1. How long have you been Vegan for and what does ‘being vegan’ mean to you?
I have been vegan for over a year.
Being vegan to me is not black and white. It is about consciously doing as least harm as practically possible.
Living in today’s society we are unable to completely remove our negative impact on animals and the environment, but we can reduce it as much as possible while still living full lives.
This means it is not just thinking about our diet. It means being conscious in all aspects such as- cleaning products, hygiene, beauty, clothes/fashion.
2. What do you enjoy about being a vegan?
The best thing about this lifestyle is something that most don’t really expect, which is the cooking part! When I get time to cook, it is fun creating new recipes and flavours out of new ingredients that I wouldn’t previously have used or tried
3. What is the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge at the moment is convenience. If I’m eating at home with a bit of time to prepare, no worries. If I’m out for dinner or can only access takeaway, it can be challenging because currently the options are a little bit limited.
But as you may have noticed there are more and more vegan options available while out and about - vegan food is becoming increasingly common as time goes on which is great.
4. What would you consider the biggest misconception of being vegan to be?
I think the biggest misconception about being vegan is the health aspect. Most people believe that anyone with a vegan lifestyle will have a nutrient deficiency (mainly protein)
I aim to have regular tests to ensure I am getting enough nutrients into my diet in and they have come back almost perfect each time! (My only supplement being Activated B12)
Many people also think a vegan lifestyle also means a healthy lifestyle. This is also not the case as there are now many delicious vegan junk foods available (which are sometimes very, very hard to resist) and not all vegan foods are beneficial to the body.
5. Do you feel well and energized eating the way you do?
I do! Initially I was having a bit of trouble knowing what exactly to put into my body and didn’t feel the best. I was very lucky to have healthy people around me with plenty of experience with this lifestyle which helped. After the B12 supplements and when I have enough time to prepare food, I definitely have more energy than I used to.
6. Could you give us your day on a plate? i.e. what would your typical day’s eating be…
My typical day on a plate varies.
Breakfast is usually a smoothie. It doesn’t sound like a lot but the amount of nutrients you can get from a smoothie is very high. My smoothie usually consists of at least 3 bananas, 1 mango/1 punnet of strawberries 1/2 litre rice/almond/ oat milk, rolled oats, leafy green powder mix.
This gives me the best start to the day possible. If I don’t have a smoothie, breakfast usually consists of avocado/ tomato on toast with at least 1 piece of fruit (or on a lazy day I might just stick to a bowl of cereal.)
Lunch is usually something prepared the night before. Usually any combination of rice/pasta with beans/lentils with veggies and whatever sauce I feel like at the time.
If I am a bit naughty and lazy my dinner might not be the healthiest choice! This could be something similar to a non-vegan lazy meal such as (all Vegan) frozen Pies, Sausage Rolls, nuggets, fries, frozen meals and frozen veggies. On the days that I can get in the kitchen and have a bit of time to cook from scratch I am much more satisfied.
7. What are your favourite/staple ingredients in your kitchen?
My favourite kitchen staples are anything that can easily turn a few ingredients in to a meal- (besides the obvious fruits and vegetables).
I mainly use pasta, rice and beans/chickpeas. But one of my favourites - a surprisingly versatile and useful ingredient - is nutritional yeast. This is powdered yellow flakes made from inactive yeast that are a great vegan replacement for cheese.
8. What do you regularly snack on throughout the day to maintain your energy levels?
My main snack to keep up energy is fruit, because it’s easy to take on the go. Bananas, grapes and strawberries are my go-to along with pre-prepared carrot sticks or celery sticks with Hummus or Avocado as a dip (Jalapeno Hummus is a must try)
9. Do you have any go-to meals or a fave recipe you could share with us?
For Sure! Before going vegan my absolute favourite dish was Spaghetti Bolognaise. My new favourite dish- The exact same! The amount of fake meat and fake mince available at the moment means I can make the same dish (along with many others) Vegan.
For a healthier alternative to the mince, I prefer a Cauliflower replacement.
Plant based mince/ Cauliflower
Tomato paste (easy to make with fresh tomatoes and herbs)
Plant Based Cheese or Nutritional Yeast to top it off!
**don’t forget the garlic bread**
10. Has being vegan made you more aware of the nutritional aspects of your diet?
Absolutely it has. When I felt an improvement after changing my lifestyle, I wasn’t sure whether it was the food I was cutting out that made me feel better, or if it was my awareness of each nutrient and its role in the body. I believe it is a bit of both. Either way I am glad to have more knowledge now, and it definitely helps me to get enough of the important stuff in to my body.
11. Any advice you’d like to give an aspiring vegan?
Yes, prepare! Without planning, preparation and research you will miss out on a bit.
Everyone messes up too. Keep learning and try again! You are doing yourself, animals and the environment a huge favour.
It is important to note that, while being vegan comes with its benefits, it is not a suitable lifestyle choice for everyone and we would encourage anyone considering this lifestyle to do adequate research to determine whether it is the right health choice for you.