It’s been six months since I made the transition from being vegetarian to being vegan and it was the best decision I EVER made. Every day is part of a learning curve for me. Making a solid transition to veganism has involved really trying to become informed about the farming industry and what this entails. The knowledge of what animals have to endure in fact has made it a very easy transition.
My decision to become vegan was not based on health grounds but on ethical grounds. The idea of eating meat has never sat well with me. Ever since I was a teenager I always wanted to “be a vegetarian” and was always envious of people who had that willpower and commitment to not eat meat. My many failed attempts at “becoming vegetarian” were down to being too fixated on the taste of meat which I liked and not having a deep enough understanding of what was really happening behind closed doors in the farming industry and the hideous torture suffered by animals at the hands of humans for the sake of our taste buds.
My first six months as a vegan have, in all honesty, been plain sailing. As I was already vegetarian the transition simply involved removing dairy products and eggs from my daily diet. Cooking at home is never an issue, you can eat so many things so it’s just a case of changing what you eat a little and learning to read the ingredients on packets. Milk products and eggs are ingredients in many food products so this is the only tricky part, just learning what is suitable for you to eat. It has involved giving up firm favourites in terms of crisps, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, etc. but these are easily replaced with vegan alternatives and with the plethora of dairy-free or “free-from” ranges in supermarkets these days it’s not difficult to satisfy a sweet tooth if need be.
As a vegetarian I felt I was including too many meat-substitutes in my diet which I wasn’t sure was a healthy choice, preferring the idea of eating whole foods to processed foods. The switch to veganism has meant I am now eating lots more chickpeas, beans, lentils, etc. on a daily basis which is what I had hoped would happen. I do also eat tofu and have been exploring vegan proteins to make sure I am including enough protein in my diet.
Eating out can sometimes be a challenge but you learn to work out what and where you can and cannot eat and don’t be afraid to ask about ingredients. Some restaurants invariably cater for vegans a lot more than others, for example Indian food is amazing and offers a lot for vegans as does Chinese food – although you need to be aware of the egg in “egg noodles” and the use of oyster sauce. Even McDonalds – if you are so inclined – will happily “hold the Mayo” in their veggie burger meal which then renders it a vegan option so there are ways around everything.
My first challenge as a vegan was a holiday to Mauritius but I couldn’t have been more surprised with the amazing range of food suitable for vegans and I found it very straightforward being vegan there. I am planning to blog about it eventually as I came back with so many yummy recipes but just haven’t had the chance! And I have also been amazed at how accommodating family and friends have been who have gone all out to try new recipes and make sure there has been plenty for me and my family to eat when being invited to eat at people’s houses.
My next challenge now is preparing a vegan Christmas. My children are now vegetarian and my partner is pescatarian (only eats fish) so I will prepare a vegan meal for us and am looking forward to exploring what this has to offer.