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October 2017
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Rotterdamers go Vegan

“Becoming a vegan is a choice, it simply means deciding to lead a happy and healthy life”, says Svetoslava with a beaming smile on her face. She is vegan for five months now and has never felt better in her entire life. According to her, the vegan diet represents conscious eating. It includes the consumption of only plant-based and dairy free products, with a rich palette of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. Leading to a diverse diet with variety of power foods, which is separated from all the negative connotations of meat intake and its negative effects on our health. “The truth is that the cow’s milk is baby cow’s growth hormone and humans should not be consuming it in any form”, shares Borislava shocked from this repulsive fact. Surprisingly many people are unfamiliar with this information, which is the base of the problem. If they knew I’m sure that they would think twice before eating their favorite cereal with cow milk for breakfast tomorrow morning.

But first we need to find what actually drives people to become vegans and follow this guilt free path. What can be so significant to provoke a person to change his mindset and to adjust his lifelong established eating habits? Well for some people health issues and concerns might be the reasons for this decision, for others is part of the green lifestyle they have chosen or even more superficial reasons, such as the simple desire to lose weight.

However, in reality moral concerns turn out to be the most important reason why people decided to take this journey. Dedicated vegans believe that people have lost their humanity and connection to the Earth, because of meat consumption. Scared for the future of our Earth and people’s souls, they embraced the pursuit of a pure and sustainable lifestyle. When asked to explain more about why he decided to make this dietary transition Thomas puts it this way: “Partly it was a movie I watched called “Earthlings”, it was about animal cruelty and what animals go through in the end to become food or clothes. After seeing these horrifying images I just couldn’t look at meat the same way as before. I believe that there is a better way and we can survive, without having to kill innocent creatures”.

Few people will admit it but we are all hypocrites, including myself. We love to spend our Sunday afternoons snuggling with our cats, posting pictures of cute bunnies, supporting animal defender groups on the social media, but at the same time when action needs to be taken we close our eyes and blame others. We blame the meat manufacturers, the pretentious fur coat designers and the shameless beauty companies for their animal exploitation and testing, but we forget that we are the ones buying their products. We need to change and take action, thus the vegan diet is here to set that revolution. The vegan lifestyle is based on coexisting and the necessity for us to lead a peaceful life where animals and humans are equal.

Yet, animal cruelty is not the only concern that affects people’s perceptions. Sophie, a passionate environmentalist and sustainability student at Erasmus University, has recently learned that more than half of the global greenhouse gas emissions are due to livestock and their byproducts. This revelation was a milestone in her life that made her realize the need for change. We also have to think more about what we consume. The fact that meat today is full of antibiotics and all other sorts of chemicals is the cause of Anna’s decision to become vegan, “they poison the animals and simultaneously the people, why should I poison myself voluntary by eating meat”.

Despite the reasons that led these people to the revelation that they want to become vegans, there are always obstacles, it turns out that the most difficult part of the process isn’t the actual dietary transition, the finding of products and recipes or the privation of animal products, as many might think, but the lack of support. “For me the most difficult part was that no one around me was vegan and my parents were very skeptical and not understanding, they are still convinced that this is not a healthy lifestyle and are concerned about me”, sais Tina, who accepted veganism as a way of life 3 years ago. Most of the family members are concerned, because they are unfamiliar with the nutritional facts and they believe that the vegan diet is limiting. Mothers feel especially troubled in the kitchen, not knowing what to cook and imagining that it is impossible to prepare vegan dishes for their children. On the contrary, Lisa proves that every regular meal could be made into a vegan one, even her favorite ice cream. ”You just blend some frozen bananas with cacao powder, put you favorite toping and that’s it, you have your own homemade vegan chocolate ice cream, that is even better than the regular one ”. And yes ladies, there are no extra calories or refined sugars, so it is a guilt free pleasure.

Or even the notion that it is impossible for vegans to go out and dine at restaurants is terribly wrong. Eva proves that restaurants in Rotterdam can be vegan friendly. The solution is to be more mindful about what you order. “Simply specifying that you want your meal to be prepared without any animal products is the way to do it or just ordering a veggie salad is a good option. If not possible, then you can have fries and who doesn’t love the famous Dutch fries”.

No matter the difficulties and the lack of support or understanding, many people are purposefully and unflinchingly dedicated to this new vegan lifestyle, creating a better physical and mental environment for themselves. And who knows maybe in a few years all of us will be persuaded by their moral beliefs and we will follow their steps towards a better future.


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