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