What is being a vegan actually like?

Pretty damn good by the sounds of it

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Yesterday commemorated the 50th anniversary of World Vegan day, and was celebrated by many vegans across the globe. We interviewed some vegans to find out what being a vegan is actually like, and why they think it’s so important. 

Emily Brown, University of Birmingham

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 How long have you been a vegan for?

“I have been a vegan for just over two years.”

 What was the reason for turning vegan?

I watched documentaries such as Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives and read a few books on veganism. I think by learning about all of the cruelty that goes on really made me rethink things. I did a lot of research on environmental and health impacts of consuming animal products, and began changing my diet.”

What does world Vegan day mean to you and is there a way you celebrate it?

“World Vegan Day is amazing, as it helps to bring exposure to veganism. Social media was the main reason I went vegan, as I saw so many talking about it, I was intrigued. Days like this can make people question their diet and lifestyle choices, and make the change just as I did. I don’t necessarily celebrate it, but I will make sure to post on my social media and eat some vegan chocolate.”

How has being vegan helped to improve your lifestyle?

“I eat so much healthier than I used to. My diet consists mainly of whole plant foods such as fruits, veggies and grains.”

Do you cook any vegan food, if so what are some of your favourites to cook?

“Lately I’ve been loving tofu stir fry with lots of green veggies and rice noodles. I also love pasta and veggies with pesto, soya cream and nutritional yeast. I also try to bake whenever I have time.”

What are the best vegan restaurants in Birmingham?

“Warehouse Café is probably my favourite vegan place. I tend to eat in mainstream restaurants as I mostly eat out with non vegans – Wagamama, Nandos, Las Iguanas, Zizzi and Handmade Burger Company all have such amazing vegan options.”

Any advice to anyone who is considering going vegan?

“I would say to make sure that you research to make sure you are getting enough nutrients. Veganism is not about being perfect, more about causing the least amount of harm to the animals and environment as you can.”

MeMe Detroit, Birmingham based musician 

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How long have you been a vegan for?

“It’s coming up to a year now, but before that I was a vegetarian for 10 years.”

 What was the reason for turning vegan?

“I knew that I would eventually turn vegan as I was a vegetarian, but one day it was like a switch in my head that made me decide to go vegan.”

What does world Vegan day mean to you and is there a way you celebrate it

“I actually just found out about it and it falls on my birthday which is pretty cool. I think it’s important to get the message out there and make people more aware that it’s a lifestyle choice and it’s not always about preaching to people to turn vegan.”

How has being vegan helped to improve your lifestyle?

“The food that I eat is fresh and I’m cooking things which I can’t even pronounce but it’s tasty and healthy.”

Do you cook any vegan food, if so what are some of your favourites to cook?

“I get many of my ingredients from Natural Foods in Digbeth and from the supermarkets. One of my favourites to cook is a peanut noodle tofu. It’s very tasty, it has garlic, ginger, spring onions and you add that with the pasta and mix with tofu and tablespoon on peanut butter.”

What are the best vegan restaurants in Birmingham?

“I really like to go to Las iguanas and Stable. There’s a lot of vegan places in Birmingham compared to a year ago.”

Any advice to anyone who is considering going vegan?

“I would suggest that you try and go vegetarian first, if you are used to a meat diet. Also you need to research nutrients and how to sustain a healthy balanced diet. You can also get a basic cupboard ingredients list online.”

David Rubey

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How long have you been a vegan for?

“I have been a vegan for 5 years.”

 What was the reason for turning vegan?

“My dad was having problems with high blood pressure, so I went on a plant based diet with him to support him. We got into it together and have never looked back.”

What does world Vegan day mean to you and is there a way you celebrate it?

“I will hopefully eat with some of my good friends and share the gratitude that I have for my life as a vegan.”

How has being vegan helped to improve your lifestyle?

“I have lost weight and have become more mindful of the nutritional value of my food. I have gained much more compassion for other animals as well as my fellow man. It is a lifestyle of compassion. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to choose Veganism in a world where for most this is not the norm.”

Do you cook any vegan food, if so what are some of your favourites to cook?

“I love to cook. One of my favourites to cook is an oatmeal fruit bowl for breakfast. All you need is a variety of fresh fruits and some oatmeal. Add in some walnuts, fresh ginger, basil and flax seed and you have the breakfast of champions. I also love to make a fresh tomato sandwich using organic tomatoes and add some avocado slices with some fresh spinach over bread spread with vegan mayonnaise.” 

Any advice to anyone who is considering going vegan?

“For any prospective vegans, I would say watch the documentary; Forks Over Knives. Also, I would suggest becoming vegetarian first and then one day wean yourself off the dairy and eggs and you will be vegan. Have fun with it and make it a personal challenge to see if you can do it.”