The first time I questioned the practice of eating meat was when I volunteered at a farm. Seeing real piglets, and knowing what was going to happen to them, left me feeling uneasy.
Going vegetarian was simple after finding many alternative products. Going vegan, however, seemed like a crazy thing to do to! “How could I live without cheese?” Later I found out about factory farming but I still felt like I had no choice… I wasn’t particularly good at cooking and relied on cheese and eggs a lot. Then I started meeting more and more vegan people, and eventually one day I asked “So… what do you eat then?”
I started by replacing cows’ milk with soya. It tasted different but I got used to it pretty quickly. I did struggle a bit at first with interesting sandwich fillings, and definitely overdid the hummus! I wasn’t keen on the vegan cheeses I tried so tried to eat foods that didn’t require cheese in the first place. My grandmother initially reacted with “But protein?”, and then sent me a vegan cookbook. This helped immensely. Learning new recipes that were designed to be vegan helped me stay on course, and taught me something useful at the same time. I learned more about cooking as a vegan than I ever had before.
Visiting family in Estonia for the summer didn’t go too well. I brought my cookbook and made a few dishes, which were received with great approval. But my willpower did lapse a couple of times and I considered it a victory to avoid any non-fish meat, especially at mum’s wedding. I did find some affordable sausage alternatives in one supermarket, but otherwise Estonia is about as non-vegan as it gets! I decided not to return unless I have a clear plan about what I can eat every day.
Since then, I have been strictly vegan. My happiest days were when I discovered better vegan cheeses! First, my vegetarian godmother made us lasagne with mozzarella Cheezly which melts pretty well! Lasagne was always a favourite of mine so I was glad to have it back as an option. Later, I bought some Violife from VX in London, and that first bite was a moment to remember – it tasted almost like actual cheese, maybe better! Luckily, I’m able to get it in York as well, so my once major objection to being vegan is completely gone. Vbites Cheatin’ slices and Granose burger mix help a great deal too. As for milk – almond, rice etc. give me better milk options than I ever had as vegetarian 🙂 I’ve also got a stash of vegan whipped cream and have made vegan versions of tiramisu and three different cheesecakes. Sweet!
In the end, the only things I still miss are boiled eggs, herring and salmon. But I have faith that, in time, there will be alternatives for them too.