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This Vegan Life. 1. Sunday Breakfast.

September 22, 2014

“I was asked that same old stupid question the other day” , Susie said to Joe as she mixed some turmeric and dried herbs into the tofu she’d just crumbled into the frying pan, “you know, that one about ‘what do vegans eat?’ It gets so boring.”

Joe, slicing tomatoes and mushrooms bought from the corner shop that morning when he was out early getting his paper, replied “Yeah, I know. But it really can be that people just can’t imagine what they’d eat without bacon and eggs in the morning, a cheese or chicken sandwich for lunch and sausages and mash for dinner.”

It was their usual Sunday ritual – cooked breakfast and then off to church. On weekdays they’d just have muesli with whichever plant milk happened to be open at the time – it varied, as they liked them all now, although when they had first tried them, they’d found the tastes strange and it had taken some time to get used to them and grow to enjoy them. If you had been having cow’s milk in your tea and porridge for most of your life, a new taste felt strange and a bit unwelcome. Nowadays when Susie saw a bottle of milk, she felt sad. All she could picture were dead calves, the mothers bellowing for their lost infants. Those images of happy cows in the green pastures were such lies. It was heartbreaking how relentlessly exploited dairy cows were. The sound of the ice cream van on Summer’s evenings sounded sinister to her now – sweet treats overlaying hideous cruelty, and the innocent children just did not know what they were consuming, what they were helping to keep going. Just like her and her sister, Valerie, when they were girls, loving to hear the jingle of that van, rushing out to get a Mr Whippy, laughing and not knowing, happy that Mum and Dad had said, yes, they could go and get ice creams.

Joe was so much more patient with people that she was. He was so nice. Susie sometimes wanted to shake people up and shout at them to just look at what they were doing, to just wake up. Joe said that everyone had to come to it in their own time, all they could do was keep on sharing the truth and living their own harmless lifestyle and hope they had sown some seeds of change.  She knew he was right, but it didn’t make it any easier. She didn’t really remember ever thinking vegans just ate lettuce leaves and beans, so she couldn’t help the thought that it was a wind up, not a serious question, and this annoyed her.

Susie piled scrambled tofu, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried bread, bubble and squeak and a veggie sausage on each plate and joined Joe at the table. He had made a pot of Earl Grey tea and set a jug of Almond milk in the centre, and put out the posh cups and saucers – wedding gift from his mother and only used on Sundays. He’d poured her a glass of rhubarb and ginger juice and himself a plain freshly squeezed orange.

“I need to learn to make Smoothies” Susie announced. ” Some of my Facebook friends make them, but I never seem to get around to starting. It’s a bit like the jam thing, a nice idea, but it just doesn’t happen.”

“That’d be nice” said Joe, through a mouthful of hot sausage and mushroom, ” I could quite fancy one of those green ones – you know, kale, avocado, kiwi and so on. ”

Susie nodded. “The supermarkets don’t do very well with that, do they – too much banana and strawberry, not enough green! Probably doesn’t sell, or they think it won’t. ” She reached over and poured their tea.

“Funny that, ” Joe mused, putting a splash of milk and a half teaspoon of agave syrup in his tea, ” you’d think there’d be a lot of substandard, misshapen vegetables and fruits they could buy from the farmers at a lower price and make into smoothies. It would turn a cheap resource into a premium product. You’d think they’d be up for that. Making money’s their thing, isn’t it? Not ethics, unless it boosts their sales, of course”

Susie smiled. Joe was no fan of supermarkets. He liked the small, independent shops.

“I wouldn’t need to go making my own then, would I? Working vegan’s dream!”  She took a sip of the Earl Grey -Sainsbury’s own. She rather liked Sainsbury’s, they did seem to have a fairly decent range of choices for vegans, even had a vegan label,  and the staff in the branch near her office were very friendly. She had been going there for years, long before she went vegan. She’d encouraged some of them to at least try some plant based meals. It wasn’t enough , of course, but it was better than nothing – it took sales away from the animal products.

“I can see you taking a carton of green smoothie from Sainsbury’s into work and saying ‘hey, look what I found! Anyone fancy some?” Joe said. Susie laughed. The idea of Glenda and Cheryl drinking anything but the Diet Coke they glugged in alarming quantities every day seemed ridiculous.

“Yeah, right – just like that time I took those vegan cakes in for the Christmas party and nobody would eat them. I shouldn’t have told them they were vegan.” she said.

” I remember how pissed off you were at the time. It was funny, but even I don’t understand that reaction.  It really seems like a sort of prejudice, a determination to avoid being persuaded at all costs. What’s that about?”

Susie shrugged. “I think they don’t want to open the door even a tiny crack. Maybe they think if they admit they like them I’m going to press recipes on them and then give them the third degree every time they make cakes that aren’t vegan in future. Maybe they think the pleasure of eating cake will be forever lost to them if they feel obliged to always make ‘those weird vegan things without any eggs or dairy’. It’s like there’s some magic or specialness about the things they are used to. I never thought people were so stuck in habits and so scared of change as they are, before I became vegan. How come I managed to change? I’m nothing special, am I? Just ordinary me.”

“Special to me” Joe said, leaning in to kiss her. “And those cakes were delicious – I had a few midnight snacks of those”

“I’ve made some more.” Susie announced. “I had a baking afternoon yesterday when you were out on your bike. I’m taking some to church today. I think I’ll sell them in aid of Breadline Africa. Shall I?”

“Great idea” Joe enthused. ” For that, they might just be tempted. “And you’d better get going, hadn’t you, time’s getting on. I’ll clear up this mess.”

” My vegan angel” Susie said, planting a kiss on the top of his head as she got up from the table. “Let’s go to that pub we like for lunch, later,  and a walk on the common. We haven’t done that in a while, and we’re not visiting family or anything today, are we,  so we can do what we like. You up for that?”

“Sounds great” Joe agreed, reaching for his paper. “I’ll have everything tidied and cleaned up when you get back.”

“Perfect. See you later then” she called out, gathering up her bag and the tin of cakes from the hallway table where she had put them ready last evening before bed. She would walk – there was enough time for that, and the sun was shining. It was a beautiful day.

.”

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