are pretty magical. Legumes and vegetables are where it's at, that “it” being nutrients from sustainable sources. For me, soybeans probably come to bat the most, being surprisingly versatile given all their forms and ease of inclusion in many kinds of recipes. Chickpeas, lentils, oats, and quinoa are heavy hitters, and we have nuts, nut butters and seeds to round out the team. There are also more obscure players such as seitan and nutritional yeast. Meatless, you will not wither out, you will in all likelihood be better than before, and so will the place you live (Earth). Win, win.

I live in Japan, arguably one of the more difficult countries to be vegan in. Not having yet become even remotely mainstream, not many people here are familiar with veganism or even vegetarianism. However, I am managing. I’m slowly learning more about what to consume and why. I cook more and eat better, healthier. I’m more interested in food than I’ve ever been. I’ve discovered entire aisles and sections in my supermarkets that I’ve somehow never noticed before. Yes, eating out can suck sometimes. You have to check if things are vegan...explain what vegan means, and surprise surprise, options are few in a country where animal broth is in almost every sauce. Hence the “It’s inconvenient”, but it’s doable. The price I happily pay to lower my footprint on the world.