It has been eight months since I decided to cut out meat, fish, dairy and eggs from my diet and become vegan. If you’re curious about how it’s gone, or interested in taking the vegan plunge, here are the main things I’ve learned:
- It’s far easier than I’d expected. I think I joined at a tipping point for veganism. There are so many options in the shops right now, and some great recipe books have been released in the past year or so. My absolutely favourite of these is 30 Days of Vegan. It isn’t illustrated, so I wasn’t expecting much, but the recipes are absolutely wonderful and super easy. The book gives you daily meal plans and shopping lists, which I’m sure is very useful, but so far I’ve just used it for evening meals, which then turn into leftovers.
- It requires planning, but not as much planning as I’d anticipated. I definitely try to plan what I’m going to eat on 3-4 nights a week. But generally, the fridge has some veggies in it, and a block of tofu, I always have tinned beans in the cupboard, and staples like pasta or couscous or noodles. I also have things like soy sauce, passata, pesto etc on hand, so it’s pretty easy to knock something together if I haven’t actually planned a specific meal.
- There is absolutely no point in trying to convert people. Specifically, I’m referring to my husband. He likes to cook, he wants to eat meat, so he batch cooks a big pot of spag bol and eats that all week, and that’s fine. I don’t lecture him about it, and he’s very against our kids being vegan, so I haven’t pushed it. This is important to me personally, but that doesn’t mean it’s important to anyone else.
- Being vegan does not automatically mean a healthy diet. There is SO much good vegan convenience food out there. Realistically, I know that being vegan for sustainability and then eating highly processed junk food is highly hypocritical. But one thing at a time, folks. I can’t just cut everything out of my life at once. The best discoveries of recent months have been Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter and Cookies ice cream and vegan Cornettos. Oh MY GOD and the Iceland No Bull Burger. That one really surprised me because.. Iceland? But it’s the best vegan burger I’ve tasted so far (by far).
- I also need to be more conscious that I am getting good levels of protein and calcium. Protein is much easier than I’d expected, but calcium is something I’m trying to be more aware of as I think my intake is probably lower than it should be. I also take a B12 supplement, as that’s very difficult to get from plant-based foods.
- That all said, I eat way, way more fruit and vegetables on an average day. I think I easily hit 7 portions a day, when I would previously struggle to get 5.
- I am not a perfect vegan, and I’m fine with that. I wanted to aim for 90% vegan, but surprisingly I can list the handful of times I’ve eaten animal products over the past 8 months. But if I DO find myself out somewhere that the vegan option is ‘Iceberg lettuce and grated carrots’, then I really don’t beat myself up.
- When I first started, someone said that your tastes change remarkably quickly. I was dubious. I was such a huge cheese fan – I couldn’t believe I wouldn’t just feel desperate for mozzarella balls and goats cheese on toast. But the cravings lasted a few weeks. I haven’t once felt a craving for meat, which, again, would have shocked me 8 months ago.
In conclusion, this vegan thing is pretty great. It’s easy, it’s delicious and it’s much cheaper, even with all the pricey ice cream I seem to be eating. If you think you’d like to try it out, I think you’ll find it easier than you expect…
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