As another vegan month puffs by in a whiff of eau-de-legume another politician and celebrity are converted. It's been good to see veganism get so much positive media attention for once, a subject too often dismissed to the cranky realms of weirdoes and fruitcakes along with other outlandish cults like scientology and macrobiotic dieters. But amid all the media frenzy surrounding these new plant aficionados most people still don't have a clue what vegans are all about.
It seems to be an endemic misunderstanding that veganism is what people eat, or don't eat, and that's all there is to being a vegan. Even Beyonce hasn't quite got the hang of the whole vegan thing going by the leather outfit adorned with an enormous fur stole that she wore to a vegan dinner date last week.
But the diet part is only one bit of being a vegan which is more about an attitude and embraces a different approach to living. It's about showing an awareness of the world that goes beyond our own personal orbits and immediate interests and represents a choice for a kinder, more compassionate vision for all of us, animals and the planet. A vegan life is one way in which we can live free from cruelty and in touch with our values in a meaningful, more caring and happy space. Here is a quick overview of what we should expect from a vegan Beyonce:
• You are what you eat so don't be a dead carcass;
• Ditch those animal skin trousers, Bey, don a PVC cat suit instead;
• Fur trimmings, bags, coats, stoles anything that has been skinned off an animal's back while it is alive and struggling is a big no no, buy fake if you must;
• Adopt homeless abandoned animals for pets, don't breed or buy while shelter animals die;
• Support projects that protect wild animals living freely in their natural habitats instead of subsidizing the exploitation and captivity of wild animals in zoos and other animal centres;
• Stay clear of anything made of elephant or rhino tusk, if you can see tusk attached to a live beast then watch out for the drones;
• Be beautiful without cruelty, no animal needs to die in a laboratory for a woman (or a man) to be perceived attractive;
• Save on all those global warming air miles and bee destroying pesticides and eat local and organic produce;
• Reduce and recycle unnecessary plastic that spells the kiss of death to a whole number of wildlife and marine animals causing slow, agonizing, drawn out deaths from strangulation and starvation;
• Reduce those carbon spitting car journeys and walk, hitch, car share, use public transport or get on your bike;
• Woo your lover in peace silk instead of a product obtained by dropping living cocoons into boiling water.
Quick to bemoan modern day predicaments, there are few people willing to tackle the meat of the problem and question what an alternative lifestyle choice like veganism really has to offer. To wave away an alternative just because it is an alternative to what today's materialistic egocentric consumerist society demands, says a lot about the world we are living in. It's a sad fact that it is the myths and misunderstandings of veganism, and not its merits, which penetrate our general culture. But that's in keeping with modern custom in which it is much easier to blame something else for the world's woes rather than look at what action we as individuals can take to change things. If we all wait for someone else to make the world a better place, it will never happen. It is, after all, our individual choices that drive our consumer driven society.
Enter Mrs Knowles to make a difference. In choosing an all plant, animal-loving, long living, healthy, body buffing, planet protecting, rhino saving lifestyle she is illuminating her compassion as much as her singing talents. I hope she shows she can achieve success in her personal life that matches her professional success and defy the myths that she can be bootylicious and vegan at the same time.
Because if the corporate media has things their way, a girl like Beyonce won't survive for long as a vegan. Of course, I'm backing a Beyonce that proves them wrong and who doesn't loose her veganity and go back to eating meat again. But she can't say she's tried going vegan until she fully understands and embraces what veganism is really all about. If she does, however, and succeeds she would be an example that even in the world of stardom's biggest diva it is the little acts of kindness and goodness that an individual makes that matter most of all.