Let me start by saying that I applaud vegans. This is not an easy lifestyle to follow and I’m in awe at anyone who has the willpower to stick to it day after day. Unfortunately, I’m a failed vegan. But here’s what I learned from my experience and why I still believe it’s the future.
I’m a Failed Vegan because I have no Willpower
I know, as excuses go it’s a pretty weak one. I certainly can’t be the only person who has struggled dropping all meat and dairy though. I’ve tried alternatives and for a while they were ok. But in the long run there were as many downsides as upsides to these products.
I’ll give you an example, Sainsbury’s vegan cheese alternatives, which have become known as “Gary”. Well, they’re ok but are they any substitute for real cheese? Absolutely not. They taste completely different and they aren’t anywhere near as satisfying. The quest for a good vegan cheese alternative continues then.
I know what the argument here is. Veganism shouldn’t be about finding alternatives so much as finding a different and better way. Replacing dairy with vegetables rather than trying to cheat with a replica. The same goes for meat alternatives and everything else. I just don’t think I was ready to drop all of this quite yet. I’m fool enough to have given in to my cravings.
Eating Out with Friends is Still Really Hard
Another completely weak excuse from a failed vegan. The truth is that while more and more restaurants are beginning to offer vegan menus, there’s still a long way to go. I often found myself staring a menu with little or nothing to my tastes. It would also mean heavy restrictions the places I could go with a group of friends. Or putting extra pressure of relatives when we visit for them to cater to me separately.
Some of the restaurants that claim to have vegan options aren’t even trying. I’ve been to one place that offered a bowl of pasta in some oil and a few vegetables dropped on top. Not very appetising. There are other places getting it right however. Zizzi and Las Iguanas deserve special mention. There also seems to be quite a few small local cafes and restaurants springing up around Sheffield.
I really hope that this continued move towards wider offerings continues. It’s nice that the choices for a vegan are getting better all the time. It’s a far cry from when chips were the only option in most places, but there’s still a long way to go.
Even as a Failed Vegan I Believe this is the Future
Despite my own struggles and the personal faults that have caused me to fail, I still think veganism is the future. The massive problems caused by factory farming are really starting to get mainstream attention. Abuse of antibiotics, cruel and inhuman treatment of animals, over farming and many other issues deserve to be discussed and considered.
In the long run, the sheer amount of meat and dairy that the human population is consuming is not sustainable. It’s been proven again and again that if we want to feed the planet and do so in a healthy way, a vegan diet is the one and only option.
Consider the huge amounts of energy and water that it takes to produce a pound of beef. Enough to feed a whole village if the same resources were used to grow crops. It’s insane that these subjects don’t seem to be in the wider public view and that they are flat out ignored by governments the world over. We could make a massive impact on global warming right now, by reducing our intake of meat and dairy.
Even as a Failed Vegan I Learned Loads!
While I have fallen off of the bandwagon, there’s a tonne of good stuff that I’ve learned from the experience. Firstly, it’s much easier than I ever though to drastically reduce or eliminate meat in a lot of popular dishes. Take lasagne as an example, I’ve learned to use a mixture of lentils and pulses cooked in a rich tomato sauce to replace the minced beef and it tastes fantastic! Not to mention lower in calories.
I’ve discovered alternative milks that taste great in different situations. Almond milk is lovely in tea, hemp milk makes for a delicious creamy cup of coffee. Rice milk is lovely as a drink all on its own, but also great with cereal as it tastes naturally sweet.
Beyond this, I’ve become much more aware of how to really make the veggies in a meal sing. Using new flavours and different spices to make vegetables the main event, rather than just something healthy on the side of a plate. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a really good plate of mixed mushroom fajitas! Not to mention learning a few lovely recipes.
While for now I’m donning the mantle of a failed vegan, I really do want to give it another try. I absolutely believe that our future depends upon us facing the consequences of the vast problems we’ve caused through farming animals. It was never a sustainable way to feed the population and sooner or later we’ll have to accept that.
In the mean time, I’m using what I’ve learned to dramatically reduce my intake of meat and dairy. I hope that soon I’ll have the gumption to pack it all in full stop. Until then I’ll make the best of what I know.
Have you ever tried a vegan diet? How did you find it?