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It’s Not Bacon: An Interview with Brogan Cooper

Photo By Brogan Cooper

Hello friends! I’m doing something a little different for today’s post; here’s an interview I did with the lovely Brogan Cooper. Not only is she a very dear friend of mine, she’s also a social work student, an avid travel enthusiast, a photographer, and a vegetarian. I sat down with her over chai latte to ask her about the reasons behind her vegetarianism, giving up bacon, quorn, and the serious lack of avocados in the Phillipines.

So, what kinds of foods have you chosen to give up?
Meat! I am now a full-fledged vegetarian

What are the reasons behind you becoming a vegetarian?

I no longer eat meat for ethical reasons; I love animals, and I don’t like the idea of them being bred, confined and then killed for us to eat. I also have a problem with how meat is produced these days, in that it’s a very unethical and cruel business, and I don’t want any part in it.

Having said that, I don’t have a problem with ethical meat production or consumption; for example, my dad goes out fishing a lot, and I have no problem with him catching fish and then eating it, because although I couldn’t  eat it myself, I believe it’s carried out more ethically.

Was it an easy decision?

I kind of always knew I’d end up being a vegetarian, even though I still like the taste of meat. I would still be eating it if it wasn’t part of a once living animal.

They’ve started growing meat substitutes I think.

Yeah, that’s what Quorn is! Quorn is this brand of replacement meat, like Zoglos but it’s not a soy product. The company started making because they thought there would be a meat shortage, and now it’s marketed as fake meat. They have burgers, and ‘chicken’ pieces you can put in stir fries, and even mince, so you can make things like fake beef bolognaise.

That’s awesome! Where can I get some of this?!
Coles!

Oh great, I’m totally going to try some.
Yeah! I haven’t tried the mince, but I’ve tried the sausages and the chicken burger patties, they’re quite nice!

Oh yum! See, I think I could be a vegetarian, if I started eating more vegetables, and substituted the meat for things like Quorn. I could never become vegan though, I love cheese too much.

Yeah me too.  For ethical reasons I feel like I could become vegan, but I figure if I change and buy free range eggs it’s not so bad.

You could have chickens!

I could! Well Caleb (my sister’s boyfriend) has chickens, so we get eggs from him, and even when we did have to buy eggs elsewhere, we got them fresh from a farm, so I feel like I’m doing my part as a vegetarian, like you’re doing your part by giving up palm oil, and then making small changes in those other areas.

I agree. Just because you can’t give up everything that’s unethical straight away doesn’t mean shouldn’t do anything at all.

I think it’s better to start with small changes, than trying to give up everything.

How did people respond when you told them you were becoming vegetarian.

Okay! As a general rule, they were fine with it. I’ve had people try and make me eat meat; someone tried to hide tuna in my dinner once.

Oh that’s bad! People should respect your diet choices

Yeah, I think he did it to see if I would actually eat it. But other than that people have been fine with it.

What’s been some of the hardest foods you’ve had to give up?

Bacon! It’s funny, actually, because apart from Argentian steak, it’s been things like all those weird anonymous meats that I miss the most. Like dagwood dogs, and pepperoni on pizza. Or McNuggets. It’s all that bad processed meat that doesn’t even look like meat, that’s what I miss the most.

See, I can still have McNuggets, because McDonalds has switched to using sustainable palm oil! Which is great, but there’s still a lot of things that are bad about them.

I miss McNuggets. Sometimes, if I really feel like a McChicken Burger, I’ll put a Quorn chicken patty in the oven, and then go down to McDonalds and order a McChicken burger without the chicken, and then come home and put the Quorn patty in the burger. It just tastes like a normal McChicken!

That’s such a good idea! What do they say when you ask for a McChicken burger without meat?

They’re fine with it, I think they get it a lot actually. I don’t know why they don’t have a Veggie burger, because Hungry Jacks does, and it isn’t on the menu. They have them in London though, when I was in London I went to a McDonalds and they had a Veggie Burger, a Veggie Wrap and a Veggie Deli Choice! I was so surprised there was one, let alone three!

That’s awesome! Have you been able to find any other good alternatives, apart from Quorn and McVeggie Burgers you can only get in London for some reason?

I’ve tried fake bacon actually?

What’s that like?

It’s not bacon.

(laughs) Do you still miss bacon?

Yeah. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just not bacon.

Would you ever go back from being vegetarian?

If I went back to Argentina? (laughs). I would be very tempted. But I’m tempted a lot, and I figure if you can find an alternative, and you can push past that temptation, there’s no reason why you can’t keep it up. I figure if I didn’t crack in Manilla, I’m not going to crack anywhere. But then the meat there was pretty suspect to begin with.

It wasn’t a big beautiful piece of Argentinian steak?

(laughs) No. I’m actually salivating right now.

(laughs) Oh no!

No it’s ok, I’ve made my choice so I’m going to stick with it. I’ve made it for the right reasons, for me at least.

What’s your favourite food now?

Avacado. Probably because I’ve been deprived of it for so long (they don’t have much avocado in the Phillipines), I just want to put it on everything. I’ve also really always liked pumpkin. And cheese. And a really good thai stir fry. I love my thai food.

Thanks Brogy! You can read about her adventures living and studying social work for six months in Manila here, check out her personal blog here, or peruse some of her excellent photography (some of which even features yours truely) here!

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