Jamie Balfour

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The route to becoming vegan

The route to becoming vegan

A few years ago I wrote an article on my website about becoming a pescatarian that detailed my original plan to become vegetarian three years later. That plan did come to fruition and I moved to a vegetarian diet in May 2017. It didn't last, however, and I wasn't a true vegetarian until January 2019 as I had a few rough patches where I went back on to fish. As a result, I switched (relapsed) three times from a pescatarian diet to a vegetarian diet before finally becoming a full-on vegetarian in 2019.

It was always a goal of mine to take red meat (beef, pork etc) and white meat (chicken, turkey) completely out of my diet because of the cruelty to animals that we have in the world - I just didn't want to be a part of that. I haven't actually eaten those kinds of meats since October 2014 so I've stuck to my morals on that for around 9 years and I have gradually pulled the string of the slingshot further and further on my own diet to see how much further I can go. 

Veganism is a must for me, and I have for the last 2 years at least become more and more vegan and most of the food I eat is vegan. I'm just not being strict yet. 

So what is a vegan?

The definition of a vegan is not hugely different in any way from what I am now. I'm what they call an ovo-dairy-vegetarian - that basically translates as a vegetarian who eats eggs (not directly, only when in products) and dairy products. A pure vegetarian, normally known as a vegan, simply eats plant-based products. 

A vegan can do this for a variety of different reasons but my reason is for nothing other than the concern for the treatment of animals. I became a subscriber to PETA a few years back and there's one thing that resonates in my mind:

You'd eat a pig but you wouldn't eat a dog. Why is it that a dog is allowed to live whereas a pig is not?

This has always been the strongest argument in my mind. How different would the world be if you met the cow or the pig before you ate it?

Why am I going vegan?

The above should explain why I need to go vegan. As I say I am already eating a lot of vegan stuff, for example when I am out for pizza I now pick the vegan pizza instead. This all started when I was living in my own halls of residence at university, as detailed in the article mentioned previously. Basically, I was cooking a steak and was cutting the steak before eating it and I had this feeling of dislike for what I was doing, a feeling I had always actually had since about 2006 when I was originally trying to go vegetarian. At that point, I made the decision to stop eating meat like that. 

Animals are a very important part of my life. Petro was a very special little rabbit to me and his passing was a very difficult part of my life. Gismo was also a major part of my life and it always went through my mind about what it would be like for other animals who don't have the same luxuries as they do (I don't mean the central heating of the house but more the fact they do not have to live in dire conditions waiting for the day when they are to be killed for food). So my mind was set on a change in my own diet as I tried to achieve 8 years earlier when I was in S3 at school.

How am I doing this?

The 'how' is the more difficult part. Switching from meat to pescetarian was easy. Switching from pescetarian to vegetarian was difficult. That's mainly because my favourite food was, and probably still is smoked salmon. I feel that the move from a near vegan to a full vegan is going to be the most difficult part. I've already started to move away from dairy products like milk and cheese (at last) and wish to keep going.

So my plan this time is different. Instead of making a full switch in one go, I'm going to take it gradually. That means that instead of going vegan 100% of the time I'm going to be flexible. For example, when I'm out and about (say out with friends) I'm going to eat vegetarian options if that's all that appeals to me. This way I don't get put off being a vegan because I cannot go out and enjoy my life! That's not to say that there aren't plenty of times when I see a good vegan option I can eat, but they are limited. I mean when I first switched in 2014 I found that there was so little variety in my food, now though, it's difficult to choose what to eat because there's so much. So things are much easier for me now to make this possible than they were when I changed to a vegetarian. 

Another part of this is chocolate. There are plenty of times when I eat vegan chocolate now, but not all of my favourite chocolate is vegan. For example, those who know me will know that Wispa bars are vegetarian and not vegan, losing these from my diet is going to be hard. The same goes for Yorkie bars and Aero bars.

I will update this article with more information about how my transition goes, which starts as soon as I've finished the vegetarian food left in my freezer (by the end of the week). Wish me luck!

Posted in Life
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