You can’t be vegan… you’re too normal!
I’ve heard this line a lot. And it’s true, I am exceedingly normal. I ignore my laundry pile, I bribe my children to get in the bath and…I don’t consume animal products. Neither do they, actually.
Hmmm, not so normal now, you’re thinking 😉
Be honest. Henna tattoos. Purple hair. Chanting. Does that fit in better with your idea of vegans? It did for me. I thought becoming vegan was extreme, something for protesters with questionable hygiene and teenagers trying to make a point.
But then I read some stats I couldn’t “un-read”. Stats about how eating animal products affects your health and the planet…and of course, the impact on animals.
Many people assume that becoming vegan is always motivated by animal welfare. Now though, it’s as common for people to choose a plant-based diet for health reasons – it’s why we ultimately made the change, as my son was suffering from near-constant ear infections and our doctor recommended avoiding dairy.
Other people “vote vegan” because they want to reduce their impact on the environment. In fact, according to new research, curbing your meat and dairy consumption is the “single biggest way you can reduce your environmental impact on the planet.”
“But bacon!”, I hear you cry! “And cheese boards! And what would I do at Christmas?”
It’s true, adjusting to a new lifestyle is big. It takes time and plenty of mistakes. But here’s the thing. Mistakes are good. Mistakes are how we learn. It’s progress over perfection. Reducing your consumption of meat and dairy gradually over time will make a much bigger impact than chucking out all animal products in your house only to break into a KFC at 2am because you’re having fried chicken withdrawal sweats.
So, what are some simple swaps to take your transition a step at a time?
Next time you’re out getting a coffee, try it with a plant-based milk. Many cafes now offer at least soya and oat milk. Try it in your latte and see what you think. Shop around a bit and find a flavour that suits you, then buy a carton and try it at home. Top tip: Oatly Barista, Oatly Whole and Oatly Semi are the closest to “real” milk, in my opinion – they’re great for coffees and teas, cooking and even for pouring on your cereal at late-night munchies o’clock.
Lots of your top shelf items (is it just me who hides the biscuits and sweets in the top of the cupboard?!) might already be secretly vegan. You can check out PETA’s list of accidentally vegan snack foods, and, next time you’re cruising the biscuit aisle, choose some of the options from the list. I always recommend doing this, as it’ll help you see that there are plenty of options already out there – you don’t have to resort to expensive free from alternatives.
Are you rolling your eyes? Yeah, I did too. But when I (finally) started to make our veg the star of the show at mealtimes, and get more creative with our cooking, that’s when I started to truly love vegan cooking. Try something small. Instead of boiling or steaming your cauliflower florets, rub them in a little oil, sprinkle with some salt, pepper and cumin and roast them in the oven. 20-25 minutes will do it and they’re sooo gooood.
Small but mighty
Resist the urge to jump right in. Making small changes and sticking to them will give you such a buzz. You’ll look forward to your next change rather than thinking of it as a hardship. Whatever your reasons for reducing your meat and dairy consumption, be they health, environmental or ethical, you are doing a good thing. Be proud.
(You can even chant a little. Too soon? Okay. Next time.)
Jo Rourke is a writer from Northern Ireland, Mama to 3 and is first to admit she is an imperfect vegan. You can follow Jo here