The popularity of Veganism has increased over seven times between 2014 and 2019.
According to Google trends, it now gets almost four times more interest than vegetarian and gluten free searches.
But there is still so much people don’t know about living as a vegan and how it differs from a carnivorous lifestyle.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a vegan is someone who ‘does not eat or use animal products’.
However, The Vegan Society defines Veganism as 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’.
The key difference here is taking more of a holistic approach to the removal of animal products from one’s life.
This is the approach I am trying to take, but I find it easier to be more strict with my diet.
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How is Living as a Vegan Easier Than Ever?
One of the main reasons Veganism has had a surge in popularity is due to the growing demand and supply of vegan alternatives, especially foods.
Maintaining a vegan diet, used to be a case of simply eating plant-based foods in their organic forms.
This is still how a lot of vegans choose to eat, but it is a way of life I know I couldn’t stick to (for a vegan, I’m not that much into fruit and veg).
Now there are so many different alternatives, any carnivorous food you can think of, I bet there is a vegan alternative out there.
You can even buy vegan eggs in a proper egg box and everything!
I personally think some alternatives have gone a bit far in duplicating what a carnivore diet offers.
For example, I’m not a fan of fake meat that looks like it has blood in it. Or vegan bacon that pretends to have fat on it.
But I am so grateful for all the dietary options I have, and I love how major food chains are taking part too!
In terms of maintaining a vegan lifestyle, so many stores now label their items that are vegan.
Superdrug is great for labelling their products vegan and cruelty-free.
Whilst, Marks and Spencers always label their vegan shoes.
Once you start to notice these little things, it is difficult to stop.
My Journey to Veganism
Growing up, I never liked the thought of meat being from an animal.
I just loved animals so much, why would I want to eat a dead one?
Neither did I really enjoy the texture, I always wondered what part of the body I was eating.
I remember going out for Sunday lunch and my parents forcing me eat my chicken or turkey.
They only thought they were doing what is best for me to get all the nutrition I need.
But in reality, you can leave an amazingly happy and healthy life without meat.
My parents finally let me become vegetarian when I was 10 years old.
I was so happy and excited to try out this new lifestyle, and I took to it well.
Of course there were a few hiccups. I didn’t know just how many sweet foods contained gelatine, which is a big no no.
But I have loved the way I felt living like this, and I really didn’t find it that restricting at all.
As I got older, I became more educated in to what animal derived products are and how I was still affecting and causing harm to animals through my diet and lifestyle.
By the time I was 15 years old, I made the step to become vegan.
It wasn’t as difficult a transition as I imagined and I felt so much better in myself.
Ever since then, my diet has been full strict vegan.
And I love it.
The Vegan Lifestyle, Not Just Diet
For the 6 years I have been vegan, I have not always considered the lifestyle as important as the diet.
After becoming more educated on this, through channels such as The Vegan Society and numerous documentaries (Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives are my top Netflix recommendations), I now try to incorporate as much of this animal-loving way of life as possible.
It is not always easy.
You don’t realise just how many household products have been produced with the help of animals.
My main struggle has always been clothing, shoes and handbags. So many of these items include leather and other animal derived materials.
However, I have now made a promise to myself to keep the items I already have, but to only buy vegan-friendly products in the future.
I recently bought a faux black leather jacket that I love, not to mention my beyond amazing vegan Dr. Martens.
These Jadon II Mono‘s are my prize possession!
They offer amazing quality and comfort. I am certain they will last a lifetime.
This purchase not only made me feel good, but it is also a great investment for me in the long-run.
Top Tips for Transitioning to Veganism
Changing your diet and the way you live can be a really daunting prospect.
Everyone has different reasons for why they chose to become vegan or vegetarian, but it is usually just as difficult.
Here are my top tips to get you started.
Don’t let anything go to waste
For a lot of people, the first action of their new lifestyle is to get rid of everything in their house (especially foods) which aren’t vegan.
Please don’t do this.
It is completely fine if you want to get rid of carnivorous foods because you now can’t eat them for medical reasons.
But for the vast majority of people, this is not the case.
These items you previously bought should be used or eaten, and not wasted.
I feel like the animals suffered for no reason at all if the product doesn’t fulfil its purpose.
So finish off that new sliced ham in the fridge and keep wearing that leather jacket!
Start off gently
A complete diet and lifestyle change is not something you should just do overnight.
It takes time to transition into this new way of living and if you push yourself too far, too quickly, it is going to do more harm than good.
There is no need to rush out and buy every vegan thing you can find in the supermarket, please go at your own pace and start introducing these new foods into your life gradually.
A good place to start is by swapping a few things out in your diet.
For example, once you’ve ran out of that ham you loved so much, why not try the Quorn smoky ham slices to add to your sandwich instead?
Try meat free Mondays
To add to that last point, another tip I suggest for beginning the transition to Veganism is my starting off with ‘meat free Mondays‘.
Launched by the inspirational Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney in 2009, this initiative is a great way to save the planet in so many ways.
Don’t feel guilty by starting off slow, Oxfam suggests that replacing red meat and dairy with vegetables for just one day a week can cut an individual’s annual emissions by the equivalent of a 1,160-mile car trip.
Not only does it save the environment, but a recent report in the The Lancet concluded that if we cut our meat consumption by 30% in the UK 18,000 fewer people would die prematurely from heart attacks each year.
Forgive yourself, accidents happen
This is one of the most important things to note from this entire article, don’t be so hard on yourself!
I wish I could go back and tell my younger self this advice, there have been so many times I have been angry and frustrated with myself for all the slip-ups I have had.
But there is no need to be disheartened, just the intention to become vegan is so selfless and amazing.
You should be so proud of yourself.
It is almost impossible to not mess-up a few times along the way.
I’ve been vegan now for about 6 years and I still make an accidental non-vegan purchase every now and again.
It is only natural after such an extreme change in lifestyle, so please be patient with yourself and remember how amazing you are!