Why bother transitioning to a vegan lifestyle?
As some of you may know, I’ve been a vegetarian all my life. I feel privileged to have grown up in a vegetarian household. I have no idea how to prepare or cook meat for someone, and I would probably give a friend food poisoning by not cooking it properly! Salmonella isn’t something you have to worry about so much with lentils. Which part of the fridge am I meant to put raw chicken? No idea. Totally clueless.
Please don’t feel like I’m judging you if you do eat meat though. I understand most of the world does and has done for hundreds of years. I never start the conversation with someone over their dietary choices at the dinner table. I will happily sit next to someone in a restaurant eating pig/cow/horse/dog. But I also am not going to sugar coat the answers if questioned. If someone asks: ‘What is gelatine?’ I am going to answer honestly, and (warning), it may make you put your marshmallow down.
I think food education is so important. We live in a world where being overweight and obese is the norm. In many communities in the UK and elsewhere in the world, the ‘average person’ is more likely to be overweight or obese than of a normal healthy weight. People need the tools and education to change up their habits to ensure that their bodies are healthy. It just makes you feel so much better if you take care of yourself. It’s not expensive to do. If you are fit and able, it comes down to priorities.
My reasons for going vegan are three-fold:
- The treatment of cows and chickens in the dairy and egg industry.
Living as a vegetarian I just ignored this element of my diet and what happened to the cows and chickens. I pretended to myself that consuming only the by-products of animals, it was morally superior to eating them. It turns out, if you buy commercially then it is just as bad to be a dairy cow (if not worse) than being a cow for beef. Also, murder is wrong. Life is gift. Who are we to take some other earthly beings life? It didn’t do anything to us.
- Personal health reasons
I’ve been put off previously from veganism because of the false belief that people struggle to be healthy if they are vegan. I thought I would restrict my diet too much and miss out on essential nutrients. However, watching programmes on famous vegan sports stars like the world leading tennis stars, the Williams sisters and the 300lb vegan David Carter I learnt that you can truly be super fit, full of energy and rock the kale salad. I love the Youtube channels ‘Pick Up Limes’ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq2E1mIwUKMWzCA4liA_XGQ and ‘Vegan hustle TV’ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3R83OcCzoCmRc2AapQeL7A
I am on my own journey to becoming fitter and healthier but these people help me to be inspired. You must be educated and ensure you cover all nutrient food groups. Obviously if you only eat celery and potatoes you will be malnourished but if you just take a few minutes to plan meals then it becomes easy.
- The environment matters
“The biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat significantly less red meat,” Prof Tim Benton, at the University of Leeds
I want future generations to enjoy the planet we live on and we make a much smaller environmental impact by not using up the lands natural resources feeding livestock.
So steps I have already taken, and steps I will take in the next few months:
For years now I have had almond, soya or hazelnut ‘milk’ with my cereal in the morning. It just tastes better than cow milk and I always choose unsweetened if possible to reduce sugar intake.
I rarely buy it and I savour it when I do. This has been my crux for so long in transitioning to a vegan way of life. It’s time to let it go. I’ve made vegan pizza before and it worked absolutely fine. I’ve made it once and I shall make it again! It is true that the more you eat something the more your taste buds adapt.
Switching from mayonnaise to vegan mayonnaise
Made from sunflower oil, it’s not quite the same stuff but I actually prefer the taste of it over egg mayonnaise. Probably eat too much of it but it’s delicious.
Things that are going:
‘Hidden’ milk in products.
I had no idea so many products have milk in when you think they would be made without it.
The non-vegan ready meals
Another reason why I have taken a while to be vegan. Laziness! When the big supermarkets make it so easy to pick up relatively healthy ready meals you can simply heat up and not have to worry about food prep it makes you reluctant to make life ‘harder’ for yourself and cook food from scratch. However, I’m learning about some of the quick ways you can prepare easy vegan food and my slow cooker is getting a dusting off.
The dairy stuff. Dark chocolate and non-dairy milk chocolate is staying but the other ‘regular’ chocolate is going. Not healthy in any way shape or form anyway.
I’m not aiming to be a perfect, preaching-from-the-rooftops vegan but I hope I can take some steps into becoming healthier, and feel more at peace with my impact on animals and the world around me.
If you are vegan please let me know any tips or advice that you would give to someone looking to go over to 100% plant based.