Hi I’m B. I have been vegetarian since I was around 16 years old. Quite a few members of my rather large family are vegetarian and vegan, so I grew up in a household where that was normal, and where it was also normal for a Sunday lunch to include meat, vegetarian and vegan options!
I was never a huge fan of meat growing up, and in my teenage years I started thinking more and more about the appalling treatment of animals in the meat industry. Eventually I realised that I no longer felt comfortable eating other creatures or supporting the industry that process them as foodstuffs. A little unsure how to start, on the excellent advice of my brother, I tried out being vegetarian for a week – and never looked back. It felt so right, I had more energy and it made me very happy.
A passion for cooking
I have always enjoyed cooking, Mum taught me from an early age and soon I was cooking for all the family. Around the same time as choosing to go vegetarian, I started working in a local restaurant, as a pot wash initially, which turned into a brief career as a chef for the next few years.
When I met my husband, Paul some years later, he was a confirmed meat eater. Although I secretly wished he would consider vegetarian, I never pressed the point as I believe everyone has to come to that decision on their own, and it is much better to show by example than preach a lifestyle. However he loves animals and often talked of going veggie, and one year he decided to take the plunge.
Steps to becoming vegan
This renewed my enthusiasm in all things plant based, and I realised I had always truly wanted to become vegan, but felt worried how to do it, as many people do. Paul and I started researching it and we realised that the dairy industry was just as bad, if not worse than the meat one and made the decision to give up daily products. It turned out it was really easy!
The big one for me was finding a non-dairy milk that worked in tea. I run on tea and the thought of not having that in my life was simply unacceptable. I know a lot of non-dairy milks work in coffee, but I am not a fan and most of them didn’t seem to work the same in tea. So we took some advice from a vegan friend and bought one of each of the different types out there to test (expensive in the short term, but worth it in the long run). Through trial and error we found that Oat Milk (in particular Alpro Oat Milk) was delicious in tea and after the first mug or two I couldn’t tell the difference between that and cows milk anymore. Non Dairy tea was no a thing!
What about Cheese?!
With that enormous hurdle over, there were just two other barriers in my way – cheese and eggs. I loved them both, we eat eggs almost every day and cheese with most meals. initially we decided to concentrate on cheese, so we bought a selection of different vegan ‘cheeses’ and tried them. The results went not great. Most of them tastes very plasticky, artificial and not at all like cheese. So, following some more great advice from another friend, we gave up cheese altogether for a few weeks. After an initial adjustment period, it was no where near as hard as I thought it would be and very soon I found I didn’t miss it at all. I couldn’t believe it. Cautiously we tried some of the vegan cheese again, and now, due to the length of time since we had had ‘real’ cheese, the taste was actually rather nice. there have been a lot of new vegan cheese options released recently and they are getting better all the time so just get out a try them to see what you like.
The other saving grace was nutritional yeast. If you haven’t heard of it before it is a yeast product that comes in dried flakes that adds an amazing cheesy, nutty flavour to dishes and I can’t remember how we ever made food tasty before we discovered it!
So finally eggs…
The last piece of the puzzle for me was eggs. We had now been dairy free for several months and describing ourselves as non dairy vegetarians. Around a year ago we decided to go for it and go fully plant-based. Eggs had started to seem very rich and not as appetising any more, and in the end it was very easy to leave them behind.
Plant Based People
Moving to a fully plant-based diet was a slow process for me, and a hugely important step that I am overjoyed to have made. Since going vegan Paul and I have learnt so much and got really excited about the new foods and techniques we have discovered, which has led us to starting this blog, so we can share our family recipes and hopefully provide some inspiration to anyone looking to go vegan themselves.