A little while ago, I made a post about switching to a vegetarian diet. I noted that I would probably go vegan eventually, and that I would really miss cheese. Well, now I have… And I do. But it has certainly been a lot easier than expected. Just like last year when I was removing meat from my diet, I took my time with it and made one step at a time. It is much more simple than you might think. If you are considering vegetarianism or veganism but are concerned that it’s going to be too much of a challenge, then I would implore you to read on.
When discussing veganism with people who aren’t super educated about it, there is one question I always hear – “But what CAN they eat?!”. The answer is HEAPS. Vegans can still eat a whole lot of tasty things, and as an added bonus, no unfortunate creature has died or been exploited in the process. Now THAT’s yummy.
For this post, I wanted to share the aspects of my diet that I focussed on once I’d committed to cutting out animal products. Meat was already gone, so aside from that I had 3 other food groups that needed addressing – The Cheese group, the Snacks group, and the Alcohol group. I do not believe that these are official food groups, but they were the most significant in my own diet. I will cover all of these in more detail below, and also throw a bit in about the health/beauty products that I regularly use, which are all cruelty free and vegan.
Cheese was probably my one true love. I liked it on pizza, nachos, crackers, in burgers, sandwiches (toasted and regular), maybe even just on its own, by the slice. Reserve your judgement please, we’ve all done it. So, needless to say, it was hard to say goodbye. I did have a couple of go-to break-up tricks up my sleeve, though. It helped to think of the not-so-great things about cheese. At first I had nothing – cheese was bae. Then I started thinking about how cheese always makes me feel kinda bloated, even constipated, and gives me gross chin acne. Also, y’know when you’ve been eating a delicious plate of something covered in melted cheese, then the dregs of the cheese dry and go super solid and get stuck to the plate and it takes about 3 months to scrape it off? Yeah, that. F**k you, cheese.
The next step was to find a suitable replacement. Something that could distract me from the cheese and fill the void it left, while I went through my period of mourning. I found that replacement in Angel Food and will never go back. Angel Food is a yummo, plant-based cheese alternative which I actually first discovered at Hell Pizza. Yeah, vegans can eat takeaway pizza just like everyone else! #equality4all
Milk wasn’t too much of a struggle, really. At least not compared to the whole cheese saga. I really only drink milk in coffee, so it’s pretty easy to replace with soy or almond milk. When I get takeaway coffees now I get soy, it sweetens the flavour but I still like it, though it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (coz it’s coffee, not tea haHA). At home, though, I have almond milk. I’m a bit paranoid about the hormones in soy so I try to restrict my consumption of it. Plus almond milk is super yum, and you can get stuff that’s specially formulated for coffee and it tastes very good. I get mine at Moore Wilson’s, but I’m sure it’s available in plenty of other places.
So many of my fave snacks are vegan and some of them actually really surprised me. Licorice is delish, especially the red RJ’s stuff, and it’s animal product free. Also chippies are yummy and there are heaps of potato and corn chips that are vegan, you just have to do a bit of back-of-the-pack reading before you buy. Also OREOS. Freakin’ Oreos are freakin’ vegan! My newest obsession is Serious Popcorn which has no animal stuff and is super nice, but like, all popcorn is vegan, just don’t have it drowned in butter obvs. I’m also very in love with the Fry’s range, they do vegan pies and other meat alternatives which are all pretty tasty. Most dark chocolate is vegan, too, so I really don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything! I can still have my nights in with Netflix and a stash of delicious treats and have the time of my bloody life. I mean, there are also things like nuts and fruit but… Yawn.
Animal products are commonly used in the production of wine, beer and cider. But not to worry, there are plenty of bevvies for me to enjoy. Barnivore is a pretty good resource for checking the vegan status of beers; there isn’t a huge range of NZ wines on there but my go-to is Peter Yealands. Since 2014 they have been making all of their wines without animal products, and lead the way for sustainable wine-making in NZ, so we like them.
I’ve covered a lot of this sort of product on the blog already, so I’ll do a quick summary of the cruelty free stuff that I am currently using most frequently. For shampoo/conditioner, Ethique is a dream. I also use ecostore stuff, though some of it uses (sustainable) palm oil. I don’t use face wash because it’s never really worked for me, I just wash my face with warm water and follow up with the herb farm rosehip moisturiser. I also have the herb farm jojoba cream for any problem areas as this seems to soothe my spots. For the big puffy baggies under my eyes, I use the coffee eye cream from 100% Pure. Makeup wise, I can’t afford the decent natural makeups. Plus, I don’t like covering my face with it anyway, so tend to just not use foundations anymore, unless it is a very special occasion. Australis is cruelty free, relatively cheap and can be found at most department stores, so that’s probably the most accessible for people. As a helpful aside, who knew that traditional condoms aren’t vegan?! I was quite surprised and also a bit grossed out by that discovery. Not only do a lot of the leading brands test on animals, they actually contain milk products. Yurgh. Vegan and cruelty free condoms/lube are available, but not readily in supermarkets, so you gotta visit the specialty stores for those bad (good) boys.
So, there you have it! In terms of actual meals, I pretty much live on vege stirfrys, burritos, nachos, sandwiches, burgers and the like, all of which are very easy to do vegan. As for the reasons behind my decision, I don’t want to delve too deeply into them here. A lot of it is obvious from the post I made about vegetarianism last year. Generally, I just no longer want to support industries that aren’t good for the earth or for helpless animals, and it is important that my behaviour aligns with my values.
Be sure to let us know in the comments below or on Facebook if you have any helpful hints for going animal product free!