It’s that time of year again – Veganuary has rolled around, and with more people signing up than ever before, I want to chip in a little. Help out, in whatever way I can. I’ve been vegan for nearly four years now (you can read my full vegan story here) and so I think I have a wise word or two to spill on the topic.
In this post, I thought I’d answer some common questions asked when people first hear about veganism and want to give it a go. This is all based on my personal experience, being vegan in the UK, so my situation may be different to other people’s. I wanted to focus on subjective questions here, so you won’t find health and environment stats in this post. There are plenty of wonderful sources to learn about these things, so I will highlight some of my favourites at the end of the post – if you want to know more about the facts then I advise you give those a browse!
Is veganism hard?
This seems like a frequently asked question, but I’m not too sure what is intended by it. Hard because there’s nothing to eat? I’d argue that’s a myth, vegan food can be extremely tasty and varied with very little effort. Hard to stick to? Perhaps for some people at first, but it gets easier. The great thing about such a big lifestyle change is that it can be done in steps, bit by bit, to avoid being overwhelming. Hard to find vegan food in shops? In the UK it has never been easier I think. There are more and more plant-based things appearing on supermarket shelves, at an exponential rate. It feels like every time I pay a visit to the store, another brand has come out with another type of dairy-free cheese. Hard to eat out? Sometimes, but not as much as you’d think. This is probably the biggest practical obstacle though, and can vary massively depending on location.
Are substitute products tasty?
For the most part, many of them are delicious. However, cheese is a tricky thing to replicate: there are a few that I think are worth shouting from the rooftops about (Sheese is excellent and budget-friendly, Daiya is delicious but more expensive in the places I’ve seen) but it takes a few experiments to see if a particular brand suits you or not. Similarly, I’m not personally a fan of some meat substitutes – I grew up vegetarian and so the vegan products made to taste as much like meat as possible don’t appeal to me. But again, I think this is all down to personal taste (and I do love a spicy bean burger).
My best advice would be to steer clear of substitute products for the first few weeks into plant-based eating. Stick to vegan foods you eat anyway – pulses, nuts, fruit, veg, pasta, bread, rice, etc. – and your taste will change with the lack of meat/dairy in your diet. You may be surprised to try substitute products after this time: you might now enjoy things you hated as a meat-eater. Surprisingly, you might not crave certain foods anymore either.
Is veganism expensive?
It doesn’t have to be. Like any other diet, it is as expensive as you make it. If your cooking relies on a shedload of meat substitutes and non-dairy ice cream, you’ll be dropping cash pretty quickly. However, the majority of the cheapest food on supermarket shelves is vegan: some fruits and vegetables (think bananas, potatoes, broccoli, apples, etc. not just punnets of berries, dates, etc. which are more pricey), bread, pasta, rice, couscous, canned beans and pulses… None of these things will break the bank. Learning to cook several staple meals can really keep down food bills.
What do vegans eat?
A huge variety of things. Personally, I think an easy dish would consist of a carb (like pasta or mashed potato) with a sauce/stew and a veg or two/salad on the side. One of the things I’ve really gotten into recently is couscous with roasted veg, all drizzled in tahini. If you want more of an idea of the sorts of meals out there, you can read what I eat in a week here.
Where can I learn more about veganism?
What The Health and Cowspiracy (both on Netflix) are both wonderfully made documentaries about the health and environmental implications of meat-eating, respectively. Earthlings is a heart-wrenching film available on Youtube that helps the viewer make ethical connections with their food. Carnage is a mockumentary, so carries the message in a more digestible way. In a similar vein, Okja is a fictional film that pulls on your emotions. I haven’t read it myself, but I have heard many great things about The China Study – this book focusses on the health aspects of plant-based diets. I’ve also heard good things about the environmental film Before the Flood.
Do you have more questions about going vegan? Let me know in the comments and if people find this kind of content helpful, I may write another post like this in the future ❤
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