I've now been vegan for a whole five months, which is so much longer than I planned - I started in January 2020, with the aim of just doing Veganuary. But here I am, still vegan and loving it! I've been thinking a lot recently about how much of a learning curve it has been, and how the lifestyle has really impacted my health for the better. Here are the biggest things I've learnt since going vegan.
A vegan diet is far from limiting
Given that the main premise of veganism is cutting out animal products, you’d assume that it would be a somewhat limiting diet. Aside from not being able to eat a slice of cake at work every so often I’ve really found that this isn’t true at all.
Since going vegan I’d say that my diet has become more varied and colourful, and my relationship with food has got better. Cooking is more fun now, and I find myself looking forward to every meal rather than quietly praying for a takeaway instead. I’m eating food I’d never actually tried before, such as maple syrup and tofu, and I’m incorporating so many ingredients into my cooking that you’d never usually find in my kitchen – lentils, cashews, and edamame beans, to name a few. Plus, it’s allowed me to eat all those foods that I absolutely love but don’t usually buy because my partner doesn’t like them. It’s a win all round!
Mistakes will be made, and that’s okay
Being the perfectionist that I am I was insistent that I wasn’t going to slip up during Veganuary. And then I did, on the first day, by absent-mindedly licking a spoon used by my step-daughter to make non-vegan cakes. I was gutted, but then I made another mistake later on as I ate something that had egg in it, and it wasn’t until last week that I realised I’d been eating pittas with milk powder in the whole time (turns out that one supermarket selling vegan pittas does not equate to all of them doing so).
I made some mistakes but the world didn’t stop. It was fine. I felt a bit sad, but I realised pretty early on that mistakes will happen – they even happen to people who have been vegan for years. It doesn’t make me any less of a vegan, but rather serves as a lesson to watch out for in the future. If you’re currently transitioning to veganism and make a mistake then don’t beat yourself up about it!
So many arguments against veganism are based on falsehoods
Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation going around and this stops people from trying veganism as they tend to believe it (myself included). Doing lots of research from websites, documentaries, and speaking with long-term vegans helped me to separate fact from fiction, and I’ve been able to bury some of those myths that I truly believed were real. Here are a few of my favourite arguments against veganism that I’ve discovered are completely untrue:
“You won’t get enough protein on a vegan diet”
The meat industry has been telling us for years that meat is the best sort of protein, so it’s understandable that people think you need it to meet your daily protein quota. It’s not true though… Where do you think those animals get their protein from? So many vegan foods are high in protein, from vegetables like peas and spinach to pulses like beans and chickpeas. A portion of black beans has more protein than a chicken drumstick, and a cup of lentils contains more protein than a hamburger! (source: Eating Well)