I used to think vegans were weird.
Then I became one of them.
And now the thing that’s weird is that I didn’t do it earlier.
I wish I had but like lots of choices in life, it’s only for you when you’re for it. (Like getting married or learning to like olives.)
But once I was vee-goned… as well as feeling healthier and happier, there was a whole lot more to discover. Happy herbivore stuff. Like where to buy the best vegan donuts, how to find stylish vegan shoes, and who does the best vegan eyeliner.
So, for anyone considering going vegan, here’s my 14 fun things I discovered in my first months as a vegan…
1. Cooking so good you can swear by it. Yes, I discovered Thug Kitchen. The wonderfully sweary, all vegan cook book has some of the best things I have EVER eaten in it. The coconut rice with mango and beans is the most amazing dish ever. You will not regret making it. I swear.
2. The best ever ‘mac no cheese’… This recipe by Aine Carlin was a game-changer. It’s actually hard to explain how good it is. It’s proper comfort food without the grease (and extra vitamins too). We made it recently for my meat-loving in-laws and they polished off the whole lot.
3. I don’t miss chocolate or cheese. Honestly. Before going vegan, I’d worried about ‘giving up’ chocolate and cheese. But here’s the thing… you don’t have to. You can buy dark chocolate (which is better for you, double win) or treat yourself to coconut mylk chocolate (a complete revelation for me!). I also discovered Rebel Kitchen, whose chocolate orange mylk is probably meant to be for kids but I’m addicted to it!
4. Happy vegan snacks! There are soooo many wonderfully accidentally vegan snacks, like Love Hearts, Skittles, Starburst, Frazzles, McCoys crisps, Party Rings and Oreos to name but a few. (There’s even this fab Instagram account, Accidentally Vegan UK, dedicated to sharing the ones they find.)
And there’s the brilliantly ‘unaccidentally’ vegan snacks, like wagon wheels from Anandas Marshmallow Confections.
5. Vegans love junk food too… because everyone needs a hot dog or a burger every now and then. My favourite so far has been from the Essential Vegan pop-up in Shoreditch (which has popped away now but they’re hopefully opening a real premises soon) and The Waiting Room in Deptford (who do a mean spicy hot dog!).
But you can also get vegan pizza at Pizza Express (it’s called the Pianta), eat vegan at Nandos or at Wagamama, and even have a vegan curry at Wetherspoons.
6. Vegan cake is damn good. Ruby’s of London is my new favourite (they have a stall every week in Greenwich Market). But Ms Cupcake in Brixton is amazing too (the cookie sandwiches are AMAZING). And the cheesecake from VX in Kings Cross. Oh yeah. We’ve also been making vegan brownies at home too. (Yes, there’s a reason the hashtag #whatfatveganseat exists!)
7. And then there’s the ice cream too. You can get lovely deliberately vegan ice cream, like Salted Caramel Almond Dream, or go for Walls Swedish Glace which happens to be widely stocked at big supermarkets, be a bargain and vegan too. Again, winning!
8. Epic vegan Bloody Marys are the business. My other half created these Bloody Mary beauties one night and they’ve become a firm favourite ever since.
9. Vegan bags are brilliant. I’ll admit here, I used to wonder about vegan bags… I wasn’t going to eat the bag so why did it need to be vegan? (Yeah, I know.) One of the first things I did on going vegan was treat myself to a Matt and Nat bag. (You can find them in lots of local boutiques, but also in Urban Outfitters and online at ASOS too.) I also treated myself to a SkinnyDip bag, again happily vegan. For more vegan bags ideas, I’ve been Pinning away when I find something nice here.
10. I put some new shoes on, and suddenly everything’s right. I love shoes. Like more than I really should. And again, it was something I worried about before going vegan. How would I find shoes I love? Quite easily as it happens. Turns out that Urban Outfitters do vegan leather boots. Miss KG does lots of sparkly, shiny shoes that happen to be accidentally vegan too. ASOS even have a ‘non-leather’ filter that you can use to only look at vegan shoes. I even found amazing jelly brogues when I was in Lisbon. They smell of lemons. Yup, they’re very happy shoes.
In fact, lots of high street places have vegan shoes, you just have to check the material symbols on the bottom of the shoes – little diamond shapes are good, little stretched out hide shapes are, eh, not good. Also, you’ll probably save money too as faux leather tends to be cheaper. Win-win!
11. More treats! The Vegan Kind subscription box is now my favourite post of the month. Based in Glasgow, they send out a treats box filled with sweet and savoury snacks (and the occasional beauty or lifestyle product). Through their box, I’ve discovered Lazy Days dairy-free Scottish millionaire shortbread (again stocked in Sainsburys). This shortbread was a hit with the in-laws too!
12. Bunny friendly and vegan friendly make-up… In the first weeks of being vegan, I was doing a lot of thinking about what I ate and this graduated to thinking about what I put on my face. So I did a beauty bag audit. I looked at the ingredients of my products and if they were cruelty-free. (It was shocking how many things I’d assumed were that turned out not to be.)
So I made a pile that I would use up and not buy again – and then when I ran out, I would replace it with something vegan and cruelty-free. So far, my new favourites are Lush’s eyeliner and Soap and Glory’s mascara (as someone who has flicked eyeliner everyday, I’m a harsh critic of eyeliners and mascaras!). But I’ve also discovered Superdrug’s B Makeup which is super affordable and cruelty-free too.
13. It’s even better when there’s two of you. Around the same time that I went vegan, my other half decided he was going to do it too. Since he went vegan, he’s done his first half-marathon and discovered an immense love for veggie Colin the Caterpillars.
14. Micro pigs = maximum fun. It was my birthday recently and my other half took me to meet Charlotte and her friends at Kew Little Pigs. We spent a fun two hours getting to know the little quirky characters. And we got to give them some guilt-free hugs too. (Even though Charlotte wasn’t so sure she wanted a hug from us!)
For anyone who wants more vegan ideas and recipes, I’ve been Pinning anything I’ve found useful, insightful or just yummy here. Or if you want any advice, then I’m happy to help too. It took me a year of figuring things out, doing research and talking about what I wanted to do before I went vegan – so I know it’s not the easiest decision if it’s one you’re thinking about making.
And if anyone has any shoe recommendations or amazing vegan snacks I should try, then I’m all ears. (And tummy too!)