Last year I only lasted 10 consecutive days. I was taking part in a 40 day program, and was simultaneously quitting sugar, meat and alcohol; so I felt like I had ‘a lot on my plate’ or rather, too little, pardon the pun.
This year, I started the program sugar, alcohol, caffeine and meat free (since the last program 12 months ago) so I felt like I had a bit of a head start. I was still daunted by the prospect of cutting out all animal products (if in doubt, that includes eggs, fish, dairy and honey) but felt quite excited by the experiment.
I once thought veganism was a cult
I was scared of losing muscle
I haven’t been a full time vegan
I was initially against it because it’s trendy
Vegan cheese is gross
I thought Vegans didn’t like food or non-vegans
I bought a moleskin diary and it didn’t even occur to me that it was made of leather (mole-skin… the clue is in the name…)
I used to have a mild panic every time I invited a vegan friend for dinner
I thought vegan food was bland
OK, now that you know my dirty little secrets we can move onto the good bit.
I’ve done it!! 6 weeks of attempted veganism!!
I feel great in my mind, body and soul. So great that I intend to continue.
But it hasn’t all been straight forward, so I’d like to share a few tips which helped me keep it together.
1. Start small and be kind to yourself
This is the most important tip in my opinion.
As per the definition of veganism: ‘[vegan lifestyles are] ways of living that seek to exclude, as far as is possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.’
Therefore, “Pledging to be vegan doesn’t mean that you’re pledging to be perfect; it means you’re pledging to try.” Click here for a more extensive explanation.
In my opinion, totally prohibiting yourself any ‘slips’ can build up resentment towards your new ‘diet’, which is not beneficial in the long run.
If you go to a B’day party and there is non-vegan cake that you really want to eat, have a slice. However, if you are making your own cake, why not try a vegan recipe? Deliciously Ella has tons.
2. Eating In vs Eating Out
At home – it’s relatively easy, as you can control what goes into your meal. I try to always have at least some fresh, tinned and frozen veg at home.
Google is your friend if you need some inspo. Remember vegan does not have to mean lettuce and cucumbers!
Here are a few of my own vegan recipes
Spaghetti a la Vegana
Eating Out – The waiter/ress is your friend
If you know where you will be going it can be worth taking a look at the menu beforehand so you can figure things out without people’s observing eyes.
Learn to read the menu and don’t assume anything.
Take the time to explain to the waiter/ress that you are looking for something that doesn’t contain any animal products. In London this is becoming relatively common but in certain countries you may need to specify that this excludes eggs and dairy.
3. Stay calm and reprogram your mind
Growing up my plates always looked a bit like this: (Thanks mum!!)
Veg, protein and carbs. I wouldn’t dare criticise the nutritional value of this meal, however I must point out that it took me a while to accept that a healthy meal could look very differently, with the legumes or nuts providing protein for example.
An increasing number of studies link the consumption of animal protein and different illnesses. I am not qualified to talk about this but if you would like more information check out One Green Planet here .
So even if you don’t feel ready to cut out all animal products, it might be worth cutting down.
4. Spice it up!
Animal fats can bring a lot of flavour (I’ll give you that) so with meat outside the picture it’s time to dust off your spice cupboard.
Use fresh cumin, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, paprika, mix it up and stay curious around your cooking.
I also enjoy adding herbs to most of my dishes, basil, coriander, thyme and rosemary can add a lot of fragrance to any dish.
5. There is no better time than now
If you live in London, chances are, you’ll have a social event every week. Making the decision to eat less animal products does not mean you have to be a recluse. You don’t have to declare to the World, ‘I will be vegan from today until I die.’ You can simply bring in some awareness to your food choices whether it’s at home or out and see if you can minimise your animal product intake.
So, as I come to the end of this 6 week experiment I chose to continue living my life, minimising the suffering of other beings to the best of my ability. I’d rather not strictly label myself and think I’ll hold on to ‘Aspiring vegan’ for now.
I sometimes laugh at myself, it sounds so stereotypical: ‘Girl falls in love with yoga and becomes vegan’. It didn’t happen overnight, but practicing yoga and meditation has given me a clearer sense of my privileged position in this World. I am more compassionate and aware of other beings’ existence and suffering. I could do more of course, but starting by making ethically conscious decisions when it comes to my personal life seems like a good place to start.
I hope these tips are helpful and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.