Food

The tricks of a vegan newbie

I already slightly regret using the word ‘Flexitarian’ to name my blog as a recent vegan. The idea of The Flexitarian was to grant permission to breeze in and out of dietary habits, meat eating or otherwise with health being at its crux. However, for the past ten weeks meat, dairy and fish have been off menu. I almost put the word ‘convert’ alongside veganism, as if a group of hessian clad Brighton folk knocked on my door, brainwashed me while propping my eyes open with celery sticks. The turning point for me was watching Cowspiracy – The Sustainability Secret which touches on issues from animal rights to global hunger and the future of the planet. I’ll leave my reasoning there for now as I by no means want this post to turn in to a vegan crusade. For some, Veganism is a bit of a dirty word, with even The Guardian referring to Guinness as ‘kowtowing to the liberal agenda of the vegan mafia’ after making their beverage vegan friendly.

It really baffles me why choosing a meat and dairy free diet upsets people so much. I’ve been called a ‘complete idiot’ at a social gathering and awkwardly squirm in my seat when dining out. To be fair, there has been the occasional slip up such as accidental cheese when the language barrier was just too much to handle on a hangover. As a previous cheese fiend you would think this meal could have been a ‘free pass’ (it was Xmas day after all!) but I can confirm that my tastebuds have altered. All I could taste was a vomit-like tang leaving a heavy, greasy feeling in my stomach. Cheese may be as addictive as crack but as a reformed addict I’m telling you this can change dramatically once you cut it out.

So, aside from social awkwardness and cheese aversion, here’s my journey so far and hopefully useful for anyone taking the plunge this veganuary.

Your skin will DETOX

You’d think that a huge influx of fruit and vegetables would make your skin glow so bright people would need sunglasses right? Wrong. Your skin needs to get bad before it can get better. My skin went in to major breakout mode all over my cheeks which is the usual way of your body telling you something is going on in your digestion. I think mine was clearly crying out for my daily cheese and cracker fix. I recommend persevering with cleansing foods and after six weeks you’ll have the complexion you signed up for. That might sound like a JML advert but steering clear or sugar, upping your water intake and cucumber juices help an angry red cheese craving visage!

You realise Vegan food isn’t boring

I’ve never been the biggest meat eater but when you imagine a diet without it along with eggs, fish and dairy you start to wonder what you actually can eat. I think I would have run out of steam and willpower if it wasn’t for Pinterest and some of the great blogs out there to keep me inspired. Living in Brighton is also a HUGE plus with some great restaurants such as Vbites, Loving Hut and Purezza keeping my lazier cooking tendencies happy.

Just to prove I haven’t been surviving off soggy lettuce for the past 10 weeks, here are some of the lovely dishes I’ve cooked or ordered at restaurants.

image2 (1) image1 (1)

 

Don’t beat yourself up

If you’re not ready to throw away all of your eggs then don’t do it. I find that with Veganism, the more facts you start to unravel, the more guilty you start to feel. I don’t think I’ll ever feel like a ‘true vegan’ – you can’t own anything made of silk, wool or leather which would be hundreds of pounds worth of clothes straight in the bin. Another occasion I’ve been challenged on is when asked ‘how I felt about genetically modified vegetables?’. The truth is, I don’t really know how I feel about it, should I have a standpoint and how can you actually tell if something is GM or not? What about palm oil, child labour in the fashion industry and excessive food waste enforced by supermarket standards? The lists are bloody endless and I think I’d be walking around naked and close to starvation if I have to consider my carbon footprint on a daily basis. It’s not all self-flagellation though as The Vegan Society happily brings me back to earth with this definition;

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

 

So it’s about living with a conscience, not guilt. There’s no point trying to save the planet while being weak and miserable anyway is there? There’s a final quote from Cowspiracy that always resonates with me so I’ll leave you with this.

change the world

 

Post header image courtesy of http://www.thugkitchen.com

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15 thoughts on “The tricks of a vegan newbie

  1. a couple of issues, i will attempt to be gentle, but please forgive me if i seem to fail. it is great that you are moving towards a cruelty free lifestyle, and leading others towards that in the best way you currently can. the first point is that being vegan is easy, there is no need to transition by baby steps. Baby steps cost lives, as you know. just take the cruelty free option! you can find one. the second issue is with the clothes- they DO have to go, hundreds of pounds not withstanding. you have chosen to put yourself in a position of visibility, which is unavoidable anyway all who feel guilt look for hypocrisy in others to justify their own. You can do better and really you must. you have a fine opportunity to make a stand against cruelty right now. you will feel so much better. just chuck it all out and be done with it- there is no reason at all to regret such an action, and there is reason enough to regret its delay. if you are going to save a life, and you are, then don’t dawdle.

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    1. Being a Vegan too, I disagree with Jes about throwing out your clothes. You will have to replace your clothes you throw away, and this is not sustainable! You shouldn’t feel guilt but recognise and be thankful to the animal, which I’m sure you already are. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Jes, I feel you’ve completely missed the point of this post, which is that there is far too much judgement and superiority felt and shared by both vegans and those who wish to belittle them. Did you miss the ‘Don’t beat yourself up’ section? Or just feel that you’d supply the guilt part there?

      I don’t think Sarah’s trying to ‘lead others towards veganism either’ the post’s supportive and helpful, without being preachy and rude like, let’s be honest, your post.

      Throwing away all your clothes is ridiculously wasteful and unsustainable, and throwing away the last letter of your name, is just a little silly.

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    3. Jess’ reply has really got under my skin, my meat eating skin as it happens, as I feel it completely misses the point of Sarah’s blog. I really enjoyed reading Sarah’s blog as it was not preachy in any way, shape or form. It spoke of the health benefits of a vegan diet and how easy it was to convert. It is humorous and well intentioned and certainly not written to guilt anyone into not eating meat or dairy. Then Jess wades in with claim of ‘baby steps costing lives’ and talk of throwing clothes away (not terribly eco friendly at all). In actual fact, I think Sarah has an extraordinary level headed approach to her new way of life – the same cannot be said for you Jess.

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  2. I have to completely disagree with Jes here. As someone who has recently transitioned from a heavy meat and dairy consumer to a vegan, I can say it’s not all plain sailing. Admittedly it is getting easier and easier in this day and age, but to have an all or nothing attitude and to make someone feel beneath you because they aren’t quite living a ‘true’ vegan lifestyle is backward. It’s probably the kind of attitude that makes a lot of non-vegans think we’re up ourselves and think of them as sadistic, lesser beings who are just killing the planet. No wonder vegans have such a stereotype, reinforced by memes and stupid pictures floating about social media. The issue I have with the clothing is, sorry if this seems harsh, the animal has already been killed and used to make the item of clothing. How are you possibly saving lives by throwing away said item of clothing? Surely that is more of an insult to the animal that was killed? I thoroughly enjoyed this post and support anyone who is doing whatever they can to cut down on their meat and dairy consumption. I certainly don’t look down on anyone who has the occasional slip-up or doesn’t throw out all their clothes…

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    1. Jes, it’s people like you who discourage people from becoming vegan. As a pescatarian (currently), I wouldn’t have cut out eating meat if somebody had said to me “you must do this now, baby steps cost lives blah blah on my high horse etc etc”.
      This blog is educating and encouraging people, not preaching to them. Your attitude is far more likely to have a negative impact on people who aren’t willing to give up everything straight away. If you really care about making a difference you must be more realistic. That said, hope you enjoy the high life on your pedestal.

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  3. Great post Sarah, and look at the debate 🙂 lets get coffee and you can tell me about some of these amazing looking recipes. I think it’s education and ideas on how to make it work for you that will make it more accessible to the masses. Like this post. Not shaming and guilt tripping those who are trying to make a difference. X

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    1. Thanks Tess and yes let’s grab a coffee and I’m willing to share many recipes with you. I’m going to do another post on protein intake and veganism I think. All about non preachy veganism. Glad you liked the post 😊 Xx

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  4. Jes, I’m sure you are an absolutely smashing eco-warrior who has never done so much as ride a bus to work (even when it snows) in order to alleviate CO2 emissions but I think in today’s society, people like Sarah who are able to begin to understand the importance of a wider picture of what is and isn’t working in the world should be encouraged not criticised. It’s so easy to enter into a routine that society offers us of eating poorly, not looking after our health, or even just watching too much TV. I feel, any efforts that people make to try and make their lives more holistic are bloody brilliant!

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  5. Hi Sarah. It’s Amanda here (Chi Running workshop, Saturday). LOVE your blog. Love your commitment and your passion. Looking forward to following and reading many entries to come 🙂 Visit me when you have a mo – http://www.putthekettleon.org. Meanwhile – we MUST hook up to run together, too (vegan cake at the end)?

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  6. Hi Sarah! Firstly, ❤️❤️❤️❤️ your post. It is so difficult to make such a drastic change to your eating habits after eating a certain way for so long. It’s helpful to other newbies is who need to hear an honest opinion about the experience as well. One of the main reasons why I was scared to transition to veganism was my love for cheese and milkshakes. I never thought I could let them go! Just know, you’re making a great decision for your health and the planet!! And love your pictures too btw!! ❤️❤️❤️

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    Like

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