A week with my ve­gan daugh­ter


LAST MONDAY I popped over to Mel­bourne for six days, to see my daugh­ter, Lily. “You went to Aus­tralia for six days?” my friend Chris said over din­ner the night I got back.

“Why not? It’s not Mars! It only took 24 hours to get there and I hadn’t seen her for ten months.” “What did you do in Mel­bourne?” “I bought a pair of ve­gan shoes.” “You bought what?” “Ve­gan shoes.”

“What are ve­gan shoes?” “OK, maybe they’re veg­e­tar­ian shoes.”

“What are they made from?” “Car­rots.”

“You bought a pair of shoes made from car­rots? Or­ange shoes?”

“They’ve got aubergine straps, so they’re or­ange and brown.”

An ar­dent fem­i­nist, my daugh­ter has be­come an ar­dent ve­gan fem­i­nist since she ar­rived in Mel­bourne in Jan­uary.

She set off alone from Lon­don last July on a post-grad­u­a­tion global gap year trip, af­ter tak­ing the two hour Is­raeli Krav Maga “kick them in the balls” self-de­fence course I’d treated her to as a go­ing away present.

I had of­fered to come along for the first six months — she said “No.”

Luck­ily, I’m a laid back re­laxed dad .

“Dar­ling, please prom­ise me… please, that you won’t visit North Korea!”, I begged her at Heathrow de­par­tures as, hoist­ing a huge back­pack — big­ger than her­self

— onto her shoul­ders, she waved good­bye and stag­gered off.

She’s been hav­ing the great­est time ever and she has been more than ca­pa­ble of strik­ing ter­ror into the hearts of misog­y­nis­tic meateat­ing men around the world: I’m on her side! I’m not stupid! Hell hath no fury like a fem­i­nist Krav Maga trained ve­gan daugh­ter.

In an at­tempt to bond with her I de­cided that while in Mel­bourne I would also live a fem­i­nist ve­gan life.

So be­fore fly­ing out I be­gan by eas­ing my­self gen­tly into veg­e­tar­i­an­ism — only eat­ing meat from an­i­mals who had died in ac­ci­dents or nat­u­ral causes. A cow, per­haps, who had fallen down the stairs drunk and bro­ken its neck. Or a sheep who’d got in a fight in the pub and died of a heart at­tack, or the chicken who re­ally got knocked down cross­ing the road.

On board my flight from Heathrow, on the first leg of my jour­ney via Sin­ga­pore — with my “Don’t wake me up un­til we land” hand­writ­ten card­board sign stuck with Blu Tack on my fore­head — we took off. Fif­teen min­utes later I was wo­ken up, “Sir, just to let you know we’ll have to wake you up if we’re about to crash.” the stew­ardess said.

“You mean you have to wake me up to say, ‘We have to put you in the “you’re about to die” po­si­tion?’.” “If you don’t mind, I’d rather sleep through it. I’d pre­fer to go to sleep and wake up dead — that’s my am­bi­tion. I won’t sue.”

Fol­low­ing a de­gree in the­ol­ogy and phi­los­o­phy of re­li­gion, my daugh­ter’s cur­rently a climb­ing in­struc­tor: I man­aged to spend a good part of my six days in Mel­bourne driv­ing her up the wall.

One af­ter­noon, with the climb­ing cen­tre full of in­cred­i­bly fit slim tanned young men and women with lots of mus­cles ev­ery­where, I sud­denly felt the urge to demon­strate to her that it was clearly the Rosengard side of the fam­ily that her climb­ing gene had come from.

Look­ing back, this was a mis­take — my 108 kilo, five foot seven inch body isn’t re­ally built for climb­ing: so­cial, yes, rock, no.

“I’ve never seen some­one fall off the wall onto their back from only three feet up be­fore, but no wor­ries mate,” Harry the man­ager said as he and Lily picked me up off the floor.

I now un­der­stood why I had to sign the 15 page ‘waiver of all li­a­bil­ity’ form be­fore he’d let me even ap­proach the 40 feet high wall.

Af­ter six days in Mel­bourne eat­ing only aubergine and ‘faux veal Mi­lanese’ (why would ve­g­ans want to eat some­thing that looks ex­actly like the thing that they don’t want to eat?), I’ve come to this con­clu­sion (which might help you live a lit­tle longer if you’re an obese mid­dle aged Jewish life in­sur­ance sales­man): be­ing a ve­gan even for a week is a lot safer than tak­ing up moun­taineer­ing.

I begged her to prom­ise not to visit North Korea

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