My journey to veganism has been a long and gradual one. I have always loved animals: crying over dead birds, clubbed seals and old dogs as a child, supporting animal charities as an adult, but I remained omnivore until 2013.
I have very rarely cooked meat, occasionally helping to prepare family meals. When I went to uni, I made the odd tuna pasta but otherwise it never occurred to me to cook non-vegetarian food. I am aware now that my discomfort around raw and or unprocessed meat wasn’t just about texture and smells, it was the knowledge, buried under years of social conditioning, that it was not just beef, bacon, chicken, salmon but cow, pig, er, chicken, salmon. (how do we stay alienated when even the names give us our cues?!).
In my late 20s, I started to live with my already vegetarian partner and I cheerfully offered to share a vegetarian household; it suited both my culinary skills and, increasingly, my tastes. In late 2012, Matt decided to go vegan and we worked together to start making our home SFV, in terms of food, clothes, cleaning products and toiletries, taking me from what I loosely called 80% vegetarian to 80% vegan, but still I lazily conformed as an omni when visiting family and sometimes when eating out too.
In March 2013, I attended Vegfest Brighton, with the full intention of being being inspired to further commitment to being veg*n. I attended an amazing talk by Melanie Joy (“Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows”) and it all made so much sense. On the train home, I told Matt I was going to be dairy dodging vegetarian going forward. I was really content with my decision, but the evolution continued and in Jan 2015, I got the help I needed to make the final big push – Veganuary.
Returning to work after Christmas, I would normally have eaten leftover mince pies and chocolate without even thinking about it. I didn’t think that the extra 20% effort as a vegan would be a big deal, but as well as “doing it for the animals”, it made me completely re-examine my relationship with food. Committing to Veganuary made me think about doing it for me too; my weight, my health. In that environment of positive change, I did some other good stuff too, being more inventive and healthy with my packed lunches, kicking a 25 year Diet Coke “addiction” and going to the gym. 4 months in, all are still going well (slowly losing a stone, bonus!); it’s testament to the power of changing a habit for a month to give yourself a better chance of sticking with it forever.
Veganuary is an amazing resource. Knowledge is power and the team provides useful information, wonderful recipes and this lovely supportive space where we are encouraged to do what we can, top tips are shared and experiences are explored without judgement. I can’t thank you all enough.