This post documents my personal journey from being brought up as a meat eater by my parents to my ethical and health based choice to be counted as a Vegan. Everyone’s story is different. My reason for sharing my story is my inability to understand how a person can stop being a Vegan, if they’ve made a stand to be counted as one, and return to eating animal products. Let me tell you why…
I was born and brought up in a typical, ordinary household, where we had a roast dinner on Sunday, that also made up a dinner of cold meat, chips and peas on Monday, and the remnants added to the curry on Tuesday. As a child, I always disliked hot meat.
It wasn’t until I left home, bumped into an old friend at a wedding reception, that I learned there was an alternative to eating meat and fish. I was in a position to cook for myself, but didn’t know how, so I signed myself up for an evening class in vegetarian cookery. I chose to give up eating living creatures when I committed to being a vegetarian. It wasn’t easy. Though I rarely ate out, omelettes were the usual choice available at a restaurant. Over the years I built up a repertoire of delicious vegetarian meals, sharing recipes in the school playground if asked. At that time, I believed I was doing my best for animals, the human family and the planet by not eating meat and fish. I’d read as widely as I could (before the internet) about the huge swathes of land and water given over to producing beef that could feed the world, and I wanted to be part of a movement that had that as a goal.
Almost fifteen years later, with my life maxed out with stress, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In order to stop the pain, I needed to change my diet. With little guidance, I struggled to work out what was causing the problem. Further tests revealed I was intolerant to wheat and dairy, as well as a list of other foods. Wheat and dairy were the main culprits, causing most of my pain, yet I’d spent years cooking and perfecting recipes that regularly featured both (hence the problem), and I struggled to cope with the change. I continued to cook for my family, while eating very little in an attempt to keep my pain small too.
Bellydance saved my life. I joined in a class at the age of 40 with my daughter, then aged 9. I knew if I wanted to dance, I needed to eat. I began to learn to put meals together for myself without wheat and dairy.
It took me years to get the balance of foods ‘right’ in my body, and I tended to eat less, just to be on the safe side.
Five years ago my partner and I moved to Wales. Around this time, one of our sons switched from vegetarian to veganism. He pointed me in the direction of videos and books, explaining how damaging dairy can be on the body. He lives with arthritis, has done since he was twelve, and he decided to remove dairy from his diet. The inflammation in his joints reduced significantly and he felt a lot better, so my partner and I took a step in that direction; I gave up the goat’s cheese I occasionally ate and the Magnum ice lollies (made with skimmed milk powder that didn’t affect me as much), and my partner cut down on cheese. The biggest change was adding more green vegetables to our diet and making them a much bigger part of our plate share. Eldest son and his fiancee joined in the plant based eating, switching from eating meat to focussing on plants. Recipe swapping was prevalent, though the youngsters were so much freer with trying new ideas, making up recipes as they went along.
January 2018 my partner and I gave up smoking nicotine. The hormones in my body went ballistic. Weight landed around my middle, I felt weighed down, depressed and anxious. I took up walking regularly. In the time we’d been in Wales, we’d watched documentaries and Youtube videos about the environment, knowing a crisis was coming. We’d always done our best to recycle and make as few trips in the car as possible. By December 2018 it was evident that the climate crisis was upon us. Everyone needed to do their best.
I knew eating a whole food, plant based diet was best for my body. I now know it’s best for the planet too. I can’t proclaim to care about the amazing planet we live on, if I don’t stand up and be counted as a Vegan. I know Vegan means different things to different people; it must do, or the vloggers who can quit so easily were lying all along. I was a vegetarian; I am now a Vegan, and for me that means not consuming animal products or derivatives, but it also means I live my life caring about the causes of all my actions; from driving to a supermarket for only three items, to buying a bag of salad in a plastic bag. I need to think, and make choices not just for me. I’m not perfect. I have a long way to go, but it’s no longer a good enough excuse to say ‘but plastic is so convenient’ or ‘but I prefer drinking from a plastic straw’.
The new array of Vegan products in the supermarkets made to taste like meat, are a step in the right direction for all meat eaters to join in Meat Free Monday, but small steps need to be converted to big strides quickly. We need celebrities to get on board now. I was appalled to read Dr Michael Moseley’s articles on why he won’t be going Vegan or giving up meat, and even more disheartened to read in the comments the hateful abuse against vegans. It’s time we woke up to what is really happening to our world, or there won’t be a world to wake up to. It’s time to care. The time has gone to say ‘I’ll think about it’. We need to act now, so why not join me on my Vegan journey?
I’m excited! I’ve thousands of new recipes and food combinations to explore. Plant based food tastes good and it does you good! My energy levels have definitely increased since the beginning of this year, and my excess weight is disappearing. Check out the recipes on this website – put in ‘plant based’ or ‘healthy eating’ into the search box and away you go. All recipes are tried and tested, and my tips and alternatives are listed for your convenience.
We already do clothes swaps within our tribe….why not organise a similar one with your friends? Use local swap sites rather than buying new. Recycle items yourself….the inside of a washing machine makes a fabulous fire pit!
We can do this! Let’s join forces to save our planet.