I’ve been a vegan for 3 years now. Wow. It struck me myself as well as time had passed so quickly. It was a good time after a right decision. A time I did a lot of reduce my impact on this earth to a minimum. A time that felt great – but was not always as easy as many might like to present it.
Growing up vegetarian
As I grew up as a vegetarian, I was used to eating healthier and more veggies than most people do. I never had a piece of meat in my life – which I am very, very grateful for. I always adored animals. When my family would go for a hike, we would often cross range land were cows were grazing and wandering around. I always went near them, to watch these beautiful animals or to pet them. However, once I realized the dairy and egg industry was not as harmless as it all seems, I cut animal products out of my life once and for all.
I have to admit that I struggled at first. No one in my family was supporting me, if only they would be annoyed that I wasn’t “eating properly”. In fact, I attempted to go vegan two times. The first time, my mum quickly talked me out of it telling me I could do whatever I want when I move out. But as long as I was living under her roof, eating her food, I would have to stay a vegetarian. I also loved cheese a lot. So, I let myself being talked out of it thinking about the delicious things I was still allowed to eat! Thinking back, I could not have been more stupid. But, that’s how you learn.
The second time though, I stuck with it, I didn’t give a fuck whom I might piss off. The images of tortured bodies and suffering beautiful and sensitive being I had been watching were too intense to ever eat what I used to again. I decided to do so a bit after Christmas, as we had a lot of home-made Christmas cookies in the house before that I still wanted to eat. And we had cheese. Really, really good cheese. I still remember the day before I decided to go vegan. I ate all of this cheese. It was still left from our Christmas dinner, it was delicious, but I just ate too much of it. Afterwards I felt really bad, but at the same time I probably needed that exact feeling to get rid of it once and for all. And it worked. After this day, I would never touch cheese again.
Being a pushy vegan
Being a “new born vegan” was not easy at first. With my new knowledge wanted to go around and preach and convert everyone to veganism I saw stuffing their face with a kebab. However, I have come to realize that this will lead to nothing but resistance. The more you push, the angrier you are, the more you might as well be talking to a wall. If people are interested in what I eat and why I am more than happy to share my story. But if they don’t – I cannot force anyone to be interested. It’s just hard to completely let go of it sometimes.
I have to admit that me being patient instead of pushy even let people to go vegan I never would have imagined. My family is way more supportive now and my mum is cooking more vegan meals as well! It took some time, but eventually they decided to adapt and to try out new ways to cook as well. Change always takes time. But if you give people time to adapt, they will get used to your new habits.
When I go out with friends I often take the opportunity to go to a vegan restaurant – where everybody is “forced” to eat vegan. Nobody ever minds that, as vegan food is just god damm delicious. That way, you can even limit the consumption of animal products of other people – and you don’t even need to fight for it! Most people love to try out new, fun foods. Nobody will ever say anything against delicious food.
Getting used to veganism
So, it’s not hard to be vegan – after a while. After a while once you accepted you cannot change the eating habits of everyone else, you can just focus on yourself. After all, that’s the only person you really can influence. I guess we all know that stereotype of that pushy vegan who introduces himself like “Hi I’m vegan!” before even telling you his name. And this is not a good thing. It rather pushes people away again and you don’t even get the chance to have a conversation to present your point of view. The thing is, in the beginning, you want to scream it out loud, you want to stand on a rooftop screaming from the top of your lungs “I FINALLY FIGUERED OUT HOW THE WORLD WORKS!” or something like that. At least that’s what I felt after I finally came to terms with the fact that being vegetarian just wasn’t enough.
Challenges of veganism
Transitioning can also be touching, it can also be challenging. I remember how sad and how frustrated I felt when especially the people I care about the most didn’t seem to share my highest values. While everybody needs to come to terms with what impact they are having on our planet themselves, I had and sometimes still have a really hard time accepting it. It is devastating to see that the people you love are stuffing their faces with hot dogs and cheesy pizza, shuffling themselves an early grave.
Or when you have just been watching a really brutal yet touching documentary of what goes on in slaughterhouses and you just feel like crouching in a corner crying because you cannot change the world. I’ve been there. I’ve sobbed uncontrollably and loudly as if my tear could bring some powerless soul back to life again. I’ve been sad and yet so angry at the same time I wanted to go out and punch someone. I felt so powerless, so helpless. But the truth is – the only one we really have influence on is our self. The only one we can really control is our self. We will never be able to change the feelings of others, their believes or their thoughts. Just think about how strong your feelings are – somebody else has the exact same feeling about him being right as well. Admitting you’re wrong is not easy and certainly takes a lot of willpower. It is easier to stay there with your hands covering your eyes pretending to see and hear nothing of what’s going on around you.
This was a very hard lesson to accept and for me, it still is. Especially when also having a boyfriend who is not vegan and doesn’t plan on following this lifestyle any time soon. This might be the hardest to accept of them all, because it is your partner, it is the person you love most in the world and yet he or she still doesn’t seem to truly understand your values. But you, too, have a choice here. Either you love that person or push them away. In the end, mutual respect is really important. And who knows what happens in the future.
I just always remember – every single vegan meal will have an impact. Every meal without meat is a start in the right direction. I’m also thinking about my grandma, who tries to bake vegan muffins or cakes for me every time I come over. I couldn’t be more grateful for that. My grandma is not the youngest anymore, so getting used to something like veganism can be a bit of a challenge. After all, she is used to bake a cake with eggs and milk. That’s what she grew up with and what she has been doing for over 60 years now. Habits that people have been following for such a long time are hard to change. Yet still she tries out new vegan things for me whenever I visit her – which I appreciate very much. If my grandma can come to accept that it is possible to bake a cake without an egg in it – there’s very big chance a lot of other people can do so, too.
Hope of veganism
All these things give me hope. And what gets my hopes up the most is our younger generation. People in their 20ties, 30ties, who are young and willing to experience. Who want to live a better, longer, healthier life. Who are willing to learn and to listen to what someone with a different opinion might have to say. I found numerous friends who were interested in my story, who wanted to cook vegan meals with me – and who were amazed of how delicious they tasted. Needless to say, not everybody went vegan after this experience. But it’s a start. They already touched veganism for a bit. Who knows what will happen next. If they were genuinely interested in the topic, I strongly believe they will follow my lead. If not, they might still limit their consumption of meat.
So, again I see it from a positive side. I feel like that’s the best message to send out there.
To celebrate this day, I decided to share my favorite traditional Austrian meal with you – the vegan version of…wait for it…. the famous Kaiserschmarrn!
This dish is, for those who don’t know, one of the best things my country has to offer. Seriously. It’s freaking awesome. Something you just have to try out when visiting Austria. Kaiserscharrn is a sweet dish that we eat as a whole meal as well. You could also eat is as dessert though. It could be described as a lot of tiny pancake pieces you rip apart and fry in a pan with raisins. The traditional version uses eggs and milk – which are easily replaceable. This version is also way healthier – still not the healthiest dish in the world – but at least sugar free. So, that’s already a start!
Let’s get into it, shall we?
Ingredients (for 2 hungry people)
- 2 ripe bananas
- ¼ l soy milk
- 250 g flour
- 75g dates
- 100 g raisins (or more)
- Vegan butter for the pan
- Apple sauce
Put your dates into a container and cover them with water. Pop that container into the microwave for 4 minutes on strongest heat. That way, your dates get nice and soft quickly. If you have the time, you can also soak them overnight. After they come out of the microwave, put them aside and start peeling your bananas. Mash them with a fork, until there are no big chunks left and put them into a large bowl. Then add the flour and milk to your bananas. Mix everything until it’s well incorporated. Now you can start adding the raisins. If you love raisins as much as I do go ahead and add more! If you don’t like them, you can leave them out as well!
Then take your dates out of the water and mash them with a fork the same way you mashed the bananas. They should be soft enough to do so. If this step is still challenging, pop them back into the microwave for one more minute to soften them. Once this mixture is even, add it to the dough! These dates are the only sweetener this recipe needs!
Once your mixture is done, heat up a can and add some vegan butter to it. Then put as much dough into your pan you would making pancakes. Wait until the downside gets nice and brown – but don’t let it burn! Then flip them and wait for the other side as well. Once both sides are evenly brown, take a knife and start cutting the pancake into small pieces. Keep your pieces in the pan for a bit, stir them around occasionally to let them brown a bit more. Then take them out of the pan. Repeat this process until there is no dough left anymore. And sooner or later you’re done! Enjoy!
I served my Kaiserschmarrn with a few apple and peach slices on the side, however this is optional. The truly traditional version is served with apple sauce and plum jam. So, if you really want to stay on the traditional route – I would strongly recommend you to try these out!