I would have laughed in your face!
Ten years ago I was the kind of person who hated vegetables, ate my steak rare, lived for any and all sushi and ate ham sandwiches most days. Now I’ve also always been a bit of a ‘crusty hippie’ as Kris often refers to me as. More so for my lack of footwear when out in the garden, my love of crystals, incense, and burning sage and my absolute hatred for washing my hair. An absolute typical stereotype here and not actually reflective of any actual ‘hippies’ out there. Being vegan was never on my radar, I just couldn’t get passed the fact that any vegans I knew were deathly pale, almost ill looking and often would start down the activist route of why eating meat was a terrible idea and therefore I was a terrible human. And I hated vegetables so I would probably die right of the bat if I gave up meat, I mean what else is there to eat?
Fast forward to 2016 after having Draven in 2013 and drinking 4pts of 1% milk every day whilst pregnant, I just couldn’t drink milk anymore it tasted revolting! I went through several alternatives including almond (eurgh! so gross) Soya, Hemp, none felt right until I found Hazelnut milk and it felt like all my prayers were answered. I loved it, I still had cows milk in my coffee though. Once Draven started on proper food he would eat everything on his plate except for meat, until the day he was given a quorn sausage which he devoured! we tested the theory by giving him a pork sausage and a quorn one to see which one he would go for, he turned his nose up at the pork one and ate the quorn one. We never pushed meat from then on, and frankly once the twins came along in 2015 I couldn’t stand the smell let alone the taste, and I was scared I’d always said “I could never be vegetarian let alone vegan!” and here I was not able to eat meat because it tasted revolting. Kris cooked a pork joint for shredded pork, and after cooking it announced he couldn’t eat it and could we do a meat free month. I responded with a oh yes, I’ve actually been hating meat for a while and didn’t know how to tell you because of all the years of hating on vegetarians and vegans. We did a month, which went to two, two became six and before we knew it we’d done a year without meat!
It’s now been over 4 years since we stopped eating meat, we gave up cows milk completely over the Christmas of 2017, more because I couldn’t be bothered to go to the shop and we had soya milk in, the kids all drink soya milk and nut milks, the twins have done since they were one, once we made the switch they moved to soya growing up milk to have instead of cows milk. The twins have never tried meat in any form and refuse food if they think it may have meat in it.
I gave up cheese in 2018 and honestly I don’t miss it, I was very much a cheese monster before giving it up I had it most days and loved the stuff. Now a piece of advise for anyone giving up cheese and thinking vegan cheese is gonna cut it, it isn’t not straight away it’s an acquired taste. Best thing to do is stop eating cheese and leave it a few months before trying any vegan cheese, I absolutely cannot stand sheese! my favourite is Violife by far, I love it on a sandwich with pickle, as cheese on toast, on a fishless finger sandwich. (Fishless fingers are amazing they taste exactly the same)
I get it, a lot of people assume being vegan is a privilege and expensive, which of course if you pop to the free from section of any supermarket it IS expensive, but that mostly constitutes vegan junk food. Pop down the tinned aisle instead and beans there’s lots to choose from! like, kidney beans, aduki, broad, cannellini, black eyed, mixed beans lentils, chickpeas, tinned tomatoes, pasatta, etc these are all pence to buy, and you can make a variety of amazing dinners out of these. Most people already buy pasta and rice and these are mostly vegan, only the fresh egg based pasta isn’t. I bet if you actually look through your cupboards you already have vegan food in.
If you’re looking at vegan food being expensive, take into account the amount you spend on meat, fish and dairy. You wouldn’t be buying those so that money can go towards the more expensive parts of vegan shopping, like milk, nuts, fresh fruit and veg, and of course the tasty vegan junk food! Co-op do the most amazing vegan burgers, Fishless fingers are a must try, as are goodfellas falafel pizzas. I’ll be honest I don’t personally eat a lot of meat replacement things, except for a burger here and there, meatless meatballs occasionally, and only rarely will we put soya mince in to a chilli or lasagne. We mostly live on beans, and lentils there’s so much you can do with the basics you don’t need meat replacements.
Since becoming vegan I can honestly say I feel much better in myself, I don’t feel bloated after eating, I don’t wake up groggy (unless hay fever has hit!) I don’t feel tired or sore after a workout, I feel healthier and thankfully I don’t look deathly pale or ill.
Vegan cooking has opened up for me someone who hates cooking, a whole new world of throwing ingredients together and I actually really love vegetables now, and will try anything that is vegan. Before I was very much the sort some would call fussy, I wouldn’t try anything that looked weird, or was mostly vegetables, but I would eat raw fish! Honestly I confuse myself. My absolute favourite thing to make and eat is a Buddha bowl, which is mostly a bowl of a bit of everything, hummus, roasted chickpeas, salad leaves, quinoa or cous cous, sweat potatoes, mixed beans, honestly you can chuck anything in here. My favourite place to eat these is at The Green Heart Cafe in Cornwall. There’s something more freeing with vegan cooking, and for me it’s making vegetables be the main ingredient instead of an after thought. I used to find cooking really frustrating and boring, it’s always this meat with something and then something else. Now I see what’s in my store cupboard and grab a couple of tins and whatever veg we have maybe some pasta, rice, quinoa, or cous cous and throw it all together and you can’t go wrong.
For me veganism is higher than myself, I do it for me for my health but above all I do it for the animals, they deserve better. Once I stopped eating meat it was a natural transition to begin researching animal agriculture, slaughter houses, egg production and the dairy industry. Seeing how animals are treated is for me something I could never go back to paying for. I’m not gonna be one of those who tells you you’re a bad person for eating meat, nor am I eloquent enough to have a debate with over it and keep my cool purely because it just upsets me too much. For that look up Earthing Ed, James Aspey and Peace by Vegan, these guys have a beautiful and eloquent way of explaining / talking about veganism.
But what I will say is before you let the crazy vegan activists deter you, grab some vegan recipes and give them a try, you won’t be disappointed.