Today is World Vegan Day, and the first one that Sophie is celebrating being vegan. So today seems like the perfect day to share the story of her vegan journey...
I couldn't be happier with my now plantbased diet, I absolutely love all the food I eat. But it wasn't always like that...
Food was always a bit of a chore for me. As a child I lived on a staple diet of ham, apple and cheese. I was an incredibly fussy eater, with a phobia of tomatoes. I didn't even like pasta. (which seems incomprehensible to me now!)
When I started to learn to cook, however, I got more interested in food. As a young teenager I learnt how to make my own pancakes for breakfast, and how to flip them too. Food was much more fun when you got to make it yourself.
I taught myself to bake, first cakes, then pies, cookies... I may have had a bit of a sweet tooth! At the time my Dad was on a non dairy diet, so it became normal for me to use dairy free spread as a substitute for butter in baking. Then my Dad became a Buddhist, and as a household we started reducing our consumption of meat.
I gradually became vegetarian over time and stayed that way for over 10 years. I never liked milk, but I continued to eat eggs and cheese. The one time I did eat a beefburger again, I found it so unpleasant that I was sure that I would never eat meat again.
As I grew older, my interest in sustainability and passion for the environment and nature grew with me. My family built an eco house to live in, and I started my own business selling second hand vintage fashion. My home and my work was strongly in line with my environmental and ethical values. So why did it take me so long to make my diet fit in?
In 2015 I was ill. A mystery sickness shook up my life, and infused me with both a sense of my mortality and a determination to follow my own dreams. This pivotal moment also led me to my decision to take part in Veganuary in January 2016. I completed the month and learned a lot about vegan cooking along the way. I even kept going for a while afterwards. But then my new found passion for life took me travelling a lot and I found that I was struggling to eat properly. Finding nutritious vegan food when I couldn't cook for myself was tough. I couldn't just live on crisps and apples, so dairy products started to slip their way back into my diet.
Skip forward to 2018, life is incredibly different from before. Over those two years I found the love of my life, we got our campervan Ronnie and started traveling all over Europe together. And with us came our mobile kitchen, and gradually it was so much easier to follow a vegan diet when on the road. In fact, a plant based diet is extremely practical for travelling as much of it doesn't need refrigeration like many animal products. Stopping buying animal products also saved us money and reduced the amount of waste we produced. And best thing of all, it made cooking and creating recipes an absolute joy. And that's why we created Vegan on Board to share those recipes with you all.
I finally managed to go fully vegan in early 2018. My partner Paul is a huge support, preparing all our meals vegan despite not being strictly vegan himself. (Edited 2020 - He now is!) It helped making the transition easier for me. In the past my choice to avoid animal products used to cause difficulties when eating with others. Whether it was the extra dish that had to be whipped up especially for me, as I wouldn't eat the same food as everyone else, or the 'discussions' that followed.
Still, the subject of my diet comes up every time Paul and I visit his family in Austria. While they now widely accept my choice, they don't all understand the Hows and Whys. Some people simply cannot imagine how anyone can live without meat, dairy and eggs by choice. In such a cultural environment, Paul only managed to take the step to become vegetarian after years of failed attempts. Now he found out that more plant-based diet can be every bit as indulgent and has actually expanded his culinary horizons rather than restricting them. Paul used to love meat… But it was his love for the planet that empowered him to change his diet.
Veganism can be a positive choice for the world. A recent study suggested avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on earth. The scientific evidence makes me believe that reducing meat and dairy consumption is the right thing to do for the planet. But I am not here to convince anyone to go vegan. This post is not about facts, but about feelings, and why for me, my personal choice to be vegan simply makes me happy….
I am happy my diet is now in line with my passion for the environment
I am happy to know that my diet does less harm to nature than it did before
I am happy to tread with lighter footprints on this beautiful planet which I love so much
And I am happy to enjoy my food far more than I ever did... Vegan Ice Cream rules!
As well as going vegan this year, I have also made a conscious effort to reduce the overall footprint of my diet - changing our buying habits to avoid single use plastics, trying to eat organically and locally grown produce as much as possible, and even living off food waste for a whole month to raise awareness of the environmental impacts of wasting food.
I don't believe veganism is the answer to 'saving the world' as it's far more complicated than that, but I do believe more of a shift towards it is good for the planet.
But what I can say for sure, is being vegan makes me feel good, and it might make you feel good too 🙂
Happy World Vegan Day everyone!
Peas and love!