It’s been just over two months since I started this whole vegan thing. As I wrote in a previous post, the decision was a bit spontaneous and at the time I didn’t really know how easy it would be or whether it would be sustainable.
Well, after two months I’m convinced it was the right choice. It’s going GREAT. I’m loving cooking more, experimenting with new foods and new flavours, and making healthy choices. However, there a few things that have come as a surprise.
One thing I wasn’t expecting was that it would be an empowering experience. Choosing to do something counter-cultural because it aligns with your values is a way of taking control. If we accept the conventional wisdom that we can’t do anything about some of the large-scale problems in the world (such as animal suffering and environmental destruction) then we are left with a sense of impotence. Choosing to reject that conventional wisdom means taking charge, not getting swept along. Being vegan can mean that you become a bit inconvenient to other people – for me, that has meant developing a bit more self-confidence, and learning not to apologise for who I am.
A second thing I have noticed is that being vegan is creative. Yes, you could live off baked potatoes and beans, but I’ve found that I’ve wanted to experiment and try new things. I’ve enjoyed my food more as a result. Finding vegan solutions when you’ve been omnivorous most of your life means having think creatively, and that is a really healthy thing. I guess some people might be daunted by the idea of having to be inventive and experiment with food – I’ve loved embracing the challenge.
The third thing I didn’t expect was that being vegan would be easy. Seriously, anyone using ‘it would be too hard’ as a reason not to be vegan is either just making excuses, not ready yet, or simply doesn’t realise how easy it is. There are so many options in the supermarkets and they’re growing all the time – there has never been an easier time to be vegan. If you like food that resembles animal products, then there are masses of plant-based meats, milks and cheeses. Pizzas, cakes, ice cream and sweets are all available if you like that kind of thing. My closest Sainsbury’s is tiny and they stock at least seven types of plant milk!
A final surprise is that being vegan is accidentally healthy. On many occasions I have had no option but to make a healthy choice. If I’m offered a piece of cake, a biscuit or a if someone passes round a box of chocolates then the chances are they won’t be vegan. Previously I would have been unable to resist, now I politely decline. As I said above, all these things have vegan equivalents, but you have to seek them out. I can get them if I really want them, but they have become genuine treats rather than just unnecessary indulgences. Of course, ironically this unexpected benefit will diminish as veganism becomes more popular and there are more and more vegan options available, but for now I’m enjoying the fact that I have less opportunity to eat unhealthy treats.
Now that I’m two months in I’m starting to get into a pattern: smoothie for breakfast, massive salad for lunch, something delicious and home-cooked in the evening. I’m conscious that I may not be able to sustain doing quite so much home-cooking in the long-term but I’m also getting into the habit of using the slow cooker, freezing extra portions, and building up a bank of quick and easy meals. I’m loving it so far, and looking forward to where the journey takes me.