Today is my vegan anniversary! I have been vegan for a whole year, so I thought I would share some of the many things I have learned! #alwayslearning
People will be curious
For the most part of my time as a vegan, I have encountered genuinely curious questions about veganism and what I ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ eat. People seem actually interested, even if it’s in a ‘oh, I could never do that’ kind of way. When these questions arise my aim is to just kindly answer anything they want to know. Whilst there is a burning desire to pull out my imaginary ‘101 reasons to be vegan’ scroll and reel of the facts of why they too should join me in my world saving quest, I think that this is not the best way to put people on to veganism. To appear knowledgeable and friendly and let them feel that they can ask ANYTHING I feel is a great way to plant the seed in their thoughts. Some people have NEVER met a vegan! I was once one of those people! So curiosity is only natural, and you never know, they may go away thinking of their own impact on farmed animals.
Food is GREAT
I have always loved food. Like, I LOVE food. I’m thinking of my next meal when I’m eating my current meal, I’m just that kind of gal. I have to say, that since going vegan I think I love food EVEN MORE. I’m serious! It has encouraged me to be more adventurous in the kitchen – I love cooking and baking and trying new ingredients and recipes (hello Aquafaba how do you work and how are you so amazing?). I have discovered new favorites and all but forgotten old non-vegan faves. The excitement I feel at a new vegan product in the supermarket is a whole new level of food happiness. Not to mention all the great vegan restaurants I have had the pleasure of eating at, and even the vegan options at chain restaurants such as Zizzis and Nandos are surprisingly good. Being vegan doesn’t mean you will no longer enjoy your meals or have to put your junk food cravings aside, quite the opposite!
There is no right way or wrong way to be vegan
Vegans get a hard time being stereotyped as really strict and overbearing, and that it’s a competition to see who’s the best or most vegan. However, I feel that what is much more prominent is the universal understanding between vegans of doing the best you can. We all slip up from time to time, I definitely have! I have purchased and eaten something that contains milk accidentally (Mr Kipling, why did you change your jam tart recipe, WHY!?). I feel guilty about a leather bag I bought pre-vegan that I love so much and can’t decide how I feel about using it. I’ve had a big sip of my partner’s tea that had cows milk in it (gross). I’ve ordered a white wine in a restaurant not knowing if it was vegan or not. You get the idea. In our modern world it is virtually impossible to be 100% vegan all of the time (eg. cars, £5 notes, parent companies) not to mention social, personal and economical situations that may limit your ability to make ethical choices. All you can do is be mindful, considerate and compassionate with the choices you make from now on. Just do the best you can and don’t get disheartened with the small stuff.
Even in just the last 12 months, I have noticed such a huge positive change and rise in the popularity of veganism. The ‘Freefrom’ and veggie sections in supermarkets have loads of stuff in them, and new items are introduced all the time. The vegan cheese ranges that are available at Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s have grown substantially and are often a complete sell out! (Recently discovered the sliced ‘Red Leicester’ from Tesco – OMG so good on a veggie burger. IT MELTS. See point 2 – I love food.) Vegan options are creeping onto chain restaurant menus – some even having a dedicated vegan menu. Recipes and cookbooks focusing on vegan food are being released and well received. Cruelty free and vegan make up and toiletries are becoming more accessible (thank you Superdrug, don’t ever change). It is easier than ever to go vegan. I often think how much more difficult it must have been 5, 10, 20 years ago to find vegan foods and substitutes. I salute you long time vegans! Also very jealous, wish I had several years worth of eating only plant-based foods under my belt.
It can be overwhelming
When I first start to find out about veganism, it was information overload. I did the thing of binge watching all the documentaries, the YouTube videos of presentations and read every inch of Gary Yourofsky’s website. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. All this information, I was dying to tell people about it! “Don’t eat that burger! That cow’s milk is puss! Our oceans are being destroyed!” and on it goes. Luckily, my sister was discovering these things at a similar time, so I am grateful I had someone to talk to about it with or my head might have exploded. As it turns out, people don’t necessary like being told that what they put in their tea is puss. I am still learning on how to be the best advocate for veganism, and how to put forward my point of view calmly and factually and when it is appropriate.
It’s hard because the people you care about are effectively funding an industry that not only commits so much atrocity towards innocent animals, it is also the biggest contributor to destroying Planet Earth, and to top it all off it can be causing themselves long term health problems in the process. I mean how are we meant to be okay with that? The way I see it, is all I can do is set a positive example, and hope that the ripple effect will reach people when they are ready.
*BONUS POINT!* It’s the best choice I ever made
I know, I know, it’s the classic line that all vegans say (supposedly, I gather most of my facts from memes on Instagram.) But it’s honestly true. I feel better in myself than ever and I know that I am not personally contributing to the cycle of animal cruelty and planet destruction, as far as animal agriculture is concerned. I am not perfect by any means, and there’s so much to be done, but I can move forward with my eyes wide open.