Over 150,000 of us took part in ‘Veganuary’, a whole month with no eggs, meat, fish or dairy or any animal-derived products. With celebrities such as Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch, comedian Carl Donnelly and even Miley Cyrus jumping on the plant-based bandwagon, it’s no wonder that Veganism is set to be one of the biggest trends of 2018.
Veganuary might be over for some but its estimated that over eighty percent will continue to avoid animal-derived foods, products tested on animals, leather and silk. This is certainly good news for the animals avoiding a lifetime of pain and suffering. Not to mention the environment; when we stop supporting animal agriculture we reduce one of the biggest contributions to global carbon emissions and deforestation.
After becoming a vegan only a few months ago, I have realised that the reality of veganism is not much like the Instagram photos of coconut bowls filled with courgetti and toasted almonds. I put off the transition for so long because of scare stories of vitamin deficiencies and self-deprivation, but I wish I hadn’t. So, In the continued spirit of Veganuary, here are five things that I wish I had known then…
A little bit of research goes a long way!
Deciding to go full-on vegan overnight certainly had its advantages. I was able to sail along on the initial excitement of the change for a long time, but soon I realised that giving the transition some more thought would have benefitted me greatly. I could cook, but all of my nutritional understanding was based around meat and things I couldn’t eat any more. Invest in a good vegan cookbook and get to grips with vegan sources of vital nutrients and vitamins. Having some easy go-to recipes will make your life so much easier, especially when you come home from uni and your flatmates’ left over meat-feast Domino’s is looking tastier than it should be.
Eating out is easier than you think it’s going to be
Vegan options at Nandos?! Who knew. Honestly, it has never been a better time to turn vegan. Nearly every major restaurant chain (bar some really stubborn ones) now offer at least a few vegan options. Whether you’re willing for a Wagamama’s or begging for a burger, there is now something for everyone and you don’t have to forgo your favourite foods. The “Accidently Vegan” Instagram page was a life saver when I was on a rampage for study snacks.
Vegan does not mean healthy
Most people lose weight and feel generally better in themselves for eating a plant-based diet. Unfortunately, too many people assume that it will just happen (AKA me), and I want to crush that myth. Like a non-vegan, you need to consider what you are eating and how much. Your meals probably won’t be Instagram-able, but they can be mighty tasty and super good for you.
Milk is in everything
First of all, don’t feel like the worst human in the world if you eat something you said you wouldn’t. It happens, just move on. Even when you feel as though you have sussed out vegan-friendly brands, they are well-known for suddenly changing the recipe. You might just be surprised to know just how often cow milk is added as an ingredient unnecessarily. Even my non-vegan friends said it was ridiculous. I mean, Salt and Vinegar Pringles? There is just no need.
Becoming vegan was the best decision I ever made. I feel mentally brighter, physically healthier and I know that I am making a positive impact in so many different ways. Don’t think that I haven’t had my moments, though. I genuinely got upset when I realised I would never eat my favourite foods again, even though I found new ones pretty quickly. To keep myself on track even after I fall down, I find it helpful to remind myself of the reasons why I did this in the first place. I follow vegan chefs on Instagram who demonstrate the possibility of creating beautiful, creative food using plant-based ingredients. I watch documentaries on environmentalism and the realities of agribusiness. All of it reassures me that I’ve made the right choice for myself, animals and the planet.
– Tabi Webb
Featured image source: https://az616578.vo.msecnd.net/files/2016/07/10/636037732390821190-835079831_Vegan1.png