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A Growing Need to be Free of Meat


Written by:  Rachel Cunningham


Baggy jeans and purple hair became an exhibition of individuality and separation came through self-discovery, through the need to disassociate with popular culture. An identity grew which became characteristic of vegetarianism, feminism and other similar '-isms'. It was not about being confident but about finding the world on your own terms. The discovery of veganism opened avenues to new networks and interesting individuals. The whole time it was not so unique from a global perspective but still remained an unknown entity to the wider world.


Often the comment I make is that I am not Vegan from an animal rights perspective as I choose only to be vegan in the foods I consume not in the clothes I wear. So then where is the difference between a vegan lifestyle and diet, and is it possible for them to exist independently?


So I may not actively campaign for the protection of animals but I do contribute to this pursuit and wouldn't volunteer to prepare any meat dishes. The closest I get to this is popping a tray in the oven with chicken in it for my Dad at dinnertime. I refuse to handle meat and find the smell quite nauseating. This suggests that if living away from home I would be indirectly supporting the campaign. No, not exactly. As most of us know wearing leather and other garments is considered non-vegan as is using certain beauty products. Initially this was a concern for me when in the presence of vegans who avoid all animal related goods. I was a fake, a pretender.


At the same time there was growing concern for eating meat and its effect on the environment. Meat production was paying a considerable contribution to the amount of carbon pumping into the atmosphere. I agreed and still make choices in favour of a greener lifestyle. But then there's that contradiction once more, if I didn't make these choices would I be less of a vegan? I worried that confessing my true lifestyle might potentially result in some form of 'vegan shame'.


In my pursuit for individuality it seems I had allowed group mentality to permeate. (Please, remember, when I had these fears I was much younger and feverishly naive.) Doubts collapsed in on the decisions I had made and I regressed to having the occasional omelette. I felt guilt and missed that element of my identity.


Of course. That was it. I had forgotten that it was my identity. I had forgotten why I had taken these earlier decisions and felt ridiculous for thinking otherwise. And it is ridiculous because so far, in my now four years as a vegan, I have not met another  vegan who would condemn me for the missing parts of my vegan lifestyle (a vegan lifestyle nonetheless!)


This has been supported more recently by the response internationally for 'Meat-Free Mondays' and Belgium's meat-free provisions. News has included Paul McCartney's suggestion for a worldwide day free from meat. This demonstrates that any contribution makes a difference and it is not about being a purist, unless you take that decision. For in my contribution, despite it not meeting all the requirements, has been a fairly long-term, consistent contribution thus far.


The terms 'lifestyle' and 'diet' are therefore a means of understanding more about veganism  and allow a clearer recognition of what it means to be vegan. But they are also in partnership and entirely interchangeable. In their fluidity they open veganism to a wider audience and welcome new interest which is evident from the rapid, wide-spread growth of it's community. Behind all it's principles veganism is fundamentally that, a community.



Author's BIO: My name is Rachel Cunningham and have been Vegan for four years now. My main interest is experimental baking which can be particularly exciting when it comes to Veganism: creating alternatives to foods based around the chemistry of their ingredients. It's a bit geeky I know, but hey, food excites me. I believe foods can be all natural and still tasty so I avoid refined ingredients and like to create a lot of allergy friendly recipes. I am working towards starting my own line of products once I source a suitable premises as well as my own recipe book.

You can discover more about Rachel at her website below: and




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