I’ve been vegan since around March or April 2012. I thought I’d post a bit of a question-answer, based on questions I have been asked but before I do, if there’s one thing, one thing at all I’d like to tell the world about being vegan, it’s this. I never wanted my blog to be ‘preachy vegan’ but I gotta get this one out because I’m asked all the time in real life and sometimes it does my head in. Ready?
YOU DON’T NEED TO EAT ANIMAL PRODUCTS FOR PROTEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNN. Or iron, or calcium or whatever despite what tv ads tell us. Robert Cheeke and Billy Simmonds are vegan body builders and there are raw vegan body builders and atheletes too, winning titles and proving people wrong all the time:
Isn’t it really hard to be vegan?
Not at all! In fact, I’ve found it easier. I always considered myself an adventurous cook and love many different cuisines of the world. But that knowledge back then does not compare to the knowledge I’ve gained since. Knowledge is power, and I have absolutely no trouble or difficulty whatsoever with being vegan.
But aren’t you tempted by anything?
Nope. I’ve never had a single temptation. And to all those people who say that veg*ns secretly crave meat… well, there’s a lot I say to that but I prefer to keep my blog polite 😉 No, I do not crave meat or any other animal products. I recently had to help with the washing up at a barbeque and the animal fat on my hands and the smell made me feel sick. I had completely forgotten about the greasy washing up, the film of grease on the kitchen sink, the smell of it on tea towels and so on.
What about cheese? Don’t you miss cheese?
This is a popular question put to vegans. For me personally no, I don’t miss cheese at all. I do believe I have a dairy intolerance as I never felt good after cheese or yoghurt. I’d switched to soy milk years ago and never liked cows milk since and felt sick if I had some. But as for cheese, well I was very fond of a mountain of parmessan on pasta but I’m now more than satisfied with vegan alternatives. I did enjoy a good gorgonzola now and then but I was always mindful of fat, cholesterol etc and steered clear of the brie and camembert Husband always bought.
What about eggs?
I never really liked them much to begin with. I used them all the time in baked goods but I love vegan baking and the many ways of including egg alternatives. And I especially love that my children can eat cake batter without raw egg 🙂
Are you a vegan for health or ethical reasons?
When I began, it was definitely more health focused. Now, I’d say equal parts but leaning more towards ethics. I’ve learned too much about animal cruelty and suffering in the production of food to ever be tempted.
But what if you were trapped on island with no food but there were wild pigs…
Did you know this is one of the dumbest questions vegans are asked?
Do you feel better/worse?
Honestly, I feel much better when I eat well (as in, (vegan) whole foods). When I tried mostly-raw for three weeks I felt amazing. Since cutting out animal products specifically, yes I do feel better overall and less ‘heavy’. Even in to adulthood I’d get acne outbreaks and the odd boil-like lump now and then, but they have all disappeared.
However being vegan does not mean one necessarily eats zero crap. At the start I was a bit of a junk vegan, as I was so excited about vegan this-and-thats. Pies, cakes (especially cheesecakes), pancakes,waffles and so on. When I eat that kind of stuff, usually containing gluten or sugar or oil and I have too much of it, I don’t feel well. When I eat unprocessed, healthful foods I feel fantastic.
What have been some of your favourite discoveries?
Ooh! Nutritional yeast (nooch) which is the yellow stuff and not yeast you bake with. I love kale, especially dehydrated kale chips. Hemp protein, hemp seeds, milk made from different nuts are all fab. Making my own alternatives to things like Nutella, or treats like biscuits and muffins. Raw foods and places that serve raw. I love going to vegan places to eat and I also love veganising Greek dishes, though I have been slack with that and it was a reason I started this blog. Oops… And oh my goodness, did you ever guess there’d be an amazing number of egg alternatives?!?!
Is eating out difficult?
Well, yes and no. If I go out to eat I just stick with the places I know, or places I haven’t tried that I know do vegan. In Melbourne we have so many great options that finding a place to eat isn’t that difficult. It seems more vegan places are popping up, or more venues are offering vegan dishes. However there are some times when there really aren’t any food options for me if I want to eat out (hello Apollo Bay…). In those cases I just have to be better prepared. If I go out somewhere with a bunch of people that aren’t vegan, I have to look through menus in advance and work out what I can eat. But I used to do that anyway before I was vegan so it’s no big deal. There have been a couple of frustrating moments when people in a group said there’s no way they’re going to a vegetarian place.
Have you converted anyone?
My sister has eliminated meat from her diet which is a huge change for her, as it was for me. My mum is not cooking with meat as much (though she is still omni). Some of my friends and relatives have read The China Study, I don’t know if it has influenced them but they’re reading it and that’s great (if you haven’t read The China Study, I encourage you to do so or check it out on YouTube).
What are vegans… you know… like?
I’ve met vegans of all ages and backgrounds. There are vegan medical professionals, teachers, top level athletes, students, body builders, writers, parents, kids, grandparents, personal trainers, bankers, chefs, programmers, research scientists. When I attended the Ban Live Exports rally, there were great grandparents there holding up signs.
How has it been for your family?
For Husband, not so fun. He is an extremely fussy eater (not in his eyes, ha ha…) and really does not like a lot of what I make however this also applies to my pre-vegan cooking. He only eats about five different vegetables and prefers most of those raw. Which is great, but when it comes to cooking a veg stew or curry, I still have difficulty with what veggies to put in as he doesn’t like cauli, broccoli, pumpkin or sweet potato. He’s all about the potatoes.
As for the kids, Arthur (nearly 9yo) and DeeW (5.5yo) have adapted well. Arthur was initially extremely upset at the prospect of me not making him toasted cheese sandwiches or Hawaiian (ham-pineapple) pizzas. He swore he would not eat vegan pancakes if they didn’t have dairy milk, which was his favourite. Now, he looks through my vegan cookbooks (well, the cookies and pies ones) and has no problem whatsoever with vegan alternatives. As for the toasted cheese sandwiches, he barely remembers them and never asks for one. Oh hang on, yes he did ask the other day and I said it’s vegan cheese or no cheese and he didn’t argue. Yay to no cheese in the house!
The kids, especially Arthur, have gone from not trying anything to now willingly trying a bit of almost everything. They’re not quite there with lentils and chickpeas yet, but when you have children with sensory based food sensitives, it can be extremely difficult! Some of the healthier recipes that have worked wonders are:
– Oven baked tofu nuggets from Vegan Dad. I could not believe it when Arthur ate these in one go and asked for more. Folks, this was massive in my house. Truuuust meeee. I now make different versions using almond meal and nooch instead of breadcrumbs.
– Vegan sausage rolls from Where’s the Beef. A fantastic recipe! I now use oats instead of breadcrumbs and I also add cauliflower that has been finely chopped in the food processor.
– baked tofu that has a little maple syrup in the marinade (though I’m trying to cut that down).
– biscuits (cookies) made with nuts and dates as the sweetener.
– DeeW likes my tomato pasta sauce that is made with cooked sweet potato that gets pureed along with the canned tomatoes, lentils, onions and garlic.
Whew okay! I think that’s about it for my reflection! Thanks for reading 🙂
This blog post is dedicated to my buddy Tah-tahs who used to put up with my “but I still need meat for my proteeeeeeeeein” pre-vegan whines 😛