Oh boy, this blog post probably should have been written a while ago. It’s taken me so long mainly because I’ve dismissed just how much people seem to be concerned with what I eat. But on an almost daily basis I now get asked the all-important question:
“Are you vegan?”
The short answer: no.
The longer answer: kind of, maybe, depending on how you look at it, sometimes..?
The really long answer: I follow a plant-based diet. This is fundamentally not the same as vegan. I have never felt completely comfortable calling myself vegan (although I occasionally used the term years ago) as I switched to a plant-based diet for health reasons, not ethics. I feel like the term vegan is about so much more than just food, and I have never belonged in that category, so it doesn’t seem right for me to use that word to describe myself.
I like the word plant-based for many reasons, but mainly because it is vague. Depending on who you ask plant-based means different things. Some bloggers use to it to describe a diet consisting of 100% plants with no processed food, whereas the scientific community defines plant-based as a diet consisting of predominantly plants. Note: predominantly, not completely.
My diet is not 100% plants. This is because I eat what I want. I would say my diet is probably around 80% plants, which is what makes me happiest. The remaining 20% could be anything from enjoying some cake for a friend’s birthday, going out for pizza, or saying yes when my sister asks me if I want to taste the latest Ben and Jerry’s flavour. There is no food that I see as off-limits. This is my idea of balance, and I love it!
And yes, sometimes I even eat eggs. My parents live in the countryside and have a wonderful garden where they keep chickens. They live a very happy life there and all die of old age, long after they’ve stopped producing eggs. Personally I see no problem with eating these eggs – to be honest I don’t even know why I stopped as they’re just incredible and a key part of my childhood. This also means that sometimes when I go out for brunch I have a craving for eggs and I indulge in it.
When I’m at home and cooking for myself, pretty much everything I make and eat is vegan/plantbased/whatever you want to call it. But when I go out to eat I prefer to be much more flexible, partly because it makes my life easier (as well as for those around me), and also because it makes me happy and I love trying new things. Most of my friends aren’t in the health industry, and definitely aren’t even vegetarian, but it’s important to me to have an active social life and to be able to enjoy the amazing food London has on offer.
Come to think of it, I don’t think my diet has ever been 100% plants, because I enjoy a good cocktail at the weekends, or a glass of wine with dinner, and a lot of alcoholic drinks aren’t actually vegan. But that’s something that’s easily overlooked by most people. Even when I was very strict with my diet and ate 100% plants, I still always made an exception for alcohol.
I love having this more relaxed approach towards eating, and I guess part of the reason I’m able to adapt like this is because I was never an ethical vegan. I understand that for some people it may be hard to understand why I choose to eat this way, and that’s fine, but all I ask is for mutual respect regarding dietary and lifestyle choices, as we all have different reasons and are on different journeys in life.