On becoming Vegan…

“Love is shining
life is thriving in the good life
good life”

(Good Life – Inner City)

I never actually consciously chose to go vegan, but I have been more or less embracing a plant-based diet since February. As this is now nine months, a not insignificant period of time given I could have brought a small human into the world by now (thankfully not though, nervous laughter), I feel I have earnt the right to talk about my experience. Whether or not anyone actually wants to read about it, is a different matter. 🙂

I say “more or less”: I have been 100% meat free except for the odd encounter with ‘surprise’ bacon fat lurking in an otherwise unsuspecting salad or cleverly concealed chicken in what looked like veggie pasta. Oh and I once tried some deep fried duck at a foodie festival because I thought it would be the holy grail of amazing tastiness, but in actual fact it was more like the dregs of the most unsanitary branch of KFC triple-fried in pig lard. I learnt my lesson there: never again Dirty Duck, never again.

Anyway, for someone who ate McDonald’s on an almost weekly basis, whose favourite food was a thick slab of Sirloin (the bloodier, the better), and would routinely seek out gastro spots on their provision of slowly smoked pulled pork on the menu (not to mention the sides of creamy mac ‘n’ cheese), this is not something to be taken lightly.

Of course being vegan isn’t just about avoiding meat; all animal products are also off-limit: that’s milk, eggs, cheese and even honey for the hardcore herbivores. Whilst I never buy or cook with any of the afore-mentioned, I have to admit I am not a ‘perfect’ vegan, and will occasionally succumb to a slice of Dutch apple cake if someone brings it into the office (it is the mother of all cake), or have a few squares (okay, half a bar) of Milka chocolate with my housemates if we’ve had a particularly lousy day.  Anyway, I personally think that indulging in a non-vegan treat once in a while makes the whole lifestyle more sustainable in the long-term… but more on that at a later date.

So, what prompted the big change?

Like every girl ever, I went on a post-December detox and started eating more fruit and veggies: smoothies for breakfast, homemade vegetable soups for lunch. Gradually I noticed how amazing I felt without the sluggishness of meat and dairy chugging up my system. Armed with my brand new spiralizer (a Christmas present), I was also spiralizing absolutely everything in sight and eating a rainbow of goodness in spirally noodle-form for dinner. I started to put two and two together: the more fresh plant-based food I ate, and the less animal protein I consumed; the more radiant and energetic I felt. You could even say it put me on a plant-powered high.

Eating meat became more of a chore, so I cut it out; and fish and dairy soon followed without me ever really missing them. Making all my meals from scratch also meant I had full control over what I was putting in my body, so I avoided a lot of refined sugar, additives and processed shit. After only a month or two, I was genuinely feeling the best I’d ever felt in my life. Suddenly, nurturing this newly-found healthy energy and being kind to my body (after years of not really thinking twice), became super important to me.

What was even better: eating was no longer a tug-of-war between being functional and dull, or indulgent but guilt-inducing—I was now eating unlimited portions and truly enjoying every glorious forkful because it made me feel so good.

It has to be noted that this isn’t the first time I’ve flirted with Veganism. A year prior, I adopted the diet with the sole motivation of losing weight. I figured that cutting out two major fatty food groups would limit my calorie intake and force me to shed some pounds (spoiler: it didn’t). Instead of filling up on a variety of nutrient-dense vegetables, I mostly ate bread and cereal and felt low and unsatisfied. I lasted about two miserable months and came to associate the diet with emptiness and restriction.

Of course, this was obviously the wrong way to approach things, but it perhaps highlights why so many people think that being vegan is an extreme diet that they could never even attempt, let alone enjoy. Rather than focusing on what I was giving up and cutting out, my second round of Veganism made me realise what I was gaining: peace of mind, a glowing energy from the inside out, and a whole new world of beautiful plant-based goodness to be consumed in boundless quantities. If anything, my pre-vegan diet was more ‘lacking’ than my new one. (Plus it always helped to know that pizza would ALWAYS be there if I really needed it).

Although it all started with what felt great for me, my motivations for sticking to the good (vegan) life have evolved to cover so many more compelling aspects than those described above—it’s not all about me, I promise! I’m planning to use this blog to share some of the things that have inspired me along the way, as well as general tips & snippets on vegan life in Amsterdam (and anywhere else I happen to visit). I will try not to veer into preachy territory, since I’m not trying to “convert” anyone, or advocate that one way of living is superior to another. It would be a result, however, if just a handful of people became just a little bit more open-minded towards some of the benefits that a vegan lifestyle to offer, and maybe switched up the chicken in their curry for some hearty aubergine and chickpeas once in a while.

Thank you for reading! ❤