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Veganism - the way to a kinder world!

No, vegans don't all think they're better than you. But, they do want you to know some important details of being vegan. We recently spoke to the Hampton Guide resident gardener Cleve West about his transition from vegetarian to vegan and how it has transformed his life.
"My partner Christine's daughter is vegan, as are two of her grandchildren. Her other daughter's twelve year old son made the decision to become a vegan on his own. This in turn made us think a lot more about it. The rest of the family wanted to support him so we started looking more in depth into the subject. It's only when you finally accept something that you become more open to all the issues. When someone is telling you to do something, your natural inclination is to resist it. Once we'd accepted veganism I started doing my own research into it and, quite frankly, was shocked at how much I hadn't wanted to know about it. Going vegetarian many years ago was more for health reasons rather than the killing of animals aspect. Being a vegan is also great for health reasons but the key aspect now is the immorality of killing an animal when it's actually not necessary to do that to survive.
Like any change in diet, it is important to look at the misconceptions first before choosing to abstain. One of the main misconceptions about veganism is that you won't get enough protein and calcium. Cleve fully understands why people think this and is quick to address the issue.
"To be quite honest, I would have said that myself a couple of years ago. When you first become vegan you are naturally concerned about your health but it's only when you study a subject that you learn the truth. Contrary to popular belief, protein is found in many other options other than meat. Some of the biggest animals on the earth are herbivores or frugivores. Gorillas, hippos, rhinos and elephants, for example, all eat plants for protein. I never knew there was protein in all fruit and vegetables - there is 6% protein in an apple. High doses of protein are found in pulses and grains. Calcium can be found in plants. We are bombarded with false claims from the meat and dairy industry, it's all about profit margins and companies making money. I'm not denying the fact that meat and dairy tastes good but there is so much propaganda. Right from the day we are born, our family, government, schools and doctors are all telling us to eat meat and dairy because it is good for you. Actually it's not, it's the complete opposite.
Veganism - the way to a kinder world! More and more people are turning to a vegan diet for the health benefits and there are certainly many scientifically proven benefits to vegan living when compared to the average western diet. The enthusiasm Cleve derives from this statistic is plain to see.
"There are so many positive results of veganism, for the planet and myself. I guess the most noticeable result would be how much weight I've lost since becoming vegan. I also realised that I had more energy. I used to feel drowsy in the afternoon after lunch but now I don't get that as much. I just suddenly noticed overall that I had more energy which was refreshing. It's just nice to know that you are eating food that is good for you. Fat is not very good for you but I still eat olive oil and spreads so I'm not completely clean living but on the whole my diet is so much better. For breakfast I normally have muesli, fruit or toast. My own preference for milk is oat milk. There are so many choices - almond milk, rice milk and coconut milk amongst others. For lunch I may have falafel, a vegetable wrap or an avocado and salad sandwich with dairy free spread. I enjoy cooking Asian food so for an evening meal, curry or stir fry may well be on the menu or I might experiment with pulses and grains to make a nutritious and tasty salad. I'm cooking more adventurously than I was before becoming vegan because it makes you look at recipe books and expand your repertoire. You don't rely on the same things. It's amazing how imaginative you can be with food once you get in the zone. It's increased my enjoyment of food ten fold.
According to a report in the Telegraph over the past 10 years there's been a 360% increase in the number of vegans in the UK with over half a million people adopting the lifestyle. Among that group, over half are aged 15-34 - this is a movement that is definitely being spearheaded by the younger generations but does that mean that a vegan future is inevitable?
"It's so much easier to be a vegan these days than ten years ago, that's for sure. There's no going back for me!!! When you look at it from a health point of view it's a no brainer. I spoke to someone recently who said give me one good reason for being a vegan. I said if it's not for the sake of the animals or your own sake then it's for your children's sake. Based on the normal western diet, by the age of ten you are showing the first signs of heart disease so why would you want to inflict that on your children. Then you look at it from your own health point of view then the health of the planet. The meat industry is doing untold damage to our rain forests, climate, and water supply. It is also creating pollution. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to make a burger, you could shower for a month in that! All these issues are coming together and that's not even considering the amount of pain and anguish that it causes to the actual animals. With more and more new young vegans coming up, there will hopefully be a new generation of people who are a lot kinder in their outlook to the whole world and the way it works. This can't be a bad thing!
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What's On...

Events, shows, concerts, sporting occassions - month by month in your area -
What's On
Dec 7-Jan 7
Alice in Winterland Rose Theatre, Kingston A dazzling production based on Lewis Carroll?s timeless books (www.rosetheatrekingston.org)
Dec 16
Carols by Candlelight Landmark Arts Centre, Ferry Road, Teddington Celebrate Christmas with a programme of seasonal music, words and song (www.landmarkartscentre.org)
Dec 16-23
Courtyard Carol Singing at Hampton Court Palace Hampton Court Selected dates (www.hrp.org.uk)
Dec 26-27
Horse Racing Kempton Park, Sunbury Including the King George VI Chase (www.kempton.co.uk)