I became a vegetarian when I was 10, but since learning more about the horrors of the dairy and egg industries, I desperately wanted to become vegan. Sadly, for years I allowed myself to be swayed by the usual myths: 'You won’t get enough protein', 'You'll lose too much weight'... But thanks to information and support provided by blogs, forums and organisations, I learnt that being vegan is extremely healthy, cheap and surprisingly easy.
The Veganuary challenge was perfect timing for me as I had been ‘dipping my toe’ into veganism since early December 2013. But I was struggling a little with the usual hurdles – mainly cheese cravings! I found so much support and advice from other Veganuary followers – simple things like using nutritional yeast to give anything a cheesy flavour and how to replace pretty much any ingredient with a vegan alternative so no dish is off limits. My husband isn’t vegan but he loves the meals I cook, especially chillies and spaghetti bolognese.
I soon felt the health benefits from my new vegan diet. My skin cleared and felt smoother; my stomach was flatter and I stopped feeling bloated after eating. I also discovered that I had loads more energy. I have played roller derby (a fast paced, full-contact sport) for years and I need to be extremely fit and strong to compete. Part of me worried that I would struggle to build muscle and recover after particularly intense workouts but I really needn’t have worried; I actually find that my recovery is quicker now. I used to eat loads of cheese and dairy after training under the misguided belief that I was giving my body the protein it required but I just ended up feeling lethargic and bloated. Now I replenish my body with nutrient-rich, ‘clean’ foods such as beans, quinoa, nuts, soy and fresh fruit and veg and it is definitely thanking me for it! I still indulge in vegan junk food every now and then (can’t be an angel all the time!) and I love drooling over recipes on the Facebook page ‘What Fat Vegans Eat’.
I would recommend trying veganism to everyone; it’s the best decision I have ever made. I feel so much stronger, healthier and happier. Thanks to the internet, the barriers that used to make veganism difficult are no longer there. You can Google any recipe and download apps to find vegan restaurants and you can also find invaluable support from other vegans and organisations.
Supermarkets are also starting to take notice and are stocking loads more vegan-friendly foods and toiletries.
The health and beauty benefits of veganism are a definite bonus for me but the best reward is knowing that I’m actively opposing the cruelty inflicted by modern agriculture. It’s easy to think that the actions of one person are insignificant but through being vegan for one year, you save nearly 200 animals from unimaginable suffering and that is always going to feel better than cheese tastes!’