If you’ve read Part One, then you now know what prompted me to make the change to a vegan lifestyle. However, a lot of people don’t particularly care about how intelligent pigs are or the reasons behind why you’ve chosen to stop buying animal products – they just want to know what you eat for dinner and whether you miss gorging on Kit-Kats and cheese twists, so this part is going to address all of that.
Anyway, on with the rhetorical grilling:
This is Part Two.
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How do you get enough protein?
As a meat-eater, I never once concerned myself with how much protein I was getting. I didn’t eat meat for every meal, sometimes I’d go a few days without it, and during those periods of time I never once stopped to think ‘Oh my lord, I haven’t eaten any animal flesh for three days! I must be running low on protein! Quick! Someone hand me a steak and a protein shake!’ How many people have you heard of, in western culture, who are protein-deficient? There are at least 542,000 vegans living in the UK in 2016 and, apart from a ludicrously biased article about a vegan woman who died whilst climbing Everest (because nobody has ever died trying to climb it before, that silly vegan!), have you heard of anyone who’s been hospitalised for not eating bacon? We get plenty of protein. Beans, pulses, lentils, quinoa, leafy greens, tofu, mushrooms… nature has a nice way of providing us with everything we could possibly need without the need to harm animals.
Where do you shop?
Unless you shop at Meat’R’Us, we probably shop at the same place. The same building, just with a few aisles bypassed.
Isn’t being vegan really expensive?
In short: no. I love berries. Blueberries are some of my favourite things on this planet, but they’re usually around £2 for a punnet. A lot of these recipes call for berries, and you may think "Mate… berries are expensive. I’m not buying them for every meal – I’m on a budget" and that’s completely understandable. However, I’m now going to use blueberries as a tool for explaining a bit about the myth of the ‘extortionate vegan lifestyle’.
How much would you spend on some chicken breasts? Or a block of nice cheese? I can almost guarantee that you won’t be spending the same amount on beans, lentils or chickpeas. Buying things dried and in bulk is a lot lighter on the purse strings, especially since most things have a forty-thousand-year-long shelf-life. So, I eat a lot of blueberries because once I’ve stocked up on the things I use a lot, I barely spend money on food apart from fresh fruit and vegetables… and bourbon biscuits.
Ok, I like animals and stuff but I like cheese more. What do you eat? Do you just eat… (turns up nose) vegetables?
This is one of the things that surprised me a lot: as a vegan, you don’t have to eat falafel and humous for every meal. I know – shocker. Honestly, I don’t even like humous, and most of the falafel I’ve had are pretty bland and dry. Just because you might be giving up some of the foods you love, it doesn’t mean you have to give up loving food. On the contrary, I have so much more passion for cooking and eating now. You’re forced to experiment and try new things, and the trick is: everything is replaceable. My old housemate absentmindedly offered me some of his garlic bread one night, then quickly apologised after realising that it contained butter. I friggin love garlic bread, so the next day I decided I would have garlic bread. I bought one of those bake-it-at-home baguettes from Tesco, mixed some chopped garlic and dried parsley into some dairy-free butter and made my own. My breath was absolutely foul afterwards but it was so worth it because it was much nicer than the shop-bought equivalent. You’ve just got to figure out how to work around little bumps in the road, and you never know – you might end up enjoying it. You can have your cake and eat it too – just make sure to check the label first.
Below, I’ve carefully compiled a list of some of my favourite meals along with the recipes. I’m no food-blogger so don’t expect some ridiculous Nigella-style Pantry Essentials or laborious step-by-step guides: these are just a few ideas that I think might tickle your pickle. All recipes are for one person, so use these (ridiculously vague) quantities to multiply by the amount of loved-ones you plan to cook for. As you can see, I’m a big fan of breakfast. Lunch-wise, I usually have whatever’s leftover from last night’s dinner as I’ve never been a huge sandwich-lover. If I’m out of the house at lunch then I’ve become obsessed with the Forest Foods wraps and pastries (which are sold in Spar, of all places) so they’re my current go-to. Dinner is where I get quite experimental and no two meals are ever usually the same, but I’ve tried my best to pin down a few for you to try out.
– Shrooms on Toast
– Nom Nom Yoghurt Bowl
– Slap-In-The-Face Energy Toast
– Blueberry Pancakes
– Hug-In-A-Bowl Porridge
– The Fry-Up After The Night Before
– Dream-Queen Salad
– "Vegans Don’t Just Eat Humous" Humous Toast
– Thai Green Curry and Hekakeh
-Roasted Onion and Squtternut Bosh Risotto
-Pigless and Painless Sausage Stew
– I-Can’t-Be-Arsed Summer Salad
I may have attempted to jazz up the names of some of these dishes but believe me, these are not meals that will break the bank or your back. I keep most of this stuff in my cupboards, in old jars to make me feel like Kirstie Allsopp. My dried chickpeas are in the jar that housed my final Nutella – how about that for kitsch? If the idea of going completely vegan for a while freaks you out then why not just try breakfast for a week? Cereal with soy, almond, coconut, oat or rice milk is just as quick and easy as with dairy, or why not have your toast with dairy-free butter and whatever spread you like (most are vegan-friendly). Baby steps here and there make a world of difference, so maybe breakfast is a gentle way to start.
Which foods do you miss the most?
Honestly? Nothing particularly. Obviously there were some initial cravings: Jaffa Cakes, Chocolate Fingers, Thai Sweet Chilli Sensations… but now, I’d just say I miss the convenience. The ease of walking into any restaurant or shop, no matter the size, and knowing that I’ll be able to eat something. Sometimes you’ve got to settle for a packet of crisps or a bowl of chips, and that’s ok. It just makes stumbling across a delicious vegan option all the more worthwhile. As a food-lover, it’s made me unleash a creative culinary beast that I didn’t know I had living inside me. I love a good challenge and after a few weeks of relying on jacket potatoes and cardboard-like veggie sausages, I began to get creative and prove that I could eat a cruelty-free version of almost everything I had loved before, if I wanted to.
Going vegan sounds too hard, I don’t think I have the will-power? (Ok, I know that’s not really a question but everyone says it…)
If you’re thinking of giving it a try then take it slow, cutting out one thing at a time, and don’t beat yourself up if you ‘slip up’. You’re changing the habit of a lifetime and that doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re in Tesco Express after a long day at work and all you want is a bag of Smarties chocolate cookies then you buy those cookies, enjoy them, and hop back on the bandwagon again when you’re ready. Whether you’re doing it for health, environmental or animal rights reasons, you’ve always got something to spur you on.
I’m kind of interested in what you’ve been rambling about and would like to find out some more, but from more reputable sources because you haven’t given me any facts. Where can I go for the hard-hitting stuff?
Wow! It’s so great that you’re interested, anonymous reader! If you want a few things to read or watch then take a gander at any of the following:
– Forks Over Knives
– 101 Reasons To Go Vegan
– The Little Book of Veganism by Elanor Clarke
– Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy
In Part Three, I’m going to introduce you to two of the most incredible, inspirational and compassionate people I have the privilege of knowing. I cannot wait to interview them and show the world what they’re made of, so keep your eyes peeled for the third and final instalment!