Thinking about veganism & a plant based diet
When I was about twelve, I went on a school trip to France. I didn’t like the look of the meals that were being given out, so I told them I was a vegetarian to get the better option. When I got home, I carried on with it and ended up being a vegetarian for around the next nine years. I even became vegan at one point – but didn’t keep up with it. This was in the 90s, when there was no internet. All information I had was from sending away to the Vegetarian Society for leaflets. I didn’t know any other vegetarians or vegans. I think in the end my mum told me I had to at least eat cheese and eggs as with five other children in the house it was just getting too hard to cater for what everyone agreed was a weird eating habit. In those days veganism wasn’t really a thing. My mum would make a big pot of bolognese sauce or curry, and a smaller pot of everything but the meat for me. Sometimes she would splash out on a bag of dried TVP from the health food shop. I went back to vegetarianism eventually, and then when I was around twenty, I started eating meat again.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a Reiki attunement and was advised to stick to just fruits and vegetables for at least 24 hours beforehand as meat and animal products can slow down the energy in your body. I figured I can do anything just for one day, and went with it. I expected it to be really hard; I expected to be craving chocolate and steak, and to get withdrawal headaches. None of that happened. In fact, I felt pretty good by the end of the day. My body felt… light. Not in a weight sort of way – though I did lose two pounds – but more in an energetic sort of way. Which sounds very “woo-woo” but anyone who has been following me lately will know I’m mostly “woo-woo” these days anyway. I began thinking about going vegan.
The thing with veganism is that it’s not just about not eating eggs and cheese. And there are a lot of vegans who think that telling other people where they are right and wrong is a part of the lifestyle change. There are also a lot of carnivores and omnivores who delight in arguing back. At least one friend rolled their eyes when I said I was thinking about becoming veagn; I agreed with a few friends that I will only become vegan if I am a “quiet” one and don’t start posting photos of avocados on my Instagram every five minutes and telling everyone else what they can and can’t do.
There are so many labels and rules around these days. Carnivore; omnivore; vegetarian; vegan; flexitarian; fruitarian; there is even such a thing as a breatharian. Also I get the feeling there are a lot more vegans, and veganism is becoming a lot more mainstream. I live in a fairly small, local-y city and most cafes and restaurants here now have at least one vegan dish on the menu. There’s even a vegan street food place that opens on the weekends under a railway bridge.
That said, the label “vegan” also apparently comes with a lot of rules – it’s not only about what you eat, but what shoes and clothes you wear and a whole raft of other things. And everyone, vegan or not, is just waiting for the chance to jump on something you’ve done wrong.
I’m really not up for being judged, so rather than become vegan, I’ve opted to say I’m switching to a “plant based diet.” This sounds a bit more flexible, with fewer rules. And more chance of being able to live with the odd slip up. Lots of people have commented on social media posts to tell me about great alternatives to meat and cheese but really I’ve never understood the concept of “facon” or “tofurkey” – I’ve always figured if you like the idea of bacon then just eat bacon. And for me, heading towards more plant based food is as more to do with health and how I feel, not about depriving myself or saving the animals (though clearly that’s an added bonus) – so I want to eat more vegetables without needing pretend chicken nuggets. Also, it’s entirely possible to be a vegan and live off junk food. Oreos, for example, are vegan. That’s not what I’m aiming for here.
There are also a few things I need to iron out before I can even consider saying I’m a vegan:
- Coffee. Usually I have about half a pot of cream in my morning coffee (no exagerration). When I go out for coffee, I’ll have a latte with cream on the side. I enjoy drinking my coffee; sitting down with a nice creamy coffee is my ritual. I’ve been looking for a suitable alternative to dairy cream and have found a few passable options but nothing quite as good as double cream. Right now I’m having coconut cream and coconut milk, but it’s not great. Oat cream is also a massive no, for me at least.
- Fish oils. Ever since I had a massive nervous breakdown, I’ve taken fish oils every single day. I am convinced these are what has kept my brain ticking over through some fairly stressful events over the last eight years and I am not prepared to give them up – again, unless I can find a viable alternative. Coconut oil is nice, but it is processed in the body in an entirely different way to fish oil and so will not help. The problem I have is that I would need to risk all-out mental chaos by stopping the fish oils, in order to see if a suggested alternative will work as well.
- Protein. Depending on who you talk to, you can get plenty of protein just from eating peas and nuts with the occasional bit of tofu thrown in. Others say you need to have a good supplement or alternative or you’ll… I don’t know, waste away to nothing. There is no consensus on this but I think I need to figure out some more good sources of protein before I jump ship from the meat train just yet.
For now, I’m eating more fruits and vegetables. I’ve stopped eating yogurt with my breakfast, and haven’t meat is no longer the thing around which I base my meals. Will I stick at this forever? Who knows. Will I become one of those vegans who tells people off for posting a photo of their steak dinner? I hope not. Between this, the no shampoo and the ethical, natural toiletries though, really who knows. I even bought a Mooncup a while ago.
If you are able to help me with my above quandries do please leave a comment or get in touch on social media. But please don’t email me expounding the virtues of veganism (or eating meat); chances are I won’t even bother to read it so your effort will be wasted.
Hi Vicky. I recently attended a workshop with the nutritionist Patrick Holford and he talked about a really good omega oil made from seaweed, as an alternative for vegans. The link for it is https://www.holfordirect.com/vegan-omega-3.html and his website to have a look around is www.patrickholford.com Best wishes, Shyne