‘I found myself surrounded by good, caring people who were participating in hideous acts of violence’

Everyday Vegans
An occasional series in which ordinary people
talk about living a plant-based life


Argentinian traveller Manu, the latest contributor to our series, sees veganism as the next stage in human evolution and is optimistic about its growth

Manu

My name is Manu, I’m 25-years-old, and I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Currently, I’m happily settled in Mexico.

I fell in love with the nomadic lifestyle and have been travelling since 2015. I’ve hitched my way up to Mexico and back down to Argentina, only to come back up and stay put for a few years here in Mexico. My wife and I recently purchased an ’87 Volkswagen bus (or Combi) as our first home/vehicle.

I’ve been vegan since early 2015. I never was a vegetarian; I was aware of the horrors of the dairy and egg industries before I went vegan, so, for me, it wasn’t really an option. What led me to a vegan lifestyle was a spiritual growth. I was really into meditation and spirituality at the time – I still am, but I don’t meditate anymore.

I knew veganism was the next step forward towards what I pictured my life to be. As an Argentinian, I was born and bred in a meat culture. I was really into weightlifting before I left home and I’d never heard of the notion of vegan or vegetarian bodybuilders. Chicken and tuna were the diet staples of my gym buddies. Oh, and lots of whey protein.

Really, spirituality aside, it was my love of animals that eventually pushed me into veganism. I say pushed me because, after my experience with the documentary Earthlings, there was absolutely no way I was ever going to eat meat… never again. My love for animals grew massively that day. After you’ve seen for yourself the pain, horror and suffering of these gentle beings, there’s no way your heart won’t expand.

Like I said, I’ll never eat animal products again. Firstly, don’t think it’s healthy at all and these days there’s plenty of evidence to support that claim. Secondly, I don’t see animal products as food anymore. I see dead, decaying flesh, and stuff that comes out of an animal’s ass and tits. To be honest, that doesn’t make me hungry.

Back in my weightlifting days I gained a passion for healthy living. At that point, I wasn’t exactly ‘healthy’ since I was eating so many animal products – but I thought I was. After I went vegan, it all changed. I felt like a new man. My energy levels went up, I slept and looked better, I felt better overall, my mood changed for the positive, and it felt really really good inside not to be directly funding the torture and slaughter of innocent beings.

I still like to keep myself healthy. My wife and I eat mainly a whole-food, plant-based diet, but of course we indulge in unhealthy food every now and then. Mexico has a wide variety of healthy and delicious vegan food. It definitely seems like the most vegan-friendly food culture in Latin America.

Most of our food nowadays comes from local markets. They’re the cheapest places to get food from, and we prefer to support local farmers and shops. We usually avoid packaged foods, although recently we bought two cases of vegan queso from a brand called Heartbest and we absolutely devoured them. It’s been a while since I had a quesadilla with ’actual’ cheese.

To be honest, I don’t count calories or nutrients, especially not protein. There’s protein in fruit; most people don’t know that. There’s protein everywhere, especially in plant foods. I know that if I eat a wide range of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes, I’ll be alright for nutrients. And I hardly ever get sick anymore.

Of course, my entire life changed when I went vegan, not only physically, but mentally too. Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by good, caring people who were participating in hideous acts of violence, three times a day. It was shocking.

Most of the time, it became a hard thing to cope with; honestly, it still is. We live in a (mostly) non-vegan world. That means sentient, innocent and harmless beings are being treated as mere commodities, bred strictly for human use. They’re not regarded as victim and their rights are next to nothing.

Fortunately this is changing. A lot more people (myself included) are choosing veganism as a way to live a more compassionate and healthy lifestyle. It’s great for everybody; the animals and the people. It’s also become easier with time. I’ve had my discussions, even fights, with people. I’ve had my cries, my anger, and my despair. It’s still really tough, but it’s definitely worth it.

Sometimes I find myself thinking that it would be so much easier for me if I didn’t care, or wasn’t aware of the horrors behind animal agriculture. How awesome would be to just wake up one day and not care about any of these issues at all. But when I put myself in the victim’s position, it suddenly becomes clear: it doesn’t matter how difficult it can get for me; I am still one less person harming animals, and that is fine by me.

I don’t come into contact with other vegans that often – except my wife. But that’s okay. I know we’re out there.

I post regularly on r/vegan and I’m a mentor for Challenge22  which I truly love. It’s great to see people interested in making their lives better by going vegan.

Manu and his wife

I was raised in a non-vegan household and have lived and shared with plenty of non-vegans over my life. It always sucks seeing people you care about eating animal products. But I kind of got used to it. Most of my friends are non-vegans, but my best friend, my wife, is vegan. I’ve met vegans I didn’t like and preferred the company of non-vegans. I don’t judge people by their plant-based dietary lifestyles. Although, if more people were vegan, of course that would be so much better,

Eating out with non-vegans is always unpleasant. That’s why I don’t eat out much. But when I do, I make sure there are plenty of vegan options on the menu. My wife and I love to cook so we’re always inviting people to try our food. We sell food while we travel, too. Our vegan burgers are always a hit.

I don’t hear a lot of vegan jokes – maybe because I’m a tall, wide-shouldered dude (which kind of intimidates some people) people don’t often tend to tell vegan jokes around me. They mostly come from the Internet I would think.

Veganism ain’t a fad. It’s a lifestyle led by a need, especially by those dying from heart conditions, obesity, strokes, cancer, and diabetes. Veganism is the next step in human history. Mark my words, the meat and dairy industries, as we know them today, will eventually die. They literally have to.

I always bring out the positive in veganism, as there’s no room for negativity. It’s all about being healthy, happy, and living in alignment with our inner values – mainly, do not harm others, especially animals.

Graphic content is a double-edged sword. Personally, watching actual graphic footage was what propelled me into veganism, but I understand that for others, it can have the total opposite effect. It’s a matter of playing your cards right. Some people don’t want to see slaughterhouse footage. But show them a little pig being all cute and cuddly and you can win them over.

I am highly positive about the future of veganism. It is growing extremely fast. Some say it’s the fastest-growing social justice movement in history and I believe it. Today, with such a variety of delicious vegan foods, it’s impossible not to join in.

Being vegan, to me, means that I am actively taking part in what I wish this world to be. Like they say, “Be the change you wish to see in this world.” Waiting for other people to change our current situation will lead to nowhere. We have to participate in our current state of the world, and make it better.

If you are interested in sharing your thoughts in our Everyday Vegans slot, please get in touch and we’ll let you know what to do.

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