Happy 1st year veganniversary to one of our regulars, Chris! He wrote about his first year as a vegan, read how it went for him below...
A year ago today, on the 28th of December in 2017, I made the snap decision to go from being an Omnivore (and an above average consumer of meat and dairy at that) to a fully plant-based dieter overnight, and within another couple of weeks after that, I had successfully made the transition to veganism, which required more than a simple change in my diet, as it also involved changes to items in my wardrobe, hygiene products, and all sorts of other things that nobody (who isn’t up with the play on veganism) would ever dream about making changes to.
I can still remember that day a year ago now. About a week beforehand, I had been out on a Tinder date, my first date with a weirdo, or as she called herself, a “vegan”.
She had introduced me to a fully “vegan” pizza topped with “vegan” cheese, my first ever “vegan” meal.
As far as I knew, I had only met one “vegan” in my life before meeting Rosie (the weird vegan Tinder girl), and that was a girl named Ashleigh, a weird vegan girl who had studied in the same polytech as I had in the years earlier.
Something about the way Ashleigh the vegan had always felt the need to talk about her veganism like it were God’s gift had really irritated me in those years earlier. But her words always had a funny way of appealing to parts of me as well, but not in ways that I had ever cared to explore further back then. Some part of me knew that this girl and her thoughts were making a fuck tonne of sense to me, but other parts of me felt the need to make excuses for my own beliefs, and pretend that her statements and observations were total nonsense, and I would occasionally ridicule what I knew of vegans and their logic.
Flash forward to a year ago today. While “Rosie the weird vegan” and I had very little sexual chemistry (just a few of her wonderful words to me, verbatim) and only lasted two dates all up, there was something about having spent some time engaging the thoughts and feelings of a passionate vegan, combined with having had a fully vegan meal.
My notions of veganism and its weirdness had been totally rocked, and I became a believer in the reality that veganism not only made sense to me, but that it can be easy, that it can be fun, that it can be awesome and accessible, that it can be the new normal, the new natural, and in a lot of different ways, the new necessary
So I’m sat in my room a year ago saying to myself, “Rosie is a vegan. Ashleigh is a vegan. Vegans exist. People who don’t have ANY animals die for their existence, exist. It’s possible to BE one of these people, and still eat hella tasty food. I have to figure out how. I have to get good at being vegan”.
I spent all day repeatedly typing all of my favourite foods into Google. Meals like Bolognese, Nachos, Lasagne, Curries, then snack foods like sandwiches and wraps, breakfast foods like cereal and others, but then I would add the word “vegan” to the end of them. It was so unfamiliar to me at first, but my eyes were opened and I became amazed as I realised that all of these things had recipes by the tens and hundreds, in ways that didn’t involve a single animal product being used.
Eventually I stumbled across an entirely vegan cookbook called “Thug Kitchen”, which was not only full of awesome vegan recipes, but was also chock full of swear words, which immediately appealed to this big fuckhead
Within an hour, I was off to Countdown with a fully vegan recipe for Mango and Tofu Curry, the first time in my life I had EVER been to the supermarket with an ingredients checklist ready in my phone.
Prior to that night, my shopping lists had only ever included words like “Mince. Sauce. Pasta. Chips. Coke”.
Suddenly it read things like: 1 medium Onion, 1 small Red Onion, 2 Garlic Cloves, 1 Can of Coconut Cream, 1 Jar of Red Curry Paste, etc.
Never before that night a year ago had I spent over an hour so hopelessly lost within the walls of a supermarket
Where in the actual fuck does one find Red Curry Paste? African Mangos? Or European Mangos? The Thuggy Kitchen book made no mention of the continent?! Soft tofu? Firm tofu? Wait, there are like 5 different brands of tofu in Countdown alone... help!!!
2018 Chris Gordon knows all of the answers to these questions of course, but 2017 Chris Gordon was suddenly a Carnivorous fish out of meat filled water, and that night provided an emotional/mental turmoil like never before
The plant-based switch had fully flipped within me, my brain was fully committed, “No animal products ever again”, but like, “Fucking HOW?! What can we eat?” argued my left and right hemispheres.
Hehe, the best part of all being that this was just vegan meal Numero Uno
I made it to the end of that night having made a wonderful curry. My friend Shauwn will remember that. I invited him and my friend Luke around to keep me from completely losing my sanity. They too were pleasantly surprised and interested at how well the vegan curry tasted. Not only because it was fully vegan and made without a single animal product, but because Chris had just prepared something other than spaghetti for the first time, and it actually didn’t suck!
I was sold. “I will be a vegan by the end of January 2018”, I told myself.
I had succeeded in that mission within just another week. But I wasn’t entirely prepared for the other things that come with going vegan.
When you make the transition to veganism, lots of things begin to happen.
First, the physical sensations. Your palate changes. You discover new tastes, you lose the desire for some old ones, your palate adjusts, and depending on what you’re feeding yourself, your body does too. Your poop changes. Your sweat/odour changes. This happens over the course of a month or two. That much, I was very prepared for.
The second thing that happens, is that you begin to experience an irreversible astonishment, at the fact that we as humans (you now being the healthy, functioning, living and breathing proof for yourself) can not only survive and thrive without animal products, but that we can be happy and experience food in ways that we never have before, and best of all, that we can do so without a single creature having to be slaughtered for us, and (if you’ve done like, any real reading at all recently) that we can do so with products that involve a mere fraction of the damage to our ecosystem and our environment in their production.
So in other words, the second thing that happens is you discover an astonishing truth. Something you couldn’t see before, and naturally, you feel an overwhelming desire to share that with anyone and everyone that you possibly can, as you truly realise you’ve discovered what you know to be a gift to the human population, a saving grace to the entire agricultural animal population, and to our Earth and Mother Nature herself.
Which now leads in to the third thing that can happen when you become a vegan, and furthermore, the last thing that this Chris Gordon was prepared for.
After two weeks, I had become my own hero.
“Wow. I’m a vegan! I’m doing it! I’m surviving and thriving without animal products. I’m discovering new meals and tastes, I’m cooking, I’m enjoying my own cuisine! I’m not buying clothing that exploits animals. I’m not buying hygiene products that were tested on animals. Not a cent of my income is going towards an animal’s premature death or torment”.
So, I began to talk about it. Proudly, and before long, loudly.
Fuck me days.
Here are a list of things that were supposed to prove difficult to manage or tolerate in going vegan:
- My Protein levels
- My Iron levels
- My B12 levels
- My energy levels
- Estrogen in soy products
- Meal ideas
- Takeaway options
- Getting stuck on Desert Islands
- Not Dying
And now here is a follow up list of the (only) things that eventually proved difficult to manage or tolerate in going vegan:
- Talking with people who aren’t vegans about how none of those things are even remotely real issues that actually exist
By March of 2018, within just three months of going vegan, I had now had numerous friends (and occasionally even my own family members) fight with me, both openly and in private, both online and in person, over why I was becoming a nuisance, and why I needed to stop trying to share my experiences and force my lifestyle and choices onto the people around me.
By March of 2018, I counted that approximately 7 people had blocked me on Facebook (and from their lives forever more) on account of my veganism alone, and I soon discovered that a couple of people at my workplace (at the time) had been saying some rather rude things about my new lifestyle, which rather hurt, (at the time).
But as 2018 continued onward, I began to realise that as ostracised and hated as I had begun to feel by so many of the people I had previously held dear to me, each and every day provides its reminders as to why I am on the right track in being a vegan, and why I am right to continue to loudly and proudly voice and attempt to share my findings, my discoveries, my experiences and delights in the kitchen and the growing world of veganism alike.
What vegans talk about and do, they do extremely little of for themselves, as much as it may not seem like it at first.
No vegan made the choice to go vegan for the sake of their own preferences in taste, not at all. They did so with each and every animal life on this Earth in mind.
If you’ve heard of somebody who “went vegan for their health”, or “went vegan for the environment”, what you’ve really heard of is somebody who simply switched to a plant-based diet. Vegetarian is a diet. Plant-based is a diet. Veganism is not. It’s an entire philosophy/belief system that begins and ends with animal life at its epicentre, and even if it does have some wonderful effects on our health and the environment as a bonus, it remains all about leaving animals to live their lives, whole and complete, and without ending up in human tummies that we now know don’t need them at all to survive.
I have now been a vegan for one full year, and it has proven so very challenging. I have lost countless friends on Facebook and in reality, and have had countless arguments and fights, with friends and family alike, and these are things that will inevitably occasionally continue, as people fight to meet each other in the middle over what is true, what is normal, what is natural, what is necessary. These are things that are governed by human perception after all, and come down to how we choose to see it, and how we choose for it to be.
All of the above said, I have made many many new friends, and I now regularly meet vegans and make friends of them with ease, on a weekly and sometimes even daily basis, and my family too are finally realising that vegans aren’t completely full of shit, and that I actually make sense sometimes.
Here’s to year two of fighting the good fight for the rights and choices of all of the voiceless ones.
Come at me 2019
Chris Gordon, December 2018