I have never actually followed trends, I have always looked deep inside of myself and to the outer world to try and find the truth, rather than mindlessly follow. I gave up religion when I was 16 and I have been vegetarian over 30 years and vegan for 2 1/2 years. I did it because once I knew the truth of how animals lived and died, it was the only compassionate choice. I know the stereotype of the vegan to be the celery crunching, pale, skinny (I wish!) person with a little touch of misery from starvation!!!. I know loads of vegans online and a few in life and most of them are extremely glamorous and love food and cooking, some are raw vegans but are always surrounded by so much fruit and veg. Most eat cooked food. Many love wine and beer (most lagers are vegan, guinness is not vegan or vegi cos it is filtered with isinglass from fish, check out Barnivore.com for lists) All take joy in eating and being fit and enjoying life. Its not about giving things up but really utilising good quality healthy food, of which there is so much, living cruelty free whilst looking after your own health. I actually make it a point not to go on Facebook when I’m hungry because the amount of imaginative delicious dishes on display is pretty phenomenal, we all eagerly share recipes. Many of us are used to being the only vegan in the village, so to speak, and have developed a wicked sense of humour, as a result. I love the shared sense of community and being able to reach across the net and have friends who understand. I am also very lucky to have some vegan friends in real life and many more are coming on board all the time.
I love eating out and have gone to the odd hippy co-op type meet up for lunch etc. but I am not enamoured by brights lights and screaming kids and carrying your own tray etc. As I am a busy person, I take my relaxation time very seriously and I don’t like functional eating unless its grabbing a bowl of soup at home after the gym, for instance, so when I go out I like to eat in relaxing non-fussy but accommodating, friendly places with candle light and wine to go with my food. Although there are now many vegan options, many of these nice places have been very carnist heavy. Chefs have seemed to despise vegans and vegis and have grunted about “doing a stirfry” However, times are a changing and very rapidly it would seem. My daughter recently celebrated her Debs in The Shelbourne Hotel and had a vegan meal that was the envy of her friends, many were sorry they had not ordered accordingly (picture below outside Shelbourne) . I had an amazing meal at a wedding there last year but Sarah’s meal was a few notches up from it, very imaginative and classy. They are really using flair and imagination.
Lurve Cafe, Dublin’s first vegan restaurant, opened last year and it has, unfortunately, had to move on from its premises in Temple Bar, but will re-open in a new venue soon. I was only getting over the shock of Dublin’s first vegan restaurant when unbelievably Dublin saw fit to host Dublin’s first Raw Vegan Restaurant, Sseduced. This is the absolute antitheses of the hippy venue, with its white walls and very spartan bright surroundings, not a beanbag in sight, just a lovely neutral restaurant preparing great food, in Cecilia Street, Temple Bar. I found out last week that the beautiful old Clonskeagh Castle https://www.facebook.com/pages/Clonskeagh-Castle/244189305662693 (above) is now hosting, wait for it… vegan suppers with music and BYOB, yes maybe heaven does exist after all!. What a gig, music, vegan food and wine in this ancient castle, with prices starting from 25 euro for food and entertainments, its literally a five minute walk from my house so I wont have far to stagger home, I cant wait to try it. Then I discovered “Living Dinners”, wherein two women run pop-up raw vegan events with what sounds like an amazing array of interesting food. Hot on the success of this, they decided to start “Winter Dinners” (first pic above of Henrietta Street) , for 55 euro a head, you get a drink on arrival and can byob, you can sample a five course vegetarian meal with cooked and raw options and Im sure mainly vegan fare, in different venues, the latest one being an old house on Henrietta Street, so beautifully laid out that you might feel you are walking into the set of John Huston’s “The Dead”. The meals have been booking out on the nights they go online and they have had to add extra nights. Again, I cant wait to try out this when I can. http://www.livingdinners.com/ I always think I belong to another time (and some wish I would feck off back there!!!) I adore old houses and buildings and velvet and lace and these venues have excited me beyond belief. My friend in Monaghan, Kevin, even tells me a local hotel has a full vegan menu. http://www.nuremore.com/
A more casual eaterie, Il Umo on Dame Street has opened and again this is a fully vegan and vegetarian restaurant as is Cornocopia on Wickow Street. Blazing Salads on Drury Street is an amazing take out deli, all their salads are vegan and most of their meals.
I rang in the Niall Boylan show a few months ago to make a comment regarding the topic “should people be allowed time off work for the death of a pet” and the host changed the theme of the show to veganism when I mentioned I was vegan and I was on for nearly an hour. I went back on recently after a show where I was disagreeing with vaccinations for babies, and talked about raising vegan and vegetarian children and was asked to go on again this weekend to talk about the ramifications of the world going vegan (which unfortunately wont happen overnight anyway) but declined as I felt I had exhausted the subject on the airwaves for the moment. The same night friends texted me telling me that there was a programme on RTE Dr on Call, about the benefits of the vegan diet.
All of the above has happened in the last few months mainly and I am surprised and delighted at how fast interest in veganism is developing. Far from being the hippy outsiders, the in-crowd seem to be elbowing in and digging out their credit cards and booking fantastic nights in castles and old houses. There is a definitely a huge shift in consciousness, especially when our TV and radio stations also start taking this subject on. We have hardly gotten used to vegetarianism in this country and suddenly we are embracing veganism, mainly because people are more aware than ever of the cruelties within the dairy industry, the destruction of the planet due to farming and the affect on starving children, who could be eating the grains fed to animals bred en masse and the positive affect on human health that veganism is having. Vegtarianism is only useful as a gateway to veganism. The WHO and the UN both recommend veganism to save the planet and the AND American Nutrition and Dietetics Society have stated there is no reason why anyone at any stage of their lives from infancy to old age should not become vegan. They are the most prestigious nutrition board on the planet.
The only vitamin vegans are generally missing (and half the population incidentally) is B12 which is found in the soil. We have pretty much cleaned it out of our diets though many people who eat home grown organic veg do not supplement. I get around this by buying a tin of nutritional yeast and just throwing it on meals a couple of times a week. B12 is water soluble and a minute amount can last a long time in your system, but deficiency is quite serious so its a good idea to either supplement or have fortified foods such as plant milks and tofu. The general population again need some Vitamin D because of the lack of sunshine and D3 is stronger that D2 which is the normal plant supplement but can be found in a seawood supplement in all health stores. I used to think you would have to really plan out food as a vegan, you dont, just eat a healthy balance of fruit, veg, nuts and pulses (and dark vegan chocolate and wine!) and you will feel amazing. All products can be veganised from mayo (Kelkin) to milk (almond, soya, rice, hemp, cashew) to cheese (Sheeze, Vegusto, Daiya). Vegan faux meats of every description. You will never be alone, there is a whole network of people who will help you with anything you need and I am more than delighted to help anyone transition, its not so long ago I was helped myself and I continue to get great advice, tips and recipes from friends.
Veganism has become popular because people are really thinking about eating cruelty free and looking after their own health and the planet at the same time, its all damn good. The vegan train is running so you better hop on board but be advised, get your skates on, it has already left the station!.