one who travels indefinitely, with no long-term abode, while avoiding all forms of animal exploitation and abuse as far as is possible and practicable
early 21st century; from vegan - ‘a person who does not eat or use animal products’, and nomad - ‘a person who does not stay long in the same place’
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Interviews with Vegan Veterans #1: Veg from Birth & Bringing up Vegan Children
15 min read
Interviews with Vegan Veterans is an ongoing interview series where I get to pick the brains of long-time vegans and give the world access to the knowledge, wisdom and understanding that they have spent decades accumulating.
It's not often you get to chat with someone who's never tasted animal flesh.
AJ is a vegan-veteran who grew up in London and now lives in Perth, Australia with his wife and 4-year-old girl, who are both vegan as well.
Here AJ shares his unique perspective on himself being raised vegetarian from birth, his later transition to veganism, and his experience with raising his own child vegan from birth.
I was born into a Hindu family so our family have been vegetarian for generations. Our Hindu community was also vegetarian so we never had any issues with people questioning our dietary choices from babies upwards.
If someone was to tell me now that kind of dietary restriction is not fair for my child, who is a vegan from birth, I would tell them that veganism is in no way a restrictive diet, we are merely eliminating inflammatory, unhealthy foods from my child's diet and replacing it with a variety of healthy foods instead, of which we are blessed to have access to an abundance of.
I only have 1 child. My 4-year-old daughter is VfB [vegan from birth].
Firstly, I can assure anyone that it is 100% healthy and far healthier than diets consisting of animal products. Do not listen to government guidelines. They are bought by big dairy and meat and egg industries. Consequently, the government guidelines would promote meat dairy and eggs. Go with what the science says and the fact is that a diet consisting of fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes is the healthiest diet for optimal human health.
Personally, we breastfed our baby for as long as we could, about 12 months was when she weened and we saved another 3 months worth of expressed breast milk. After 6 months we introduced blended fruit then a week after blended beans, lentils, sweet potato, oats, cereals, then gradually some greens. Once breast milk finished we used organic soy milk for her cereals. Then introduced tofu nuts seeds. She now eats pretty much what we eat.
We have been taking B12 and once she had been weened we gave her some B12, algae-based DHA, iodine and Vitamin D3. She is totally healthy, never had anything more than a cold, never had a temperature or a fever, no glue-ear or any other issues.
We ban her from eating sweets, chocolates, crisps and cakes, which helps. She has the occasional vegan cake / choc etc, like we all do. She is slimmer and lighter than other babies which is only natural as she has not been given bovine milk. In our culture, both Hindu and western, big fat babies are considered healthy. I don't believe that at all. Slim, fit, light is the way to be.
There weren't a few years ago but now we are a small number. Cow milk is huge in Hinduism for some reason.
I am not religious myself but a lot of my friends and relatives are and animal cruelty is transparent to them. They don't care. They are only interested in following their religion which I find weird because if they really thought about their religion it preaches kindness to all animals.
These Hindus conveniently forget that and continue consuming dairy, wearing and using leather etc. I even forwarded a few people videoes of dairy and leather and still, they chose to ignore it.
However, a small number are moving towards veganism because of health and animal welfare, so there is hope yet.
Being born a vegetarian I found it easy to become vegan. However, it has been a very long journey for me.
The reason for this is because I did not know about the horrors of the dairy, leather, down feather, wool industries etc really until a few years ago and mainly due to social media.
I first decided to stop drinking cow milk 25 years ago because I did not think it was natural for humans to drink milk from another species. Other animals do not so I saw no reason for humans to. I still ate cheese and consumed milk products like milk chocolate bars etc. I stopped eating cheese a 3 years after that because of the health reasons.
In 2001 I followed Robert Cohen aka the NotMilkMan who has a website notmilk.com. This website has a wealth of information and I stumbled across it 16 years ago. It made sense to me so I eliminated more dairy from my diet. The only reason why I still ate products containing dairy is because back then there were not a lot of options as there are now. However, I stopped eating milk chocolate bars etc and became stricter soon after.
I stopped buying leather 15 years ago. I always hated leather couches but I still had leather shoes because 15 years ago there were no vegan shoes around.
About 9 years ago I stopped buying wool mainly due to social media and PETA campaign against wool. And now due to social media, I consider myself a strict vegan as once you know the cruelty of meat dairy fish fowl and eggs leather wool down etc you cannot justify consuming it.
I try to eat as much WFPB whole-food plant-based as possible. I try to cut down on processed and fried foods. I do have cheat days. I also fast for 36 hours twice a month and calorie-restrict a few days a month also.
I take B12 since 2014. Since I gave up dairy in the year 2000 I believe I ate foods containing B12 such as fortified milk, marmite etc. However, since 2014 I take B12 tablet just as a precautionary measure.
I also take Vitamin D3 from algae during the autumn, winter and spring seasons. I take iodine drops as well.
Before taking any supplements I was fine and never had health issues. I had my blood tests and all good except Vitamin D was a little low.
The only reason I am taking these supplements now is for precautionary reasons.
My work friend was vego years ago but he wasn't serious about it and was not doing it for animal reasons. He still eats a lot of veggies but also meat maybe once a day. Other than that I don't know anyone else who has gone vegan then back to meat again.
There is no such thing as cruelty free or Ahimsa milk. It is just another way for people to justify using and abusing animals for their own gain.
I visited the Bhaktivedan Manor in Watford UK and saw mother cows in sheds with their babies in another pen separated from them. The calves had ropes around their mouths. Regardless of what people think, separating mothers from their children is wrong, and Ahimsa milk allows this.
Whilst there I was wondering to myself just how much of an effort it was to keep cows, breed them, separate them from their babies, milk them, the land and water/food they need and just the huge amount of effort and resources required for dairy milk when they can just easily switch to plant based milk instead. Its cleaner, uses less resources, and has less cruelty.
At work, there are a lot of meat-centric people constantly talking about meat. I ignore it.
At home, it was more of a dairy situation. They have known about my hatred of dairy for many years. I used to forward articles about how bad dairy is, it was mostly ignored but now one of my brothers is vegan as is his wife. My wife and child are also vegan.
It hasn't really. We go out, they eat kebabs and shit, I just sit. But make no mistake about how I feel they live their life is absolutely wrong.
A guy at work, an old man used to be a farmer. He used to farm animals, take them to the market and slaughter them horrendously. Once he told me he had some pigs in the truck it was a hot day he could not sell them so he had to slaughter them in the truck. Horrible. Even he found it awful which was saying something. I get along with this guy but that does not mean I have to support what he does.
If they are only restricting it on the basis of veganism, I would say that that is not a good policy to take. There are many people who are good people but still consume animal products, maybe because they are brainwashed into thinking it is OK to do so (cognitive dissonance) or just believe that humans are superior to other animals so we can use them for whatever we want. No, that looks like a contradiction, how can they be good and still exploit animals? The answer is quite simply they cannot be, but they can still be good to you. The simple fact is that non-vegans outnumber vegans many times over so we have no choice but to live amongst them and be friends with them. So we might as well get along with them. Making enemies makes no sense.
I am a closet militant vegan because as far as I am concerned, a person is either for cruelty or against it. There is no middle ground. I cannot abide by the wilful suffering imparted on animals and the planet just for convenience.
I am a closet militant because obviously, I cannot show my true feelings otherwise I would be a pariah. I fully understand militant vegans as they see an injustice and fight it. However, I also understand how this could be seen as detrimental to the vegan movement as it would push people away.
LOL!! I saw that speech. It was the big march through London. I don't agree with it. It is a poor analogy. Vegan activism is not the baseline.
Not everyone can be an activist. Not everyone can speak in front of large crowds or talk to people or engage with strangers. Veganism is the baseline. If everyone was a vegan we would have a much healthier planet.
Activists like Earthling Ed, James Aspey do a great job and I look up to them. However, by just being vegan you are automatically doing so much good by not causing, or causing as little harm to other beings as possible.
I support vegan businesses as much as I can. I am a member of the AJP. I vote AJP. I donate to charities and sanctuaries. There are so many ways to promote veganism if being a full-on activist is not possible.
Also, I have a job and a family to look after. Quite frankly if I were a full-on activist I would have to give that up.
If Ed said to me are my feelings more important to me than an animal suffering? I would say yes they are because you have to look after yourself before you can help others. How is losing my job and not being able to take care of my family going to benefit animals? I will draw the line at animal cruelty. If my only means of income was to slaughter animals I would prefer not to live.
As for the analogy, if I saw a man beating a dog I would call the police.
I do social media and recently I have attended a cube event. I plan to do more in the future.
I also don't donate to human or cancer charities. I believe if you solve the animal problem of systematic cruelty then this will automatically benefit all humans in terms of physical and mental health.
Some vegans don't like to see the realities of this world saying that they are already vegan why should they see animal abuse? I see some stuff on my facebook newsfeed from animal freedom fighter etc showing horrific abuse because it serves as a reminder of just how bad the world is and there is always much work to do. I will not be happy until every animal is free to live as nature intended.
Follow social media groups about health and animal suffering. There are some great vegans out there on social media who provide great information and inspiration.
My personal favourites are Nutritionfacts.org, Mic the Vegan, PCRM, Dr Neal Barnard, Dr Alan Goldhamer, Tim Shieff, Plant-Based News, Plant-Based Science London, Earthling Ed, James Aspey and many more.
Ignore the haters. There will always be people who want to knock you down or argue. These people will never change.
Don't be a junk food vegan. Eat healthy. But you can have cheat days where you can indulge in cakes fried foods etc, just don't eat those unhealthy processed foods often.