I assume, like me, you’ve heard Veganuary is happening. Are you taking part? How’s it been treating you… was it harder or easier than you first thought?
Apparently, some people think it’s rubbish (here’s looking at you Channel 4). But personally, I think it’s a great initiative to help people reduce their dairy and meat consumption with an abundance of help and support.
This time last year, I was partaking. There I was, excited for the new year ahead, resolutions and behaviour changes in tow – but what I couldn’t shake off the feeling that no meat and no diary meant no fun.
There I was, googling what vitamins I should take, looking at the ingredients on everything, pleasantly surprised when I didn’t see those words in bold “milk” or “egg”, complaining about how I’d cope without cheese on my pizza and what I would do without being able to just grab a quick egg and cress sandwich while I’m on my lunch.
Well here I am, a year later, still vegan. I won’t say that my own personal veganism is the same as everybody else’s – I disagree fundamentally with the meat and dairy industry, but I’m still at the beginning of a long journey and I’m finding my feet. I volunteer with elderly people, they want me to eat their biscuits – I don’t want them to feel like I’m being withholding, so I make emotional exceptions. But as far as my own consumption and finances go, each and every day, I learn something new, I find something else to be curious about, I choose the vegan option.
Why you shouldn’t give up being vegan after Veganuary…
There are so many reasons why I’m pleased I didn’t give up on veganism come January 31st.
Trying to be vegan and learning about veganism has opened my eyes to so many other issues and topics. I first found interest in veganism many years ago when I was reading and writing about environmental degradation – I despaired at the amount of resources which were drained for the meat and dairy industry.
Obviously, I knew that the meat and dairy industry aren’t exactly kind, but I guess I legitimised in my head, somewhat. I saw Jamie Oliver talking about chickens on television and knew that free range and organic were better. But I often heard the arguments about chickens laying eggs naturally and thought – you can’t argue with that, right? It’s natural. Likewise, cows produce milk – it’s just a fact of life and we’re doing them a favour by consuming their naturally occurring produce.
When I started veganuary I became aware of more and more articles which disrupted this thought process, it interrupted these stories I’d been told. I read about milk and egg production and realised that this just wasn’t an industry I was willing to support. Last year, I read a couple of articles in The Guardian, and yes they are by the same author and yes, they are emotionally driven, but Chas Newkey-Burden’s reporting led me to the conclusion that there is no ethical egg and there is no humane milk.
That alone, is reason enough for me to boycott the industry.
We live in a really cruel, hard world. I personally don’t want to support an industry that inflicts any more pain on a living thing than is needed. There are so many alternatives to dairy and egg – I just don’t see that my desire for a piece of cheese or a little bit of chocolate is more important than the living thing which contributed to my consumption. And there are so many good alternatives now. I remember considering veganism as a teenager and just thinking “no way” – the chocolate seemed rubbish, the biscuits, rubbish (hi – these are the things my life revolves around) and I wasn’t having any of it. But now, there are cruelty-free, delicious alternatives to all our favourite foods.
Falling in love with cooking food again..
And anything I can’t find I’ll make. I have become so much more in tune with what I’m eating, where it’s coming from and whether I need to buy it at all. When I started deconstructing the myths I held about food, or at least the questions I didn’t ask about food, I realised that I was so disassociated from food production and I was frustrated. There’s so much needless waste in the food industry. Plastic – why so much plastic? I find that veganism contributes to many other little acts of kindness, or small examples of daily activism – which I don’t think I would have found without taking the first step.
Another thing I found, after becoming a vegan is that I love cooking. I love experimenting, I love practicing, I love making mistakes and I love being in the kitchen. Personally, I had become lazy with cooking – everything was too easy. I wanted a new challenge and this was it. We limit our creativity so much when we don’t see cooking as a craft, as a labour of love. It’s such a simple pleasure which we deny ourselves. When I stopped being able to just buy things, I realised that I can make them myself without the dairy products. That’s what I do now. I make my own breakfast bars, biscuits, I make my own lunches. I no longer contribute to the fast-food, maximum-waste, on-the-go industry which makes our lives so much easier. And in avoiding this, I have found a hobby (cooking) which now dictates pretty much most of my spare time. And I save money! I mean, I don’t want to be one of those people that slates millennials because we definitely have it tough, but God only knows how much money I’ve saved by being more scrupulous with my lunch.
So, why wouldn’t you stay Vegan?
Listening to the “Stuff Mom Never Told You” podcast made me realise that half of the reason I resisted becoming a vegan before was because of the hassle you get. I cannot count the number of times I’ve had to legitimise my decision for other people – or face a barrage of questions about why this issue is more important to me than any other issue, or hear the non-argumental “I could never possibly be vegan” and “how do you LIVE without bacon and cheese”. It’s tiring having to constantly defend a decision which really has no impact on anybody else and to feel awkward and like you are making a scene in restaurants when you have to check the ingredients for things you can eat. But at the same time, I’m becoming increasingly confident about my opinions and my choice. People complain about preachy vegans and yet, people who argue with them on a daily basis just make them more and more certain of their opinions. Each argument I have, I find new resources, facts and figures to insist that I don’t want to eat meat or dairy anymore.
And if people get frustrated with me posting #vegan on Instagram – that’s their problem, because I love food, I care about the planet and I love being vegan!
Here is a list of our favourite cookbooks to keep you inspired in the kitchen:
How to go vegan – Veganuary
Deliciously Ella Every Day – Ella Woodward
Feed Me Vegan – Lucy Watson
Vegan 100 – Avant Garde Vegan
Thug Kitchen : The Offical Cookbook : Eat like you give a F*** – Thug Kitchen
And if you’re interested in vegan fashion and beauty, have a browse of our blog, we’ve got some fab articles surrounding these topics!
What’s your experience of Veganuary been? Are you planning on keeping it up? We’d love to know, comment below or tweet us @revival_collect