By Hayley White
I've been vegetarian for a solid four months and it's taken me about that long to figure out my diet. I found cutting out meat surprisingly easy for someone who once thought that they wouldn't survive without it and I figured it would be the same going vegan. It really didn't seem like too much of a jump to cut out dairy and eggs.
In hindsight, going from vegetarian to vegan is a lot harder than I had expected. There's dairy and/or eggs in a shit ton of stuff, so it was pretty hard trying to find things that I could eat and enjoy. Luckily for myself, I eat almost everything for the most part, but I swear dairy and eggs are in everything. I mean everything. Except pasta, which I didn’t know before so I relied on pasta for my carbs. If there's no dairy, then there's bound to be egg hiding in there somewhere and if there's neither dairy nor egg, then it's a fucking miracle.
I expected vegan bread to be the hardest to find, especially because I’d never really noticed it anywhere. But once I did a little digging (and by a little digging I mean I googled ‘vegan bread’) I discovered that a lot of popular bread brands are vegan, namely Ploughman's and Freya's.
I also managed to find a lot of swiss army knife foods (foods that are multi-purpose). A lot of the grains and seeds that I needed for protein or omega-3 I could find in cereals or bread or even peanut butter. These are super important for both vegans and vegetarians to consume because they’re most often found in meat and fish.
Milk is hands-down the easiest and cheapest thing to replace in a vegan diet. There are so many affordable alternatives that are so good for you and are jam packed with calcium. Something not so affordable and not so easily replaced is yoghurt. Coconut milk yoghurt is the most common alternative for the popular snack food and is only found if you look super closely at the label when browsing products. It’s not great on the pocket, but considering I don’t eat much yoghurt anyway, I reasoned that this would be good to try.
The hardest thing about being vegan was having meals away from home. My mum’s house was a trap for foods like dairy, eggs and meat. As for my work, they provide meals for me after every shift but complain enough about my vegetarianism, let alone me going vegan.
After a few days though, I found that I was getting super tired really fast. I was having a heap of pasta, but I wasn’t taking in enough calories to sustain myself. I think this is partly because a lot of the veggies that I was eating were low in calories. I also lost a bit of weight, not only because of the calorie deficit, but because I was being a lot more conscious of what I was eating. Vegan food is really healthy and I had cut out a lot of processed food that contained dairy and eggs.
Do I think that being vegan is something I could do long term? Yes, I do. Being vegetarian for a while first definitely helped a lot to ease me into it, but as long as you do your research and figure out what works for you then you too may be able to say goodbye to animal products.