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Two sides of the vegan coin

Juliana Mare

Tue Nov 19 2013


AFTER attending World Vegan Day, Juliana Mare delves into the world of veganism, its perks and environmental impact. 

I admit, being an omnivore at World Vegan Day (WVD) recently felt like being a fish out of water.

But as the promoters for this community-funded event said: “You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to enjoy the day”, so I attended with an open mind and an empty stomach.

The most surprising part was definitely the variety of food.

For all the skeptics out there, I’m going to bust a stereotype straight away: veganism isn’t all veggie patties and tofurkey.

I stumbled across stalls selling coconut and goji vegan chocolate, gluten free bircher, Bounty-flavoured gelato and even egg and dairy free red velvet cupcakes. Needless to say, I was spoilt for choice when it came to lunchtime.

Everything I tasted at the market was positively scrumptious. It was hard not to go back for another pink lemonade cupcake! Not to mention – it was chock full of healthy ingredients.

Of all the food available, the standout stall for me was Fritz Gelato. Their entire sorbet range is vegan friendly and the fresh fruit is locally sourced.

I tried their bounty, passionfruit kick and raspberry rumble flavours, but it was a difficult choice from a range that also included blood orange, poached pears, mango and peach, and ruby grapefruit.

Each tub of sorbet contains one kilo of fresh fruit, water, sugar and guava gum, which helps with the smooth consistency.

While enjoying my sweet treat, I spoke to owner Ali Johnston who says it’s the churning process that gives the Fritz Gelato range its beautiful, creamy texture.

“When we first started out, we found some products did have some skim milk powder in them so we’ve actually had to change suppliers to ensure we’re 100 per cent vegan,” he said.

Fritz Gelato is celebrating its 10th anniversary next year and has a Richmond store, as well as stalls at the Prahran and South Melbourne markets.

Ali says word of mouth is the best way to let vegans know there are things like sorbet available to them, so be sure to head out to the markets soon to sample some of the tastiest sorbet in Melbourne.

Aside from the physical perks of a meat-free diet, veganism also has enormous environmental impacts and is at the forefront of the animal rights movement.

Phillip Wollen turned his back on his corporate lifestyle and is now one of Australia’s leading animal rights advocates. He says we’re entering a new Dark Ages and that the damage humans have inflicted on billions of animal species is “a crime of unimaginable proportions”.

“Seven billion people live today and yet we torture and kill two billion sentient living beings every week.”

“10,000 entire species are wiped out every year because of the actions of one species.”

Phillip isn’t a tie-dye t-shirt wearing, barefoot hippie. He’s a firm-looking businessman in a suit and commanding public speaker who knows the money he poured into slaughterhouses in Cairo to improve the treatment of Australian livestock was a complete waste.

As such, he is absolutely dead set on a 100 per cent vegan diet.

“Cutting out meat by only 10 per cent will feed a 100 million people. Eliminating meat from our diet will end malnutrition forever,” he says.

While these statistics are undoubtedly impressive, Mr Wollen’s go-big-or-go-home attitude and his claim that animal rights is the “greatest social issue since the abolition of slavery” were particularly off-putting because it seemed as though there was no middle-ground.

He actually said “sitting on the fence is for cowards and crows”, which was also very discouraging to hear because it sounded like an accusation against anyone who isn’t irrevocably dedicated to veganism, even if they support the animal rights movement. Someone like myself.

Luckily, I later spoke to Billy Simmonds, a vegan bodybuilding world champion and a real-life example of just how beneficial a plant-based diet can be. He was a lot more accommodating of non-vegans.

Billy won Mr Universe in 2009, holds two world records and says he owes it all to his “power plant” philosophy and training.

“To actually adopt a full vegan diet was quite challenging but once I got my head around it, the next step was to optimise it, to make it something that could really work for me,” he said.

A typical day in Billy’s diet includes a smoothie for breakfast with frozen banana and berries, plant-based protein powder and coconut cream with flaxseed meal and green tea on the side.

Throughout the day, he has high vibrational raw meals, so things like cucumbers, fruits and green veggies – basically foods that grow high above ground and facing the sun.

His mantra “Beans, seeds and greens” is an easy combination to follow and opting for different seed varieties over any type of rice is a healthier option because it minimises your carbohydrate intake.

For those thinking about switching to veganism, here are Billy’s essential tips

  • Visit farmers markets to buy fresh produce like high vibrational and raw foods. This is also a good way to support local businesses.
  • Learn to read labels so you’re aware of exactly what’s on your plate.
  • “Make one, prep one” to save time in the kitchen.
  • Control your environment. Try eating at vegan cafes and set a good example for those around you.
  • Keep a positive mindset and you’ll succeed in no time!

Are you an omnivore, vegetarian or vegan? Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comment section below!