Food, Life

Observations from a year of Veganism

what happens in one year of being vegan

It’s one year since I went vegan. In January of 2017 I gave Veganuary a go (more on that here), and having carried on with it after the month had ended and then some, my first vegan birthday has now been and gone. Vegday? Vegthday? Nope, doesn’t work. It’s been a positive change for me, for sure, but hasn’t been wholly without it’s difficulties and quirks.

In the 12 months I’ve been doing this I’ve seen/heard/learnt some interesting, enlightening and in some cases rather strange things, and today’s post is going to be a random selection of those. A disclaimer, before we begin; I’m fully aware that this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that sometimes just the word ‘vegan’ is enough to make people run a mile in the opposite direction. It is, however, my cup of tea, and hey – this is my blog, so this is what I’m going to write about today. I’m in no way trying to ‘force my opinions’ on anyone – this is just a random selection of different things I’ve noticed, some of which will poke a little fun at no one in particular in an entirely lighthearted way, and hopefully it won’t be wholly abhorrent whatever your eating habits happen to be.

With the disclaimers out of the way, here are some observations from my first year of Veganism:

1. Food manufacturers will try to put milk or milk powder in everything. I mean, salt and vinegar crisps? Come on people.

2. It’s likely that one of two contrasting assumptions about your health will be made when you say you are vegan. Sometimes you are assumed to be super healthy, filling your body with wholesome superfoods and exercising on the daily; this can make them look at you slightly suspiciously,  because how can you be carrying that extra roll around the stomach area if you’re meant to be a health goddess?! Alternatively, you’re assumed to be super unhealthy. If this is the case, it’ll be one of two things; either you’re gorging yourself on bread, pasta and sugar, or you’re subsisting purely on bean mulch and therefore probably rather frail.

3. That whole ‘and since being vegan I think meat tastes and smells disgusting’ thing either takes a while or is a bare faced lie. (Or, as is probably the case, varies entirely from person to person). Big admission; if I smell bacon, I want to eat bacon. If I smell cheese, I want to eat cheese. They smell delicious. Obviously I don’t, but I often still think I’d very much like to.

4. Shopping for winter accessories is hard when you’re avoiding fabrics made from animal products. It took me THREE MONTHS to locate a wool free beret.

5. There are some eating establishments who really need to train their staff on dietary requirements, since they are apparently quite unable to distinguish one from another. ‘Excuse me, could you tell me what on the menu is suitable for vegans please?’ ‘Err…I…the gluten free ones are on the back…’

6. Not sure if our parents realised at the time, but 90s kids parties were a pretty good place for Veganism. Frazzles and party rings are both free from animal products and you better believe I’ve eaten a lot of them over the past year. The sausage rolls and Colin the Caterpillar cake not so much, but every little helps and all that.

7. Some people seem to have literally no idea where their food comes from. Here are some things that people have suggested I can eat; chicken stock, butter, prawns, mayonnaise, tuna, tuna mayonnaise…

8. Some people seem to literally have no idea where their food comes from. Here are some things that people have suggested I cannot eat; bread, chips, nuts, pasta, potato.

9. I had literally no idea where some of my food came from. Here are some things I’ve gone to eat; sour cream, mini cheddars, yoghurt… (in case you’re interested, I realised about the cheddars and the yoghurt in time, but shoved a dorito with sour cream into my stupid gob before a friend reminded me that you know, sour cream is in fact an animal product…)

10. The above three points are just examples of something I notice all the time but find it difficult to explain; basically, lots of us know (mostly) where our food comes from when we’re asked to think about it, but we also think of it as just ‘food’ or just ‘dip’ or ‘sauce’ or some other category of things we eat. Clearly this isn’t applicable to everyone, but in general there is a disconnect there which makes it easy to eat animal products without truly appreciating what they are or how they were obtained.

11. Norwich is a GREAT place to be vegan. In all honesty, I wouldn’t necessarily have thought it of my little old home city – but it’s full of great options.

12. Some people are really bothered by what other people eat. I mean it makes no sense to me, but you wouldn’t believe how offended people can get by what you are putting in your mouth when it literally makes no difference to them whatsoever.

13. When I wasn’t vegan and was looking for a new pair of boots, I’d find lots of non-leather pairs that I liked, despite the fact that I’d been wanting to invest in some leather ones. This year when I was looking for a new pair of boots, all of the non-leather ones were designs I didn’t like and all of the ones I loved the design of were ones I wouldn’t be able to buy.

14. It’s okay to slip up. Before doing this I thought that if I ate something with milk in, for example, then that would be a fail and I’d have to just give up. Throughout the year I’ve learned that it’s about intention, not perfection, and if that happens, I’ll have to just accept the mistake and move on.

15. It is much, much more difficult to get that really disgustingly full feeling on a vegan diet. Let me be straight with you; I’m a big eater. I mean not trying to brag, but I honestly think I could win eating competitions. When I was a meat-and-dairy-eater, I would sometimes eat so much that I got that awful, full-to-burst, incredibly uncomfortable, oh-god-maybe-I’ll-actually-die feeling. I haven’t felt that since being vegan; while I still eat a LOT sometimes, and have no problems being a very satisfied level of full, I just don’t feel…icky, you know?

16. Linda McCartney is a grade A babe.

17. The word ‘vegan’ is heavily loaded with stigma, but I’m yet to meet even one in person who matches that in real life (although I’m not contesting that a few exist).

18. Just like if you were eating an omnivorous diet, there are literally endless recipes for great meals you can cook if you’re vegan. I am nowhere near exhausting new foods to try, so variety is not a problem.

19. Sometimes, when I go past McDonalds, I think ‘I could just go in there and get a cheeseburger and no one would know’. I can’t quite believe I’m admitting that, but I wanted to be truthful…maybe I should have called this ‘Observations and confessions’? Seriously though – I don’t think I could actually do it, but I think it, and that does make me feel a little guilty.

20. If you say ‘I had a vegan burger’, then you’re so annoying and you’re always going on about it all the time and GOD don’t you ever stop saying the word vegan? If you say ‘I had a burger’, it’s all but I thought you were vegan and err burgers aren’t vegan. You can’t win sometimes, basically.

21. I have some bloody lovely friends and family. There have been so many times I’ve turned up to a social occasion involving food to be met with ‘I got these, because you can eat them’ or ‘I checked, and lots of these are suitable for vegans!’ when I wasn’t expecting to be able to eat anything. At Christmas, I was absolutely loaded up with dairy free chocolate, nut roasts, vegan mince pies and many other treats. YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST.

So, it’s been quite the experience thus far – a good one, and one I’ll be continuing, but certainly a learning curve too. Here’s to all the delicious things I’ll eat in year two!

Thoughts on one year of veganism

Photography: Rob Poor

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24 thoughts on “Observations from a year of Veganism”

  1. With the point about animal products smelling good, it comes with time!! I’ve been vegan for two years and I’m still occasionally finding them smelling great. But it’s definitely not as bad as before! I think the look of it puts me off more so now! xx

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  2. Loved this post, I don’t have dairy and I am always surprised how many staff never have a clue when I enquire about ingredients, or I get a blank look when I ask if they do soya milk in their coffee as if they are secretly thinking WTF. xx

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  3. Super interesting to read this! I don’t think I could do vegan but I am cutting it down on meat. It’s crazy the things which have milk powder in, I was out today with people doing veganuary and we spent ages looking at all the crisps! x

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  4. Having to eat dairy-free (not by choice) I can totally relate to a lot of these. I was told by someone I could totally eat the cookies they’d made because there was no dairy in them. When i said ‘ what no butter’ she said ‘lots and lots of butter, you can’t eat those’. I was also told the other day that I couldn’t eat something because it had coconut milk in it. It’s amazing how little people know about what’s in their food. Also, how offended people are by you having to eat differently than them. And also the assumption that if it’s dairy free or vegan it’s healthier. No love, it’s more likely this cake is more unhealthy because it’s made with oil…. I feel your pain. But well done for continuing for a year! I also totally identify with the lack of bloated yucky feeling after a meal. It’s great never to feel that way again!

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  5. Wow well done on making a year, it must have been really tough to start with and very frustrating! My friend has Just started this year so I feel much more informed to be able to understand what she can and can’t have now.

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  6. Wow, well done on the year! This is such a great post – I’m not vegan but I’ve made the decision this year to start making more vegetarian and vegan choices and to be more aware of where my food is coming from. Since I’m living at home (with a not-so-accepting-to-change family – yours sound great I hope mine become more like that some day!) and still in physical recovery, it’s not always that possible but I’m starting and hopefully next year I’ll be ready to take the plunge!

    I LOVE Linda McCartney (her pies are probs one of my fave things ever!) and I agree, as someone who’s grown up as an omnivore, you often forget how much food animal products are in that maybe don’t automatically seem like it? Ie. It wasn’t long ago I found out haribos and sweets have animal products in – it was when I noticed vegan/vegetarian Percy pigs and was like what?!

    Well done for the year and I’m glad you’ve found it a good lifestyle for you!

    Daughter of An Air Hostess // Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle

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  7. I must be a bit odd because as soon as I went vegan, the smell or thought of meat grossed me out haha but I think it’s because I immediately think of blood and pig flesh. yikes haha. That’s so awesome that you stayed with it after vegannuary and a big congrats! I’m hitting my two year mark and I can relate to almost this whole list

    http://www.thewhimsicalwildling.com/

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  8. Three months to track down a wool-free beret? Sophie, I’m in awe of your determination right now haha! I think it’s incredible you’ve been vegan for a year now, what an achievement! I can imagine how frustrating the misconceptions about your health must be. Well done!! 🙂

    aglassofice.com
    x

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  9. Great post Soph! I’m currently taking part in Veganuary and I can definitely relate to some of the points you mentioned. The smell of meat or animal products doesn’t gross me out at all, if anything it makes me want to eat them haha. I’m not sure if veganism is going to be something I’ll be doing long term but it’s definitely been an eye-opening experience. xx
    Coco Bella Blog

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  10. Great post Sophie! I’ve given up meat this January (vegan felt a little intimidating) and I really don’t want to go back. I would like to know if you’ve found a good burger substitute? It’s the one thing I’ve not quite found a good dupe for yet

    Emma

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  11. haha loved some of these points Sophie! I’m doing Veganuary this year and can’t believe how many things have unnecessary animal products in! I’ve not been loving the cheese/meat alternatives much but still lots more to try! It’s lucky we have so many Vegan options here in Norwich – Vegan Wok has been my saviour! Any quick recipes you could share would be SO fab! please please please!!?

    Laura | roseandweston.blogspot.co.uk

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  12. I’m interested why you don’t wear wool? If it doesn’t harm a sheep, and most sheep aren’t farmed specifically for wool it’s rather a by-product? Or is it more that the sheep are having to provide their wool without their consent? If there were no demand for lamb or wool, sheep would cease to be bred and therefore would they exist on their own in the wild? Deep vegan thoughts for a Wednesday morning but it interests me! Alice xxx

    http://www.woodenwindowsills.co.uk

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  13. I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks yet I totally relate to some of these! There have been a few occasions where I could have slipped up, but didn’t just out of luck (totally didn’t realise that wine isn’t usually vegan and drank a rather large glass before reading about it, but it just so happened that the one I’d had was vegan haha). And also I can already tell that Linda McCartney is a babe, the sausages!
    Amy xx
    http://www.callmeamy.co.uk

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