Something you may not know about me, most likely because I don't tend to talk about it unless necessary, is that I eat a plant based diet and try to live as vegan as possible. When I was in university, I made the choice to start eating a vegetarian diet. I think at the time it was mostly for financial reasons (still living that poor student life, ayyy) although I was also learning more about animal rights. I realised that the most powerful thing I, as a nondescript and (mostly) insignificant human, could do was to choose what I spend my money on and 'vote with my money' as it were. I've never been naive of the connection between what was on my plate and the animals I saw everyday in the countryside, however, I no longer wanted to support those industries that exploit and make commodities of animals for financial profit. Animals are living, breathing, conscious beings and they should in no way be thought of as a commodity to have ownership of, so I stopped eating meat.
And then, exactly one year ago, I stopped eating dairy and eggs. Cheese and eggs were the hardest things to stop eating but I am an all or nothing kind of person and once I had made the emotional connection between the food and the animals suffering they never tasted that good any more. I also really enjoy feeling like a rebel, in the most ridiculous and tiny ways possible so if I think of my purchase as supporting arrogant, rich arseholes to continue being dickheads then I immediately change my purchasing practice. As a whole, I didn't find dairy difficult to stop eating, my sister has been allergic to dairy since she was a baby so I grew up on dairy alternatives and label checking. After I had stopped eating dairy, I did continue to eat eggs for a few weeks but we just stopped buying them so I stopped eating them. One of the best things that I've experienced since I've been vegan is that my eczema is so much better, I no longer get massive flare ups, sore red patches or extensive dry skin! I don't have to put eczema creams on everyday anymore, and mostly just use a moisturiser. Its actually a massive relief to no longer constantly think about my skin.
It's kind of strange to think that I've been vegan for a year now. I definitely never thought that I would ever go plant-based, but I love it and wouldn't live any other way now. I completely avoid anything with animal products in and I try to avoid products and brands that are tested on animals as much as possible, however, our budget does sometimes restrict our choices. I think what a lot of people say is true: once you align your lifestyle with your morals you live far more mindfully and often can't help but avoid products that cause suffering. Veganism is so important for any chance of saving the planet; the leading cause of deforestation, resource use and harmful gas production is animal agriculture.
Here's some tips I have learnt over the past year:
eat the same food and meals you have always loved to eat - just find a vegan alternative or a plant based way of making your favourite food
learn how to skim-read labels - most allergens are in bold such as MILK, EGGS, BUTTER, ETC, but remember to check for other animal based ingredients such as gelatin, whey and stock, etc
teach yourself some core recipes that you love to eat, off by heart, so you don't need to constantly check recipes every time you cook
some meals can have the exact same ingredients but if you change the herbs and spices its a totally different meal - i.e. bolognese and chilli
grate courgette and/or carrots to bulk up your (previously) mince based recipes
nutritional yeast and liquid smoke are literal game changers
people aren't as negative and judge-mental as you think - especially in restaurants and cafes, veganism is more widely known as a dietary option now and it is okay to ask to make sure your meal is vegan. I've been in cafes were the menu items were only vegetarian at best but on asking the waiting staff if the cook would be able to not include the cheese I've been told "Of course! The cook is vegan too, let me go check with them, they might have something they could substitute in the back!"
veggie haggis is delicious
Here are some of my favourite recipes: