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