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5 Reason’s why it’s best to start as a Veggie when ‘going’ Vegan

Ever been laughed at or ridiculed for your diet choice?

Perhaps you have.   Perhaps you’ve been on all kinds of diets that you’ve simply lost count of which one you’ve tried.  People have said that you’ll never do it, that you simply don’t have the willpower or wherewithal and perhaps those people could be right.  After all changing your diet is a big thing, isn’t it?

You see, food is important and more so when there’s a big old microscope coming from all different angles pointed right at you and your eating habits!   Because, people love nothing more than to point out that what you are doing is pointless.  Or point out that it’s a waste of time and that millions of other people are eating that food you are trying to avoid, so why bother?

It’s been just over a month since I decided to ‘go vegan’ and I am tempted to say it’s been hard (and it has in small ways). However in general , it really hasn’t been as tough as I led myself to believe and that because, in my opinion, became a vegetarian first. I felt it made the transition easier and probably not for the reasons you are expecting either.

You’ve done the hardest part (or so you think)

Most people, and I’m not one of them, find it harder to give up meat when they decide to go veggie.  We are brought up on the stuff, things like bangers and mash (if you are in the UK), toad in the hole and roast dinners are what us Brits are known for. So to be brazen enough to question it, even change it, can be a bit of a taboo subject even these days. It’s like you’re not a ‘real man’ if you don’t eat meat, or you’re losing out on vital vitamins and such like if you cut it out altogether.  Suddenly everyone is more concerned about what you eat than you are!

For me however, I didn’t really eat much of the stuff.  Granted I too had been brought up on roast dinners every Sunday, but as the 15th year of my youth fast approached (coincidentally at the same time my parent’s divorced which left me, my mum and my sister homeless for 6 months), I kind of stopped eating the stuff anyway.   However, going vegan and deciding to no longer have my boiled eggs for breakfast on a Sunday morning, or my cheese toasties at lunchtime – now that was waaaaay more of a challenge.

You see, once you are through the other side of the leaving the meat behind side of things, you’ll see giving up anything to do with animals at all that little bit easier – unless of course you are like me that is! But even so, being a vegan is more than giving up what you love and I’ll explain more about that later.

Just remember you’ve done the hard part!

You’ll know how to deal with the non-vegan nosy parkers and jokers!

Believe me when I say it, going Vegan isn’t something you want to tell everyone about.   Especially, like me, in your ‘day job’ you work in a small company making sandwiches when the only thing that resembles anything even remotely vegan is a cucumber and red onion sandwich!    Plus your boss actively tells you how he ‘hates’ vegans and continually takes the p**s out of you for not eating meat.

To be fair, I wasn’t a ‘tell everyone about it’ vegetarian in the first place.  I kind of came to being vegetarian in a haphazard way, with no real reasoning about it so I never felt the need to preach.  Yet, you’ll come across situations where you have to declare it.  Perhaps you share lunch with your friends, you need to book your place on the staff Christmas lunch and you have to state if you have any dietary requirements – then you have no choice.

If you become a vegetarian first, well you’ve already put yourself through the p**s-taking mill already. You’re an old hand at the witty comebacks to someone’s not so witty jokes about how animals need to be eaten; otherwise they’ll take over the earth or some other rubbish.  You’ll probably have lost count of the times someone has asked you why you decided to go without meat, or the stupid question ‘what do you actually eat?’  Believe me that question is asked ten times more when you finally decide to go all out and do the vegan thang!

So look at it this way, you’ll be a pro. You’ll be able to knock those jokes right out of the ball park and shrug it all off with a quick little retort – or worse say absolutely nothing.  You’ll, no longer care what others think and at the end of the day you know you are part of the solution rather than being part of the problem.  So go you!

You’ll love food all over again, like it was something you thought you invented!

I can’t cook, or at least that’s what I thought for over 20 years.  My ‘signature’ dish was shepherd’s pie, and believe me it was hit and miss at the best of times!  To be fair, since starting to cook for The Real Junk Food Project Portsmouth my cooking repertoire has improved significantly.  I can now cook curries, tagine’s, soups, casseroles, chili’s, bakes and other such vegetarian delights.  But I’ve never cooked, or been so interested in my food since becoming a vegan.

I mean I’ve started a blog about it – that must tell you something!

You’ll already feel like you are doing something astoundingly kind and unequivocally compassionate

Yep, you knew this was coming right?  Look, I’m not one for preaching about how not eating meat or anything derived from animals is the only way to go and if you don’t you’ll end up in hell.  It’s just not how I do this.  But, there are times when you might slip up, become tempted or even worse you end up eating something you thought was vegetarian but instead later (usually pointed out by a non-veggie person) that it’s not cruelty free after all (like who are they to judge huh?!!)

It’s going to happen, like it or not and you know what – who cares!?!

OK, perhaps those were the wrong words, but it goes like this. You are on a journey. A blinking good, kind and compassionate journey at that – make no bones about it.  You, actually give a damn about others.  Not just people, but other living human things. You are also giving an actual damn about the environment and this beautiful planet, and rather than sitting on your bum following the masses you, yes YOU, are doing something about it.  You’ve given up meat, something some people can’t even imagine doing in their life time, just cos ‘that’s how it’s always been’.

Deciding to start somewhere is not only amazing, it’s monumental.  Because ‘you are the change, you wish to see in the world’ (isn’t that a quote??!!)  It’s good, caring people like you that will make a difference, albeit a small one at first, but so what – it’s better than not at all!

Being a vegetarian will give you ammunition towards then deciding to go all out and becoming a vegan, cos you’ll not want to stop – believe me – it will come a ‘knocking!

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Me and Tommy at our allotment!

You’ll embrace your own weirdness and love it!

You know there are many stereotypes of a typical vegetarian.  The ‘tree hugger’ or ‘hippie’ or any other weird and wonderful descriptions.   People will see you as ‘weird’.  You don’t fit in like you used to and more so with the people you used to spend time with, especially your family.   Its part of the process I’m afraid.  Going vegetarian first will alleviate that pain and the loneliness at first.

The thing is when you decide to actually think for yourself, and do something about what you put into your body you begin to find out who you really are.  You’ll dig into your own uniqueness and actually spend time looking at why you make the decisions that you do.    It’s a big giant step into the unknown, which is by far the biggest way to grow both mentally and physically.  You’ll, start to rediscover things about yourself that you never knew existed and believe me being ‘alone’ isn’t a bad thing at all.

Embrace that weirdness, cos believe me when you go vegan that will only increase tenfold – and that can only be a good thing!

So dare to be different.  Go vegetarian first, if that helps because it’ll put you in good stead for when you decide to go the whole hog.  You’ll thank yourself for it.

Let me know how you get on.

P x

 

 

 

 

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Why The Real Junk Food Vegan? Warning: this is a long story!

So, I’ve decided to finally come clean on why I decided to start a blog call The Real Junk Food Vegan and why now.

The day I decided to go ‘Veggie’

It was just after my 15th birthday my twin sister and I both decided that we’d stop eating meat; actually it may not have been quite so clean cut as that but I am sure it happened about the same time.   Now, for many people deciding to stop eating meat is a very important time in one’s life; it can be a defining moment and the reasoning behind it a very passionate one.  However, personally it wasn’t like that at all.

I can’t actually remember why, it certainly wasn’t anything to do with the cruelty involved, the barbaric torture some animals can endure I;m sad to say.  No in actual fact it was because I just wanted to and if you’ve ever met me,well you know I don’t normally do things by halves.

Back in the 1990’s being a vegetarian wasn’t as widely known as it is today, perhaps that’s to do with social media, the celebrities that love to tell the world that they are one or the numerous animal welfare charities these days.   I do however; remember BROS highlighting Lynx fur and the unnecessary breeding and killing of them; so it could have been that!  Or I distinctly remember being fed the chewiest meat, taking too big a bite sat at the dinner table desperately trying to swallow it even when the taste had long gone – never a nice way to digest your food – when you’ve chewed the hell out of it and try to swallow it whole.  

Anyway whatever it was, I just remember telling mum that I’d no longer be eating meat and that was that.

Luckily for me and although I’d grown up with meat being the staple food on my dinner plate; my mum was supportive of us.  To her credit she’d always fed us on lots of veg anyway, so taking just one thing off our dinner plate was no big thing at the end of the day!  We’d sit at the dinner table most evenings with a plate of veg, or a quiche or even a Linda McCartney pie if the pennies would stretch that far.  It was a straight forward transition from meat eater to vegetarian, no questions asked.

Yes I did slip ‘off the wagon’

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I guess when there is no real reasoning behind something, no real justification or heart wrenching emotion behind the decision, slipping off the meat ‘wagon’ was bound to happen from time to time.  I’m not averse to admitting that I’d sometimes nick a bit of chicken from someone else’s plate when it was my time to clear the dishes away, just for ‘old time’s sake’.  Yet it never really made much difference to me, there would never be any real guilt because what was I to feel guilty for?  It was just decision I’d made when I was 15, nuff said.

So 9 years I continued to not eat meat, and the majority of that time I stuck to it like glue.  That is until I met a chef, he offered me a Kentucky Fried Chicken (yeah I know – what the? right?) and the rest they say is history.  I have to be honest though, fast food has never appealed to me and certainly not Kentucky Fried Chicken, I think I’ve eaten it twice in my entire life – so I guess once I popped I just couldn’t stop.

The next 10 or so years I did eat meat, never a lot mind you, but I did and it was just what I did at the time.  Looking back now, those where the years I didn’t really know much about who I was, what I stood for and my values……..well I didn’t really have any.  I went through a pretty turbulent time from my early 30’s until about 2/3 years ago.

And then…….Then The Real Junk Food Project happened!

If you’ve been following the progress of The Real Junk Food Project, you’d know it’s a project aiming to abolish food waste within the next 10 years.  Starting back in 2013, Adam Smith wanted to turn the whole food waste thing on its head and decided that doing what others did wasn’t going to do it for him anymore.

He was, or rather IS, a man after my own heart.  He’s not a follower of crowds and certainly doesn’t conform; and neither do I!   So in March 2015 I started The Real Junk Food Project Portsmouth, intercepting waste food in my local area and feeding it to bellies rather than to bins!  It wasn’t a scary thing to do, in fact it felt like the right thing to do plus I was going through a pretty difficult time financially so it felt like the ONLY thing I could do with what little I had.

You see, its right when people say ‘you only understand what it’s like to be poor, when you’ve been poor yourself’ and that is too true.   Although what we do at The Real Junk Food Project Portsmouth isn’t about feeding the poor, it’s about three things in my eyes.  It’s about educating people about food waste, that the food labelled by these big corporate companies isn’t really about your health but more about how they can get you to keep buying more and more.   It’s about looking at what you eat, why you eat it and where it comes from.  It’s also about creating a place for anyone to come to with no rules, no judgments and doing it on a regular basis.  It’s also about caring for the planet and sticking two fingers up to the system and doing what we want, when we want to.

The hardest times are our biggest lessons

You see, whilst doing all this I was going through the mill myself. I didn’t have food in my cupboards and yet I wanted to feed others.  I’m no Mother Theresa, but it’s when you have nothing that you finally understand what it is to be grateful for what you have – and that’s how I felt.  Doing this project has not only given so much gratitude for what I have, it’s had a profound effect on how I eat and how I cook.  You see, before I started this project I never cooked for myself. I think my only real ‘signature dish’ was Shepherd’s Pie!   Yet, having little food meant that I had to experiment and make good food out of what I already had.   Plus, I went back to being a Vegetarian.  Again, not through any real sense of injustice but because meat just didn’t figure in the whole food waste thing for me.   You see, I started to appreciate the odd carrot, the apple and even the rotten banana – like I’d never ever done before.  Meat for me just wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

So what’s the Vegan bit all about then?

Ha! I knew you’d ask that!   The funny thing is becoming Vegan has meant a lot more to me than becoming veggie.  You see, through the project I’ve met a diverse set of people.  From ethically minded people, passionate people, vegetarians, meat eaters, vegans, parents, the lonely, homeless and ‘ordinary’ folk.  Yet, we all share one common thing we all want to eat and eat good nutritious food (I am going somewhere with this, so please bear with me!)  – Whether they know it or not!

Yes, becoming Vegan this time around, has a lot to do with animal suffering, the cruel way animals are used as commodities rather than seen as the beautiful creatures they are.  But through the project, I’ve developed a heightened sense of compassion, a kindred spirit with fellow human beings and most of all I feel huge amounts of responsibility for my role in this world, whilst I am here.   You see, being a Vegan (for me) is about standing up not only for animals, for the planet but also for all living things.

It’s not about the ‘them and us’ thing, perhaps some vegans do feel like that, I don’t know (just guessing here). But it’s about making sure that if I am going to live this life, and see a big change in the world – then I’ve got to be that change too (yeah that’s not my quote by the way!).  So it means doing, saying and being the person I really am and doing so straight from the heart.   Yeah,  I may be a stubborn, selfish prat sometimes (which I fully acknowledge), but it’s having a moral obligation to the rest of the world that really matters.  Putting aside what I ‘think’ I want, and finally standing up and doing what I am here to do cos ‘this ship aint gonna turn around’ on its own is it?

So The Real Junk Food Vegan is about making a stand.  It’s about making a difference and it’s about living in a way that creates goodness, that no longer accepts ‘the way it is’ and doing it the kindest most loving way.   If we can stop cruelty not only to animals but also to the planet, they why wouldn’t we at least try?

Are you with me?

p.s if you’ve gotten this far thank you for reading…..if not I’ll see you on my next blog post – probably the one where I’m cooking up a nice vegan cake! 😉

Pxx

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