Becoming vegan wasn’t a plan of mine to make in my life but I chose to because I believed it would help my recovery with bulimia nervosa ( mental illness )
Simply, a vegan is, ‘A person who does not eat or use animal products’. There are a number of different reasons why people decide to go vegan; this may be for their health/ fitness, ethical reasons concerning animal treatment, attempting to save the environment, saving money on buying dairy and meat products and many others.
When I first heard about the vegan society I was interested in finding out what it is exactly. My friend from London is a huge vegan activist so she was the perfect person to ask my questions to!
She helped me understand the insights of becoming vegan, how you need to look after your health as you’re not intaking dairy anymore. But there are alternatives which really helped me to proceed with my journey on becoming vegan.
Some of my favourite food alternatives are;
Alpro Vanilla which is a yogurt alternative!
Vegan Mac ‘N’ Cheese.
Tofu Scrambler which is an egg alternative! Plus you can make a delicious scramble!
Vegan pepperoni - full of flavour and it’s just mouth-watering!
Going vegan in the current day is easier than ever. The number of vegans in the UK increased by 419,000 (62%) over the past 12 months and has quadrupled since 2014.
This increased demand has affected the meat-free market, with the UK launching more vegan products than any other nation in 2019 and with supermarkets and restaurants providing more vegan-friendly options than ever. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see entire aisles for dairy and meat-free alternatives in shops and restaurants are beginning to serve entirely vegan menus.
This, however, does not diminish the difficulty of transitioning from a non-vegan diet to a plant-based one: you are still faced with the same cravings for food and products that you can no longer consume. The transition from a ‘normal’ diet to veganism will take time and effort, but with enough perseverance, it can quickly become second nature and won’t feel like a chore.
But how was becoming vegan suppose to help me in my recovery? Well, I believed if I had a healthy diet then it would help me eat more. Don’t get me wrong it was hard at first and it still is but 5 years on and I’m eating! But not much but it’s a good start!
The first vegan product that I tried was ‘Cauldron Organic Tofu’. At first, I was scared about how it would taste and what the texture was like, but all that worrying was for nothing as it was one of the best things I had ever tasted! Full of flavour but also very light so it was perfect for me as I dislike my stomach feeling heavy or in other terms, full.
I started taking steps towards becoming vegan in May 2018 - though I had been a vegetarian for about 7 years prior- after learning more about the dairy industry and realising that I didn’t want to contribute to a sector that treats animals so horrifically. I didn’t become fully vegan straight away and don’t feel discouraged if the process takes you months or even years - it took me until October to go 100% vegan. It’s always the transition that is the hardest, but once you make it into a habit it takes no effort at all!
Tofu is made from dried soybeans which are then soaked in water, crushed, and boiled. There are so many recipes that you can use tofu in like;
Tofu Scramble; this is an egg scramble alternative which tastes amazing but is also pretty simple to make!
Grilled Tofu Skewers; these are grand for BBQs when you have the family around!
Crispy Baked Garlic Tofu; this is made with garlic sauce but other sauces can be used instead!
In the short time that I have been vegan, there has been a massive difference in the range, quantity and quality of vegan products. I can now walk into most any restaurant and know, with confidence, that there will be vegan options, whereas before I was always checking menus with no such luck. Furthermore, there are so many more vegan supermarket substitutes, making it so easy to pick up the vegan version of a product. I also rarely get cravings for dairy products (and never get them for meat) as I have been vegan for so long now that I don’t miss the food anymore.
Here’s some advice for going vegan:
- Always read the ingredients - it’s the worst feeling to realise you have been eating a product that isn’t vegan!
- Don’t beat yourself up if you mess up - if you find out a product you’ve eaten isn’t vegan, don’t get angry at yourself, instead use it to learn and remember it for the future.
- Don’t rush into it - becoming vegan takes time and I would recommend starting off as a vegetarian beforehand, or even scheduling 4 vegan meal days into your week to ease yourself in.
- Follow vegan blogs / instagrams / influencers etc.
- Ensure you are still getting vitamins + protein - these can be missing from a plant-based diet so eat tofu, pulses, beans, nuts etc for protein. I also take B-12 supplements as it isn’t found naturally in fruits, veggies and grains.
- Try out vegan substitutes- see the list above!
- Create vegan meal plans - it can be overwhelming at first, so create some meal plans that you know you like.
Even though changing to a vegan diet was hard it was so beneficial for my health too as I could once again enjoy food as I used to as a child. Growing up with an eating disorder was hard to battle, fighting those thoughts inside your head restricting yourself from food.
Also having a family who loves their food and is also meat-eaters, it was a big challenge! But it was so worth it! My family support my decision on going vegan and they even sometimes try some of the veggie dishes I prepare!
- Nadia and Mel
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