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What is a vegan?Jason

Someone who is vegan doesn’t use animal products.

They don't eat any food that comes from, or is derived from, animals. That means meat, eggs, and milk, as well as less obvious substances like gelatine, honey, and some E-numbers. A vegan’s diet, therefore, is entirely plant-based. Being vegan doesn’t make you a herbivore, because humans aren’t, but it does mean you’re choosing to live as one. Vegans also avoid non-food animal products such as leather, silk, wool, and beeswax.

Most people consider themselves compassionate and against animal cruelty, while willfully supporting a system that is neither. Vegans take meaningful steps and real action to move away from that system, and share an ethos of non-violence.

About 'Another Vegan'

I’ve learned a lot since making the switch to veganism and I wanted to share that. I have a catering background and studied nutrition at college, and through becoming vegan I’ve renewed my interest in both. I've compiled information from various sources, along with many references to my own experiences. The website will hopefully be useful to those considering veganism or who’ve recently made the change, and maybe longer-term vegans too. I'll share new vegan discoveries and adventures on Twitter and my blog too.

On becoming vegan

I’m a thirty-seven year old chap from Hove in England and at the time of writing this I’ve been vegan for over two years.

I had been vegetarian for a year before becoming vegan, happily consuming organic milk and eggs when I felt inclined, assured that 'organic' meant the produce came from happy animals. Deep down, and coming from a farming background, I knew that I wasn't quite on the mark. I was walking home from work one afternoon and saw an Animal Aid demonstration in Brighton town centre, and wandered over to chat to the demonstrators. A friendly lady spoke passionately about veganism and dairy alternatives. I took a leaflet, thanked her, and continued my walk home. I hadn't learned anything new but the encounter had dislodged the lid I'd put over the fact that I was still supporting cruel food industries. Before I got to my front door I had come to terms with the idea of life without my favourite brand of milk chocolate and realised the only cheese I was fussed about was cheddar anyway. I was vegan before I took my coat off.

In my case it was about timing: exposure to information and triggers at points along a journey of realisation and change. If someone had said vegan to me in the town centre five years ago I'd have smiled politely, heard but not heard, and added the leaflet to my recycling. And bought a Scotch egg.

For the first two weeks of being vegan I survived on a menu of chips and biscuits. In my enthusiasm for change I had forgotten that my body actually required food and couldn’t survive just on good intentions and a concern for animals. The result was this strange fortnight of being incredibly excited and empowered about becoming vegan, but also feeling rather tired and flat physically. Looking pale and wanting a snooze, I was a steak-loving cynics dream come true. Having studied nutrition at college and having a five-year stint in catering (albeit both a long time ago), I had a good head start and little excuse for my culinary laziness. I knew even then that there is no nutrient the human body needs that is exclusive to animal products and that I could thrive on a plant-based diet. Going vegetarian, at least in the beginning, had meant little more than swapping pork sausages for veggie alternatives, but the step to veganism required more thought.

So I bought a vegan cookbook, rearranged my small kitchen to facilitate more than unwrapping take-aways, and proceeded to get far too excited about stainless steel and new spoons. I started to cook again. Casseroles, stir-fries, burgers of many kinds, salads, soups, breads and pastries, cakes and confectionary, roasted vegetables with herbs and spices, nut and vegetable roasts, hummus and dips, pasta dishes, and veganised versions of classics.

As a vegan you can’t just wander, half awake, into a supermarket and grab something; you have to really think about what you’re going to buy - what you’re going to eat. I had to reconnect with food: What is it? Where does it come from? What do those strange words mean on the ingredients list? It’s such a fundamental thing, knowing what you’re eating and its effects on the body, but I hadn’t thought much about it for years. I’d been fed by a supermarket and told bullshit in ad breaks about healthy eating. My body deserved better.

Surely, if we’re going to be blasé, disconnected and lazy about anything, it shouldn’t be about what we put into our bodies.

Buoyed by my renewed interest in cuisine, I stepped beyond the ingredients lists and began to think about the nutritional value of foods. Since I’d cut out the middleman, i.e. the cow, I needed to go to the source: what should I eat to get all the nutrients my body requires to be healthy? Some of the nutrients the human body needs aren’t as straightforward to come by as a vegan, it’s true, so a lazy attitude of assumptions and guesses isn’t enough. I read about vegan nutrition online and delved deeper with specialist books.

Armoured with an awareness of vegan nutrition, and having rediscovered the purpose of a saucepan, I became a healthy vegan very quickly. But it didn’t end there.

The last twenty-four months have been a fascinating and enriching journey. I’ve sat through some horrible documentary footage and discovered some wonderful recipes. I’ve dealt with narky naysayers and grinned in a supermarket when I discovered my favourite biscuits were animal-free. I’ve opened frightening doors I can never close again and I’ve discovered fundamental pleasures that I think many of us have lost. This website is about sharing all that. I hope it will be a useful port of call for anyone who’s recently taken the plunge or someone who’s thinking of becoming another vegan.