HELEN BURTON: My vegan eating month is over - and I’m now converted!

Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001
Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001

Well Veganuary is over, and I’m converted. I love being vegan and it’s already become a way of life. Veganuary aims to get people to try veganism for the month of January to see if it’s something they could continue, or at least to make people think about reducing the amount of meat, fish and dairy in their diet on a permanent basis.

One of my close friends became vegan two years ago, and having researched it I knew it was the most ethical way to eat, but it seemed like something that would be really difficult to achieve. My friend spent almost a year transitioning, researching the issues, learning about nutritional needs and finding out new products to buy. For me, because I initially thought it would just be for a month, I just decided to become vegan overnight. What has surprised me is that although I already knew a lot about the ethics involved I’ve still had to learn a lot. There are quite a few decisions to make. Some vegans eat honey, some don’t. Some ‘hardline’ vegans would argue the ethics involved in keeping pets, some like me wouldn’t be without them. Some would never buy meat, I will still buy it for my daughter who is a committed carnivore (although she loves vegan cheese and chocolate).

Personally I am still learning, still establishing what I think is ok and I’m enjoying the process. Life itself is a learning curve after all. One of the things I’ve been most surprised with is that I am cooking more and actually enjoying it. I’ve always been able to follow a recipe and of course I provide healthy meals for myself and my family but I’ve never really enjoyed cooking before. I’ve certainly never understood people who spend hours slaving over a meal only to eat it. If I’m going to be creative I want the end result to last!

Through January though I’ve tried loads of new foods and a lot of new recipes. I’ve had an amazing vegan meal at the Green Almond vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Compton Street, been to several restaurants who have ‘veganised’ my food and I’ve also been invited to join the Eastbourne vegan social group. I’m looking forward to getting together with other vegans locally and sharing food and recipe ideas. I’ve joined several Facebook groups where vegans can support each other, discuss issues and share recipes and it feels great to be part of a group of ethical eaters both locally and nationally. I thought I’d be obsessing about the food I’m missing out on, but I haven’t thought once about things I am missing, because I’ve found replacements I enjoy more. Cutting out dairy has also meant that I’m eating healthier forms of protein too, so I feel like I’ve got more energy and I’m also losing roughly 2lbs a week in a healthy way. Veganism might not be for everyone but all I can say is I’m loving it!