I have been vegetarian for the past 4 ish years. It was a diet and lifestyle change I decided to make and honestly, I didn’t expect it to last this long. Going vegetarian was surprisingly easy, especially with the support I got from my family and, I typically cooked a lot anyway. The main swaps I made were to vegetarian meat substitutes such as Quorn, Linda McCartney and other major brands.
Once I had realised that going veggie was achievable and super easy, the goal was to eventually go vegan. Even in the past four years veganism has become more mainstream and accessible, especially when eating out. As I saw and tried more vegan options I saw it as an achievable goal. My first step was veganuary: the typical beginning for a lot of vegans, following a major trend. Unfortunately I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for this change and ended up not eating enough as I didn’t know what vegan food to eat or how much. As you cut out a lot of high fat and high calorie food such as cheese (a favourite of mine) you have to eat a lot more to stay healthy. I did not do this. After finding out that a lot of Quorn products we’re not vegan I felt completely lost and it fueled my unstable mental state even more. I stopped January but still made the effort to make more vegan options than I did before January.
Quarantine, although a stressful time for all of us, gave me the time to experiment with food a bit more. I decided I was going to do an 80-20 split: 80% of the time I would eat vegan food and 20% of the time I would be vegetarian. I did this as a slow introduction into veganism so the 20% was for eating out, cheese and for time I didn’t feel like being the awkward one. It wasn’t a big change for me. I had stopped drinking milk last year and changed to oat milk as my plant milk of choice so already started cutting out dairy. Turns out, I didn’t use my 80-20 split at all, I ate vegan food 100% of the time. I quickly realised that the best way for me to do this was to go mainly plant based, this meant I cut out the majority of the processed vegan meat alternatives from my diet and chose other alternatives such as grains, tofu, mushrooms and falafel. This was also a healthier choice in comparison to how I used to eat so, it helped me lose weight as a result. I still have meat alternatives when I eat out- I am partial to a beyond meat burger- but I really try and focus on eating a lot of vegetables and grains as my main diet.
I’ve seen a lot of documentaries on the benefits of going vegan and plant-based and how it really boosts your energy levels. I’ve been fully vegan now for 6 months and I personally don’t feel extra energised but, I feel healthier in myself. That might be because of the plant diet or it might be because of the weight loss due to the diet, I couldn’t tell you for sure. I think it’s definitely worth a go if you’re interested in the benefits of veganism because it’s a lot easier than I first thought, you don’t have to change your diet massively. I chose the plant based route but, there are so many amazing vegan alternatives (no-bull in Iceland is one of my favourites) that make the transition so much easier. Now that it is more mainstream, there are more alternatives being sold meaning more options, making it much more accessible for anyone.
This was my personal experience with going vegan, everyone has different experiences and reasons too. I originally went vegetarian for moral reasons mainly which lead me to veganism also mainly for morals. Going veggie or vegan for purely health reasons or a mixture or just to challenge yourself is completely valid too. I’ve found some of the vegan community are very passionate with their views which can sometimes give vegans an extreme reputation when in reality, there is a small percentage who preach but really, a lot of vegans are people like me who make a personal change and don’t expect anyone to change around us. It’s a personal choice which i’m so glad that I made!