After doing a little bit of research I became increasingly frightened of vegans. Why? Because all of a sudden it appeared that being a vegan was no longer about tasteless lentils and hairy arm pits. Only a few moments with google showed me that “Vegan” was now synonymous with glamour, an urban cool, sexiness and all things that amazing people do in New York. Thus the cover photo for this entry. I don’t normally look like that. I sometimes don’t get out of my pajamas. Literally for days. I occasionally straighten my hair so that it looks like straightened fairy floss rather than an Afro bird’s nest. When I put on eye makeup I do it so well that my little girl asks me if someone has upset me. But after a few moments of viewing names of Vegan Sites such as ‘Oh she glows’, ‘Post Punk Kitchen’, ‘Sexy Vegan’ and ‘Vegan Goddess’ I realised that my general impression of being a Vegan was no longer applicable. It was obviously very, very dated. Thus I found the one photo of me where I knew I could possibly pass for a Vegan. Well what I now though Vegans looked like anyway.
So I was scared. Not of lentils but of just not being good enough to be a vegan. I mean would I pass the mustard so to speak. From here on in, all my little food terms and sayings were going to have to be vegan as well. Life was no longer as good as a Bacon and Egg sandwich, it was as good as………… I was not quite sure what it was as good as, but I was going to find out.
Then it was over a year of dealing with gorgeous vegans, ordering copious amounts of vegan cookbooks from the the bookdepository.co.uk and then being utterly disappointed with their arrival. So many things used a vast quantity of oil that I could not eat. So many things substituted butter for something else like margarine that in my books was just as bad as butter. I was on the vegan journey because animal products are bad, but I was not going to substitute them for something else that was non-animal but for me just as bad. Then there was the ingredients lists – well that opened my door to a world of pain that I never knew existed: Tempeh, Sucanat, Agave, Amaranth, Maca, Lucuma, Kombu, Hijiki & Gochujang to name but a few.
Did being a vegan have to be so hard, as well as being so impossibly glamorous? For amost 18 months I have struggled with my food. I have stuck with it but I have struggled. But along the way I have had some successes. I was lucky enough to go on an amazing Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis retreat where for 5 days we ate like Vegan Kings and Queens. I have lucked on a few recipes that I adore. I am starting to experiment a little more. It took me a long time to appreciate the little things in what I was eating. And what I have learnt is that it does not have to be something using exotic ingredients. For me they are out of the question as I can not buy them in my little country town and I can not afford the luxury of buying expensive ingredients online.
I have gradually realised that I do not need to be scared of a rapidly growing industry where everyone has an opinion about how best it is to be vegan. I do not have to follow vegan recipes that use ingredients that are impossible for me to source, or techniques that are just not suitable to a simple daily life that includes 7 year old twins. For me it was about learning to go back to the basics.
And I think one of the hardest things for me starting this journey was that you immediately forget the basics. If you have never been a vegan before then it initially appears to be a bit of a complex, exotic, frightening mystery. So for a long time what I forgot was that it was just about the basics. After all, plants and whole food have been around for time eternal.
Good ingredients & basic cooking, a lot of perseverance and taste you shall find. That was my theory anyway.