I became a vegan on the 5th of May, 2012. I don’t necessarily like the label ‘vegan’; what I’ve actually tried to adopt is a whole-foods, plant-based diet but that sounds complicated (not to mention pretentious!) so the ‘V’ label is easier to use when explaining what I eat to others.
Most people are surprised to learn that before the above-mentioned date, I was a meat-eater and not a vegetarian. The last time I ate meat was a hog roast at a friend’s wedding, on the 4th of May 2012!
Over the last few years I’ve changed my lifestyle quite a bit (just wait until we reach ‘Y is for… Yoga!), with health and happiness in mind. Part of this has involved considering what I eat and drink, as I’ve suffered from mild IBS symptoms for years as well as feeling tired all the time. I consumed a lot of online content about wellness and one day, on one of my go-to wellness websites, I came across a documentary called Forks over Knives, which drastically challenges the Western diet of consuming meat and dairy. I ordered the DVD from the USA and watching it changed my outlook on food completely. I decided to try out a vegan diet until Christmas that year, to see if I felt any better.
By December I’d definitely noticed some benefits (not to mention feeling smug – how do you know if there’s a vegan at a party? They’ll tell you!) and I didn’t miss my old diet so I decided to continue. While my ailments haven’t disappeared completely, I generally feel much healthier and I’ve surprised myself with an overwhelming love of vegetables – I’ve been ordering organic veg boxes from Abel and Cole for over a year now and I still get excited when my box arrives!
I’m not zealous about my food choices by any means. While I love animals, I’ve chosen to do this for health reasons and not as a moral decision (otherwise I would’ve already been vegetarian), although doing so has definitely raised my awareness of animal welfare and sustainability issues.
I’ve had a few ‘vegan holidays’, most notably on an all-inclusive holiday in Lanzarote last year, where I started out admiring the array of salads that I could enjoy all a week only to be found by day three tucking into the fresh fish and Camembert! I eat shellfish now and again in restaurants, but infrequently.
Eating out as a vegan is challenging. There are a few food establishments in Cardiff at which I love to eat – Milgi being my favourite – but in general the options for vegans can be poor, if not non-existent, especially when it comes to British fare.
I intend to post more about my experiences eating out as a vegan once I’ve finished this A to Z Challenge.