Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Life as a Vegan

"But what do you eat?"
"Don't you miss cheese?"
"Aren't you worried about getting enough protein?"
"But cows need to be milked!"

If you're vegan you've probably heard these questions countless times. Sometimes they're from well-meaning friends and family who're simply trying to understand your choices (or, even better, are considering following in your footsteps) and sometimes they're from people who seem to be overly bothered by what you choose to eat (or not eat) and want to enter into some kind of debate with you.

I'm always happy to talk with the first type of person. I'm not out to 'preach' to anyone, but if someone wants to ask me some questions I will happily answer them and if it makes them think a little about what they eat that's great, if it doesn't, that's fine too. Now, to answer those questions.

"But what do you eat?"
My simple answer to this is "Vegetables!" but that's not completely true. I'd like to only eat vegetables but I haven't mastered that much willpower yet, sadly. In reality, I eat quite a variety of things. My go-to dinners include Thai Red Chickpea Curry, Five Bean Chilli, Vegetable Fajitas and Vegan Sausage and Mash. These are all things I ate before I went vegan, some are just slightly tweaked.

When out and about there's a surprising amount of food to be found if you know where to look. I am lucky enough to live just around the corner from a fantastic place called Moorish Falafel which sells (you guessed it) amazing falafels, you can have them in a pita, burger bun or just as a salad box. It's one of my favourite places for lunch because it's cheap and easy.

I've also found M&S to be a bit of a godsend. They have three really delicious vegan soups, they're usually on offer for buy one get one half price which is really handy. They also sell a number of small vegan salad boxes, they're quite unusual and really healthy. They're also usually on offer and they're great to grab if you're in a rush.

Something else that I've found useful is Accidentally Vegan, which lists commercial food that just happens to be vegan. There were quite a few things on there that I would never have imagined were vegan. I almost wish I hadn't heard about the site as it's expanding the amount of easily accessible junk food I can eat!

Don't you miss cheese?
Honestly? No. And let me tell you, my main reason for not going vegan earlier was cheese. I'm still unsure how or why I don't miss cheese, I genuinely thought I'd be found crying in the cheese aisle of my local Tesco after about a week of being vegan but instead I just kind of... forgot about cheese. There are so many other delicious meals I can eat that if I ever find myself wanting cheese, I just eat something else. I haven't even tried vegan cheese, that's how much I don't miss it.

Aren't you worried about not getting enough protein?
Of course I am, but here's the thing. I am much more aware of what I'm putting into my body now. I make sure I eat plenty of protein rich foods like chickpeas, lentils, beans. Even rice has protein in it, it's really not that hard to come by if you try. Before, I never thought about protein. I just ate whatever I fancied (usually cake) and that was it. Now, I'm really aware of making sure I eat food that is going to keep me healthy, instead of whatever I fancy. I'd say I probably get more protein now than I did before I went vegan, and not only that but my protein is most likely from a much cleaner source of food than before. I used to just grab any kind of meat, who even knows how processed it was, what hormones were in it?

But cows need to be milked!
This one always makes me roll my eyes. Yes, they do need to be milked. Yes, it would become painful for them if they weren't. However, they only need to be milked because they have given birth, and they have only given birth because they have been artificially inseminated with a calf who would have been taken away from them immediately (and possibly killed) because the calf would be using up milk that can otherwise be sold. Cows spend most of their time being milked and constantly contract infections from it. So yes, they do need to be milked, but only because of what we have done to them. 

Personally, I don't feel that it's wrong to eat meat or to consume dairy or eggs. But only if those animals are treated well whilst they are alive, or providing us with these products. I feel like it's incredibly selfish and arrogant to not care about the conditions so many animals are kept in just so we can eat meat/dairy etc. every day. I'm surprised at how long I kept my head in the sand in regards to these industries and what I was putting into my body, I feel so much healthier since going vegan, my next step is to try and eat more raw.

However I also know that I'm very lucky in that I live somewhere where vegan food is relatively easy to come by, I have friends and family who are willing to cook vegan food for me, and I work with two other vegans, so I have quite a lot of support. Without all of that I'm sure I'd struggle. Something I always say to people who say they're interested in being vegan but they're not sure if they'd be able to do it is that you don't have to be 100% vegan. Some people are very militant about it, but I think it's important to find a good balance. There's no point in being vegan if you're sacrificing your own happiness. So if you can't be completely vegan, be partially vegan! Make swaps where you can, cut down where you can, and don't beat yourself up about the rest.

Bryony :)

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