I made the decision to go from vegetarian to vegan twenty weeks ago today, at the time I had a few worries, would it be very expensive? what would I eat? (I had imagined a life of nuts, seeds, and not much else) and would my health suffer? How would I live without cheese and chocolate? Would I ever be able to eat out again?
So twenty weeks later how am I getting on?
I’ll start by saying that I made the decision because after being a vegetarian for 30 years, I realised that (in my opinion ) the dairy and egg industries are actually just as bad as the meat industry. Now I can’t believe how ignorant I was to this, but I think I was perhaps turning a blind eye to something I didn’t want to think about. Eating meat was a definite no! I imagined veganism to be really extreme and not healthy (this is how it’s often portrayed) so being a vegetarian felt like a good middle ground. Until I became increasingly aware of the facts.
I had quite a head start, I didn’t have to give up meat, I’d never liked eggs anyway and I didn’t drink milk, although I did eat foods with egg and milk in the ingredients. So rather than cutting down, and making a slow transition I decided to jump straight to actual vegan.
It hasn’t proved to be particularly expensive, I mean, yes, vegan meat substitutes do tend to be pricey, but I only eat any kind of substitutes once or twice a week. I make stews, soups, salad, stir fry’s, and pasta sauces. I shop around for things like vegan yoghurts, they’re often on offer somewhere, and as a by product of being much more aware of food, I’ve cracked down on food waste and always keep leftovers.
I’ve been eating a greater variety of foods lately, and I’m eating healthier foods because I’ve become much more aware of needing to get the correct amounts of nutrients.
Some of my favourite meals are;
Pasta and sauce, Stir fry, Bruschetta, Carrot soup, Gnocchi with tomato and basil, Lemon and bay roast potatoes and veg with a country pie, burger and chips. Fake bacon sandwiches with spinach and tomato, vegetable stew and dumplings.
I drink plant based milks daily and eat plant based yoghurts every day as well as taking vitamin b12, and I get more than my 5-a-day every day.
Physically I’m feeling much more well since becoming vegan, I have two chronic illnesses but my IBS is considerably better since going vegan. I might have one flare up a week rather than daily flare ups and days on end where I physically couldn’t keep any food down.
I also don’t suffer with bloating any more which was a problem for me.
I’m more energised, I used to be a napper, I’d nap every afternoon, but I almost never nap any more.
My skin is much improved, I used to suffer terribly with spots, even at my age, but recently my skin has become clear and looks brighter.
Something else I’ve noticed is that after years of trying unsuccessfully to shift my last few extra pounds I’ve lost them without trying. My summer clothes from last year are so loose they actually fall off me.
I can say with complete honesty that I do not crave cheese or chocolate at all. I haven’t even looked for any vegan chocolate yet. I used to reach for chocolate every month around the time of my period, well, the week before, during, and the week after, and I’d eat cheese with almost every dinner. But I haven’t missed them one bit. I tend to reach for fruit when I’m craving sweetness, and the fact that I’m not a baby cow, and what I’ve read about the dairy industry keeps me from ever wanting cheese again. There are quite a few vegan cheeses available, I haven’t found one I love yet, although I’m keen to try the new Tesco range. But as with chocolate I’ve been really surprised to find I’m not even craving it.
Eating out hasn’t been a problem, I prefer Nando’s so I have the veggie burger without sauce and cheese. Pizza express have a few vegan options and will allow you to bring in your own vegan cheese, new, and in a sealed packet. Zizzi have a vegan menu, as do Prezzo, and even Wetherspoons and Harvester have a vegan menu. In most restaurants if you ask there will be something available for vegans.
Over the last few weeks I’ve read about more and more food outlets going vegan.
Some of my favourite vegan foods are, Sainsbury’s veggie mince, which is also vegan, it’s excellent in Cottage pie, their veggie meat balls are also very good.
Linda McCartney vegan foods, which include country pies, sausages, quarterpounders, sausage rolls and scampi.
Fry’s do very good vegan hot dogs, and the new cauldron vegan sausages are so good they’re probably the best sausages I’ve eaten. Vegedeli do an exceptionally good bacon.
There are a huge variety of vegan milks, my favourites are coconut milk for drinking and in smoothies, almond in tea, and soya on cereal.
I was very pleased to see that my favourite pringles, Texas BBQ, are vegan, as are flaming hot cheetos, which I love. The hashtag #acidentallyvegan is really useful for finding vegan foods as is the app Is it vegan? Which allows you to scan barcodes to see if things are vegan. Very handy in the supermarket.
Vegan foods are becoming more readily available all the time and much easier to find in supermarkets. I shop with Ocado and I’m able to buy everything I need from there. Sainsbury’s have a range of vegan cheeses and Tesco have also just brought out their own range of vegan cheeses.
Since going vegan I’ve made a very conscious effort not to be preachy. I never post anything graphic, I do sometimes share articles about things such as the dairy industry which aren’t appreciated by all of my online friends but I feel that being vegan and speaking out against animal cruelty is more important to me than numbers on twitter or facebook as it’s something I feel so strongly about. Also, because I decided to become vegan after learning more about it through twitter I hope that someone else may one day be inspired by things I share.
I’m still the same person I was before going vegan, I don’t hate meat eaters, I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, I’m just a better version of me.
I feel absolutely certain that being vegan is the right choice for me and I’ll never look back.