I gave up eating meat a long time ago for a whole variety of reasons; animal welfare concerns, health reasons and because it just felt like the right thing to do. It was very much a personal thing, I didn’t want to protest or try and convert people I just wanted to live my life my way. My wife and two children remained meat eaters.
After a while I started to feel a little bit of a fraud eating dairy products and eggs; there are animal welfare issues connected with dairy herds and egg production. However I never made the switch to a totally plant-based diet, it would have been too disruptive for family life. The family were happy to join me in vegetarian meal, like vegetable lasagne, pizza and cauliflower cheese, but I think if all my meals were vegan then it would have been a case of always cooking two meals on every occasion.
In 2012 my marriage ended and I moved out of the family home; this seemed the perfect opportunity to turn vegan. I had also just read Scott Jurek’s book and thought ‘if it is good enough for him then it is good enough for me’. For those that don’t know about Scott he is an ultra-marathon runner (distances beyond the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles) with an exceptional record of success. I was happy that switching to a vegan diet would not undermine my running, in fact it might even improve it. Unlike Scott I have not got a record of success, although since turning vegan I have won my first trophy. The male over 60 category in the Round the Island race on the Isle of Wight. 65 miles over two days on the coastal path around the island’s perimeter.
Again the vegan thing is what feels right for me, I’d like other people to take the same approach but I’m not going to berate or condemn them if they don’t. My younger daughter lives with me, my older daughter had already left home, and firmly believes that ‘a meal without meat is not a proper meal. So now I have to cook two meals, I do not believe that I should force my beliefs upon her, especially as they were different when she was born.
My first few months as a vegan were not easy, I tended to try to find substitutes for dairy products and missed cheese a lot. Then I had a seminal moment, why try and find things that were like the things I did not want to eat? From that point on I just tried lots of new things, creating meals form fresh ingredients and enjoying experimenting with different combinations of herbs and spices. I love my food more now than I’ve ever done and feel a lot healthier. I used to gets lots of colds, both in the winter and the summer, but since following a vegan diet I’ve not even had a sniff of one. That is almost three years without a cold.
The advice I wished I’d had when I first became a vegan is this ‘don’t think in terms of giving things up, instead crowd them out by trying lots of new things. You won’t like everything you try, but there will be more than enough that you do to keep your thoughts off of what you are not having.’