So I have FINALLY taken the plunge head first into vegan life and I feel AMAZING!! I did mention in my last post that I was inching towards veganism but I have finally made the commitment and it feels so right.
I stopped eating meat just over 2 years ago (I even remember the date- 8th June 2012). I had always loved the ‘idea’ of being vegetarian but never really managed to stick with it but after reading Alicia Silverstone’s hard-hitting The Kind Diet that was the push I needed to stop eating meat. I did struggle to give up dairy though. I tried many times over the last 2 years but never lasted overly long. The main reason it never seemed to work was trying to think what to cook for my family without having to cook separate meals for everyone. However, I have started in recent months to feel like my vegetarian diet has not been so healthy- an over-reliance on meat-substitutes for one thing and then probably eating more eggs and cheese than I should. I am half a stone heavier now than I was before I stopped eating meat but I can’t be sure whether this is due to being vegetarian or due to being the wrong side of 35 and my metabolism dropping!! Either way I have for a long time been wanting to include more pulses, beans, etc. in my diet but all these meat-substitutes make it tempting to go the easy route. While they are tasty, and from what the adverts tell us they are a good source of protein, I can’t help but feel they are just another form of processed food and thus perhaps not as healthy as all that. Don’t quote me though, I haven’t done any research into this, just my feeling and I have felt drawn towards including more “whole” foods in my daily diet.
Long story short, I was researching on the internet the other week looking for easy, quick vegan family meals and came across a website VeganEasy which had a whole load of easy vegan recipes and then before you know it I was exploring the site and reading their guide to vegan living. The two main things that held me back from going vegan were 1) a life-long love of cheese and 2) I didn’t see how eating eggs could be bad, after all they are just a by-product from hens that is totally natural and they aren’t harmed in anyway. Right? Wrong! I’m not so naïve as to have thought eggs only came from happy hens strolling about at liberty in a picturesque farm setting. I had heard about battery hens of course and as a result only ever bought free-range eggs but I don’t think I ever truly researched into this part of the farming industry and what I discovered was so horrific that I have to say this was the deciding moment for me to become vegan and cut dairy and eggs out of my diet.
I am going to include here a link to some footage that I came across via the above website that was filmed undercover at a hatchery. This is not an easy watch and is not for the faint-hearted. I cried all the way through, but at the same time this is genuinely what happens and so it is important to be aware of what goes on in the egg industry:
I don’t want to come across as preaching or anything but I just feel so awful inside at the thought of what all these animals have to endure from the moment they are born to the moment they are killed. There is so much information that I couldn’t possibly fit it all into a single blog post but you can find LOADS of information here on the Vegan Easy website. This will tell you about everything that happens in all areas of the farming industry.
Another fantastic resource that I came across was via the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) website. This association does an amazing job bringing about awareness of the inhumane treatment of animals in a myriad of domains, not just farming, and they also produce a really informative booklet which they are calling their Free Vegan Starter Kit which you can receive either via the post or which you can download in pdf version and which is a fantastic booklet full of such valuable and interesting information about making the transition to a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. It explains how not only is going vegan better for animals (of course!), it is also better for your health, your children’s health and for the environment. I really recommend having a read of this booklet.
What next? Well for now I am exploring and loving exploring my new vegan diet. I am discovering I can actually still eat most of the foods I already love – with a few tweaks of course. I am including pulses, beans on a daily basis which is what I had really wanted to do. I am beginning to educate my children about it- although tentatively of course. My daughter is already vegetarian 99% of the time, although she actually declared she was going vegan “right now” after reading the PETA booklet! My son at 6 years old is a little too young to grasp the concept but I am no longer going to cook meat at home at all – I was only cooking it for my partner and son now and then anyway but I’m not going to anymore. It would feel inherently wrong encouraging them to eat meat even in small quantities. I will continue with a vegetarian only diet at home for my family and as I learn more about vegan cooking hopefully that will be the ultimate transition for the rest of my family too.
My next challenge? We are going off to Mauritius on holiday so I am intrigued to see how that will work out in terms of the availability of vegan foods. I am actually taking quite a few bits with me as we are going to be self-catering so I have packed dried chickpeas, kidney beans and am taking a variety of nuts and I have also recently discovered this wonderful range of vegan food from a company called Granose. As far as I can see they seem very healthy and I already tried the burger mix with my daughter the other day and it was DELICIOUS, so I have popped a few of these mixes into my suitcase too :-) I will let you know how I get on there!
I hope those of you who are flirting with the idea of going vegan will have found this blog post informative – I just felt compelled to share what I have discovered. I can only speak from my own perspective of course but I feel so wonderful having FINALLY made the transition. I feel that this is the right path for me and I feel like I am cleansing both my body and my soul. Knowing that no animal has suffered to nourish me is an amazing feeling and I look forward to exploring this path moving forward and sharing the things I discover on my journey.