Happy World Vegan Day!
While I am not a fan of dramatic changes or doing things just because they are trendy, there’s no doubt veganism is a big thing. Lots of people are committing to a diet and lifestyle without any animal products and having gone through it all myself, I have a lot of experience with the challenges you will face. I cut out meat and chicken overnight but stayed eating very small amounts of dairy and fish, mainly in social situations, for about six months. That worked for me and the idea of going cold turkey vegan (LOL) is pretty dramatic. Whatever stage you’re at, these are my tips!
The first rule of going vegan… don’t talk about going vegan
Remember that you are doing this because you have chosen to, and it’s your decision. You do not have the right to make a decision on what other people choose to do or bore them to tears or give out to them for eating sausage rolls in front of you. I am often asked online about this and I always reply that like most of the important decisions you make in life, you can’t make this one for anyone else, and they don’t get to make it for you. Own your decision but keep it to yourself, unless asked.
Whilst this might be controversial, these are my feelings and there isn’t really a rule book. Be flexible on your strict veganism when eating out or in your friends’ houses. If I was preparing food for a dinner party, getting a litany of dietary requests would drive me mad, so I try not to be that person.
Food is a social way to come together and the company and atmosphere takes precedence for me. My stance on eating has always been control what I can, go with the flow otherwise, and I try to never make anyone feel awkward. Don’t ruin a dinner party or sit with an empty plate making everyone feel guilty. Eat well before and try what you like and don’t draw too much attention to yourself. I always offer to bring a dish that I know I can eat and honestly it makes me really happy when I see others enjoying it too!
I’ve often turned up to a dinner party with a main course option. Taking home a scraped clean pot is really rewarding feeling and worth the effort.
Get educated and excited
Rather than thinking about what you are missing out on, you need to focus on what you will gain. There are countless websites and blogs with amazing healthy recipes and easy meal swaps. Veganuary can even send you through coaching for the 31 days and has so many resources. I also think Instagram is amazing for recipe ideas.
Personally once I opened up my eyes and started doing my research I gradually realised that by reducing animal proteins in my diet, ensuring that all my beauty products and make-up were cruelty-free and reducing single-use plastics, I could have a fundamental impact on the environment. It’s estimated that by adopting a plant-based diet, you save 1,100 gallons of water, 30 square feet of forested land, 20lb CO2 equivalent and one animal’s life every single day. There’s no doubt that switching to a vegan diet will be challenging, as eating meat, fish and dairy is ingrained in our way of life, but understanding the difference you’re making by adopting a vegan diet is very rewarding.
By also voting with your wallet regarding cosmetic testing on animals and informing producers that do test that you will seek alternatives until they ban the cruel practice, you are lobbying in the most effective way possible.
I am continuously amazed at how much effort restaurants go to and how happy they are to accommodate, as long as you give them notice. If you’re making a booking anywhere it literally takes 30 seconds to let them know, and it will make your dining out experience memorable for the right reasons. If in doubt, Thai is the best option for a delicious takeaway with so many options packed full of veggies, tofu and flavour.
Watch a few documentaries
There are loads of documentaries on Netflix and YouTube. For me, watching Earthlings, Forks Over Knives and Cowspiracy (which is produced by eco warrior Leonardo DiCaprio) changed my mindset entirely. I hadn’t made a connection between what I was eating and the conditions, that was a requisite step to get the meat to my table.
Holly’s book, Vegan-ish, is out now.