My Veganuary experience
Day 1 of being vegan: my mum cooked a fry up to feed the whole house consisting of sausages (linda mccartney sausages for yours truly), scrambled eggs, beans, tomatoes, hash browns, and toast. First challenge: resist the scrambled egg...
Why I decided to participate in Veganuary
For context, I have been vegetarian for 2 years or so now. It was a slow transition, I didn’t give up meat overnight and it was a huge learning curve for me. I am famously shit at cooking (I once managed to set SPAGHETTI on fire) and I was pretty fussy. I hated vegetables for a start.
But we got over those problems fairly quickly once I set my mind to it and I actually loved a vegetarian diet; I didn’t miss meat, I felt better in myself, there’s so many delicious foods I’d never even tried that became my new favourite foods.
For a while I ignored the fact that my main reasons for going vegetarian, where exactly the same ones I should have used to go vegan instead. I wasn’t eating animals, but I was still eating animal products such as milk and eggs, and there is a huge amount of animal cruelty and environmental damage in these industries.
I was sticking a plaster over an open wound and pretending that it was all fixed, when really I was still contributing to a lot of problems.
Take eggs for example, chickens lay eggs naturally, right? So what’s the harm in eating them?
94% of chickens in the UK are factory farmed, kept in hideous conditions where they suffer for the whole of their short life, and are disposed off as soon as their egg laying starts to deplete in hideous ways. And the male chicks that are born? Put in grinders or gas chambers for they are ‘useless’ to the industry. It is hideously cruel.
I couldn’t ignore the guilt of contributing to these industries and the suffering all those animals endure.
Giving dairy and eggs up somehow felt exceedingly more difficult than giving up meat, but I gradually cut down on certain products. I stopped buying eggs. I swapped dairy milk for plant based milk, butter for dairy free spread, chose the vegan option where possible but it was gradual.
As January rolled around, I knew I wanted to take the plunge and put my heart into Veganuary and see if I actually could go fully vegan.
As it turns out, I absolutely could do it.
In fact, I’m shocked at how easily I could.
Admittedly, places like Greggs, M&S, Sainsburys and many restaurants have made my life a whole lot easier by introducing many vegan options. Thank you 🙏 can we keep this up?
The things I've missed the most includes those scrambled eggs from Day 1 (my mum makes incredible scrambled eggs but it's never something I would make for myself at home). Another thing is cookies... I don't know why because I never really bought them often beforehand, I need to learn a good vegan recipe to make them.
But I thought I would miss cheese more than I actually have done.
Perhaps having the alternatives has helped, or maybe the fact that I ate a year's supply of cheese at Christmas. But I have not had the urge to buy cheese really.
Going vegan tips
My main tip would be to remove any temptations. If you think having that mayonnaise in the fridge would be difficult to resist, then get rid of it. Finish eating before starting your vegan journey (and don't repurchase!). Don't walk down the meat and dairy aisles in the supermarket. Don't look at sweets and chocolate or go to the bakeries. Just make your life a lot easier for yourself by removing that temptation.
Seek out vegan restaurants. Going to vegan restaurants is amazing because 1) you can eat everything on the menu and 2) the food is incredible. Sometimes restaurants who chuck one vegan option on their menu just to widen their customer base don't put a lot of thought or effort in the recipe development and it's just a bit shit. Vegan-only restaurants are entirely focused on good plant based foods and understand that sticking a mushroom in a bun is not an acceptable 'meal'.
Try new foods. Veganism shouldn't be about restricting your diet. Change your outlook and see it as a way of trying new things like different types of milk, new vegetables, jackfruit, tofu, seitan, new recipes.
As well as finding new foods, you’ll also find that a lot of your supermarket staples are vegan too, such as Bourbon biscuits! Follow instagram accounts such as @accidentallyveganuk and @vegan_fooduk who post about vegan products in supermarkets. Find vegan youtubers and instagrammers for inspiration, motivation and tips. I love Madeleine Olivia and Eamon & Bec.
Also, have a reminder of WHY you're going vegan. Set your background on your phone as a picture of animals, or a quote or whatever inspires you. Hang a picture in your kitchen, on your fridge. When temptation undoubtedly strikes, don’t forget the reasons you’re doing it.
Am I sticking to it?
I absolutely am. To the best of my ability, I want to live a vegan lifestyle. For the animals, the environment and for me.