I know it has been a while and yet again, i’ve had some interesting adventures.
When I was a teenager, I was so angered about vivisection that I became a vegetarian. It was the 80’s and there wasn’t a great deal of choice in food other than nut roast and cheese filled pastries. At home, my meals consisted of just the vegetables that accompanied whatever meat was being served. As you can imagine, I became deprived of certain nutrients and was eventually anaemic. One drunken evening, a bacon sandwich was just too tempting and ive eaten meat ever since.
Ive been becoming more and more passionate about animal welfare, protection from cruelty etc again over the past 10 years or so. With the devastating awareness of the apalling damage the human race is inflicting on the planet through plastic, pollution, deforestation and global climate change, I strongly believe we all need to contribute to reduce the rate by which we are destroying earth. Then seeing the massive farms filled with cattle to be slaughtered, the knowledge that animals know they are going to be slaughtered when in an abbatoire and the conditions these animals are subjected to, just so we can have cheaper meat enraged me enough to want to make a change.
Just before the beginning of the 1st covid lockdown, I planned on cooking 2 meatless meals a week for the family as a way of contributing. It wasn’t easy as my family are avid meat eaters and always have been with the exception of 1 of my daughters being a vegetarian for a short while. However, we managed quite well by following the mediterranean diet, eating omlettes more and pasta dishes (which is a feat as my husband really doesn’t like pasta other than tagliatelle).
With 1 child living at her boyfriends house during lockdown and 1 child living at home instead of university, it was quite easy to follow a plan as they weren’t going to and from and I wasn’t having to think of which day I needed to alter our plans (which, when you have Fibromyalgia and brain fog and a very poor memory, is a nightmare). So we did this for a while and it was great. Then lockdown eased a little and children started moving around again and threw my brain into its usual chaos, thus ensuing a total breakdown of the meatless meal plan.
Then the Christmas lockdown occurred and was lengthened til now. 1 child living at her boyfriends except for 1 night a week and 1 child at university and having to stay there until the end of term. This seemed the perfect time to attempt a more drastic approach. Knowing my husband and son would definitely not be on board with being vegetarian, let alone vegan, I decided to start my journey on my own. I explained to my family my decision and the reasoning behind it and was delightfully surprised at how supportive they all were.
I had thoroughly thought about it and spoken to a couple of my friends who are vegan and decided I could cook a family meal and easily cook something for myself alongside it using almost all the same ingredients. A little extra work and more washing up, but as long as I wasn’t using the dishwasher more than normal and only a minimal amount of extra gas for the cooker (haven’t been able to replace yet as i have a range and they are expensive), it felt worth it.
I began at the beginning of June. I was advised to adjust bit by bit as going straight to vegan would be harder. The plan was to give up meat first, then fish, then eggs then finally dairy. I knew that not eating meat would be easy as I’ve done it before and meat alternatives are so much better than they were when I was a teen / young adult. I didn’t however, realise how my eating habits had changed since then (you’d think just looking at myself in the mirror would have been a big clue!). I really struggled with takeaway food. Pizza was easy, as I just went for the veggie option. Fish and chips was easy as I went for a spring roll (always used to be my favourite), but chinese and indian was a nightmare and i ended up having chicken. I know that there are vegetarian options, however, not ones that I would like (my regular chinese takeaway only does bean curd in black bean sauce or with broccoli – i dislike both and I just crumbled at the thought of Chicken tikka masala). I am still working on alternatives for these.
My next step is to give up fish, again, I don’t think will be an issue, although I love fish and how good it is for the brain which i most definitely need help with. Ill need to find good alternatives or supplements for this.
Now we step into the fantasy realm as I rely alot on eggs and cheese. I don’t have much milk at all, only a small amount in my 1 cup of coffee a day, I don’t like any of the alternatives, so it would have to be black. I do like yoghurt every now and then, especially greek yoghurt, so that might be an issue unless i can find an alternative. Ice cream has some great dairy free alternatives, so that would be ok too.
But, this is where the fantasy fails as there aren’t any vegan eggs that i know of, so I would have to have free roaming, which is not pure vegan, but I would feel ok with this especially as I know of friends who have chickens. Cheese is a weird one. I tried vegan cheese and even though it smells like sweaty socks and tastes weird, it goes ok with sandwich pickle, I just don’t think I could not have brie. However, I haven’t researched the vegan alternatives so I may find something yet.
As it stands, I think I could eventually call myself a dirty vegan. I would still eat eggs and honey but not from mass producers. I may struggle with cheese, but would try to adjust as I would with take away.
I would NEVER preach about being a vegan as I do actually believe that as humans we should be able to eat whatever our hunter gatherer ancestors ate and what we know fuels our bodies effectively. I am on this journey for me and my social and environmental conscience.
And I’m now starting to crave chorizo and salami! What the heck is that all about? But if i slip up along the way, I won’t punish myself as I am really pleased with the effort I am making and succeeding at.