I always wondered why so many vegans are such a pain in the ass. I always wondered why they wouldn't shut up about going vegan and why they are so aggressive and try to change my lifestyle. I was annoyed by them. And I couldn't care less.
I craved the taste of meat. I inhaled it like it was air. At one point in 2017 I even received a congratulations card and a tote bag from a food delivery startup for being the guy in the neighbourhood who ordered the most burgers. For once, I was the burger king of Prenzlauer Berg. But I was far from being ok the way I was living. In fact, I was in a fucking dark place, physically and mentally. And the things I put in my body played a big part in it.
Fast forward to February 2018 I became more conscious about my body. And I started caring about the things I put into it. I started reading about different dietary models and talked with friends about nutrition. More importantly, I finally started to listen. First I switched to a ketogenic diet and felt almost immediately the positive effects of consuming less carbs and sugar. My mental wellbeing improved within weeks. I also picked up running again and by May I was back in shape and felt fucking great.
And when most of us in the Western Hemisphere enjoyed an endless summer last year, my newly won conscious mind took over to send me to an environmental excursion. And the more climate reports and daily news about heat records I was reading, the more it dawned on me that we are already beyond 12 on the "How close are humans to fuck up the planet"-clock. And it's just getting worse, with 2019 showing potential to become the warmest year ever recorded in the history of mankind.
While a keto diet is great for losing weight, reducing the risk of cancer and feeling overall more energetic, it doesn't do much for the environment. Cutting out the consumption of meat and dairy products from your nutrition on the other side is the single biggest contribution you can do as a human being on reducing your carbon footprint and showing compassion for our still beautiful planet. So even when I was still loving the taste of meat, even when I was still craving a greasy burger after a night out, I became a vegetarian. I know, everyone is eating clean now and avoids red meat like it's causing some deadly disease – oh wait, it actually does! Still, for me this was a major step in my life. Because meat is what I'm made of and meat is what made me.
I grew up in a family of carnivores. My great-grandfather bred his own rabbits to slaughter them and sell them on the local farmer's market. My grandfather still bred and slaughtered rabbits as a hobby. My dad build himself a smokebox to make smoked ham and sausages. My brother is a butcher by trade. For years my family lived above a butcher shop, where we got fresh meat every week. Meat kept my family alive and put literally food on the table. Consuming meat wasn't just normal, it defined us. It's influence runs through my lineage like blood through my veins. But we spilled enough of it. It had to stop. I had to stop. Not for my sake. Not even for the sake of the animals. But for sake of this planet.
And it was actually easier than I thought. Through my switch to a keto diet I was already much more aware of how to cook healthy and what food should be generally avoided. On top of that I had acquired a bunch of go-to vegetarian recipes I could cook up anytime, anywhere. Becoming quite the chef, I made the most delicious Gorgonzola-scrambled eggs, fluffy low-carb pancakes, broccoli quiches and eggs Benedict with a sauce hollandaise you would die for. From burger king I went to conscious king. Was I though?
I was consuming more eggs than ever before. And the empty milk boxes started to pile up as well. One day I met with a vegan friend and she gave me a speech about the disastrous exploitation of chicken and cows in the egg and milk industry. And again I started to listen. And reading. From there, it didn't take long for me to understand the immense suffering created by both industries.
To get egg lying hens you need to bread them. Whenever you get a male chick instead of a female one, it immediately gets killed. This process is called chick culling – a nice name for an act of pure brutality. And of course the hens never see their children ever. Similar with cows. Whenever a cow calves to stimulate the production of milk, the calf gets separated immediately from the mother. I could go on here, but I'm sure you get the point. I could also tell you how much toxins eggs contain and how the casein in milk is considered one of the highest carcinogenic proteins out there. Instead, I'll simply invite you to take a minute and think about how much pain we inflict on another creature in an industrial scale, just to have a tasty snack.
Or maybe an analogy helps: Imagine a world, where there is a species of dominant creatures, who love to eat humans. They don't need to eat us, but we just taste so fucking good. How would we feel being eaten just for pleasure? Surely we would try to argue with the creatures, right? Try to make them understand, try to convince them to simply life in peace with us. Well, animals surely would love to do the same. If only they could speak.
Lucky them, I can speak for them now. Lucky them, I got to a point in my life where I realised that saving the planet by only saving its natural resources is not enough. To inspire change you have to live the change. To inspire people to care and live a conscious life, I have to make people care on all levels. In their minds, in their hearts – and in their stomachs.
When I reached that point in my mind – after months of getting down the rabbit hole of climate reports, food studies, sustainability initiatives – I didn't just switched to a vegan diet, started to abandon plastic bags, stopped buying anything which contained animal products or where produced by harming another creature.
When I reached that point in my mind, I finally understood why being vegan often means to be aggressive. I finally understood that our world was a sinking ship with all humanity on it and I could either stand on the railing and watch it sink with me while enjoying a last greasy burger – or I could buckle up for a wild ride, grab a fucking bucket and start shovelling out as much water as possible, screaming on everyone to grab a bucket themselves, until my lungs fall out – because we are all in this together. We are all on the same sinking ship.
You can stop reading now. Instead, go and rid your fridge of all the nicely packed misery you might have in there. Start thinking about your life. Start thinking about the planet. Start giving a damn and show some goddamn passion for this planet. Because I won't stop screaming at you until you finally get it. Because I'm now one of the angry ones. I'm a vegan.