By Indigo Jones
From the title you’re probably thinking, “Alton Towers have introduced a weird new ride”, but alas you’d be wrong. A vegan rollercoaster is probably the best way to describe my relationship with food over the past 6 months. It all began way before lockdown, at the beginning of the year when we thought 2020 would be like the 1920s; one big celebration hosted by Jay Gatsby himself. After having been a pescatarian for numerous years in the past, I thought I’d take plunge and attempt Veganuary. I went from eating meat, dairy, eggs etc to cutting it all out in a day. I immediately saw a difference physically and mentally, whether that was through weight loss, an improvement in health and fitness or cosmetically as my skin cleared up. I felt a sense of confidence in myself that I had not felt for years. I became obsessed with finding out whether my favourite foods were vegan, what restaurants had the best options, which supermarkets sold the best vegan cheese/ sheese alternatives (tip: it’s Morrisons). It was something new that I felt passionate about, and in turn I thoroughly enjoyed my new way of life.
I immediately saw a difference physically and mentally, whether that was through weight loss, an improvement in health and fitness or cosmetically as my skin cleared up.
January went by quickly and I found myself excited by the release of new vegan items from a variety of food outlets, for example the vegan burger from KFC or the vegan steak bake from Greggs. Call me Hannah Montana, because I had the best of both worlds! I could enjoy my favourite things and not feel guilty, it was a win win situation. Frankly, I found veganism easy, something I never thought I would say. That was until January finished and so did my time as a vegan. During the month, I learnt a lot about the dairy industry, meat industry and more importantly myself, as I realised my capability of doing things when I put my mind to them. I knew that if I had a goal and stuck to it I would have something to feel proud of, but when I reached that goal (the end of January), I gave up on my vegan lifestyle.
When lockdown began, I saw my opportunity to yet again begin my quest in veganism, but as quarantine had its highs and lows so did my new dietary adventure. I believed that the lack of temptation from restaurants and takeaways would be beneficial to my new plant-based journey, only to be stumped when these same restaurants and takeaways slowly began to open. I found myself saying “I’ll start again tomorrow” or “Maybe next week”, and then felt down on myself and guilty when I would slip up. I would class myself as a vegetarian one minute, pescatarian the next and I felt like I was being judged for faltering with my attempt at veganism. On a personal note due to the uncertainty of Covid-19 and my last year of University I lacked motivation, whether that was work related or diet related. I felt a lack of urgency and incentive to do what was necessary, then as a result I began to fall in to bad habits. I would order a takeaway because I couldn’t be bothered to cook, or I would throw my months of hard work away just for a chocolate biscuit, and for what? In the end I just disappointed myself.
When I first set out to write this article, I wanted to make sure I was extremely transparent in how I struggled and continue to struggle with my progression to becoming vegan. Like any dietary change, it takes a lot of will-power and perseverance and going into it you need to have the realisation that you will slip up sometimes and that’s ok. So, am I still a vegan? Technically no, technically yes. I have opted to not label myself, and instead make a difference in my own way by taking my time transitioning and by using as little animal products as possible. I think that we should put less pressure on people who do or do not use animal products and instead allow them to go at their own pace. I once read that if you did something every day for 28 days it becomes a habit, so that’s my new challenge, motivating myself to make veganism a challenge instead of a chore. Although, my current mentality is that by reducing my intake or usage I’m helping in one form or another, and I believe that is the mentality of many people today. I plan on putting less pressure on myself and go back to how I felt in January, which was enjoying my newfound vegan lifestyle. But for now, I will get on this vegan rollercoaster again, I’ll enjoy the ups and downs, and I’m looking forward to what this bumpy ride has in store for me.