Grab some snacks – this looks like a long’un. It’s February 4th, 7:27pm and I’m sat behind the bar at work, enduring a quiet 40th birthday party. Avoiding conversation. Staring at the party food. Drinking another cup of coffee. Counting down the hours til home time. As good a time as any to start getting some writing done! Today I’ll be writing about my decision to follow a vegan lifestyle.
I’ve now been following a vegan lifestyle for, quite possibly, exactly a month. I didn’t really make a big thing of deciding to make this transition, I didn’t make note of the date, and I didn’t contemplate which foods I’d miss. It was a sudden, somewhat unexplained change. Whilst doing the weekly food shop with my mum one day, I decided to only put vegan products into the trolley. Already being vegetarian for my whole life, it didn’t feel like too big a change. In addition, I’d already replaced cow’s milk with soya milk quite a few months earlier, and I rarely touched eggs when I was making things from scratch. I was quite surprised by how many of my regular picks I could still have – all my favourite junk food is still an option! Woohoo!
As mentioned previously, I don’t really have a true reason for this change. There was definitely a part of me that was interested in the health benefits that following this kind of diet can have, I thought it would be good to try it out to compliment the work I’d been putting in at the gym. There was definitely a part of me that thought it was disgusting how appallingly animals are treated, purely for the “benefit” of humans. I think I started to finally believe the fact that even if you’re not supporting the meat industry and you’re only consuming other products produced by them, you’re still partly responsible for the inhumane treatment – and deaths – of billions of animals every single year. It causes just as much harm to these innocent, unsuspecting creatures as eating their flesh because “it tastes nice” does.
Finally, there was definitely a part of me that was influenced by those around me. For a while, a few friends of mine had been vegan – and it had always interested me. I found what they were doing admirable. If people who I actually knew in real life could do it, then that meant that following a vegan lifestyle wasn’t some kind of myth – I could do it too!
More recently, despite my attempts to get away from wrestling and wrestlers on social media, I’d noticed that quite a few fairly popular wrestlers here in the UK were suddenly posting about their own vegan diets. I think that factor was quite a reassuring one – these people had (as far as my knowledge goes) transitioned directly from omnivorous diets, and seemed to be doing as well as ever. Their veganism wasn’t a setback in any way. It gave me confidence knowing that physique is important to these people, and they travel a lot, but veganism wasn’t getting in the way of any of it. They hadn’t grown weak, and they weren’t struggling to find good food. These vegans seem to be thriving!
I’m thinking of making some other posts about this, because it’s such a wide topic that I could take so many different approaches to. For now, I’ll keep it short and sweet with these three categories.
- Tofu! My favourite that I’ve tried is Tofoo’s Naked Tofu. Very easy to prepare, and so many ways to experiment with flavours!
- Alpro Hazelnut Chocolate Ice Cream. I don’t have any more to say.
- Sainsbury’s Free From Orange Choc bars. Oh my god. 45p each…I clear the shelf every single time I enter one of their stores. My favourite new product (well, along with Moo Free’s range!).
- Tinned chickpeas. A simple one, but one that I never thought to try until now! I made a delicious chickpea salad recently.
- Nature’s Store Hazelnut and Cocoa Spread. This is especially amazing on pancakes!
- Aldi Acti Leaf Original Soya Drink. My favourite milk alternative that I’ve tried.
- Strawberry Cheesecake Oreos. I think I currently have three half eaten packets in my room, I just can’t resist buying more!
- Green vegetables. I’ve always had a lot of love for green veg; my go-to combo is kale, green beans and mange tout!
- Nachos covered in salsa with homemade guacamole. I tried this with some of Sainsbury’s Free From Cheddar, but I’ve found that I prefer it without!
- Crunchy peanut butter on toast. Love of my life.
- Honey. I used to add honey to everything, I love the sweetness. It hasn’t been too hard to give up though – I’m more than happy with golden syrup as a replacement!
- Cadbury’s Double Decker chocolate bars. Of course one of my favourites had to be one of the most impossible to replicate!
- Cakes. I’ve come across loads of great vegan recipes, and recipes that can easily be modified, for cakes. However the issue here is that my siblings keep baking delicious looking cakes and brownies that aren’t vegan at all! Booooo.
- Lemon curd. I went to grab the jar from the fridge recently, but before I’d even checked the ingredients my mum pointed out where the “curd” part of the name comes from. Ah.
- Rekorderlig cider. Halfway through my second bottle one night, I decided to do some Googling and found that the drink contains gelatin. Not fun! Luckily Old Mout and Aldi’s Älska are great alternatives.
So, changing my diet has proven to be quite straightforward. But I didn’t want to be just plant-based – I wanted to be vegan! Makeup and cosmetics have been particularly difficult for me so far – but I think I sometimes forget that I’m still only at the beginning of this journey. At times I have found myself in situations that I thought made me a “bad vegan,” but I realise now that that’s ridiculous. Nobody in the world is going to be “the perfect vegan,” nobody is going to do all good for the world, with no bad. But what’s important is that you do your best. Focus on your goal, make the best choices you can, and don’t beat yourself up if you have any mishaps. Continue doing what you can, at your own pace, and spread word however you feel is right.
The day I became vegan, I bought some hair dye. I put absolutely no thought into it, besides “ooh, that one should do the job.” A few days later I discovered that the brand wasn’t cruelty free and I felt really bad for being so careless. But it’s okay, because I’ve learnt. I know to avoid that brand, and I know to look out for cruelty-free products instead.
I also decided, around two weeks ago, to sort through all of my makeup and research every brand I own products from. If any of them were not cruelty free, and instead still test their products on animals, they’re gone. For items like my two everyday foundations, which are from Maybelline & Rimmel – arguably the UK’s two biggest makeup brands, which both actively test on animals, I have bought suitable replacements (although it took a while to get round to – when I wrote the first draft of this post I was still using my original items).
I have compiled my own list of cruelty free makeup brands, as well as noting down which ones to avoid. I’ve also found lots of very helpful lists and people online which shed some knowledge on this topic, some of which I’ll leave links to at the bottom of this post.
But, of course, cruelty free does not necessarily mean that a product is free from animal products. And that is where I’ve found myself having problems. I’ve been looking into which products from my favourite cruelty free brands are vegan, but it gets incredibly confusing. I have a lot of appreciation for makeup brands like Barry M and Models Own, who make it nice and clear on their websites which of their products are suitable for vegans. For brands that don’t think this far ahead, it can take a long time to find the ingredients of a product and then scan through them for any animal byproducts. By the time you get halfway through the list, you just want to just leave the item behind, or take the risk.
Currently, I’m purchasing only cruelty free products, and opting for vegan products where it is obvious and not too hard a process to decode the ingredients. When I do discover that one of my new purchases isn’t vegan friendly, I try not to put myself down. I hope in the future that more cosmetic brands take the time to list their vegan products clearly on their websites, or even print the vegan symbol on their packaging.
Well, that’s a lot of writing so I’ll leave it there. I expect I’ll speak about everything I’ve mentioned here more coherently and organised in future posts! If there’s anything in particular that people are interested in, be sure to leave a comment! As promised, here are some useful links.
- Bunny Free Blogger’s Cruelty Free/Vegan Superdrug List
- PETA’s List of Animal-Derived Ingredients (lengthy, but useful)
- Cruelty-Free Kitty’s 2017 Cruelty Free Makeup Brands List (this list is very thorough and updated regularly, but I assume it’s a lot more useful for people in America!)
- Accidentally Vegan UK on Instagram
- Vegan Beauty Addict on Instagram (more focused on “high-end” products)
- Makeup Without Malice (a UK stockist of vegan beauty products. I hope to place an order with them soon!)
If I think of anything else, I’ll share it on my Twitter! <3