If you follow me on Instagram or have read some of my previous blog posts you might already know that I’m a vegan. That wasn’t always the case and today I felt like telling you how my journey went, how I did it and perhaps you might find some useful tips for when you want to yourself.
sweet potato pancakes based on a recipe from Deliciously Ella cookbook
For me it started around two years ago. I was playing with the idea of becoming vegetarian, vegan was something I thought I would never do. I didn’t enjoy the taste and feeling of meat in my mouth anymore and couldn’t help but just picturing a dead animal on my plate, which I didn’t find very appetizing. However, my OCD was probably at it’s worse place and my OCD has everything to do with my distrust of my own body, especially when it comes to food. It made me very afraid of certain food types and avoided many items of food and started to eat less and less, which meant I lost weight. And I always was skinny anyway, so this wasn’t a good thing. It was then that I went back to therapy (I have written some posts about that too: Here, here, here and here), I discussed the matter with my psychologist and we both came to the conclusion it was best not to become vegetarian right away, but first learn to eat everything again and getting some trust back into my body. Also, it would be hard for me to tell at this point whether I would do it because I want it or if my OCD wants it and for the possibility that my stomach would get confused and upset which would trigger my OCD badly and probably would make it worse than it already was.
During my time in therapy, whilst bringing more and more food items back into my diet (food I feared and avoided) and trying and succeeding to gain some weight, I started to collect information about vegetarianism. Started to learn more about Veganism and warm up to idea to become one, collecting recipes for when I could finally start cutting meat out of my diet and become more passionate and more certain that I wanted not only to become a vegetarian, but also a vegan.
So when therapy came to an end, I began by trying out one recipe a week. I didn’t want to rush into things, for a fear that my OCD would be triggered and I would be back where I started. But soon I added more and more meat free days to my week that it seemed rather ridiculous that I would eat meat on the remaining days. So I stopped. I now was a vegetarian on a mission to cut out even more animal products.
This process was a bit slower, because in this process I didn’t dislike the taste and texture of many animal products as I did with the meat. So I went bit by bit. Milk was something I never drank anyway, except for hot chocolate, but there are some good substitutes for that. Such as the Alpro one. However chocolate was a whole different story, I have never been a fan of dark chocolate (still ain’t), and it was rather hard to find a bar I liked. And I found it in Vego, unfortunately I can’t find them in any nearby supermarket or shop, so I order a whole bunch only (perhaps it is a good thing or else I would always eat my weight in chocolate). Eggs on its own, are another thing I never really enjoyed, mostly because when I ate it I would walk around the rest of the day with egg taste in my mouth. But since egg is in most cakes and cookies and other baked goods, still a difficult one to eliminate. I struggled very much finding a good replacement for baking, and failed many times, and it isn’t since only a couple of months ago that I manage to bake something nice without an actual egg.
Other dairy such as: sour cream, crème fresh, whipped cream, is something that we very often put in our meals, but for this counts as well, many good substitutes. For sauces and such I think my favourite one is oat cream.
Cheese is another hard one, if you would know how many times we ate cheese, not just on bread but also on our dinner meals. Almost everyday, we were addicted to cheese. I haven’t found a proper substitute jet, but strangely enough I don’t miss it enough as I thought I would. It’s only this year that I quit cheese and only rarely at the smell I am tempted. However, my stomach can’t deal with it at all anymore and because of my OCD an upset stomach is one of my biggest fear, so the temptation never lasts.
Honey was by far the hardest one for me, it’s only this last month I stopped eating. It’s something I have always loved. I had it in my tea everyday, had it many times on my bread and sometimes I would eat spoonful’s of the goodness, just because. Also for the longest time I could think why it would be cruel or perhaps didn’t want to see it. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any substitute good enough to replace it, but knowing what it does to the bees is for me a good enough reason to not touch it anymore.
1. I think the biggest tip I can give is to take your own time. Not everyone can make such a drastic change all at once. So take it step by step.
2. Before you make the change entirely start collecting recipes, try them out and see what you like. This way, when you make the change to a vegan or vegetarian diet, you have a handful or more of recipes you like. Which makes sticking to your diet a whole lot easier, since you don’t have to rotate the same recipes over and over again so you become bored of it. And the changes you get stuck with meals you don’t like is less big as well. And if you worry that because you are a picky eater you might not like anything, I don’t think you have to worry either. There are so many vegan and vegetarian recipes that it’s bound to have a few you like. And I as well am a picky eater, but since I eat vegan, I discovered so many more kinds of foods I like, that I now have more to choose from than when I still ate meat. It pushed you out of your comfort zone, makes you try things you never had or knew to exist, and that is a good thing.
3. Don’t be intimidated or feel pressured by other people, this is your decision and you can do it the way you please. You don’t have to eat energy balls as a vegan, because all the other vegans out there do and say they like them for example.
My favourite places to get recipe inspiration
Deliciously Ella: Books: Deliciously Ella and Deliciously Ella Everyday.
She also restarted her YouTube channel, so check that one out as well.
Niomi Smart: books: Eat smart
She has a YouTube channel as well, with great, what I eat in a day, videos to check out.
All three books I got when I first started, and I think they are great for that. It has a good mix of breakfast, lunch, dinners, snacks and deserts to choose from. And I still go back to them quite often.
Based on a recipe from The happy pear
Hot for food: a YouTube channel with some great vegan comfort food and more recently she has a book out. I got the book for my birthday and have tried four recipes out of it since, all of them were successes and I would most definitely recommend buying the book.
The happy pear YouTube channel Most of their recipes are nice, simple and delicious.
Caitlin Shoemaker: She has many healthy recipes and I always check her out if I need some inspiration for what to make.
This is a more recent discovery, and I’m glad I discovered her. Her recipes are simple (she travels by van so she doesn’t have a huge kitchen to use) and tasty. The recipes I have tried so far are the tastiest I have had. Especially the Greek inspired Gyros.
My wardrobe isn’t entirely vegan. The things in there that aren’t are from when I wasn’t a vegan and throwing them away just because seems silly. So I use them until they are entirely worn down.
I still own some woollen jumpers, a silk jumpsuit and some leather shoes that I still plan on wearing until they die. My everyday winter shoes I used to have already died, they don’t keep my feet dry anymore and look very beaten down. So I will need a good pair to replace them, but I already got my eye on one.