When i decided to become vegan, I thought I had got the hardest part sorted. I already didn’t have very much dairy as I was lactose intolerant, and eggs hurt my tummy… I only had lactose free cheese and could live without meat, so, easy peasy I thought. Just go to Tesco, buy their vegan cheese, buy all the quorn, figure out what the hell to do with quinoa and off we go! ( I still dont know what the hell to do with quinoa, Sainburys sell the best vegan cheese and cheese spread, and Tesco and Asda sell Violife. Which isall you need to know to begin with. Get it, make a sandwich, read on. – check the label on the bread though, they sneak milk in there too! And i’m not just talking about the Milk Roll! I DONT KNOW WHY!!!!!)
Now, in principle, that kind of is it. However, what i was totally and utterly unprepared for is the emotional impact that becoming vegan brings with it. Once you peek behind the curtain, and you find out what becomes of the baby cows, and the mummy cows and the baby boy chicks, and the adult chickens and omg, Vivisection, your heart will be over run with pain and anguish. I found it especially difficult to give up cheese (which most vegans i find have this same problem), so my solution was to watch Earthlings. Now, i recommend that everyone watches Earthlings (and Cowspiracy and Forks over Knives. Just get some knowledge behind you). But i also recommend you do it with a support group and a bottle of whisky because that shit will take you down. Its been two years since i watched Earthlings, and it took me a week to watch it, and i cried solidly for that week, and held pepsi so close and sobbed all over his fur. And it is still something that i think about now when the urge for a cheese pizza overwhelms me. And it still breaks me in half.
I had my blinkers ripped of my eyes so suddenly, and i had no idea it was going to happen. I was an emotional wreck for at least a month. Even now, i will be sat on Sunday morning, shnaffling breakfast and watching Sunday Brunch and it will suddenly hit me again what they are eating. What they are supporting, and i don’t understand how people don’t know. How they aren’t aware. But of course people don’t know. Where do you see it? That’s the biggest question of all….Millions of animals are slaughtered every day… but where are they? You don’t see them, unless you go looking you wont see the trucks, or even know where the slaughter houses are, and that’s the biggest cover up of all. Factory Farming. it is a cruel and unusual practice and that’s why its all done under cover. To keep us in the dark. What we don’t know wont hurt us right? But it hurts all those other animals in ways i am not going to go into here, this is not the time or the place for that chat.
So, there i was, with my quorn, which i later found out wasn’t vegan, so that first month i was only vegetarian, but still, i did my very best. I learnt how to cook lentils. What to actually do to vegetables to keep them juicy and yummy rather than squishy and tasteless… I made so many bad lasagnas… they were burnt on the top and the pasta was raw, the lentils weren’t cooked, i forgot to put the pasta in them and they ended up just being a weird cheesy vegetable stew (which wasn’t that bad actually!!!). I also learnt to make a kick ass cheese sauce for lasagna and nachos, out of potatoes and carrots! I shit you not! Hold onto your wine, because that recipe is winging its way to you.. after i’ve opened this wine….
I learnt that when you make a chocolate cheesecake in summer, and the binding agent is coconut oil, you need to keep it refrigerated, because that stuff melts at room temperature, and when you peel of the lid to your colleagues at lunch time hoping to wow them, you really just present them with a date crumble and runny dark chocolate sauce…!
(now this stuff, is shamazing! melt it and drink it, its like a McDonalds chocolate milkshake!)
I learnt that i love chickpeas, and not just in hummus, but in a spicy African curry, with crunchy creamy hazelnuts and coconut basmati. I learnt that i didn’t need a sour cream for my fajitas, because avocados bring all i need (to everything as it happens. Avocados kick all the butts!) I learnt that Swedish Glace ice cream is fabulous and coconut milk whips up beautifully to add a whipped cream topping to your hot chocolate, making it taste like a Bounty Bar!… I learnt that Co-op jam doughnuts are vegan, and 75p for a bag of 6, or £1 for two bag…. i further learnt that i can eat a bag of 6 in under 4 minutes in the car journey home. The more you know!
I learnt that there is no substitute at all for Walkers cheese and onion crisps, so you just have to mourn that loss… But you can still have all the spicy beefy crisps, because they are flavoured with paprika, and prawn cocktail! I learnt about what my body needs to be healthy and where to get it, which foods contain protein, and amino acids, and that i can get all the B12 i need from Tesco’s own brand soya milk, which is fortified with B12 and is only 59p. I didn’t actually have to take out a loan to cover the costs of all the brews i require on a daily basis!
I learnt about what was happening to the bees, and cried all over again, and then spent hours planting crocuses where ever i could so they would have a lovely breakfast when they wake up, and lavender everywhere else (but a lot of the lavender was because Pepsi cat loved to lie in it outside, and watch the bumble bees!)
(gratitous picture of pepsi cat! ♥)
I also learnt the catch phrase of the vegan. The one that is sung out in biscuit aisles, and crisps aisles, and potato waffle aisles and, most heartbreakingly, wine aisles……
I mean, why the hell is there milk in my wine? Someone needs to tell the king of France that this shit is going on! (yes, i know there is no king in France, keep your wig on!)
And finally here’s the thing. You are doing an amazing thing. But, there may be a day when you reach for a cheese pizza, and eat it. And its ok. ok? you might grab a chocolate bar, or eat a magnum, or an egg mayonnaise sandwich….and its ok. In a world that is made for the convenience of the omnivore, sometimes you are just too damn tired, and stressed and busy and overwhelmed, and these things happen. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Acknowledge it, put a line under it, and move on. Its NOT your defining moment. You are swimming against the grain and against a lifetime of set behavior. What matters is to pick yourself up, dust your self off, put your awesome vegan smile back on and carry on. Being you. The most authentic and truthful you that you can be in a world that can be hard, as well as fabulous. In the words of Dory, just keep swimming!
All my love, Polly xx