For weeks, I tried my way through all the vegan cheese alternatives available in the supermarket and had to soberingly realize: THE substitute simply does not exist. Everything tasted like I imagine the taste of an old shoe sole. Basically, I already knew that, because in 2018 I had dared the first attempt to eat vegan and had failed. "I could never do without cheese!" - a sentence that I also said frequently back then. Today, however, I have to smile when a:e non-vegan:in brings it to me in a conversation as an argument. I hadn't consumed milk in a long time and eggs super rarely. My only big challenge was to give up cheese. But if anyone was hoping for the secret recipe now, I have to disappoint: There isn't one. Because it's actually quite simple, I just stopped buying and eating it. Every time I saw a pack of cheese in the refrigerated section, the horrific scenes from documentaries I had previously watched played out in my head.
I could no longer close my eyes to it, now that I knew what reality was like. When we learn something new that we know will have negative effects, we have a responsibility to act.
I have been on a meatless diet for 12 years now and 2 years ago I completely banned products of animal origin from my diet. So I have not eaten meat for half my life. 2 years ago (2019) I decided to give the baby a name. I pigeonholed myself and made myself vulnerable. After my mom asked me in confusion if she should cook vegetarian or vegan for me, I knew I had to make a decision now. I had only eaten vegan at home, outside I didn't want to inconvenience anyone and certainly didn't want to attract attention. I wanted to avoid stupid comments. "So what do you eat?" "Where do you get your protein?" "Are all your nutrients covered then?", "Rainforests are cut down for tofu." "Then all you can eat is lettuce." No sooner do I mention that I eat a vegan diet than I get these questions slapped at my head. By now I have a thick skin, but in the beginning it made me angry. Do omnivores seriously think that all the nutrients necessary for life are found in animal foods? As if meat or milk were the cure-all and the guarantor of health par excellence. People buy the cheapest, packaged minced meat from the discounter, drink alcohol, smoke, chow down at McDonalds or KFC, but worry when the word vegan is mentioned.
In the beginning, my only motivations were to avoid the suffering of animals and to eat healthier. Yet veganism is about so much more. The consumption of animal products has consequences for the climate and our environment. Keeping farm animals produces greenhouse gases, which in turn lead to permanent global warming. Huge areas of rainforest are cleared for the cultivation of fodder. Our ecosystem is getting into a strong imbalance, which soon cannot be stopped, if we do not act now.
It is not too late to do everything we can to protect our home in this universe so that it can continue to be preserved for us and our future generations. We should respect what we have, protect what remains, and ensure that no more life forms perish. Nobody alone can change everything, but everybody can contribute something. Not tomorrow. Now.
Approach the topic slowly, don't put yourself under pressure to make everything perfect. In the beginning, for example, leave out the meat and see how you get along. Then you can gradually eliminate more and more animal foods and replace them with plant-based foods. Instead of cow's milk you drink plant milk and instead of cheese on your sandwich you now have a delicious spread with plant margarine. Try it out and experiment with vegan products. For me, the change was anything but a renunciation. On the contrary. I felt and still feel it as extremely exciting! Did you know that you can make a kind of "egg whites" from the water of the chickpeas, from which you can prepare a super creamy chocolate mousse?
Illustration: Jule Kritzelt | jule-kritzelt.de