Guest Blog by Lea Tierney from Can Eat Attitude
One of the people who inspired my Veganuary Journey was my lovely friend Lea Tierney who runs the blog Can Eat Attitude. When I decided to focus on spreading the love for a plant-based diet this month I knew exactly who I wanted to write a guest blog and luckily she said yes!
Lea had already been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease when she made the decision to become a vegan. But her positive “can eat attitude” helped her find a healthy balanced diet which suits both her physical needs and ethical motivations. Read on to find out more about Lea’s transition to becoming a vegan.
I’ve always described myself as an animal lover; I even went through a phase as a child of wanting to be a vet – until my parents explained to me that I would have to kill (aka put down) animals. I loved the companion animals we had at home and could never bear the thought of them dying: they were my greatest friends.
Despite this great love, which often reaches overly exuberant proportions when the source of my affections is extra fluffy, I spent around 28 years merrily, and obliviously, munching on meat. When people abashedly ask me about veganism whilst surreptitiously hiding a meat-based dish I’m keen to remind them that my choice to go to veganism comes from a place of compassion and that extends to them: I don’t see myself as superior in any way and no one should be treated like an idiot when so few people are born vegan, and there’s no need to hide. If you’re curious about veganism but feel totally out of your depth, please remember that every vegan you’ve ever met has most likely stood in your shoes during their lifetime!
Going vegan overnight isn’t easy or hugely sustainable. The reality is that it can be a big lifestyle adjustment if you haven’t given yourself time to do a bit of groundwork. But that shouldn’t put you off: I had additional dietary needs to cover in our household before veganism was thrown into the mix and we’ve been vegan now for around a year and a half. Being Coeliac myself and having a nut allergic partner, made it both easier AND harder to make the switch. Having dietary requirements already makes it easier in a lot of ways because you are probably adept at improvising and adapting “normal” dishes. But also, having dietary requirements can make it harder as so many of the vegan alternatives contain things that are not suitable for Coeliacs and nut allergy sufferers and you may be in the mindset of already feeling restricted and veganism may feel like an additional restriction. First things first, commit to taking a positive approach to this lifestyle change and remember that there is true abundance to be found in plant-based eating.
What a normal day of eating might look like in our house:
Breakfast – A big steaming bowl of porridge topped with tahini, berries and the occasional piece of raw chocolate
Mid-morning snacks – A cup of soup/falafels with hummus/crudités
Lunch – A veggie-packed curry with rice and greens
Afternoon snacks – Energy balls/stuffed dates/roasted seeds/smoothie
Dinner – A colourful rainbow bowl, filled with things like cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables, salad, crispy tofu or tempeh, sweet potato wedges
What you might have guessed from this is one of the many advantages we’ve discovered of eating this way: it is VERY easy to eat your 10 a day. The number of colours and variations on offer when eating plant-based is pretty amazing when you get a moment to appreciate it.
I recommend taking the transitional approach to veganism like we did; it gives you time to use up what you have, do your research, source delicious alternatives and alter your mindset.
My tips for taking the transitional approach:
- Start with making one meal or day free from animal products – we started with Meat Free Monday and that gave us a totally new perspective on how versatile vegetables could be. You could even simply try switching regular milk to a plant-based alternative for a week or two to see if you can easily make a habit of it.
- Try Veganuary – this campaign runs every January and you get lots of support and resources to try going Vegan.
- Explore your motivation – are you an animal lover? Passionate about the environment? Keen to live healthfully? Once you understand what is most important to you, you can use this as your driver for phasing out animal products and cramming in plant-based products.
- Do your research – NutritionFacts.org, Plant-Based News, Vegan Life Live, plus the countless docufilms on Netflix are great resources when it comes to exploring a plant-based lifestyle.
- Join vegan groups on Facebook etc and chat with other vegans about the realities of being an everyday vegan.
- Don’t beat yourself up for any “slip ups” – this whole journey is a learning process and there are people that have been vegan for years that will still be learning as they go along. If you forget to clarify something with a server when you’re eating out and realise later that you may have eaten something non-vegan, that’s ok, it happens and no one is judging you.
- Remember that this is a personal journey – you don’t need to chuck out all your leather shoes and jars of honey as soon as you decide to go vegan, because other vegans have said that’s what they’ve done; what’s important is that you do your own research and bear this definition in mind:
Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
I was fortunate that I had someone to take the journey with and a great deal of confidence in my ability to adapt but if you don’t quite feel that way and veganism still feels like an overwhelming step for you, feel free to drop me a line, I’m always happy to chat through the realities and opportunities of making the change.
If you’d like to chat to Lea about her transition to becoming a vegan you can contact her via her excellent blog Can Eat Attitude where she also shares some amazing vegan recipes.