Veganism is on the rise. Some are just starting out on their new diet while others are hardened to the plant-based lifestyle, and if you’ve just become vegan it can be hard to know where to start. We spoke to three vegans at different stages of their journey about why they feel the movement is the way forward and if they’d ever go back.

Harry Mays

Six months and counting

Having been vegan for six months (and a vegetarian prior to that) Harry says he doesn’t think he’ll ever go back to eating animal products after finding a lifestyle that complements his ethical stance perfectly.

RC: What were the deciding factors in you turning to a plant-based lifestyle?

H: The main reason was definitely in order to make my lifestyle fit my morals as it had bothered me for a long time that I benefited from the suffering of animals. I consider myself a pacifist and believe violence against any being, human or not, is wholly unnecessary. But there are also proven benefits to the environment, like lessening levels of pollution and deforestation, that being vegan can help with. The health benefits were more of an added benefit for me than a deciding factor.

RC: Is there a food you really miss?

H: I’ve found that it’s been so easy to find or make alternatives for any food I can no longer eat or drink, whether it’s meat, cheese or things like chocolate. So I’ve found it extremely easy to convert to veganism and don’t actually miss any foods!

RC: What’s been the biggest challenge for you?

H: I find it quite awkward eating in restaurants who don’t particularly specialise in vegan cuisine as there’s often little choice for me so I have to make sure they know what it means to be vegan and make my meal suited to me which sometimes makes me quite anxious and apprehensive to eat in these restaurants.

RC: Do you feel healthier since going vegan?

H: I definitely feel healthier, my skin has become considerably clearer and body much more trim. It’s amazing how much less lethargic I feel as I have much more energy to get on with activities.

RC: Favourite vegan dish?

H: Any dish with mushrooms in it is a favourite of mine.

RC: Best vegan cookbook?

H: ‘Vegan: the cookbook’ by Jean-Christian Judy is an incredible book with a massive variety of simple and complex plant-based dishes from all around the world.

RC: Favourite vegan restaurant?

H: It’s lovely to see more and more restaurants release vegan options but I usually visit Canterbury as there’s a lot of variety like the vegan pub ‘The Monument’ who do vegan burgers, kebabs etc or the healthier lunch bar ‘Kitch’ who cook fresher meals with more veg so I have a choice depending on my mood! See more about the food and drink in Canterbury here

RC: How do people react when you tell them you’re vegan?

H: Many people ask if I’m the ‘type of vegan’ who enforces their views on others which I find highly frustrating due to the fact it simply shows people’s intolerance to the opinion of vegans. The majority of advertisements I see are trying to make me consume non-vegan products so I feel this criticism of vegans expressing an opinion is extremely backwards.

RC: What do you think is the biggest misconception about veganism?

H: Many people seem to think we have little choice when it comes to food but there is a tremendous amount of food that is vegan and a massive variety of meals you can include them in that I unfortunately wasn’t exposed to as a meat eater or even vegetarian.

RC: Do you think the vegan movement is becoming bigger, particularly with younger generations?

H: Definitely. I think social media is being used beneficially to spread the idea of veganism and how good and easy it can be for a limitless number of causes, attracting a lot more young people. I’ve found it’s difficult for older generations to understand my lifestyle which is understandable to an extent as it’s only become prominent in more recent years.

 

Harry’s typical day of food

Breakfast: Fruit, toast or cereal

Lunch: Sandwich, wrap, pasta or salad

Snack: Fruit or vegan chocolate

Dinner: Any dish from ‘Vegan: the cookbook’ by Jean-Christian Judy

 

 

Rachel Stone

The Veganuary try-out

Rachel is determined to stick to a plant-based lifestyle after trying it out as part of Veganuary. Now a few weeks in, she’s surprised how easy it’s been to switch from just being veggie.

RC: Why did you want to try a plant-based lifestyle? 

R: For me, it’s about the animals. I love animals and I don’t want them to have to suffer for my sake. The planet is also a key factor, as a plant-based lifestyle drastically reduces your carbon footprint.

RC: You’ve only just started as part of Veganary, how’s it going? 

R: Good thanks! I was already vegetarian, so the main switch for me has been giving up dairy. I’ve found it quite easy as I’m already used to making meatless meals.

RC: Is there a food you’re really missing? 

R: Cheese! I love cheese, all kinds… that’s probably the one I miss the most.

RC: What’s been the biggest challenge for you? 

R: If I’m out and about and need to eat something quick, there aren’t always vegan options. I live in Brighton, so there are better options than most cities, but often if I’m at the office or in a remote location, there won’t be any vegan options for lunches. It takes a bit of planning.

RC: Favourite vegan restaurant?

R: Iydea in Brighton – it’s got a varied mix of vegetarian and vegan, and it’s nice because it’s not always the same. You can mix and match between salads and main courses, and experiment with different flavours.

RC: Do you think you’ll see any changes to your health?

R: To be honest, I don’t think I’ll see any change to my body or mood because I’ve given up meat for almost 2 years. I also don’t think I’ll feel healthier. There’s a misconception that a vegan diet is healthy. While it’s a lot healthier in comparison to someone who eats a lot of red meat, there are heaps of unhealthy vegan foods, that contain saturated fats and salt (oven chips are my main weakness). There’s also a tendency to fill up on carbs in order to feel fuller after eating. Just being a vegan isn’t enough to feel healthy – you need to make sure you eat lots of fruit and veg.

RC: What do you think is the biggest misconception about veganism? 

R: That vegans need meat protein to be healthy. It’s just not true! You can get protein from nuts, beans, lentils, wholegrains… everywhere!

RC: Favourite vegan dish?

R: I make a really good vegan curry with coconut milk, chick peas, fresh basil and cherry tomatoes.

RC: Favourite vegan cookbook?

R: I recommend ‘Keep it Vegan’ by Aine Carlin

RC: Do you know many other vegans? 

R: Yes, living in Brighton it’s hard not to! A few of my friends are vegan including my boyfriend, which is good as we can cook together.

 

Rachel’s typical day of food

Breakfast: Two slices of wholegrain toast with peanut butter and a multi-vitamin drink

Lunch: Usually a meal deal (falafel and hummus wrap, popcorn and smoothie)

Snack: Banana

Dinner: Brown rice (great source of protein) with a homemade casserole or curry

 

 

Eliza Massey

Devoted vegan

Having been vegan for just under two years, Eliza is in love with her plant-based lifestyle. She says she could never go back to living in a way that hurts animals and the reduction in her carbon footprint can only be seen as another ethical benefit. In fact, she loves veganism so much, she’s opened a sanctuary for animals who have managed to escape the food industry (@the_little_sanctuary).

 

RC: What were the deciding factors in you becoming vegan?

E: I remember clicking on a link about an undercover investigation of a commercial pig farm that was a five minute drive from me and I was completely heartbroken seeing the images and videos that popped up. Pigs were living in the most terrible and disgusting conditions you could ever imagine.  The investigation was from an organisation called ‘animal aid’. I dropped them an email asking why the farm hadn’t been shut down by trading standards or the RSPCA, and their reply shocked me. It turns out, that farms like that are the industry standard and these organisations simply don’t care, or have little power. If they did shut them down, they would have to shut down many farms in the UK. I did more research about the way different animals are kept in the UK – dairy cows, meat chickens, ‘free range’ egg chickens, turkeys, pigs. There were so many undercover investigations from organisations such as Viva and Compassion in World Farming showing animals suffering in unbelievably sick conditions. After that I went vegan because I couldn’t look at animal products the same way again.

RC: Is there a food you miss?

E: I used to miss cheese but through experience and trying different products I’ve found vegan cheeses I really like so I’m pretty set now! Even supermarkets are getting on board and bringing out really tasty vegan cheese. I splash out when I go to vegan festivals and get special artisan cheese which is even better. I also had a really bad craving for battered cod recently but someone took me to a vegan fish and chip shop in Bristol (Matter Fast Foods) recently and it sorted me out!

RC: What’s been the biggest challenge?

E: People don’t understand how bad it is for intensively farmed animals in our country and they don’t understand how wonderful farm animals are. A lot of people try and make the same tired excuses, and choose not to know where their food comes from which can be upsetting.

RC: Biggest misconception about veganism?

E: That vegans are unhealthy, and that you don’t get the right nutrients or enough protein on a vegan diet. It’s completely false and when people try and tell me that I just want to scream! I just can’t stand the same tired arguments like ‘plants feel pain’, ‘it’s the circle of life’, ‘bacon tho?’ etc.

RC: Have you seen any benefits from going vegan?

E: I sleep better, I’m happier, less stressed and hormonal, I’m fitter, I’ve lost weight, and I used to have bad chest pains which have disappeared. It’s also made me a lot less anxious and cleared up my skin.

RC: Favourite vegan dish?

E: I love Italian food so I eat loads of vegan pizza and pasta. I make a really good vegan mac and cheese using blended seasoning, carrot and potato (it genuinely tastes cheesy!).

RC: Favourite vegan restaurant?

E: I love Zizzis – they do vegan pizza and they also do really nice desserts! I also love ‘vx’ in Bristol which is a vegan junk food shop. I’m always there when I’m hungover! They do amazing burgers and shakes.

 

Eliza’s typical day of food

Breakfast: Oatmeal, toast or a smoothie (green smoothies are great because you can put loads of veggies and superfoods in).

Lunch and dinner: I love cooking and veganise all my favourites from before I was vegan. Recently I’ve made toad in the hole with Linda McCartney sausages, and carbonara using cashew milk.

 

If you’re thinking about turning vegan, we hoped this was helpful! If you’re vegan and you have some tips or recipe ideas, we’d love to hear them – tweet us @revival_collect or tag us in your vegan food pics on instagram @revival.collective