Well, that was a pretty crappy title, but hey – I’m deprived of iron. Just jokes (we’ll get letters…). Actually Jon Bon Jovi is a vegetarian, who recently released a vegan clothing line. It seems all the cool kids are going vegan! As for me, I’m halfway through Veganuary, and it’s actually going pretty well. It’s also school holidays and I have a ‘real job’ now, so BUSY. Consider this a brief update rather than a careful analysis with any scientific rigour.
My Veganuary challenge – the half time scores
Veganuary is a UK based charity initiative inviting people to give vegan living a crack for a month. I have found the challenge’s resources, including recipes and shopping lists, incredibly helpful and it’s truly made the transition pretty smooth. Eating out is always a challenge when you are learning a new way of eating, but luckily veganism is on trend! I’ve only had two social occasions when I’ve truly had no food options and gone for the hot chips in desperation – and that’s saying something at this bustling time of year.
3 things that make going vegan really easy
- I was not a great red meat lover anyway, so swapping some beans, tofu or nuts into my stir fries or salads has been easy. Getting used to life without cheese has been harder, I’ll admit. But this week I’ve ventured into new territory and tried some of the vegan cheese options. Sesame cheese – yum, coconut cheese – not so much. I’m even getting used to soy milk in coffee. There really are loads of alternatives on the market and, just like any personal tastes and preferences, there is probably something for you.
The likes of Pizza Capers and Doughnut Time offer tasty vegan options, and even my local pub threw together a yummy toasted ciabatta for me (hold the cheese, extra roast veg). No ‘rabbit food’ here (unless you want it, of course). On the weekend, I attended Brisbane’s fortnightly vegan markets in West End and enjoyed smoothies, spring rolls and spicy Indian goodies guilt-free. Takeaway is actually frighteningly easy to manage as a vegan, as long as you enjoy Asian food and/or you’re willing to do some menu research ahead of your night out.
- You don’t need to buy vegan cookbooks, or spend your days paying a fortune in health food shops to do vegan. Any ‘healthy eating’ blogs or recipe guides probably include vegan options, especially if they also have allergy options, such as dairy-free or egg-free cakes.
So far so good! But here’s where things get tricky…
3 things that make going vegan really hard
- Online vegans. These are the people who give vegans a bad name. In person, I have had some fascinating conversations and supportive interactions with vegan friends, and wonderful encouraging chats at the markets and with restaurant owners. Online however, you’re up against Judgy McJudgeface who is quick to tell you why your vegan efforts are not as virtuous as his/hers. NOW is the time to make a decision about where you stand on honey, and eggs from home raised chickens, and whether your children or pets will be allowed to eat meat. If you don’t decide NOW, someone will be sure to point out your failings. This makes it hard to learn – come on, NOW, we all make mistakes don’t we?
- Hidden stuff. I was cruising along in my meat/cheese/milk-free zone when I started to realise how many OTHER things are not considered vegan. Wine, for example, is clarified using a type of bone dust. Sometimes so is white sugar. Many sauces, juices and bread products include milk or related products under other secret additive codes. No cheese on your pizza – easy. But wait! The actual crust contains cheese…as does the pesto topping. Veggie stirfry – easy! But wait! Have you thought about fish sauce or oyster sauce? And don’t get me started on shoes, cosmetics, or cleaning products. To be truly, completely, ‘cruelty free’ is a big, BIG ask in this day and age. At the moment, I can’t justifiably call myself vegan on the basis of food choices alone, but I’m someone who’s trying to learn more.
Friends. Ah friends. They can be the most supportive people in the world, and equally the first ones to totally take the piss. I’ve been keeping a fairly low profile this month, but I can easily see why some people struggle most when it comes to those closest to them. People get offended if you won’t eat something they insist you MUST try, and defensive or apologetic about their own food choices. Most often, they simply scoff a bit and assume you’re just having a bit of a naive hippy dippy phase. Naivety is probably the hardest accusation I’ve faced so far. A certain person suggested I was being brainwashed by vegan propaganda. I promise you, I’m not the ‘brainwashing’ type. This journey will be long and hard!