To Vegan or Not to Vegan – Let’s Start the discussion

This interview is in conjunction with a more extensive exploration into the topic taking place in the MadibazNews newspaper. There you will find more lengthy and diverse interviews. The disclaimer can be found in our seventh edition. Continue reading to hear the thoughts of Tayla Hynch, Nelson Mandela University student, who has been a vegan for a decade.

What prompted you to start, and what is the main reason behind you, following a vegan diet?
When I was twelve years old, I watched a documentary called Earthlings. It opened my eyes to how cruelly animals were treated for the sake of human enjoyment. After doing some further research, I realized that being vegan for animals is not the only benefit – it does wonders for your health, as well as the environment. It’s been ten years and I’m loving it.

How difficult or easy do you find it to maintain a vegan diet?
I find it incredibly easy in terms of food. Vegan staples (beans, rice, pasta, fruit and veggies) are so cheap that I find myself saving money. In terms of backlash, I find it difficult that some people only ask me about veganism to attack me. On the other side of that though, it brightens up my day to be able to have an open-minded and engaging discussion with someone.

Do you find it difficult to accept people’s choice to not follow a vegan diet? And how do you go about expressing your view points to someone who disagrees with you in this regard?
I can never judge someone for how they choose to eat (after all, I ate meat for twelve years). If someone wants to talk about their opposing views, I am always interested to talk to them respectfully and open-mindedly.

What are your top tips to someone who would like to start a vegan diet?

  • Don’t jump into it all at once! Studies have found that people who [make an extreme change] often end up quitting out of frustration. Cut things out slowly.
  • Find some vegan friends. It’s awesome to be able to share recipes or talk about how difficult it is to give up cheese or how great a new vegan documentary is. It makes the journey more fun.
  • Try new foods. Experiment with dishes you have never tried before or find a way to make your favourite dish vegan-friendly.
  • Lastly, don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake. No one is perfect, and there are animal products in more things than anyone realises. It’s okay to make mistakes.

How has a vegan diet improved your life?
I had a few problems with my weight, constantly fluctuating between being slightly overweight or underweight. Being vegan has kept my weight healthy and stable. I also find myself so much happier, knowing that I can eat and dress guilt free. It’s difficult once a person has made the connection between animals and ethics to be able to continue in a non-vegan lifestyle. Having my ethics align with my actions has put my mind at peace.

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