Vegan for the environment AND animals!

This World Earth Day we hear from SAFE supporter and Auckland volunteer Apollo Taito who made the life-changing decision to cut animal products from his diet in order to help protect the planet, as well as its inhabitants.

Apollo works full time in health management and is currently working towards his PhD. Part-time he is a soldier, a writer/blogger and a SAFE volunteer!

Clearly being vegan gives him too much energy!

When did you decide to cut animal products from your diet?
3 years ago.

What’s the greatest thing about being Veg?
My choices save lives.

How did you make the change? 
I made them gradually with a lot of support from my beautiful vegan wife. This involved breaking my pre-conceived belief systems, that eating animals is necessary for survival. I used to believe it was the best source of nutrition and that “real Kiwi blokes eat meat”. These are just systemic ideas that keep us in an unconscious state. My wife and I call it being in a ‘darkness’ frame of mind.

What was the biggest challenge for you and how did you overcome it?
Being an Islander I loved my sea“food”. I had this stubborn belief that it was part of my culture and necessary since Pacific Islanders have always had a special relationship with the ocean and eating from it. I overcame it through educating myself. Once I discovered what overfishing has done to the oceans and how heavily polluted “food” from the sea is, I let it go.

How do you stay on track?
I am reminded of Neo in the film The Matrix. After he takes the red pill, nothing is the same for him. One minute he is all cool and edgy, next minute he wakes up with a Shaolin monk hairdo, eating porridge like gruel. Once you take the vegan ‘red pill’, you wake up! And you are no longer enslaved by the meat-matrix.  When I walk past McD’s or KFC I don’t see people queuing up, I see zombies waiting in line to participate in murder and suffering. I would be a pretty f**ked up individual if I went back to that.

Is there a special animal that inspires you?
Pigs, chickens and cows! It hurts to see the horrors these beautiful, gentle, loving beings suffer in agri-business. How they must hate us.

Are your family and friends Veg too?
My wonderful wife is vegan. She is my inspiration. My mum doesn’t get it! When I let her know I’m coming over, she still asks me to bring KFC. I respond, “Ah, no. I am vegan!” she responds back with, “Oh, can you bring fish and chips then?” 

When people ask you why you cut out animal products what’s your usual response?

Initially I did it for health, but now it is for ethical reasons. I’m vegan for the animals!

How do you respond to criticism about your lifestyle?

Shrug and smile. Engage in a balanced discussion. If they are just being “ask-holes”, I give them shit back and rip them to shreds.

Is there a vegan ‘myth’ that makes you laugh?
Samoans and soldiers can’t be vegan!

What’s your favorite food?
Thai! It so easy to veganise. I always order a huge portion of veggies and rice because I eat in beast quantities.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
Anywhere that serves vegan Thai food.

Do you have a favourite recipe that you can share with us?
You don’t want any advice on cooking from me. I am a crap cook! 

What’s your favourite snack?
Bananas and Homegrown’s green smoothies. 

What vegan product could you not live without?

My wife! Literally, I would be proper farked! 

What do you do for fun?
Train. Go bush with my army mates, which is my Peter Pan pill.  Spend time with my gorgeous wife, which recharges my soul. I also love to read and write. 

What do you do for fitness?
Running, ZUU training with David DC Cordtz (a vegan athlete), yoga (my wife is a yoga teacher) and boxing.

What is the funniest thing someone has ever said to you about being Veg?

I hear you are vegan now!?! WTF you are a trained killer!!! 

What’s the one thing you wish people knew about being Veg?

Basically it’s about choice. No one HAS to eat animals to thrive or survive! Either you believe in the sanctity of life and choose vegan or you choose to submit to your tastes.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering becoming Veg?
Your choice to go veg saves lives. No BS!

For more ideas on how to honour the planet this Earth Day, visit the SAFE Talk Blog.