“There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.”
– Charles Darwin
Note: The post below is my viewpoint on going Vegan and is not designed in anyway to attack or criticise anyone for the choices they make. I will not describe in depth what I witnessed during my research into making this choice for myself but I will provide optional links at the end of the post if you wish to start looking into Veganism. Thank you.
In December 2016 I went vegetarian. I had been living with my then-partner, now-wife for about 9 months and things were going great. When we got together though, I was a vehement meat-eater, in fact eater of all things animal; meat, dairy, eggs, you name it.
I even remember arguing with one of our friends over Christmas in 2015 that, and I quote, “I can’t see myself ever NOT eating meat. Ever.”
My wife though, at that time, was mostly pescatarian and therefore we never really had or cooked meat at home. I love to cook so from the moment we moved in together into a tiny (TINY!!!) flat in March 2016 I saw it mostly as a challenge that I could rise to, to cook more vegetarian food; so I started doing some research.
What I found horrified me to my core.
Many of the vegetarian and vegan bloggers I started to check out included (as part of their blogs and recipes I was following) justification for their lifestyle, reasons why they chose a vegetarian or plant based lifestyle and I was intrigued. I checked out the references, the sources and studies and documentaries, I made notes and discussed my thoughts with my wife and family and others I knew who were veggie or vegan and realized I had lived a life in ignorant bliss of the suffering that took place to fulfill my need for a burger, or bacon, even sweets like wine gums (which I loved but are full of gelatin).
So I made the switch and honestly, it shocked everyone around me (particularly my family) that I, the meat eater, the lover of BBQ, meaty curries and Tex-Mex, would give it up for the rest of my life. But everybody blamed my wife for this. Perhaps blame is too strong a word though… they attributed it to my now living with a mostly-vegetarian.
But no, I came to this conclusion myself. From pictures of slaughterhouses, caged animals and intense farming of everything from cows to pigs to fish, I realized that I would never see meat in the same light again, and it’s not as though I didn’t KNOW this happened. When I was a meat eater of course I knew this was the case, but when I really looked, I realized that my personal dinner preferences should never, ever cause something like this.
The research continued and just over 2 short years later on 1st January 2019 I did something great, I tried Veganuary. Veganuary is a vegan-January challenge that asks only that you give up animal products and try eating and living a Vegan lifestyle.
At this point the teenager in our house had already been vegan for some time; she had come from a predominantly meat-eating country (Romania) and so at home we were mostly cooking plant-based so we could all eat together anyway! Curries, stews, soups, pasta, pizza, nut-burgers, salads, buddha bowls, our diet was not restrictive – but i was still eating eggs and cheese at work, and when we went out for dinner. It wasn’t long before the articles and documentaries led me to look at the dairy and egg industries.
Again, absolutely terrifying.
Shortly before trying Veganuary, in September or October 2018 I had a nightmare. I won’t go into detail but involved trying desperately in vain to free cows from a dairy-slash-slaughterhouse and it was harrowing. I woke up completely drenched in a cold sweat and decided that it would not be long until I completely phased out all animal products, and January was the time to do so.
I don’t miss cheese, or eggs. I thought it would be hard, but it wasn’t. Yes, vegan cheese isn’t quite there yet (unless you’ve tried the new Applewood UK Vegan cheddar OHMIGOSH) but honestly, even if the alternative isn’t there yet – it’s still better than the version requiring we first exploit a living being that doesn’t have the means to defend itself.
Now, almost 12 months later, I still maintain that (besides the decisions to marry my wife, to look after our teen and to join Redgate) it was one of the very best decisions I have ever made.
I encourage you, if you’ve ever been curious, to try it for yourself. It’s surprisingly easy, but most of all it gets you to think about what you eat, how you fuel yourself and about the well-being of all life on the planet. If you need some resources, or want to answer some common questions, I’ve included some resources below:
Where do I get my B12 and Protein? Watch the Game Changers Netflix Documentary – trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSpglxHTJVM
Is a plant based diet healthy? Watch the Forks Over Knives documentary on Netflix or Youtube – trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZb-35oV_7E
How would eating vegan help to stop animal cruelty? Watch the Earthlings and Cowspriacy documentaries – trailers here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hm7Babs_FJU and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nV04zyfLyN4
Where are some good resources for plant-based cooking? You can follow the below leaders in this arena (there are loads on YouTube in general though):
- Bosh: https://www.bosh.tv/
- The Happy Pear: https://thehappypear.ie/
- Deliciously Ella: https://deliciouslyella.com/
- The Vegan Society: https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/recipes
- The Avant-Garde Vegan: https://www.avantgardevegan.com/my-recipes/
Where can I eat Vegan? There are tonnes of good places that have their own vegan menus and options, a few chain restaurants in the UK who offer great vegan alternatives inlclude:
- Bella Italia
- Pizza Express
- Frankie & Benny’s
- Byron Burger
- Pret a manger
- Pizza Hut
- Papa Johns
- and Subway!
Happy holidays and here’s to a happy 2020!