No two vegan journeys are the same – just like no two vegans are the same!
There are many reasons to go vegan, usually it’s for the animals, for the environment or for health but all reasons are good reasons.
What is Veganism?
What we do have in common though is that we follow a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods. That’s: meat, fish, shellfish and insects, dairy, eggs and honey too. We also avoid animal-based materials (like leather and wool) animal ingredients in our cosmetics and cosmetics tested on animals too.
My journey to veganism started when I left home. I come from a family who were (and still are!) very meat-orientated and as soon as I had some independence, I decided I wanted to change that and reduce my meat consumption. Slowly I found veggie alternatives for cooking at home, but it was a few years later that I decided to go properly vegetarian. I knew that if I could do one month (just like doing Veganuary nowadays) then I would stick with it. And I did! This was back in the early 2000s and I’d never heard of veganism yet, even eating out as a veggie was tricky back then. Luckily, things have changed enormously!
Is Being Vegan Hard?
It wasn’t all plain sailing though, despite sticking with it for several years. I had times when I’d go back to eating meat and fish because it was easier. I spent a few months travelling and when I moved abroad and lost access to all my easy veggie staples. Back then I cared more about making it easy for other people too, now I focus on what’s right for me and I’ve learnt from what happened.
The change was when I met a new friend who was vegan, and we’d often eat out together. My brother also went from veggie to vegan around this time and we had lots of conversations about the environmental benefits of a vegan lifestyle. I wasn’t entirely ready though until my local supermarket brought out some lovely soya yogurts. We all have a weak spot and yoghurt is mine!
Many people transition slowly into a vegan diet and that’s a great way to do it. I was vegan at home for about 3 months before I was confident to eat out as a vegan too. It was far easier than I thought it would be, though I won’t lie, watching everyone else eat dessert when there’s no vegan options are tough. But like everything, you get used to it and 5 years later, it doesn’t happen nearly so much!
Being vegan is a choice I make every time I eat. I don’t put pressure on myself to be perfect (there are no vegan police!) but I’m happy choosing a diet that’s compassionate and free from suffering. When I first went fully vegan, the main difference I noticed that was I felt ‘lighter’. Physically? Maybe. Emotionally? Perhaps too!
Being Vegan And Helping The Environment
I often feel what’s been termed as “eco-anxiety”. I worry hugely about climate change and my footprint on the planet. I know that being vegan doesn’t undo all the damage we collectively do, but it certainly makes a huge difference, and it keeps me positive about the future.
Knowing that there would be enough food to feed the world if we didn’t give a huge amount over to feeding animals, water too would be far more abundant. Understanding that male chicks are incinerated (alive) when they are just days old and dairy cows are limited to much shorter lives because they’re impregnated so often, let alone having their babies snatched away from them. For me these are all valid reasons to go and stay vegan.
There are some fantastic documentaries to watch (Cowspiracy etc) and great sources of information (The Vegan Society) to understand more on this and make your own mind up!
Essentially, it is a journey, and I’m still learning and making changes. The diet part was easy, and for me skincare was too because I make my own. Wearing leather and wool is taking much longer because I refuse to throw things away. The most sustainable choice is the one we already own after all!
Living A Vegan Lifestyle
I’ve found the easiest way of incorporating the lifestyle elements of veganism is to look for trusted trademarks or vegan friendly shops and marketplaces. If I can see The Vegan Society Trademark, then I know I can trust it. I’m proud to use the trademark on all my products at Happy Carrot Skincare too, so I know how thorough they are with their checks before they’ll allow anyone to use the trademark!
I use marketplaces like Etikora too because you can easily find ethical brands who sell vegan products all in one place. It’s easy to find massive companies selling vegan options now, but it’s the small brands who share your ethics and values who we should support. For us small businesses, it’s not about cashing in on “vegan-washing”, it’s about genuinely trying to make a positive impact on the planet with products crafted with care.
We all get it wrong sometimes, and that’s ok! Most vegans will accidentally slip sometimes (usually hidden milk powder!) but the only real mistake I’ve made along the way, is not doing it sooner.