Over ten years ago I decided to stop eating meat and at the time I’d never even heard of veganism, I thought there was only vegetarianism.
So, when I typed into the internet, “What to eat if you don’t eat meat?” I was met with the phrase vegan.
Wow! It was like a whole new universe had been opened up to me. So off I went to the local supermarket, armed with my newfound knowledge after a night of research frantically searching for recipes and meals.
“Excuse me”, I said to the shop assistant, “Do you have any soya milk?”
They stared confused for a second, as if I had mentioned a forbidden word. I like to embellish on the scene now and imagine that there was also a gasp from a member of the public nearby, covering their child’s ears, scurrying away in panic from uttering such blasphemy.
“Soya milk! I’m not sure, I’ll have to ask a colleague”, the assistant replied smiling.
From there I was taken to the long life milk section and there all on its own, shining in all its lonely glory was the holy grail of vegan milk. Just the one option to choose from. I grabbed my newfound prize and hugged it against my chest with joy.
The rest of my shop was spent in the fruit and veg aisle. By the end of the shopping expedition I was feeling rather peckish so I decided to check out the fridges for a sandwich or a salad. It was a like a scene from a classic western movie where the hero enters a long deserted town only to find bales of hay blowing past in their despair and the grumblings of a hungry tummy.
There was nothing available for vegans so I had a banana until I was able to go home and excitedly, though with a little trepidation, attempted my first ever vegan lunch.
Fast forward ten years and the world of veganism is very different. In the same supermarket there are numerous varieties of plant based milk in the fresh and longlife sections. And thank God, because even though many people like soya, I just can’t get to grips with it. Even when Asda all those years ago brought out what I could only presume was created by a sadist, a soya milk flavoured with apple juice, I would have to hold my nose in disgust.
Yet now we live in the golden age of plant based milks ranging from almond to cashew milk. Vegans also have a choice of milks made from coconuts, rice, oats and hemp to name just a few.
And when my belly is rumbling for food and I want to grab a bite to eat every supermarket has lunch options available which usually consists of sandwiches, wraps and salads etc.
The fact is, the whole vegan lifestyle has become so much easier now for nearly all aspects of your life. I’m actually fashionable again, in fact, Marks And Spencer have just launched an affordable vegan shoe range consisting of 350 styles, wow, and I can brush my teeth knowing I’m no longer spitting out toothpaste made from animal parts and God knows what else.
I can even spray the kitchen tops knowing that the only thing being harmed and killed are bacteria and germs.
Yes, today you can join the growing number of junk food vegans with takeaways, pizzas and yummy meat-free burgers or you can jump on the health train with smoothie shops, health bars and cook lovely nutritious wholefood meals.
Personally, I’m on the health train getting off at the odd stop at Papa Johns and local fast food joints.
Weatherspoons is now a local haunt sometimes for my wife and I eating cheap and cheerful vegan food amidst the bare knuckle brained drunkenness of the local chavs. Just kidding! In truth, it’s in the heart of our local town bustling with local townspeople enjoying a Friday evening. Lovely.
With vegan restaurants and eateries popping up everywhere as well as many places being vegan friendly these days it’s so much easier to go out with friends and fellow work colleagues.
It is a joy to sit in a coffee shop with a bite to eat wearing your new t-shirt which states, “animals are friends, not food”, no longer seen as the lone “weirdo extremist” as you sit with other “weirdo” vegan friends. Unless you’re sat in an all you can eat carvery of course which you might find that you are then run out of town by the local carnists. But all joking aside my local carvery has now jumped on the vegan band wagon with a number of tasty options. Amazing!
If you’ve ever wondered about the vegan lifestyle and whether it’s suitable for you, just know that now has never been a greater time to make the jump as veganism becomes ever more easy and accessible in all areas of your life. So you can feel great at the same time knowing that each choice you make within your life as a vegan saves an animals life from suffering and being killed and it’s kinder on the planet too.
So, as I contemplate where to go on holiday this year with a variety of choices from vegan cruises to a number of getaway breaks home and abroad tailored for vegans, not to mention the many vegan friendly and standalone hotels and retreats, I have an invitation for you.
Grab yourself some vegan popcorn and sweets. Take advantage of Netflix free monthly trial and get watching Cowspiracy, Okja, Vegucated, What the Health and Forks Over Knives. After watching these you might just feel like signing up to Veganuary (it’s not just for January), or the Vegan Societies 30 Day Pledge, there are others to choose from also not withstanding.
But if none of this doesn’t tickle your fancy at least you will have enjoyed some tasty vegan treats and learnt something along the way. Good luck and enjoy!