In the past couple of years I’ve been posting photos of tasty vegan food over on my Instagram and reviewing cruelty-free products here on my blog. I cut meat, fish and dairy from my diet around 6 years ago and haven’t looked back since. I get a lot of questions about it, from people who are curious, from family members who don’t understand, and from people who want to give it a go but don’t know how. So I thought I’d write about what it means to go vegan and share some of my thoughts and experiences.
What Does Vegan Mean Anyway?
Let’s start with what it really is. On a basic level a vegan diet means not consuming any animal products, the most obvious ones being meat, fish, dairy and gelatine. Strict vegans will remove animal products from all aspects of their life, so no leather shoes, bags, belts, clothes or makeup containing any animal products. This can be particularly tough. With a bit of practice it can become easy to eat vegan, but it’s much harder to find ethical clothing and lifestyle products outside of specialist shops, although this is slowly changing. In the past week ASOS have started selling a range of vegan shoes, bags, skincare and accessories, and I’m hoping it won’t be long before more high street shops take notice and start offering vegan ranges too. Just a few weeks ago Superdrug opened a vegan pop-up in London, so perhaps it won’t be long!
Vegan or Plant-Based
Many people who remove meat, fish and dairy from their diet refer to themselves as having a plant-based diet. This means they eat some food that contains animal products such as honey, or avocados that are sealed using beeswax, or alcohol coloured using isinglass which comes from fish. It’s up to each person to decide how far they want to go!
Why Go Vegan?
There are loads of reasons why people go vegan, but usually they’re to improve their wellbeing or for ethical reasons. This has largely been misunderstood in the past, with vegans stereotyped as being hippy tree-huggers. Whether you’re animal lover or not, not many of us like the thought of them being killed for us to eat. It’s true that some animals have a good life on a farm, roaming free and eating well, but unfortunately they’re in the minority. I know I can get the nutrition I need from plants instead of animals, so that’s the way I choose to go!
And it’s healthier too. Vegans naturally eat a lot more fruit and vegetables which means getting a lot more nutrients, and since most fast food and processed food isn’t vegan-friendly, cutting them those of your diet means less refined sugar, salt and saturated fat. It takes some getting used to, but getting a taste for healthy food makes me feel so much lighter and happier.
Playing around with vegan poke bowls today with black rice, edamame, avo, lots of veg and the best sesame maple dressing. These feel like perfect work lunches, is this the kind of thing you want the recipe for? I know we’ve had loads of on the go/desk lunch requests recently! Also thinking it would be a fab addition to the deli menu at Weighhouse St… what do you think? 🤗
It might be getting a bit trendy with some celebs going vegan, but a lot of professional athletes are doing it too. Perhaps the most well-known are Venus and Serena Williams, who both eat a strict vegan diet during the tennis season, and a lot of footballers are cutting out meat and dairy to improve their stamina. And anyone who thinks vegans don’t get enough protein to be fit and strong just take a look at the growing number of personal trainers on Instagram promoting veganism, or look up Patrik Baboumian, the world record-breaking powerlifter whose arms are bigger than my head!
But What Will I Eat?
A lot of people are put off by going vegan because they wouldn’t know what to eat. It’s true that it takes time to get used to it, and you will need to learn to cook some new meals but ultimately it’s worth it as you’ll find yourself eating a lot healthier. It’s getting easier too, in the past year supermarkets have started stocking a lot more vegan brands, with Sainsbury’s including a new plant-based section, and in January this year Tesco launched their own Wicked Kitchen range which is 20 products strong and counting.
And it might surprise you, but not all vegan food is healthy! So it doesn’t mean you have to go the rest of your life without eating a burger or a pizza ever again. In fact in the past year there’s been a vegan junk food trend emerging, with places like The Temple of Seitan, The Dough Society and Biff’s Jackshack all booming in London!
Mainstream restaurants are getting in on it too, with Pizza Express, Zizzi and even Pizza Hut selling vegan cheese pizzas. Some of my favourites Bills, Byron, and Turtle Bay have loads of plant-based options too.
One of the things that puts a lot of people off is preachy vegans! Some people are really passionate about it which is great, but having anything shoved in your face can be seriously off-putting! I get shy when people ask me why I’m vegan – for me it’s a very personal thing, which is why I’m happier writing about it on my blog. It’s definitely not for everybody, but if you do want to give it a go make sure you do it on your own terms. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad because you’re cutting down on meat but still wearing leather shoes. It’s your decision so do it your way!
I hope you enjoyed my introduction to veganism. I’m going to write some of my top tips and share more of my experiences in the coming weeks. In the mean time if you want to ask me anything or share your own experiences just hop on Twitter, I’d love to hear from you!