On Sunday I celebrated 1 year since officially becoming a vegan, my veganniversary if you will! Whilst I’d been pretty much plant-based since the start of 2017, an upcoming trip to New York with the university as a gluten-free newbie vegan would have been hella complicated. Looking back, with a year of experience under my belt, it totally would have been possible to navigate! But, hindsight is a beautiful thing, and back to the matter at hand, stepping off the plane back at Heathrow airport on February 4th, this vegan journey took its first steps!
Whilst it’s definitely easier than ever before to be vegan, it certainly has its challenging moments. But, with every day I appreciate more and more the joy it has brought into my life. Here are a few of the top things I’ve learned during my first year as a vegan, and I hope these can help any newbies out there!
Pretty much EVERYTHING has egg and milk powder hiding in it
If you have any dietary requirements you’ll learn the art of scanning the ingredient list of pretty much anything that’s not from the fruit and veg aisle. There are two particular sneaky demons hiding in even the most unsuspecting of foods: egg & milk powder. My house-mate was horrified when she’d accidentally eaten some onion chutney with milk in it.
However, this does have its advantages. With about 90% of the processed junk off limits in the supermarket, you naturally choose healthier, plant-based alternatives. Plus, when you do find a treat that is vegan, you appreciate it much more!
It is possible to be gluten-free and vegan
Being gluten intolerant, I was a little nervous about committing to veganism at first. Social occasions were awkward enough with one restriction, ensuring the waitress had written GF next to my order, and navigating the world of food on the go to name a couple of examples. Surely you’d starve adding veganism to the mix? Actually, many free from options now are both gluten-free and vegan. Also, it can be so much healthier this way as often the options available are the healthiest.
I’m sure there’ll be the odd awkward occasion in the future, but it’s been a year and so far so good!
The cravings fade
I’m not sure if this is the same for everyone but as the months have passed, I’ve lost any yearning for non-vegan food. I suppose this is because it’s so easy now to get a veggie substitute for pretty much anything (This is a great facebook group: Vegan supermarket finds). But even things like salmon, which is hard to find a replacement for no longer seem appealing. In fact, the thought of it makes me nauseous! So if your a newbie vegan out there, don’t worry, soon you’ll be craving dark chocolate and veggie burgers instead!
People will judge, and that’s ok
Whilst I generally don’t announce to the world I’m a vegan, inevitably it comes up in conversation sometimes. People can have varying reactions. Often they’re just interested and might ask a few questions about why you made the choice, or how long you’ve been vegan for. But others can be rather ignorant, suddenly experts in health. They’ll let you know that you can’t possibly be getting enough protein and that cows actually like to be milked?!? Over time you learn how to brush off these reactions, understanding that at one point we were probably just as naive. They may be at another point on their journey, and all you can do is be a positive role model for this lifestyle and offer the facts and benefits that you know are true.
In honesty, I can’t imagine life being any other way now. I feel blessed to live in a country and a comfortable lifestyle that lets me choose this life!
How long have you all been vegan for? And what lessons and wisdom have you learned along the way? I’d love to hear your stories!