Animal lovers – Good morning! :)

Today I have another very exciting interview for you: Thommy is a German Wine Expert and I can proudly announce that from time to time he will write vegan wine reviews for you! So any questions about wine – he is the man for you!

But first, you get to know Thommy a little better via the interview I had with him last week. We want to know who is writing to you, don’t we?!

How did I choose a vegan lifestyle?

What is a vegan lifestyle, I must ask? Personally, I don’t need a lifestyle, I don’t want to be a trendy vegan. I just want to be a vegan. I find it peculiar, that many people who have been abusing animals through their consumption habits for most of their lives like myself, now seek refuge in a new-found vegan-catholic “lifestyle”. To my understanding, as long as someone doesn’t raid say animal fur farms at night like Gary Yourofsky, there really is no need to speak of a vegan lifestyle – that would be living as a political activist, an outlaw, an animal rights eco-terrorist. Everything else is a diet, and the maintenance of certain consumption standards. That not being the case on my behalf, merely identifying with a mental paradigm, no matter how ‘good’ it may be, fuels the separation among groups and people. Also, such “lifestylers” are quick to condemn people who do not live up to their standards. As a Zen-Buddhist, this idea simply does not appeal to me. From the perspective of idealism, a meat-eater who decides to eat animals a dish less a week may not be noteworthy – for the one cow who is not killed in that way, not even being raised in solitude and fear, it is a miracle. Don’t get me wrong: Eating near animal relatives with many other dietary options available is sickness, is obsession, is murder in the effect of its consequences. It’s either you torture animals in buying and consuming animal products, or you don’t. But progression towards a vegan society is a matter of moderate expectations, a process that will take several hundreds of years more at least.  If personally I should have the opportunity to come out even at the end of my life, after having eaten near animal relatives for so long, I shall be truly blessed and thankful – and that is highly unlikely. 15 months ago, I changed my dietary habits from massive meat-eating (including and foremost cheap Discounter meat) to a vegetarian diet, up to 90% of it vegan. Like many male human animals, a dish without meat had been totally unthinkable. So if I had been able give up on my meat-eating addiction, because nothing else it was, anyone can. I had had the wish to become a vegetarian for a long time, though. Most of my friends, and all my closest friends were vegetarians or vegans, and I had begun to share their conviction about the health benefits of a solely plant-based diet, plus I have been an animal lover ever since. Adopted ill-beyond-recovery cats from animal shelters, spent time with other cats in the shelter I couldn’t adopt, donated to and visited pet shelters during my holidays in Greece, etc. Eating highly conscious, sensitive life-forms finally had become unbearable. Once I quit my meat diet, I was able to let go off of other addictions and delusional behavior, and can only recommend it to anyone. This – I guess you can call it a transformation of some sort- had only been possible with the aid of other beneficial mind-altering practices like yoga and meditation. It was far from easy for my crude old me. In the future, I plan to get rid of the last remaining say 10% vegetarian dietary remnants in my life. At home I buy and eat vegan stuff, but when at work, and my boss throws a round of pizza, I am too pragmatic to say no to a pizza vegetaria with cheese.

Where do I come from?

I was born and raised near Hamburg in the north of Germany, then spent most of my life in Berlin, and now live near Frankfurt in the south-west of Germany, because I work here. Having been able to live in Berlin for such a long time was invaluable, because I came in contact with great people, who inspired me. The fame of Berlin for its delicious, affordable vegan cuisine is notorious. It is certainly more easy to become and stay vegan in Berlin than it is let’s say in a rural part of Germany.

What did I do before Vegan Who?

I studied a bit of psychology, English literature and comparative religion at university, then worked as a playwright and director at a small theatre, wrote several yet unsuccessful novels, and finally discovered my taste for fine wine, so I studied international wine management and became a wine critic and now work for a renowned online wine platform called – let me tell you, that when my still ongoing “vegan transition” started, I was totally uncertain whether I could continue working as a wine expert in the conservative environment of food and wine lovers. Many red wines are the perfect match for meat-dishes, there is no way around the very fact. Right now, when I am asked for possible food-pairing suggestions, I try to be most general and evasive, not advertising the consumption of meat at all, but that is always going to be a problem. In my article about vegan wine I will also try to explain why people who are food-aficionados don’t want to think about the environment or the pain of animals. It’s in the very heart of hedonism, I think.

Where does my heart lie?

In the core of my depersonal, true self which I share with all humans, being one mind, in the vast emptiness of space. Not to be interpreted as a nihilistic self-denial or deconstruction, more as seeing my self in a currently still expanding, exhaling universal transition, ever expanding. So far, mankind is performing at the very low end of its possibilities, and I am sceptic this will ever change. On the other hand, the “vegan movement” is something absolutely positive to my esteem, and I get a lot of inspiration from so many dedicated, open-minded people who directly or indirectly happen to be a part of that.

What will I do in the near future?

I have started a blog about Zen and Christian mysticism, and currently am writing on a beginner’s guide to Zen Buddhism, and do some plotting for my next novel, being the co-wright of my friend, director and author Florian Freund.