With Veganuary here, we at ChesterStudentLets thought we would give you an insight on what it's really like to be vegan in Chester.
@courtneygoddard, a dance student from University of Chester, shared her experience of veganism with us as well as some advice for the vegan newbies.
Why did you choose to become vegan?
I didn’t really know much about veganism before, but I chose to go vegan when my mum and my sister went vegan a couple of months before I did, and obviously when you live with two people that are vegan and you’re the only person that isn’t you kind of just fall into it. Like, you end up eating vegan all the time at home, and then when you go out, you don’t eat vegan stuff, but you kind of just get into the habit of doing it. That’s when I first found out about it but eventually, I decided to teach myself about everything, and learn about the movement and what it is to be vegan, and since then I just kept educating myself, and could never ever go back to eating dairy or meat. Veganism is just the life choice I’ve made and will keep.
How long have you been vegan?
I’ve been vegan since June 2018, so two and a half years now.
Who was your main inspiration for becoming vegan?
My mum was my main inspiration, and then I started seeing posts by Earthling Ed and James Aspey and other animal activists. I also spoke to my mum's friend who owns a rescue centre rescuing loads of animals from slaughter, she was a big inspiration.
What is your favourite vegan recipes?
My all-time favourite vegan recipe would be either my creamy cheese pasta which I make from scratch, or charred cauliflower. A lot of the Bosh recipes are really nice as well. My favourite Instagram chef would be fitgreenmind - she’s sixteen, from Germany, and she makes the most quick and easy, healthy vegan food. It’s amazing.
How do you make sure you get all your nutrients?
My mum is a qualified vegan and vegetarian nutritionist, so she teaches me how to get all my nutrition from a vegan diet, which you mostly get anyway. Because, for example, the b12 vitamin that comes from beef is actually recycled, as the cows get it from eating the grass, so they only actually get it from eating plants. I do also take supplemental vitamins which are good for vegans. Pair this with healthy food like broccoli, kale, spinach and cauliflower and you’re laughing.
Do you have any vegan life hacks?
I follow a lot of vegan people online, shop in the free-from, always go to Aldi. They have the cheapest and best. Also learning what is accidentally vegan, like Oreos or Biscoff spread.
Would you say being vegan is expensive?
Being vegan Is 100% not expensive. I definitely save money being vegan, I spend way less money on food. A lot of people think the vegan cheese is expensive but normal cheese is around £4 a block, whereas you get more and its only £3 for the vegan one. I find it a lot cheaper since I’m not buying meat which is very expensive.
Where would you recommend going for dinner in Chester?
A lot of places in Chester do vegan options, but I would say the best one is Shrub in Chester city centre on the rows. It’s the only fully vegan restaurant in Chester, and they have quite a few options. Pizza Express do the nicest pizza, and they have vegan dough balls. Pretty much anywhere you go in Chester will have a vegan option, but always support small vegan businesses like Shrub.
How do you feel about Veganuary? Do you find it performative?
I fully support Veganuary. I think it’s a nice stepping-stone for people to finally realise what it’s like to understand and partake in veganism. It’s not just about the diet - it’s about educating yourself on veganism, like, throughout January, and learning to take small steps towards a better choice - and it's more awareness for veganism. I don’t think its performative, I think it does help, and if people try it and end up liking it, then that’s great, and if they don’t, then at least you have a bit more education on veganism.
Do you have any advice for anyone who is considering becoming vegan or partaking in Veganuary?
Don’t do it all at once, don’t go cold turkey. You will suffer greatly with cravings, and you’ll end up relapsing and going straight back to eating meat and dairy. I’d say make small steps first. It took me a while, and I went vegetarian for a few months first. If you do have any slip-ups, don’t beat yourself up about it, many vegans slip up and accidentally eat something with meat or dairy in, or if someone is having a bad mental health day, they will give into having a chocolate bar or something. Don’t beat yourself up about it - as long as you're consciously making good steps, it's okay. If you ever do struggle, try and find some local vegans in your area that you can reach out to.