Throughout the month of January to celebrate and raise awareness of Veganuary I will be asking fellow vegans new and old to share their experiences. It is a series I am really excited to share with you all! I hope that with the posts it will help support you understand a little more about why other people become vegan.
Mark is also a fellow blogger and you can see his blog here .
I am always a little wary writing content for other blogs/sites (granted, it doesn’t happen often) as I am unsure whether to adjust my style and tone to suit that particular site or just to keep rocking my own style. I have decided to keep this in my own style as I will be writing about me, my reason and experience of going vegan, why I started Devon Animal Save and what we do at DAS.
(My fiancé and I)
So, little about me and my journey to going Vegan. I am 31 years old and for 30 years I was the biggest meat eating dairy muncher going! I would eat meat with a lot of my meals, cheese on pretty much everything and eggs were used a lot. I would also make jokes about veggies and vegans and try and argue against them and “trip” them up. I was basically the anti-vegan which I am sure a few people can testify to who spoke to me back then, including the co-founder of Veganuary Mr Matthew Glover who I came across on social media as we both work in the same industry.
I first dipped my toe into a plant based diet when I was around 27ish, primarily for health and weight loss reasons. I was going through a bit of a difficult time with depression and I was massively overweight, which was a contributing factor towards my depression. So I tried a plant based diet for a short period. I can’t remember the duration but I know I started feeling healthier and happier and the weight was dropping. I was eating mainly fruits and veggies and smoothies. I didn’t go looking for alternatives to meat and dairy and lived off salads with sometimes chips. I started feeling good; I was feeling more enthused and less lethargic. I was able to start exercising playing squash and attempting the couch to 5k. But like all diets, I had positive results and slipped back to old habits. Veganism isn’t a diet, it cannot be seen as a diet otherwise you will allow yourself cheat meals or cheat days which isn’t what veganism is about. This is why I say at that time I was plant based.
Becoming a vegan
February 2016 I watched a video on Youtube after my fiancé mentioned I should take a look. My fiancé is vegan but lives in the states at the moment so we aren’t physically around each other a huge amount meaning I don’t really get to see what she’s eating and how easy it is to be vegan. Although she is a raw vegan and refined sugar free which can be quite restrictive so maybe its best I couldn’t see what she was eating as it may have put me off as I am not a huge fan of fruits and vegetables. Anyway, to her credit (and because she knows what I am like and she is just genuinely the most amazing person I have ever known) she never forced veganism on me; she knows I would probably have pushed back, but one day I approached her and asked more about it. She told me a few things about health and the environment then pointed me towards a video on youtube by Gary Yourofsky of his famous Georgia Tech speech.
I watched it and so many things clicked to me. It enthralled me and it was like learning a secret which I wanted to share with everyone. It just made sense to me. I am a fan of logic and science, so hearing him describe how humans are Herbivorous, I couldn’t really find any holes in what he was saying. After watching the video I decided to read up on it in more detail. I will admit part of me was looking to prove the points he raised to be wrong but I approached it with as open mind as possible. It was then that I saw slaughterhouse footage; slaughterhouse footage from so called “RSPCA Assured” slaughterhouses. I saw footage from the RSPCA Assured farms. It broke my heart. I love animals, I have a dog and, alongside my fiancé, she is my world.
I was looking at the animals and seeing for the first time, their fear. The panic and fear was real, it was obvious and noticeable. I was in tears; I couldn’t believe how much suffering they went through and how brutal it was. I double checked the footage to see if it was the UK thinking that we wouldn’t allow that to happen but it was. It was named companies, brands I bought and enjoyed.
It hit me so hard, seeing ruby cows with big brown eyes looking like my ruby cavalier King Charles spaniel who also has big brown eyes. What was the difference? Between my dog and the cow being killed? Why was I ok with eating cows but not my dog
(What was the difference? Between my dog and the cow being killed?)
I looked at the footage of dairy farms and the methods which go in to getting milk from the cows. I saw what happened to the male calves that were waste products to the dairy industry. I saw the footage of baby male chicks from the egg industry being ground alive, as per the RSPCA standards.
I felt sick, I felt ashamed and I felt regretful. It was that moment when I decided I didn’t want to play any part in the suffering of animals. How could I call myself an animal lover when my purchases and choices caused them harm? I literally changed overnight. I woke up the next day and went online looking for what vegans eat, hoping it wasn’t just kale and avocado and found that there was so much choice available and so many accidentally vegan products out there. Bearing in mind I was a big junk food eater; I was looking for chocolate, crisps, sweets, burgers, pizza etc. All of which I found in Sainsbury’s, not some specialist health shop but right on my doorstep.
First trip to the supermarket
My first trip to the supermarket as a vegan (I felt weird calling myself that as it was the first day) I spent a long time reading labels. Same as all new vegans, I didn’t know where to start. I hit the free from section and grabbed some chocolate bars and saw things like custard which I added to my trolley. I had a list on my phone with me of things which were meant to be vegan and went looking for them. Pringles, crisps, popcorn (not the healthiest I know) and went to the frozen section to grab chips, burgers, sausages, pies and other items I was so excited about trying. I picked up some soy milk and butter to try on my cereal and toast respectively. In the end I probably had one of every vegan item just because!
I still remember trying my first slice of toast with dairy free butter, it’s so silly to think I was turning my nose up at it when I had been using the mammary secretions of a bovine animal that had just given birth for years but I was unsure of a butter made from a bean! I tried it and I couldn’t taste the difference. I was amazed!
After doing a couple of food shops I started to learn what I could and couldn’t have (although I am not keen on the term “I can’t have that”; I can, I just choose not to) and what meals I would be making. Like most people I tend to rotate around the same meals each week/month. I now substitute what I had before for the vegan alternative. I will eat Chilli, Spag Bol, Curry, Rice, beans on toast, Pizza etc. Once you establish what meals you usually have, grocery shopping becomes easy and not as daunting.
I have been vegan nearly a year now and I feel the healthiest I have felt. I have shed a lot of weight which piled back on from last time but still get to eat amazing foods.
(Top two pictures are of me before going vegan, the bottom two are from the last couple of months)
(Meatless feast pizza, one of my favourite meals)
So don’t let food choices put you off if you are trying it yourself, you just need to relearn a few things and it will become easy and you will get the most insane amount of pleasure from finding something you didn’t realise was vegan turns out to be vegan!!