APPROACHING his 68th birthday, Padraig Howley is a late starter as an Instagram influencer, but in less than a fortnight his journey to veganism has seen him gain over 66,000 followers.
On his account you can watch Padraig discuss the vegan foods he is choosing and preparing, while he frequently gives the viewers a song.
A self employed welder and farmer, he says that going vegan hasn’t been easy, but he is seeing the benefits already.
“Look it, it’s tough, there’s no point in saying it isn’t, but I’m going to stick with it a while and see how I get on. I’m learning and I’m getting a lot of help.
“Anything new like that is tough but I have to do it for health reasons. I was told to give up dairy, but my daughter said why don’t you go vegan, so I’m doing it.
“I think it’s going to get easier because a lot of people are contacting me and telling me what stuff I can have. It’s working, it’s hard to believe but in the eight or nine days my energy levels have increased so much, I thought it was something that would never happen me.
“I would have been in bed every night at 9pm, the last three nights I’ve been out walking at half nine or ten o’clock.”
He has had a degree of pain for the last year, and the overhaul of his diet is to try and improve that.
“I went down the medical route and they did their best, they did MRIs and ultrasounds and all that, but nothing showed up. I was talking to Eileen Clair, the holistic person in Kilrush, I sent her a hair sample and she said you need to change your lifestyle and she advised me to give up dairy for a little while.”
His daughter Tara suggested he go one further and go vegan, and he became an Instagram sensation almost immediately.
“Tara said why don’t you go vegan. I said if I got a bit of help I’d do it. She said she’d set up an Instagram page for you and people will help you, and it just escalated out of that.”
Padraig didn’t use the internet very often, prior to exploding on social media.
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“This is a different ball game altogether to what I was used to. I work for myself and companies would ring me and ask me for my email address, I’d say I couldn’t. The girls set up one for me but I don’t even know what it is. I’m the old stock, I’d pay for everything with the chequebook. This is all new.”
Now Padraig is doing all the cooking for himself, whereas he did almost none beforehand. “Not at all. The only thing I’d do was treat them all to the Christmas dinner, I’d cook the turkey but that’d be all.”
He has been happy enough with his progress so far, even when he hasn’t followed the recipes in fine detail.
“Ah, sure look it, the biggest trouble would be the ingredients, I wouldn’t know the names of some of the things. I have the Happy Pear cookbook and I just follow those recipes. I make plenty of mistakes, but sure what harm. So far, so good anyway.”
Viewers to his page will hear plenty of songs, with The Cow Kicked Nellie, Mrs McGrath from the County Clare and The Hills of Connemara being some of the recent ones. He has also done a little bit of lilting in one of the videos.
“I’m a kind of person who’d always be singing, I’d be humming away to myself. I work for myself and I’d be humming away and singing away, it’s something I always did. I won’t say I’m a great singer, but I enjoy it.
“Sure look it, we might as well be singing as be crying. People are gone too serious, they should sing more and laugh more.”
– Owen Ryan