After talking about her experiences of the Great Vegan Challenge 2013, Kate tells us what happened next on her vegan journey…
With Christmas not too long after the Challenge, I worried whether I’d feel ‘deprived’. Could I live without giant chocolate buttons or Malteasers? I must confess that it now seems very silly to me, but back then it was a real worry. I just kept thinking ‘one week at a time’. On my Christmas list to my family I put some vegan cookbooks and some Booja Booja chocolates, amongst other things, and when the day came I had masses to eat with no feeling of missing out at all.
I actually went away to Kenya to stay with my sister for 6 weeks at the beginning of the year (the Challenge came at the same time as the very horrible decision to divorce, so it’s certainly not been all plain sailing) and again, I wasn’t sure how I’d manage. Within a week, though, I realised that I would be absolutely fine eating vegan there and I became good friends with Patrick, the fruit and veg man in the market. Getting through Christmas, time abroad and Easter gave me confidence that being vegan is actually really easy once you get the hang of it.
I believe that what really worries you at the beginning ends up not being an issue at all. Though I liked cheese, I certainly didn’t eat it daily so that wasn’t too hard to quit. I’d bought some Cheezly, but didn’t try it for about 5-6 weeks as everyone was saying it wasn’t the same. I now enjoy it, but only occasionally. I’m more a fan of houmous, peanut butter, avocado, yeast extract, etc.
I’m not sure when it all fell into place and I became more confident regarding my lifestyle choice. I guess it’s been gradual. I joined Vegan Runners and I think that was probably a part of it. There are so many amazing athletes on the Facebook page that make me and my little marathons and 50k races feel a little diddy! Also I started reading the books of Rich Roll, Scott Jurek, the No Meat Athlete and reading up on Fiona Oakes. Vegans can be ruddy fit! And fast! I’m proud to now run in my Vegan Runners vest and hopefully just one or two people might think ‘wow, vegans have enough energy to run!’
People at work are only now finding out I’m vegan (I’ve always taken my own food in and not shouted about it) and when I was asked this week by about 8 people, I could clearly state that I don’t want to be a part of that industry any more. You can’t get dairy without the meat industry. I disconnected for long enough. I’ve seen a video of the male chics being thrown in the mulcher. I’ve seen pigs being stunned (if they are lucky ) and having their throats slit whilst they writhe from their leg hook. I’ve cried too many tears. The life of harm is not for me. Now, a year on when people ask where I get my energy from and how am I so healthy I say ‘because I’m vegan!’ .
The things that have helped me transition are YouTube – I watch Freelee the BananaGirl (bonkers and annoying at first), Kris Carr and Kathy Freston – and have repeatedly read the latter two’s books. It’ll surprise you who is vegan – I loved Jared Leto 20 years ago after watching him in ‘My So Called Life’, and now 20 years on he’s a vegan and I renewed my love.
The HappyCow app is brilliant for eating out. Giraffe, Wagamama’s, Thai, Indian have always been great. In places like M&S now I’ll get a bread roll and a little box of antipasti, some fruit and crisps. I’m far from starving or deprived! I just know where to look now.
The internet is an amazing resource. Years ago I imagine being vegan was tricky but now it’s never been easier.
Animal Aid gave me the nudge to get me started (they supported me no end when I was 12 and made the switch to going veggie too) and I couldn’t have done it without them. I’ve now met a few fellow vegans for vegan lunches which has been brilliant. I’m so pleased and so proud I’m vegan now and imagine I’m here for life.
Thank you Animal Aid!