Being a vegan is a daily challenge. Vegans are constantly having to watch the foods they eat in a restaurant or from a fast food vendor. With most of the foods in chain restaurants not being organic or vegan, it adds a big limitation for people who are trying to embrace the difficult lifestyle. Luckily, for vegans in Edmonton, there is a cozy restaurant located on the corner of Whyte Ave.
Noorish Cafe is completely vegan and only serves organic foods. We decided to spend an afternoon with the staff of Noorish to discover the challenges and adversity that a typical Vegan faces in our chaotic city and in society as a whole. We spoke with one of the servers, Ashley Cast, about her struggles going vegan and the dangers that society faces if we don’t reduce the negative stigma surrounding veganism.
Interviewer: Why did you go initially go vegan?
Ashley Cast: I first watched the documentary “Cowspiracy” and it really appealed to my
intellectual and scientific nature about stopping animal cruelty. Through the statistics and data they provided, it was proven to me that it is very unsustainable to eat meat. I mainly went vegan for environmental issues over ethical or health. We are destroying our environment by eating meat and society acts like they are blind to that fact. By eating more and more meat, we are harming natural animals in their environment, which actually effects our own environment. People don’t see that.
Interviewer: Do you think there is a stigma surrounding veganism?
Ashley Cast: Yes I do. For example I was writing on the sandwich board, and I wanted to put something clever on it. So I typed in vegan jokes, and all of them were rude and taking a stab at veganism. One said, “don’t worry if someone is vegan, they’ll be sure to tell you.” There’s a lot of aggression and actually acts of violence against people who are vegan. It’s crazy to think that people are going vegan to help the environment and save animals, but people take that as an initiative for violence? The negative stigma is damaging to society because people think veganism is stupid or a silly diet choice. But everyone is failing to realize that it is not sustainable, and the way people eat now a days, we won’t be able to provide enough meat produce in the future.
Interviewer: Even though there is a negative stigma, veganism has appeared to be on the rise in society, why do you think that is?
Ashley Cast: I think people are concerned about their health more than ever before. Society is in danger of extreme obesity. Meat has tons of unhealthy fats, chemicals and other unnatural ingredients that contribute to the rise of obesity. Globally and economically, there is more information available to us through the internet. There is also more foods available to us in society. We now have access to organic and healthy foods from across the world. And that’s a big game changer. I think people want to become vegan because they are afraid of being unhealthy and the consequences that come with it. It’s great that veganism is on the rise in society, and it needs to keep rising or we are going to be in trouble. Organic fruits, vegetables, beans, and others are sustainable foods. Meat is not sustainable.
Interviewer: What is a big conflict or controversy you face being a vegan?
Ashley Cast: People disagreeing with me that veganism is more sustainable than a regular diet. Most diet conversations are about losing weight and not ethical or practical reasons. Being a vegan, to me at least, seems practical because it is more environmentally sustainable. I when talking to people, many feel like they have to defend their choice to eat meat like they aren’t “really” harming the environment by eating chicken twice a day. Those people are just uneducated. Saying I don’t eat meat to a meat eater is like saying God doesn’t exist to a Christian, the conversation just goes in circles. And then the main point is lost, about veganism truly benefiting the environment. So many people get defensive when I talk about a vegan diet, and they don’t even listen to what I have to say. It sucks to know that if people knew JUST how much they were harming the environment by eating meat, that maybe they would stop.
Interviewer: What makes Noorish Cafe such a unique place that can help solve some of the issues you previously stated?
Ashley Cast: What makes Noorish so unique is the super foods we offer. Noorish is the only the place in Edmonton where you can get organic food. The entire menu is organic and I think that is really awesome because we have tons of customers who are allergic to the chemicals and pesticides on produce, fruits or vegetables, so it’s great that Noorish is a place where people know they can trust the food. This place almost offers a solution to the many diet issues tons of people face in this city.
Check out the interview here!