- It’s okay to make mistakes
And I made my fair share. It takes practice, but soon you will be skim reading labels like a pro. It’s okay to get half way through a pack of salt and vinegar pringles and realise that that’s the flavour that has milk powder in it. Just take note, move on, and buy Texas BBQ/ Original/ Paprika/ Smoky Bacon (I know, weird) next time. We live in a non-vegan world, and this kind of thing happens to the most experienced of vegans, so just do your best and learn from your mistakes.
- You won’t necessarily lose weight
I certainly didn’t. In fact, I gained it at a rather alarming rate. People often assume that all vegan food is super healthy because all you can eat is fruit and veg. Well, as soon as I found out how untrue that was, I bought all of the vegan treats I could get my grubby hands on, using excuses like ‘it’s okay, it’s vegan so its healthier’ or ‘I need to show that there’s demand for vegan products!’ which to some degree, is true, but you don’t need to eat a whole packet of biscuits a night to do so. Luckily, I have now tried most vegan junk food and have calmed down somewhat.
- It can get you down- but not for the reasons you might expect.
Most people think that as a vegan, you will be depressed because of all the different foods you can’t have. But in reality, they are replaceable. What is not replaceable is your faith in humanity. When you go vegan, your blinkers really are ripped off and you see the cruelty that people inflict on animals with every meal they eat, the clothing they buy and the cosmetics they use, and they often don’t even question it. This is not because people are indifferent to animal suffering. In fact, most people simply aren’t aware of the suffering they are causing the animals, the planet, themselves and the world’s hungry. It is very difficult to be aware of this and see so many blissfully ignorant people enjoying life, and I have sometimes found myself feeling jealous and resentful. However, in the end, it’s the system that’s at fault and people need to be painfully aware to have the drive to change it.
- It’s not as difficult as you’d think
I really do not miss much. There are a few times when I get a bit sad because I will never again eat a Quality Street green triangle at Christmas, but when I think of the suffering it took to get it, it repulses me. The ethical argument for veganism is strong, and it has made me recoil when I see a carton of milk, just like I always have done with meat. Don’t even get me started on eggs, nasty. There are an endless amount of resources online with recipes, product lists, and documentaries. I did get a bit obsessed, particularly in the beginning. I spent all of my time googling recipes. One particularly helpful thing to do is to type in your favourite foods with ‘vegan’ at the start. That is how I found the most fab vegan ‘cheesecake’ recipe that impressed my then meat eating family.
- Always bring your own food to family buffets
It’s just easier and you can take the opportunity to go all out and show off. I mean, promote veganism. This has been such an effective way of showing people that veganism tastes damn good. I always make a pudding, and that blows people’s minds.
- There is a vegan alternative for pretty much everything
As I have mentioned previously, everything can be veganised. Cheese, cake, cheesecake, shepherds pie, chicken stew, sausage rolls. It’s amazing what they/ you can do with a bit of imagination, or internet access.
P.s If you’re into ice cream, check out Swedish glace- cheap, available in supermarkets and my ice cream snob father preferred it to his puss filled version!
- People are always surprised when they like ‘your food.’
Because ‘normal’ people never eat couscous, biscuits, fruits, veggies, pasta, houmous or bread. It can be quite insulting when someone says ‘oh, that’s actually quite nice’ cheers. But a lot of people, particularly old ones, see vegans as weird hippy animal freaks who can eat basically nothing, so it really does surprise them when you feed them something other than grass/ mud… or whatever they were expecting. In the words of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau ‘If it tastes good, they’ll eat it.’ She is right, and every time someone is pleasantly surprised by a vegan choice, the more open they will be to adopting a plant based lifestyle.
- There is still much more to do
Veganism isn’t the be all and end all of ethics, but it is a great place to start. There are far more branches on the ethical tree, such as human rights, reducing waste, pollution, recycling etc. We shouldn’t ever be complacent with what we do until we are really doing our best. That being said, it needs to be done in a sustainable way, in your own time. I am currently working on buying my clothes, besides underwear, from either fair trade companies, charity shops (that don’t fund animal testing) or second hand online, independent sellers like people on etsy, or making them myself. This has actually also helped me save money, because I am not tempted to buy random things that I don’t really need just because they’re in the New Look sale, because I am never in those shops. I am also cutting down drastically on palm oil.