Zingy Chickpea Salsa

My Journey to Being Vegan – by Paul

I love animals! I’ve always eaten meat. Those two sentences might seems at odds with each other but do read on. I’m from a little seaside town so was raised on all the things from the sea, muscles, cockles, winkles, crab, eels and fish and I loved them all. The food growing up was brilliant and home cooked by my Mum who is amazing. When not eating sea food, family meals would be traditional roast dinners, pie and chips, pork chops etc… Good and hearty home cooked British staple food. I’m sure you get the idea.

I turned to vegetarianism in January 2017 after seeing where meat actually came from, how it went from moo-ing to marinating and most importantly how it was treated during it’s life. Which was bad.

Veganism happened later that year when I looked in to the egg and dairy industry. It was like a very grim and yet simultaneously highly illuminating lightbulb was switched on in my head. All of my ideas about what actually constituted food and how I ate changed overnight. I no longer saw eggs, butter, milk, cheese, bacon, smoked salmon, steak and scampi as food, just the product of unfairly treating animals and ultimately extinguishing their lives. The classics of “What about cheese?” What about Bacon?” seem so utterly ridiculous if you have actually seen the process of where they came from. I chose not to acknowledge this for most of my life because, well, I really liked eating meat and cheeses, who doesn’t right? But when I properly understood that the choices I made not only had an effect of the lives of animals but could also be part of a global shift towards plant based lifestyles and move away from meat and dairy farming there was no way I could ever go back.

I’m also absolutely potty about cooking. I am also British. During the meat years I have stood out in the rain under a tiny umbrella barbecuing a chilli and coriander stuffed seabass (whilst my at the time vegetarian family stood watching me with disdain from the toasty kitchen), made Thai crab cakes and king prawn skewers over a one ring camping stove in a field kitchen we assembled at a juggling festival, sought out the secret blend of eleven herbs and spices and tried again and again and again for weeks to get the batter just right for the chicken wings. Made my own 1/2lb fresh ground beef, onion, chilli and mushroom burgers by hand and eaten them in one go. What I’m saying here is the journey to produce delicious home cooked food has always been a part of my life, but I found that I was actually a pretty lazy cook when it came to using meat. As long as the dish had meat or fish to start with, I would build it all around that. Veganism opened the door to producing the best food I’ve ever cooked in my life. You have to get really scientific to achieve the results we’ve achieved. Although I cook meals using only veggies, pulses, beans and grains, I’m also constantly seeking to replicate the food I’ve eaten all my life but cruelty free and of course much better for my body! I appreciate the Vegan community can be divided when it comes to meat substitutes and indeed cheese substitutes but I feel that food should be about everyone finding their own way and expressing themselves personally. At the end of the day, I’ve done everything possible to remove myself from the farming industry and remove animal products and derivatives from my food and life and at the time of writing it seems the rest of the world is on the same trip, which makes it an excellent time to be Vegan.

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