um, the title is quite a lame take on David Bowie’s song “Five Years,” and naming my blogposts after the songs i liked used to be quite my thing back in the days i was the good ol’ ~lifestyle~ blogger (lol). this post is all about reflecting on my vegan history, and i remember being very open about my diet switch on the blog, so i guess some weird blogger spirit possessed me for a bit when i was coming up with the headline, haha.
ok, now to the main point of this article. it turns out it will be five years since i turned vegan next month. crazy, huh? my vegan rebirth happened quite unplanned, and it was more of a bet with myself in the beginning – i was diagnosed with cow milk intolerance, and having already been a vegetarian for a few years, i decided to try the next level of the veggie diet. in fact, i was pretty devastated when i found i was not destined to snack on milk and cheese anymore, and “pretty” is quite an understatement, to be honest. but veganism has grown on me (um, surprise surprise, otherwise i wouldn’t be writing this article) as soon as i got more into the ethical reasons behind it.
five years is quite a while, right? well it wouldn’t be me without celebrating this lil anniversary of mine with a highly opinionated article, a reflection on the reality of being a vegan in this case. have fun reading, i’ll sit here quietly waiting for all hell to break loose.
veganism is difficult
you kind of have to relearn your eating and cooking habits. you have to stop doing mindless grocery shopping and start reading labels. you have to give up quite a few foods/meals you might love with your whole heart. you have to get used to being faced with endless questions about your protein intake and dumb jokes about bacon. you have to get really good at fighting your own cravings (anything Kinder is still giving a lot of trouble).
but it’s also easy
listen, there’s shitloads of great meals that have zero animal products in them. finding vegan options in the supermarket/restaurant isn’t so rare (especially since veganism is trending more and more lately). yeah, sometimes you need to stick to French fries with ketchup as it’s the only vegan option on the menu when you go out with non-vegan friends. but you definitely won’t die of starvation, and can in fact have a really good foodie experience every single day.
meat substitutes are overrated
BUT WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN? meat substitutes, like veg sausages, schnitzels, gyros etc. sure might be an easy way to get your daily fix of protein, but often the taste is nowhere near the original thing (hey, i love the Vegetaria schnitzel, but it has nothing to do with the Viennese piece of meat) and the products are incredibly processed, not to mention overpriced and packed in an insane amount of plastic. there’s so many recipes you can cook instead; and legumes and tofu and plant milk are basically all you—or i, at least—need.
you can cook tasty vegan dishes without using twenty high-end ingredients
while i really enjoy browsing vegan cooking blogs, i find it funny, and very misleading, how complicated all the recipes are. liquid smoke? almond flour? date paste? not in my Caucasian house! (sorry, i don’t think i’ll ever get bored of this Joanne the Scammer quote) there’s no need to buy out all the fancy ingredients section at your local Marks&Spencer to prepare a nice dish. my personal fave: spaghetti a la puttanesca (which literally means spaghetti a la “whore”—but we are all woke enough to know we should use the term “sex worker” now, right??—, which is just another reason why i love it so much). you can literally dump a handful of spaghetti, minced garlic, a splash of oil, capers, olives, canned tomatoes (i prefer fresh but you do you), dried basil and parsley into one pot and let the magic happen. you’re welcome.
veganism ≠ healthy diet
fries. pizza (sans cheese, ofc). chips. burritos. Oreos. instant noodles. plus all the veganized versions of regular meals, like burgers and mac and cheese and hot dogs and what not, either from restaurants or supermarkets. it’s not all sprouted beans and quinoa. long live crappy vegan food.
the (cheap) vegan snacks offer is incredibly limited
please give me more interesting flavors of chips and ice cream. paprika and vanilla is getting boring, and dark chocolate sure ain’t no fun. i can’t stand the Lidl vegan cookies anymore.
no matter what anyone says, veganism IS expensive
ok, if you stick to a really basic, staple-ingredients-only diet, it can be cheap. but a diverse, healthy vegan diet, especially if you’re trying to buy from local and eco sources only, is expensive. most vegan versions of regular foods are about 8 times more expensive, and are often not available everywhere, so add the travelling/hunting down time to that, and time is money (in our capitalist society for sure), right?
veganism is mostly for privileged people
as i’ve said in the previous part, varied vegan diet may make your wallet skinnier than you’d like. if you’re trying to eat unprocessed foods, shop package-free, shop local and organic and stuff like that, it only adds up, or rather deducts the cash out of your bank account, to be precise. i’m really sick of all the well-meant advice telling people to just make their own snacks, like cookies and granola bars, at home (not everyone has time or even the equipment for that), to make that extra mile to the zero packaging store (time! transport!), to buy in bulk (you need to have some extra cash in your account to be able to afford buying in bulk – it’s the “poor will always pay the most” theory, you know?), and so on. add the fact that as a vegan, you’re supposed to only go for non-tested all-vegan cosmetics and household products, which, again, are very pricey and sometimes rare to find. people who can do all that are very privileged. veganism caters to the privileged. end of discussion.
it’s almost impossible to be 100% vegan
animal products are in so many things around us you’d have to live in a land completely untouched by the Western, consumerist society to be able to pull of full-on veganism. it’s sad, but that’s how it is. we can all still try our best though!
it’s ok to slip
while many hardcore vegans definitely wouldn’t agree with me on this point, i’m very do-what-feels-the-best-to-you in many aspects, dietary choices included. vegan diet is restrictive in many ways, and with restrictions come urges to break away. you’re most probably still doing way better and are nicer to the planet than most people, so that one non-vegan thing you bought/ate is not in fact such a big deal. and sometimes you don’t even give up to your urges to break your own veganism – i’m talking forgetting to check the ingredient list and accidentally buying candy (or eyeliner) with beeswax or cookies with powdered milk, or ordering a dish that comes with a bit of grated cheese on top. it happens. you’re not gonna throw that thing away, are you? whatever. you’re doing your best, anyway.