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The Way of the Vegan by Alex Bourke

This essay is in three parts: why I am a vegan, how you can easily turn vegan, and finally how we will create a vegan world together.

Why Vegan?

A cow produces milk only after she has had a calf. Every year we make her pregnant and kill her calf so that we can take her milk. After four calves we kill and eat the cow at around seven years old, even though she should live for twenty, because she is now less productive. 70% of beef comes from milk cows. Beef, milk and veal are all one business, all the same bloody, animal slave industry. It's just the same for chickens and eggs.




and no eggs, no leather, no wool. I don't eat the inside and I won't wear the outside.

Around 50% of male meat eaters in America die of heart disease, which is where arteries become blocked by animal fat which is solid at body temperature. For vegetarians the figure is around 25%, with those who eat dairy products instead of meat particularly at risk. Meat has 40% of calories from fat, but cheese has 70%. Eggs are the richest source of cholesterol. Cheese and eggs are as much junk food as a hamburger. Whereas plant foods like beans, grains and vegetables, contain no cholesterol and, apart from avocados and coconut, little saturated fat. Vegans who eat well get less than 10% of calories from fat, have zero cholesterol intake, have blood cholesterol levels below 150, and have virtually no heart disease. The story for cancer is similar, with the free radicals that cause it coming from animal products and pollution, and the anti-oxidant vitamins that destroy it being found only in plants.

Vegans get almost no food poisoning. In the United Kingdom in 1991 300,000 people caught salmonella from chicken and eggs, and 100 died. 350,000 got campylobacter from poultry and milk. 400 got listeria from pate and soft cheeses, of whom 100 died. 500 got E. coli from beef of whom 50 died. 5,000 got staphylococcus from meat, cream, custard and processed foods, and 5 died. 95% of food poisoning comes from animal products, and the rest is from cross-contamination in the kitchen. My kitchen is vegan. I never have to sterilise surfaces or tools or my fridge, because nothing dangerous lives there.

How to be Vegan

If you want to move towards a vegan diet, contact your national vegetarian or vegan organisation, where there will surely be some vegans to help you. To get you started, there is lots of information on the website of the Vegan Society and they have an excellent catalogue of books. If you find a book too much to read in English, get a copy of their new 16 page Go Vegan guide for only �1, available from the shop on their website. One book I highly recommend is Why Vegan by Kath Clements, also available from the Vegan Society.

The old four food groups (meat, dairy, fruit/vegetables, grains) have been abolished in the USA, thanks to lobbying by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, representing 5,000 doctors using vegan diet to treat all the major western diseases. They recommend the four new food groups which are whole grains (pasta, rice, bread etc), pulses or legumes (peas, beans, lentils, tofu, soy milk, tempeh, texturized vegetable protein), fruit, and vegetables, particularly green ones for vitamin C, and dark yellow and orange vegetables for beta-carotene. Add to this some nuts and seeds. You can read more on their website at Unfortunately the British government, via its Health Education Council and posters in schools, is still promoting the incorrect old four food groups. Hopefully we can lobby to get that changed.

An easy way to get started cooking vegan style is to go for a plate with 50% whole grains for carbohydrate, protein and B vitamins; 25% green vegetables for vitamins and fibre; 25% orange and yellow vegetables for beta-carotene; and a few pulses for protein, fibre, iron and B vitamins. You'll find that a vegan diet contains every nutrient you need including plenty of calcium and essential linoleic and linolenic fatty acids, but without the cholesterol, saturated fat, microbes, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics that you'll find in all animal products, especially cheese and eggs.

Let me emphasise one crucial point for you to reflect on:

All the benefits of a vegetarian diet come exclusively from its vegan component.

Cheese has more fat than meat and comes from the same place. Eggs have more cholesterol than chicken and come from the same place. Neither contain any fibre, carbohydrate, or anything that you won't find much more healthily in plant foods.

The Ladder

Some people say that veg-eat-dairy-anism is a step on the ladder from meat eating to veganism. At the bottom of the ladder is a lumberjack or sumo wrestler, living on beef and Budweiser. Next is the pesco-chicko-who-you-trying-to-kiddo-veg-eat-dairy-an. Then the veg-eat-dairy-an. And at the top is the vegan. But if you are promoting vegetarianism or animal rights and you still wear leather or drink milk or eat cheese, then watch out! You may be on the ladder out of the pit of animal abuse and self abuse, but whilst you are on the ladder you are still in fact in the pit.

It's great that you have gone vegetarian, but don't stay there too long, run up that ladder as fast as you can into the light of veganism, which is where all the benefits are. If you eat 100 meals in a month, some of them are probably already vegan. Try to increase that proportion as fast as you can. Breakfast is an easy place to start.



Ronny and I wrote Campaign Against Cruelty an animal activist's handbook, to help make the world vegan as fast as possible by telling you all you need to know to set up as an independent campaigner. The entire book is available free at
and in Italian at

(If you would like to help by translating a chapter or more into another language, please contact us.) You can join or start a local group, have street stalls, arrange meetings, speak in public or to groups, produce leaflets and newsletters, get vegan food into local canteens and restaurants, organise a demonstration, and get into the press, radio and TV. We're here to help you get started. So, what are you waiting for?

If we are going to change the world, we must put our knowledge in a permanent form. We must write books about every aspect of veganism, in every language. So start writing or translating, whether it's a leaflet or an encyclopaedia.

Two of my favourite websites are: Containing over 70 information sheets about all aspects of becoming a vegan. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, representing 5,000 American doctors who got the US government to abolish the incorrect four food groups. They successfully treat western diseases like diabetes, asthma, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease with a vegan diet, replacing high fat, animal protein foods with high fibre, high carbohydrate plant foods. Let's take these revolutionary breakthroughs in preventative medicine to the rest of the world.

It's up to all of us to speak out and write. Give people the knowledge to take control of their lives. Make them independent, give them the personal power to choose and prepare their own food. Give them freedom, to live totally cruelty free, and free of disease. Think about who you would like to write for or speak to, such as meat eaters, vegetarians, people with heart disease, recipes for people who are already vegan, children, or produce a vegan guide to your town for residents or just the central area for travellers.

Together we can change the world. There was a time when aeroplanes, votes for women or no slavery seemed impossible, so what's wrong with creating a vegan country in one generation? Nothing is impossible unless you believe it is. Today you can start planning and preparing your contribution to world veganization. Your work will change people's lives. It will remove their blocks to becoming a vegetarian or vegan. It will make people free to be their true selves, living in love with all life. There is no finer work.

If you feel isolated, I heartily recommend the book Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. I won't tell you why. Just read it and I promise you'll understand instantly. Another great story is The Emperor's New Clothes. Your work, like that of PCRM in America, will help people to break through the greatest crime by the farming and medical establishment against the peoples of the world, groupthink. There are two million murders in Britain every day of animals, and at least two thirds of the people are killed by eating them. You can do something about this genocide against our own people by the meat and dairy industries, backed by government subsidies. You can help people to wake up. You can become a vegan organiser and activist.

Here are twelve steps you can take to change the world:

  1. Go vegetarian.
  2. Go vegan.
  3. Become a great cook. Most people don't eat food because it's healthy, but because it looks good and tastes nice.
  4. Learn about nutrition.
  5. Learn about vegan babies. People will tell you it's ok for adults, but not for children. Invest in copies of Vegan Nutrition by Gill Langley and Pregnancy, Children and the Vegan Diet by Dr Michael Klaper, both available from the Vegan Society.
  6. Get some more books and learn all about the animal rights and ecology arguments for veganism. I particularly recommend The Silent Ark by Juliet Gellatley and The Food Revolution by John Robbins. Those steps will gain you your degree or black belt in veganism, ready to defend yourself in any situation. Then it's time to start teaching.
  7. Become a campaigner.
  8. Join or start a local group.
  9. Read magazines to keep up to date.
  10. Tithe. This is the old system where people gave 10% of their income to the church. If your work keeps you too busy to campaign, why not "contract out" your campaigning by giving 1% of your income to a group you admire.
  11. Get skilled. Learn word processing, do a course in journalism, work as a volunteer in a vegetarian organisation. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but with a computer you can really kick Ronald McDonald's butt.
  12. Get as much power as you can and use it for good. Become a teacher, doctor, caterer, film maker, writer or politician. If Wales can have a vegetarian Minister of Agriculture to help farmers change from producing sheep to organic vegetables, why not your country?

Finally, a meditation.

Zen and the Art of Campaigning

Everything that ever was, started with a dream. Take a walk, sit or lie quietly, reflect and dream.

When you've formulated your dream, it's time to act. Success depends on action. Doing nothing is itself an action, and the most harmful one of all. It's called neglect.

Once you have taken your first steps, the path will reveal itself to you, and others will keep you company on it.

The only difference between success and failure is that success kept on going till she got there. Whatever obstacles you encounter, there are others already on the path waiting to help you in every way we can. Just ask.

You have the power to co-create a vegan world. Help others to join us on the path of truth, respect and love for all life.

I'll see you at the celebration when the last slaughterhouse closes.

Alex Bourke,
Vegetarian Guides Ltd,
PO Box 2284,
London W1A 5UH

For more information on veganism send a stamp or international reply coupon to:

    The Vegan Society, 7 Battle Rd, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex TN37 7AA, UK.
    Tel: (+44) 1424 427393
    Fax: (+44) 1424 717064

    Viva!, 12 Queen Square, Brighton BN1 3FD, UK.
    Tel: (+44) 1273 777688
    Fax: (+44) 1273 776755

Vegan Myths


There is a myth that we need dairy products for calcium and protein. However there is not one single case in the medical literature of dietary calcium deficiency in a calorie sufficient diet. The countries with the highest consumption of dairy products (North America, Netherlands, Britain, Scandinavia) have the highest rates of osteoporosis, even though they consume up to 1000mg of calcium a day, twice the amount recommended by the World Health Organisation. Only Eskimos have a higher calcium consumption, and they in fact have the very highest rate of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is not a disease of calcium deficiency, it is a disease of calcium loss caused in older people largely by eating too much animal protein which is disposed of using calcium from the bones. In China and Africa they eat far less animal protein and have almost no osteoporosis. The Tutsi eat only 350mg of calcium per day yet have strong teeth and bones.


As for protein, it is virtually impossible to be deficient on a calorie sufficient diet unless you eat a lot of sugar and alcohol. When children in Africa got healthier after being given milk, it was not because of the milk, it was because they were given food. We know that when Africans and Chinese switch from their mainly vegan to a western animal diet, they get all the same diseases as us, because of too much fat and too much animal protein.


The dairy industry tried to discredit veganism via protein and calcium. The meat industry tried with iron, but in fact iron deficiency is no more common in vegans than in the general population. Grains, beans and leafy green vegetables have plenty, and the extra vitamin C in our diet helps to absorb it. Vegetarians might like to know that cow's milk contains virtually no iron, whereas there is plenty in beans. Veal calves are fed on just milk because the lack of iron makes their flesh white.

Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 deficiency is another myth. There are only anecdotal cases of it in vegans in the medical literature, and again it is no more common amongst vegans than in the general population. No animal that we eat makes B-12, they get it from bacteria in the soil that they pull up with grass, just as early humans got it from the surface of organic vegetables or river water, or perhaps made it in their bodies. Today if we live in a very clean environment we can get B-12 from fermented or fortified foods or by taking a supplement.

For a comprehensive discussion of B-12 visit the Vegan Society website

Vegan Celebrities

The list below is a brief selection of celebrities that to the best of our knowledge are dietary vegans:

  • Yazz, singer
  • Geoff Tate, Queensryche
  • Moby, DJ and record producer
  • Sally Eastall, 13th in Womens Marathon,1992 Barcelona Olympics.Britain's no.2
  • Robin Gibb, Bee Gees
  • Bryan Adams,singer
  • Heather Small(M-People), singer
  • Spice Williams, actress
  • Andy Vowles, alias "mushroom",Massive Attack
  • Colin Spencer, journalist,painter,playwright,author
  • Crispin Mills, Kula Shaker
  • Geezer Butler, Black Sabbath
  • Stella McCartney, designer
  • James McCartney, musician
  • Wendy Turner, TV Presenter
  • Benjamin Zephaniah, Rasta poet and TV scriptwriter
  • Judith Shakeshaft, champion mountain biker and runner
  • Mystic Meg
  • Woody Harrelson, actor
  • The Artist Formerly Known As Prince
  • Lindsay Wagner, actress,"The Bionic Women"
  • Apu, The Simpsons
  • Daniel Johns, Silverchair
  • Dave Scott, 5 times winner of Ironman competition,triathlete
  • Drew Barrymore, actress
  • Dr John Harvey Kellog, brother of the founder of the Kellogs company
  • Earth Crisis, band(all vegan)
  • Fiona Apple, singer
  • Geoff Tate, Queensryche
  • James, band(all vegan)
  • Jennie Garth, 'Kelly'in Beverley Hills 90210
  • Joaquin Phoenix, actor
  • Judith Durham, lead singer of the Seekers
  • KD Lang, singer
  • Lucy Stevens, triathlete
  • Pat Reeves, champion power lifter
  • Paul McGann, the 8th Dr Who
  • Phil Collen, Def Leppard guitarist
  • Ricki Rocket, Poison
  • Sinead O'Connor

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