Well it’s Veganuary and many people are taking the pledge to go vegan for a month. As many people know, or have guessed from my blogs, I am vegan and have been for more than 5 years now. There are plenty of recipes and vegan advice pages already so I thought I’d talk about my specific journey….as far as I know, no other website has that scoop yet!
It’s a journey I began on my 30th birthday. I’d seen a TV programme in which Jamie Oliver was uncovering the truth about chickens in the food industry. I was veggie at the time but it was only then that I realised the truth about what happens to animals that provide food such as dairy and eggs. I started watching more expose documentaries and was horrified!
Despite this, I spent a few months strictly vegan and then, following some difficulty over Christmas attending parties and meals out I labelled myself a failure and gave up. I went back to being the vegetarian I had been since my teenage years. I deeply regretted it though, started to cut back on things slowly and began again in earnest on my 32nd birthday…this time being kinder to myself when I made mistakes.
This approach was much better and was bolstered by the support I had this time found in the Bolton vegan community. During my first attempt I had felt like I was the only one, getting everything wrong! Luckily, I met a lovely lady named Rachel at The Kitchen (Bolton's best vegan/veggie cafe imo!) who said she ran the Bolton and Wigan Vegan and Animal Rights Group. In no time at all I was going to socials, doing yoga in the park, attending potluck picnics, pamper parties and house parties and meeting the most interesting and nicest of people. Having this support network helped me so much. Sharing food, tips and just having people I could hang out with without feeling uncomfortable or being put on the spot about my choices was just amazing. We even rescued a sheep (Cloud) from slaughter which now lives happily in a sanctuary.
I got involved with activism with Manchester Pig Save and Manchester Animal Action briefly. Both groups were truly inspirational and whilst it was deeply upsetting to see with my own eyes what the world is doing to animals it reinforces why we are vegan and sustains the passion to work, in our own ways, to affect social change.
My husband and I, in 2016, decided to leave our house and jobs and travel around France working on organic farms for a number of months. We ate vegan food fresh from the fields and gardens we were working in (This is a whole other blog post so I’ll save that for later). I’ll just say that this is where my husband joined me on my journey and where I developed an even deeper love of veg whilst making lots of friends along the way.,,,human and non-human.
As a result of my veganism and this trip, I can now cook! Another bonus! Even as a vegetarian I didn’t do much. I lived on soup, salads and sandwiches BORING! Now I have a great selection of cookbooks and a kitchen full of ingredients. I invite my family over and cook for them confidently and love to try weird recipes, the weirder the better…courgette chocolate cake, black bean brownies, avocado muffins. Don’t get me wrong though these are a rarity, most meals are colourful, delicious and nutritious, in fact I was so impressed by my own cooking that in the first year I couldn’t stop photographing my food!
Another improvement was my health and I seemed to be able to take on fitness challenges that before I found just laughable. Me, run…no way! But as it turns out I can… and I love it! I even do it in the rain and in the mud and in the dark. I used to say those people were crazy but now I’m one of them and I certainly put that down to my change in diet. It seems I’m not the only one there either, my running group in Bolton has a very high number of vegan runners in it too!
Picking up new knowledge and skills due to veganism has also shaped who I am now. Apart from doing my own research I attended lots of foodie workshops based on baking, chocolate making etc. I even ran my own raw vegan organic chocolate business for a time! I suppose I’m saying it has opened my eyes to the fact that I can change and I can do new things, meet new people and even help to change the world!
As the years have passed and veganism has grown it has become easier and easier with supermarkets and restaurants all offering options and even vegan menus. The excitement this week over the steak bake at Greggs is evidence of a changing world and it’s great. With more food choices also come a bigger choice of events and just plain bigger events such as the festivals Vegan Campout and V in the Park. Vegans from all over the country and world coming together to eat, drink, dance and listen to our favourite vegans talk all things vegan! You may not get it now but you will. It’s just a beautiful way to live and I’m so glad to be part of this community!
Maybe you can tell from my enthusiasm that going vegan is a decision I have never regretted for a moment. Yes, sometimes can be hard when you’re eating out, or you’re being tested to see if you’ll crack (“you’re on a desert island and there’s nothing there but you and a pig”) but I don’t let it bother me. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made and I hope that all of you taking the Veganuary pledge are similarly kind to yourselves on this road and enjoy it as much as I have. You’ll make mistakes and that’s okay, just remind yourself of why you are doing it: for the animals, for the environment, for your health.
There are resources/recipes/blogs/meal plans all over the internet to help you and they are easy to find so I’m just going to post the link for the Veganuary site. www.veganuary.com
p.s. this was going to be a blog called ‘A peek inside my kitchen cupboards’! I just started the introduction and it took a different path so I hope you don’t mind that I indulged myself a little and made it all about me! My husband said the first idea sounded boring anyway!
p.p.s Here is Cloud, Bolton and Wigan Area Vegan Group's rescued sheep!