I think one of the hardest parts of being vegetarian or vegan is the scrutiny you undergo on behalf of your friends and family. Its not really the “But, where do you get your protein from!?” or the “Don’t you miss bacon tough?”. Not even the “…But cheese!” Its more so the “I knew you wouldn’t last!” you get once you eat chicken nuggets on a night out or forget to get your hot chocolate with soya milk at Starbucks. Its so easy to give up after this because everyone knows you’ve strayed from the tofu lined path — your friend will tell your sister and your sister will tell your mom and then your nan will be relieved she doesn’t have to learn how to cook tempeh after all.
So, the question is: How to avoid this? Don’t tell them! If you’re in a position where you can cook for yourself (and I do hope most of us old enough to be in uni are), look up videos on YouTube and stir up a meat-free storm. Tell everybody once you’ve given it a try and are firm in your beliefs that you can stick to a vegetarian or vegan diet and will not be persuaded to anything other than fries at McDonald’s after a night out.
Once you start cooking at home, you don’t need to run to Beanfreaks or Simply V (great vegan stores in Cardiff, though) to get every single ingredient replacement. Try to cook something out of what you have in your cupboard, and stick to googling recipes with ‘basic’, ‘simple’ or ‘easy’ somewhere in the search bar, because this is another way not to fall out of the spinach train. Unless you were a certified Nigela prior to delving into the broccoli forest, you will probably have a hard time cooking vegetarian and specially vegan at first so stick to the basics. If pasta and bread did the trick before you took the plunge then very little needs to change.
Meanwhile, while you’re learning the basics, make sure to save every recipe you see that looks like something you would want to make. More importantly, follow veggie or vegan food pages on Facebook and Instagram for drool worthy reminders that everything can in fact be made vegan. They will occasionally post the traumatising slaughterhouse video that will stop you from ordering a Pepperoni Passion.
When its not under your control and you’re going out for food, check the menu of the place you’ll be going to online or call them to ask if they have anything suitable for non meat eaters. Chances are they will, and even if they don’t, anything can be altered into a vegetarian/vegan form. If you’re part of one of those friendship groups that can never decide where to eat, even better — you decide based on what you know.
Most importantly though, remember why you started. This one also happens to be the most cliche, but thinking back to what pushed you to leave the omnivore life behind might help you put the nugget down. By ditching the meat you can reduce your carbon foot print, save up to over one hundred animals a year if you go vegetarian and almost two hundred if you go vegan. Regardless, the cravings will come. Make sure you keep some vegan junk food (Oreos, 72% Tesco brand chocolate, chilli heatwave Doritos!) around and sit down to look at cute cows, knowing you’re not only benefiting your health, but also the world.