Why I’m chegan and proud of it

People hate chegans more than vegans.  They say ‘you’re the worst vegan I ever met’.  They say ‘you can’t have that’.  They despise us.  They’d rather encounter a preachy, perfect, peachy skinned health blogger holding onto a kale smoothie and prophesying the doom of the planet.  But despite the hatred for my kind, this isn’t a grovelling, snivelling apology to the righteous among us, the ‘level 5 vegans’, those who ‘never eat anything that casts a shadow’.  For a start, veganism is like religion: you can never do it perfectly.  If you ride a bike, your tyres are probably made with some sort of animal derivative.  If you breathe the air, you’re breathing in the suffering of animals somewhere.  You’d have to dig a hole with your bare hands and hide in it if you weren’t going to contribute to animal agribusiness in any way, shape or form.

So it’s impossible to be a perfect vegan.  But a proper vegan, worthy of the title, does everything within their power not to contribute to the use of animals.  This is a worthy goal for the animals, the environment and the human psyche.  I was one for around 7 years (probably not consecutively) and now I’m officially a chegan.  The seven good years were pretty much down to my daughter, a fully fledged, paid up member of the proper vegan club, who is worthy of worship and adoration and doggedly persists in her vegan ways, converting the most entrenched meat eaters with her rare combination of intelligence, charm and irrefutable logic  However, she’s been away at university and without her, my angel, at my shoulder, I find myself falling into the hands of the devil.

I only contribute to animal suffering once or twice a week.  I only use the slave trade now and again.  I’m only responsible for the separation of calves from their mothers and their subsequent slaughter at the hands of the veal industry when I eat the occasional block of cheese.  I am aware of how vile the dairy industry is and yet I choose to eat cheese sometimes.  It often repels me and attracts me simultaneously.  It’s addictive yet revolting, tasty yet scummy, irresistible yet – there’s no alternative for this one.  It’s just irresistible.  To me.  Once or twice a week.

The transition from vegan to chegan only happened at Christmas 2015, when my fiancé and I hired a house for all of our families and there was a large cheeseboard.  Previous to meeting my fiancé, I often didn’t encounter cheeseboards and, when I did, I was sufficiently immune to their temptation, having gone years without.  But something about the presentation, the people around me nomming on it, the combination of relief that our first blended Christmas had gone well and the exhaustion of planning it all, led to me, alone, in the dining room, scarfing down pretty much the remainder of the cheese.  The next day I was ill.  But the damage was done.  I was re-hooked on the addictive, creamy, vile substance derived from the suffering of bovine mothers and their enslaved babies.

I’d love to substitute cheese for olives, or hummus, or whatever I did before, but ever since that first taste, I can’t.  Now I’m with Mr Lishman, cheese features in the fridge at least twice a week as he brings it with him to my house and he usually has four different varieties of it at his.  He has made the significant transition from a fully omnivorous Lincolnshire country gent to a happier and healthier pescatarian weighing three stones less and feeling great about the change.  So, given that relationships involve compromise, I suppose I have an obligation to go chegan.  No?

I tried some vegan cheese from Sainsburys and, in fact, made a yummy macaroni cheese dish with it.  But this initially positive experience coincided, later that night, with the worst sickness bug I’d had in ten years.  Twenty seven vomits later, the idea, image and smell of that coconut-derived hell has seared into my memory and ensured that I never touch a vegan cheese again.

So I do my best.  I eat vegan most of the time.  If somebody makes a cake and brings it to work and used an egg in the mixture, I didn’t buy it, I didn’t make it and I didn’t ask.  If I eat the occasional half pound of cheese (I don’t eat dainty slices), I’m not going to apologise to everybody in sight as they eat their chicken salad, pulled pork burger or steak and chips.  I do more than most people to reduce the land used for animal agribusiness.  Vegetarians use a quarter of the land that omnivores need and vegans an eighth.  That makes cheganism a few steps away from perfection, which of course would be non existence.

As humans we’re all bad for the planet and we all leave an eco footprint.  I’m done trying to be perfect.  So, chegan haters, stick your plate of ‘happy meat’ where the sun doesn’t shine, go to a quiet spot somewhere and deal with your own planet damning habits before you say another indignant word about mine.





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