Going Vegan: Big Bang versus Stealth

Do you see the world differently to everyone else? Do you see the people around you clueless or unsympathetic to the cruelty inflicted upon animals? If you do, then it’s time to make that change.

For the longest time an idea was taking shape in my mind. How can I reconcile my love for animals versus the food that I eat? It didn’t make sense.

Are you thinking the same?

There was only one answer for me: going vegan.

If you’re unsure about veganism, but don’t know where to start, let me help. I will try and keep this brief and to the point, but  if there’s anything else you need or have any questions please feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to help.

In this post, I am recommending two approaches for switching to a vegan diet.

BIG BANG

Decide. Have you made your decision? Are you or is everyone in your household  fully on board? If everyone needs more convincing, you will have to lead the way.

Pick a date. A date in the not too distant future where you and/or your family decide that you will no longer eat meat of dairy. By setting a date, it will become real. It’s a very empowering feeling as you’re taking control and decisive action. Say the words, out loud. “On Monday, I shall become vegan” or why not make a pledge “On Monday, I embark upon my vegan journey. By doing so will do my bit to help end animal suffering, become healthier in the process, reduce climate change, etc.” Adapt to suit your reasons for becoming vegan.

Purge. Get rid of all meat and dairy products in your house. Give them away. Here’s where you’ll start publicising the fact that you’re going vegan. If this is new to the people around you, prepare for some interesting conversations, even resistance. To quote comedian Dave Chapelle, in these types of situations people tend to ask one question “What’s going to happen to me?” Maybe more on that in another post (the views of others, not the Dave Chappelle quote).

Re-new. Find vegan recipes. Find meat replacements if you need to, there’s lots of choice out there as veganism becomes more mainstream.

Go shopping.  Get the stuff you need for your first week at least from the recipes you have discovered.

Go Vegan. Start you vegan diet. Plan your week. Cook up some recipes and prepare meals / lunches in advance. Remember you’re taking an amazing step towards living a cruelty-free and empathetic life, be proud.

Find places to eat out. When you’re fed up cooking or just like eating out, prepare for the world of eating out vegan style. I have developed an appreciation for the simplicity and simple foods. If you like in a small town, eating out vegan might be a challenge, however I’ve discovered in cities like Bristol, England there’s so much choice.

Try an app like HappyCow to find vegan places to eat near you. If there are none, call places anyway, they might have vegan options, but not advertised. It might be something that the pub or restaurant has been wanting to look into offering but not had the opportunity, your call could be that prompt.

Stop buying animal products. This is not something you won’t achieve overnight, but start slowly, don’t get overwhelmed and deem it all too hard.

Depending upon on your current lifestyle, this transition may or may not be easy. I was lucky, I had huge support from my wife as she became vegan at the same time.

STEALTH MODE

Here’s where you will operate under your families radar if not everyone is rushing to embrace this. Okay, it’s a bit sneaky.

Replace butter, margarine and soft cheeses. I recommend this first as these are easy items to replace and won’t impact the taste of meals too much.

Replace sweet yogurts. Alpro are creating some delicious dairy alternatives, however their plain yogurt is still a bit too sweet for my liking. This is easily done and you won’t notice the difference.

Find meat replacements. Sausages, hot dogs, burgers are turkey can all be easily replaced by looking out meat alternatives in various supermarkets. Here in the UK, Sainsbury’s have just introduced some amazing new products, checkout the Shroomdogs, THE best sausage alternatives we’ve found.

Replace minced beef with with Quorn or similar soya-based products. If you have a soya allergy replace minced meat dishes with brown lentils. Try making a mushroom and ale pie, you will be surprised. Recipes we have tried are on their way.

Try different milks. We started with rice milk and then progressed onto try every other type of milk in between out there to finally settle on Alpro Oat Milk. I’ve witnessed happy non-vegans, surprised at the great taste of this in tea, which has always been our litmus test.

Replace cheeses. This comes last as I used to love strong, mature cheddar and I haven’t found a good alternative, yet. The best one we’ve found is Violife’s Mediterranean Style Block. Fry this up and you get a strong cheese taste. Another trick is to put Marmite / Yeast Extract into your vegan cheese sandwiches and you can re-create the taste of strong cheese.

I’m working on a meal plan that will take the effort out of planning your first week of switching to becoming vegan.

TIPS:

The biggest fear I think we all might suffer is the fear or missing out so it’s nice to make each special in any way you can.

Chop up some strawberries  and serve with dairy free ice-cream, maybe drizzle with some mango and passion fruit coulis.

Make fresh salads. We found great ones in the BOSH recipe book. Check out the South West Bowl salad. Anything you can do to make yourself and your family feel spoiled, do it as it will really help with the transition.

So I tried to keep this brief, as I could say so much more about each area, but I’ll save that for later posts.

Thanks for reading. I hope this helps.

 

 

Being Vegan – The First 18 months Of Eating Out

WARNING. Some ranting here.

Catering for vegans, you would think with all the options nowadays that it wouldn’t be painful. Here’s a list of the good, the bad and the downright shameful eating out experiences that we’ve enjoyed/endured for your reading pleasure.

There are some chefs and restaurants that think that taking away the meat and the dairy makes the dish vegan. Yes okay, technically it does, but we long for the day for some thought and imagination.

  • We called ahead, but all we got were cold vegetarian sausages in a bap at The Lock Inn, Bradford-on-Avon.
  • Nandos in Trowbridge was a pretty shameful experience. A mushroom in a bun topped off with the world’s worst service thank you very much.

Maybe this was it, the best it was ever going to be? The pinnacle of our vegan eating out experience? The best was yet to come.

  • Creamed Tea at the Mecure Hotel in Bristol for a company event. Being the only vegan I guess they thought they would offer, biscuits, strawberries and a nutty bar. That day, I had volunteered to take photographs for the event so I was pre-occuppied by getting some nice images… of everyone else enjoying scones, jam and cream. Well, I guess I asked for all this did’t I?

There is a sense that if we upset the vegans enough, that they’ll just give in and start eating meat and dairy again. Or we just don’t know what being vegan means, and we don’t have the means to find out.

  • December 2017 and we are at a Christmas Do organised by Wiltshire Council. I felt bad about complaining about this, especially since it was a free event but something was really nagging at me. In the interest of fairness and equality I finally thought, I had to point out there ARE vegetable spreads available in shops so you don’t just have to slap some cabbage and leaves into white bread and call it a vegan sandwich!
  • The Carpenters Arms, Lacock, different place, same sandwich concept.

Let’s restore some much needed balance to the Force. Here’s a list of the best places we’ve found to eat vegan here in the South West. There is hope.

Be warned, its not a very long list (because we just can’t handle the disappointment and heartbreak).

  • The Cafe Italiano in Trowbridge is an authentic Italian restaurant and never disappoints. They have been gracious enough to allow us to bring in our own vegan cheese to melt onto their pizza. Or get an extra topping instead of cheese.
  • The Lamb On the Strand in Semington provided the most imaginative and generous buffet ideas to date, we were blown away with their hospitality.
  • Valeroso Lounge in Trowbridge has a dedicated Vegan menu. I’m sure you can feel the delight emanating from this screen.
  • The Codfather, Trowbridge – Chips and THE best curry sauce.

And that’s it.

You can imagine how ridiculously stressful eating out becomes, when it should be the opposite. Over the next 18 months I promise to venture further out and try new places.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

Coming Soon. Take-aways.