7 Things to Consider if you Want to go Vegan!

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Photo by Mariana Montes de Oca on Unsplash

To Vegan or not to Vegan

So, you have made the decision or you are toying with the idea of going vegan, congratulations, you have officially opened your mind.  If you decide to go vegan or eat a plant based diet, you will be doing a highly commendable act not only for the environment and the planet, but all human and animal kind.  You will feel cleansed and as free as much as you can be from the animal producing corporate  system, we have all unwittingly become a part of.  A system that put profits above everything including; animal slavery, animal torture, inhumane executions and the future of human and animal kind.  In going vegan, you will no longer fully support this abhorrent system.  As your body cleanses, you will seek knowledge about veganism and the truth will unfold, you will be as shocked as I was about how long your mind has been closed.

To me veganism is a journey, you cannot force someone or make them feel bad about eating and using animal food and products.  Only education of how these products come to be in the supermarkets you buy from will seal the deal for many new vegans.  Whether your decision was initially made to improve your health, animal welfare, the environment or a combination of these, you will gain a new more compassionate perspective on life for all living beings that feel pain and emotions.

So you have made your decision, now what …………  well for me, I naively thought I could go vegan literally overnight, some vegan’s may disagree with me, but I think as a meat eater, you need to transition slowly from vegetarian before progressing to veganism.  By doing this, you are more likely to successfully sustain a true vegan lifestle.

There are a lot of things to consider, I was extremely naive, thinking I could go from full almost daily meat eater to vegan overnight.  I was wrong, in the initial stages you may ‘fall off the wagon’, don’t punish yourself, you are still doing more than most people do in a lifetime.

So here are 7 of the things I didn’t really consider before attempting to go vegan:

  1  Food

Okay, obviously you need to consider food, this tip is more in preparation of going vegan.  Firstly, you need to collate some vegan friendly recipes before day One.  It is no use waking up with no plan in place, this is when you will be tempted to call into Greggs on the way to work, they’re breakfast menu only consists of meat, meat or errm …….. meat.  Day one of my ‘vegan lifestyle’ was a fail as I did not take breakfast to work, I purchased a bacon balm en-route, it was not an easy breakfast to eat, I just kept picturing eating a baby pig.  I learned that day to prepare my breakfast in advance, I now take either overnight oats or a smoothie with banana bread …..  obstacle overcome.  There has been only one day since day one, in the past two weeks I arrived at work with nothing (because I had not shopped) and I went without, rather than purchasing an animal product.

Consider your favourite dishes, can these be adapted to a vegan dish, one of my favourite dishes was cottage pie, I used quorn mince instead of beef mince, the quorn was the only item I changed, yes it was not as tasty as my beef mince but it was quite nice.  This week when I cook it I am going to put some extra salt, tamarin sauce, a splash of tabasco sauce and some lentils.  I will go easy and see how that comes out, whether it works or not I will be eating it (I can’t waste food), and if its a food fail, I will just make some slight adjustments until I get it spot on.  Beware, since making my cottage pie, I found out not all quorn is vegan friendly, it is vegetarian friendly but some do contain eggs.

The first time I went to the supermarket to get my ‘vegan’ groceries, I took about 4 or 5 times longer than usual, because there is not a ‘vegan  aisle, the vegan logo / symbols are not always highly visible on these products. I ended up searching looking for a staff member to help, which one did (reluctantly) as she explained she was already trying to help three other customers.  I usually shop online, but wanted to go and ‘see’ what I was buying, have a proper mooch around to see what the vegan options were.  Make sure you allow plenty of time for your first few shops, so you can explore the options, search for vegan products and learn where they are situated.

  2  Go at a snails pace

If you are opting for the whole food plant based diet, unless  you have a lot of money you may have to buy things gradually.  I am not saying it is more expensive, my shopping came out cheaper because meat and fish are expensive.  However, if you have never ate nuts and seeds and you want to be a healthy vegan, you could start introducing one variety at a time.  I started with sunflower seeds, sprinkling them on my overnight oats, my next purchase I will add pumpkin seeds, I want to use at least 4 different varieties for ………… variety of course.

I have just completed week two of my vegetarian / vegan diet, I have surprised myself that I have achieved more than I thought I would I planned to do it very slowly, but I have eliminated, meat, fish, eggs, I eliminated cows milk a few years ago and kefir goats milk a few months ago.

3  Have a clear out

If there is no-one else in your home that will eat your past-life foods such as meat, eggs, fish etc.  give them away, I gave mine away, then I filled my fridge / freezer with healthy plant based foods.  If you have no animal products in your home, you will not be tempted to fall back in to old unhealthy practices.

Also check all labels, you will be surprised the foods that have animal products in, watch out for gelatine, it is made from animals.  Although, there are other products that surprised me, some Bisto gravy granules for example is vegan friendly.

4  Beauty Products and Toiletries

My beauty products and toiletries was not something I really thought about when I decided to go vegan, it clicked probably on day two or three, that if I wanted to be vegan I have to do it fully.  So I started looking through my beauty products and toiletries I had at home, not one of them had a ‘vegan’ symbol on and although some said 100% natural, none stated they did not test on animals, I assume they do, if they don’t state otherwise.  I have the option to give or throw all these products away, but that would cost me a substantial amount of money to replace, so I have decided to replace bit by bit.  I purchased a roll on deodorant  Dr Organic Tea Tree Deodorant which is vegan from Holland and Barratt, I will try other items over time.  I really like the deodorant, it smells lovely and clean, I feel fresh all day long.  I also discovered to my surprise that Superdrug do a good range of their own vegan products, look for the bunny symbol.

5  Household Products

My next consideration was household cleaning products such as washing powder , washing liquid.  I have not got that far into veganism yet, so need to do more research, looking at the vegan eco friendly products on Amazon, they seem expensive.  I am aware, there are cleaning products out there that do not use animal products or test on animals, but you would not necessarily associate them with vegan products.  One such brand is Astonish.  Astonish state on their website We’ve never tested our products on animals or used animal ingredients’.  This is good news because, they are reasonably cheap products and I already have some in my cupboard.  I need to do a lot more research on household products and explore the idea of making my own cleaning products at home.

6  Clothes

Apart from the obvious, leather shoes and bags etc. I never even considered other clothing, a true vegan does not wear wool.  I recently purchased a hat with winter coming in, then found out vegan’s don’t even wear wool, lucky for me when I checked the label it was polyester……. phew!  Okay, I admit I did not do my research on veganism, but I could not understand why wool was not okay, don’t sheep need shearing to stop their coats getting too long and matted, so what’s wrong with shearing them? do we not get haircuts? do we not get certain breeds of dogs trimmed?  I did a little research on this and found PETA gave the clearest explanation ….. now I get it, no wool for me then.

7  Temptation Is All Around

In the UK, when you need to grab lunch to takeaway, there is meat everywhere, the vegetarian options are limited, the vegan options even more so, although city centres seem to be better.  I went into Marks and Spencers to pick up lunch on the way back from a meeting and I could not find anything that didn’t contain meat, fish, cheese or eggs.  I asked two members of staff if they had any vegetarian options, I purposely didn’t ask for vegan options as I struggled to find anything without animal products in.  As nice and helpful as the staff were, they looked at me, looked at each other, one of them screwed her face up, I know she didn’t mean to, but it did make me feel like an ‘awkward customer‘.  Nevertheless she helped me look, we found one dish, a pasta spinach pine nut salad, I wasn’t exactly spoilt for choice, so I purchased it.  I highly recommend making your own lunches.

I still have a lot of self-educating to do, I expect my full vegan journey to take between 1-2 yrs, if that seems like a long time, it is.   During this time I will probably be 80-90% vegan, and the remainder vegetarian, but I expect it will take me longer to get to the 100% vegan mark, which I can sustain for the rest of my life.

One final tip, not really a consideration, but ask around, tell people you are going vegetarian / vegan, you will be surprised who is vegan or can point you in the right direction.  Talk to these people because you can learn from them, they have already passed the stage your at and can offer useful advice / tips and even recipes.

I am finding my feet in the vegan world and don’t expect to be galloping in these early days, but over time, I will learn all about this new, clean, ethical and healthy lifestyle.

 

 

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Becoming Vegan(ish)!

 

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Okay, I can’t fully explain this, but I have become very interested recently in veganism or to be more accurate a plant based diet, it has never and I mean never appealed to me before, but I feel I cannot stop this transition, I feel like this is yet another piece of the jigsaw in my journey.

I think it started when I watched the documentary ‘Knives over Forks’ on Netflix which was very enlightening, there is also a Knives over Forks book and cookbook to accompany the documentary.  The documentary mostly focuses on veganism for its health benefits, and boy, they are a pretty tempting bunch of health benefits, including reversal of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.  There are preventative benefits too, such as some cancers and alzheimers, not to mention other benefits such as clear skin, strong healthy hair, weight loss, energy, better sleep and general overall improved health.  

When you are younger you can eat junk food, smoke, drink to excess and you still have energy, but over the long term, trust me it will catch up with you.  When you get to my age (50) and you start to get little ailments such as knee pain, stiffness and general aches and pains, you do become more aware of what you put in to and how you treat your body.  

I have decided, because of the huge change of diet I am about to undertake, I am going to introduce a plant based diet very slowly as I do have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and I really don’t want to aggravate that.  Also, I don’t want to go in full steam ahead and not be able to sustain the lifestyle, I will make the change one small step at a time.  I plan to introduce one vegan recipe a week, this may just be a snack or change to something I already make, such as banana bread, the only things I put in there which I should change are eggs and honey, but I may just keep a little bit of honey.

I have ordered one book from Amazon ‘Deliciously Ella, the Plant Based Cookbook’ which has rave reviews and looks like a beautiful book too.  I have also subscribed to the following websites / blogs  ‘Pick up Limes’ a truly inspirational site with beautiful pictures and ‘I Love Vegan’ which I need to explore further but it looks very informative and being new to this, just what I need to gain more understanding.

I have to say I am loving the website ‘Pick up Limes’, created by Sadia Badiei, who is a dietician and nutritionist, her site is absolutely beautiful, the pictures are enough to inspire you to have a plant based diet.  I discovered Sadia on her ‘Pick up Limes’ You Tube channel, she does not preach but informs in a very simple easy to understand way. She doesn’t try to hard sell the plant based diet vegan lifestyle or herself, she is just so natural and seems to be a lovely person, because of this she does sell the plant based diet, well she has sold it to me anyway.

In becoming a vegan or having a plant based diet, I am going to have to up my game in the meal planning / prepping stakes.  As I said I am going to start by incorporating one recipe or food item per week, I will add my favourites to my draft meal plan, then when I feel I am ready, I will go the whole 9 miles.  I will keep you periodically updated on my transition.

Different Stages in Life!

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I have been thinking a lot lately about where we all are in life at the moment, I have read some great blogs from young bloggers and I think ‘Wow’, they know so much more about ‘intentional living’ than I did at their age, in fact, I had never even heard of ‘intentional living’, they are so lucky.  At 50, I am only starting to ‘wake up’ and rather than think ‘fate’ will foretell my journey, I am realising that I am the author of my life.

Why has it took me so long to come to this realisation?  Apart from being a bit slow, I am not sure, except that I have been caught up in the strains and stresses of working, living and everything else that came my way.  Anyway, I am here now and intend to make the rest of my life better, cleaner, and more purposeful.

In fact, I have reached the point where I resent the fact that I have to go to work just to try keep up with my mortgage, bills and £18,000 personal debts, mainly on credit cards.  I am currently on a DMP (Debt Management Plan) with Step Change because after living on my credit cards (due to overspending), I got to the stage where I simply ran out of credit and could no longer make the minimum payments.  These debts have caused me a huge amount of stress and worry.  I have also realised my spending is related to my mental health, whenever I have felt low, I have gone on a little spending spree, at one stage there was barely a day I didn’t buy something.

The realisation that my spending habits relate to how I feel at any given time, has made me realise, there are other (cheaper) ways  to feel good.  Realising that link between my mental health and over spending, the consumer trap I have fallen in to, buying in to consumerism and ‘keeping up with the Jones’ is enough to make me change my ways.

I no longer browse online when I am bored, I carefully consider if I really want / need an item before purchasing, I also put in my planner on pay-day 1 or 2 things I ‘plan’ to buy, things I have given careful consideration to purchasing, sometimes by the time pay day comes along I have changed my mind.

I have not worked out exactly how old I will be by the time my debts are paid off, but at the rate I am paying them off now, I will be over 100 years old taking the interest into account. This is not how I want to spend my retirement years, this is not what I have worked so hard for all my life.  I came to the conclusion that the only other option is to increase my income and eventually (hopefully within 3-5 years) hand my notice in to a job I have not an ounce of interest in anymore, this lack of interest is down to my own self-realisation in what I can and want to achieve; help people in some way, no matter how small to improve their own lives, if we all share what we know, we will gain many lifetimes of knowledge, how wonderful is that!.

Paperwork Decluttering Week!

The minimalism journey is a long one, it can take many years, but incorporating aspects of minimalism is doable by starting small, being focused and being consistent.

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Photo by Christa Dodoo on Unsplash

I am not a minimalist but it is on my bucket list, although I am changing my ways and certain elements of minimalism are slowly creeping in to my life.  Although I have been decluttering for about 18 months, I have taken my eye of the ball the last four weeks and it is showing in my home, particularly in the paperwork department.  So it is Friday and today is ‘Paperwork Elimination’ day!

Today I plan to gather paperwork from all over the house, I have spotted it everywhere; my kitchen junk corner, yes, I have one of those, well it keeps the kitchen table clear (sort of).  I have papers in every drawer I open (except the cutlery drawer), even my knicker drawer has papers in (don’t ask).  My hall cupboard is just pure ‘paper porn’, I am hanging my head in shame as I type.  I have handbags with ‘papers’ in, some of these are just post-it notes to my self, saying things like ‘declutter hall cupboard’.  I can’t believe I create clutter with decluttering ‘To Do’ notes.  I can hear Marie Kondo ‘tutting’ at me right now ….. “I am sorry Marie, I will change, I promise, really I will, cross my heart and hope to …….. declutter!”

So, where have I gone wrong in my decluttering journey?  After careful consideration, I realise I have been concentrating on decluttering wardrobes; clothes, shoes and handbags the past few months.  Although, I have been scanning older paperwork, I have not kept on top of stuff being created; my incessant note writing, incoming mail etc.  I am of the belief that decluttering is not a ‘one off’, although that method does help initially.

I believe, decluttering is an ongoing process, you have to keep at it and not just focus on one category, like I have.  I have decided to have ‘themed’ weeks, yes I will be having a blitz of paperwork  for the next 7 days, I will spend at least 5-10 minutes a day focusing on well ……. paperwork, or at least clear a drawer a day or a small area, I will schedule this in to my planner.

I strongly associate having a declutter free organised home, very closely to my wellbeing.  You know the feeling when you wake up one day and you haven’t cleared up from the night before, dishes may still be on the drain board or god forbid, in the sink.  I can guarantee if I see a ‘messy’ kitchen when I wake up, it will makes me feel kind of crap.  But, when I wake up or come home to a tidy, clean house, that makes me feel really good, I feel proud, productive and relaxed, like now I can do what I want to do and not spend time tidying or cleaning.

If your home is a ‘mess’ like mine, even if the ‘mess’ is hidden in drawers, cupboards or handbags, start decluttering, even if it’s just one drawer or a handbag, do it, go on …………… now, doesn’t that make you feel good? like you have achieved something today, have been productive, have fed your sense of well-being, like an ‘organisation goddess’, okay ……. maybe I’ve gone too far!  But, I know it makes me feel super bloody organised and a ‘goddess’ in my eyes anyway.   You go little goddess, go achieve decluttering greatness, you divine little thing you!

 

 

 

 

The Newbie Blogger!

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Well, It’s been a week since my blog went live, I’d just like to thank that one person who visited my site, oh wait I think that was me!  Anyway, regardless of the lack of traffic, I am enjoying writing for this site, I find it cathartic and relaxing, I hope to look back and cringe at what I’ve written one day …… that will mean I have improved.

I must admit, I thought it would be easier to start a blog, I did a lot of research, so much in fact I confused myself, in the end I just got to the point where I thought, ‘just do it’, I can learn as I go along, that’s my strategy.

I have been going to bed with SEOs, CSS, Analytics, Content Strategy, plug-ins, traffic, platforms, site maps to name but a few swirling around in my head.  Sooo much to learn, lucky for me I like learning, so this suits me down to the ground, unlucky for me I am not technically minded, so when I go on a ‘How To’ website, I end up with layers of google pages as I am looking up every other word they use that I don’t understand.  Something tells me I am going to learn a lot, I mean a real Lot, with a capital ‘L’.

Setting up a blog is actually the easy bit, getting people to actually visit your site is another thing, it’s a challenge I am looking forward to.  Apparently there are more than 10 million blogs out there, so competition to get to the top of google is steep, but like I have already mentioned, this is a journey for me with the hope it will be of use to others.

I haven’t actually told anyone I have a blog yet, I have discussed that I plan to have one to very few select people.  I will start to tell people, I guess I have sort of locked myself away for the last few weeks, since losing Sully and tried to keep busy with this blogging project.

I do have a tendency to over-plan everything, I am an avid list writer, brainstormer kind of person and have realised recently, sometimes you just need to take action.  You don’t have to wait for the time to be ‘right’, that time may never come, or to gather every bit of information you need to get the job done, you learn more ‘on the job’ than absorbing massive amounts of information.  So, take the first step no matter how small it is towards what you want, no matter what that is.  Put yourself out there, regrets are one of the saddest things in this life, not realising your potential is even sadder.

Yes, it is daunting, yes, this is taking up a lot of my free time and yes, I feel scared, bordering on excitement.  I want to be a good blogger, with good content that will be useful to someone who was just like me two years ago, not happy with themselves, plodding through life, unsure of how to change things.  I truly hope as this blog develops, it will inspire people to be more, do more and above all else awaken their passions!