About the Author
Damaris Russell is a blogger for Rainbow Vegans Rock, she’s been vegan since 2016 and blogs about everything related to veganism and eco-friendly life. She loves food but can’t seem to keep plants alive! Like her page on Facebook for blog post updates.
What I’ve Learned Since Becoming Vegan
Firstly, I think it would be useful if I explain a bit about what made me go vegan in the first place and what I’ve learned since I became vegan in 2016.
How I Decided to Become a Vegan
I first went vegan in the March of 2016, there was only one vegan in the office I worked in at the time and I’d overheard a conversation he was having with another colleague about the environmental impact of meat and dairy consumption.
This made my ears prick up because I’m an environmentalist and at this time I was mostly a vegetarian and not for ethical reasons, purely because I didn’t like the texture of meat. Due to this, I didn’t eat meat but I did have dairy products daily.
The vegan in the office was explaining to my colleague that the environmental impact of meat and dairy is huge and he suggested a few informative documentaries for her to watch: Cowspiracy, Earthlings and Forks Over Knives. I’m embarrassed to say that a few others from the office joined the conversation and there were a lot of ‘but cheese… ‘ comments from everyone, including myself.
However, after this, I did seek out these documentaries and once I’ve finished watching them all I decided then and there to cut dairy out of my life. It was actually much easier than I thought it would be.
The more I learned about the industry though, the more I decided that I couldn’t be apathetic about everything I had learned so I decided not to buy eggs, honey etc anymore either.
Probably one of the biggest things I’ve noticed since going vegan is I no longer have cheese with every meal. Before I was vegan I would put dairy cheese on everything, cheese sandwich at work every day, grated cheese on evening meals.
I didn’t even realise it at the time but it must be addictive because I don’t do this with vegan cheese at all. Even though I do have my favourite vegan cheeses such as Vegusto (the company does not seem to stock anymore) for crackers and Mozzarisella for melting, yummy.
This article states that there is casein in dairy milk which is addictive but I’m unsure whether this credible. All I know is that I rarely have cheese now unless it’s on pizza and I definitely feel better for it.
Vegan is Like a Swear Word
What I mean by that is in my experience people either don’t like vegans because of bad experiences or they don’t really understand what being vegan actually means!
I tend to avoid stating that I’m vegan if I meet someone new and they aren’t already aware that I am.
Not because I’m unsure of myself or not confident. I’m always ready to stand up for what I believe in regardless of what anyone thinks! However, the reaction can sometimes be a bit negative and I feel like this is not an impression I want to leave when I first meet someone.
That being said I do think that a lot of people that I have told in the past about being vegan for example work colleagues; they are generally just interested and curious about what it means and what I eat.
My Taste Has Changed
This is quite a big one, I’m definitely a much better cook since going vegan. I’ve learned how to put Ingredients together to make food taste amazing.
Whenever non-vegan friends have eaten food I’ve cooked they’ve always been surprised how good it tastes without meat.
When I was vegetarian I used to use a lot of Quorn products and base my meal around that but now I see what vegetables I have and my meal is based around the vegetables. Using as many fresh ingredients as I can. The flavour that you get from vegetables is just amazing, for example, roasted sweet potatoes with thyme and garlic, delicious and so many health benefits too!
I Feel Better Overall
I didn’t notice a lot of difference when I switched from vegetarian to vegan but I did start to feel more healthy when I started cooking with as many vegetables as I could.
When I was vegetarian and my son was a baby I was sleep-deprived and ill a lot due to it. This time around with a baby I feel tired from the lack of sleep but I’m not ill and my body is coping much better.
I think what we eat is so important for our health and how we feel. It, of course, does not replace modern medicine but things like diabetes, for example, can be reversed on a whole food plant-based diet and conditions like Lyme disease can be improved by being vegan.
Vegan and Cruelty-Free Are Very Different
When it comes to cosmetics and skincare, vegan and cruelty-free are very different so I discovered quite quickly that you have to check labels thoroughly.
Some companies are cruelty free but they have products with non-vegan ingredients such as beeswax, cochineal (crushed beetle which is used as a red pigment), lanolin (derived from sheep’s wool) and honey.
Other companies claim to be cruelty free and yet they sell their products in China (where they not only allow animal testing, but under their law they have the right to test any outside products on animals as well!) or they are a cruelty free company like Urban Decay for example, but their parent company Loreal isn’t.
I have seen as well that some companies have made errors and labelled something as vegan even though it actually contains honey for example, so I’m just in the habit of double-checking everything now.
I Love and Respect Animals More
Lastly the way I think about animals has changed completely. I’ve always loved them but hadn’t ever considered how cruel it is to keep small rodents or birds in cages for example.
I know some people rescue small animals and take them in but generally these people are more aware that they need to come out of cages regularly and they do give them a much better life.
It’s the pet stores where you can buy a hamster and keep it trapped in a tiny cage for the few years that it’s alive, that just makes me feel sad.
Zoos and animal parks are also another thing I hadn’t considered prior to going vegan. They usually have a lot of signs everywhere talking about the conservation they are doing etc, however, they are still a for-profit organisation and they exploit animals for their gain.
I only visit animal sanctuaries now as they usually focus on rescuing animals and giving them a better life. Locally, Chrissy and I have Ferne Animal Sanctuary. Further south in Devon there is Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary which is part of a huge project rescuing donkeys that have been mistreated in countries such as China. If you ever get a chance to go and visit the sanctuary, it’s really lovely there and you can adopt a donkey too!
If you’ve enjoyed this guest post from Damaris please head over to her website Rainbow Vegans Rock for more content.