An occasional series in which ordinary people
talk about living a plant-based life
UK music teacher Jenny, our latest contributor, explains how she ended up treating herself to becoming a vegan for her 40th birthday and why she is committed for life
I’m 52 and I live with my three children and my second ex-husband. My eldest has been influenced by my first husband’s family and sadly wants to eat meat. He buys his own food and I sometimes put his choice of food in the oven for him. My younger two are both vegetarian but I would be happier if they were vegan. My second ex is vegan but doesn’t insist his children are. I mainly buy them vegan food but occasionally buy them Quorn products.
I’m a part-time piano teacher and accompanist, mainly in a fee-paying school.
I went through a very gradual transition to being vegan. When I was at college one of my friends was vegan which did have an effect on me. However, I didn’t think she looked that healthy, so sadly I assumed she was missing out on foods she needed. I hated the idea of eating animal flesh but I truly believed that we had to do so in order to stay healthy.
From my late twenties I began by giving up red meat, then white meat, then fish. My first husband was happy to have veggie mince for some meals as his mum liked veggie food. When we split up in my mid-thirties, I picked up some Viva leaflets at my local Sainsbury’s supermarket and from them realised I didn’t have to have dairy and eggs to be in good physical shape. I went along to some Veggie Essex meetings and decided to go vegan for my 40th birthday.
I then met my second husband through a veggie friend’s website and he went vegan soon after me.
Although I used to like the taste of meat; I would never go back to eating it. For me, it’s a no-brainer being vegan:
- I love animals and wouldn’t want to cause them to suffer just for my taste-buds;
- It’s better for my health; and
- It’s much more environmentally friendly.
I’ve been vegan now for around 14 years and it’s never been easier.
We went on to have two children, who were both breastfed for over two years. They are careful not to accept sweets with gelatine but at the moment can’t resist milk chocolate, pizza and Quorn. My daughter likes to eat school dinners with her friends but unfortunately the veggie option is rarely vegan.
I shop in my local Sainsbury’s or Tesco store. I sometimes have takeaway chips or Chinese food due to a very busy schedule. My 12-year-old likes to cook vegan food at the weekend and he’s adapted all his school cookery lesson ingredients to be vegan so I can eat them.
As an ‘eat to live’ kind of person rather than a ‘live to eat’ person, I’m not terribly worried about my protein levels as I have soya, nuts, vegan cheese etc and I think I’m strong and fit most of the time. I eat fairly simple food like porridge with oat milk, muesli, toast and marmite, sandwiches or salad at my school for lunch, fresh fruit and lots of jacket potatoes with fresh veg and sometimes a Linda McCartney pie or sausage etc.
I’m always pleased when I meet other vegans as it makes me feel saner to know that others think like me. I have joined vegan Facebook groups and attend vegan fairs and talks when I can. I’ve also joined a vegan pen pal scheme for the over-50s and connect with other vegans at work. I have mild autism so I don’t necessarily get on with all other vegans; I still feel more at ease socially with fellow musicians as music has always been my obsession.
I would like my future partner to be vegan, but I would like to meet him naturally rather than through vegan singles’ sites, which can still be like working through a minefield. Through Facebook vegan groups and the pen pal scheme I’ve befriended and met another vegan piano teacher, two ladies from my home town of Gosport and two pen pals from Northampton and Scotland.
Being autistic, I’m used to feeling like an outsider so being vegan does not make me feel more so. I do eat with non-vegans at work and with my eldest son. I always hope my food choices may play a part in their future food choices. I believe it’s good to socialise with non-vegans so we can help to spread the word by our example.
I’m not a particularly active vegan but I’ve attended the big Surge London March twice now and like to wear vegan clothes and accessories.
I’m bored of vegan jokes but am not often picked on for being vegan. One of my oldest male friends, who remembers me eating meat, does upset me with his various comments, but I won’t stop being his friend because of it.
I believe veganism is not a fad but a way of life that everyone should be leading as soon as possible. I hope the meat and dairy industries all convert to meat- and dairy-free alternatives in my lifetime.
Occasionally I share vegan posts on Facebook but unfortunately I think I’ve only helped to convert one friend so far. Most of my friends and family are not vegetarian, but I’m hoping that they will one day think about what they can now easily read for themselves and improve their diet and go cruelty free.
I don’t share the vegan horror videos as I don’t think people would watch them if I did. I like Vegan Geezer’s approach to trying to convert people to plant-based diets by starting with the good in people.
I’m very positive about the growth of veganism. Being vegan is very important to me as I believe we’ve all been fed lies about the necessity of consuming dairy and meat when the truth is it does us harm and causes all sorts of health problems. As an animal lover from an early age, I’m now happy my food choices doesn’t cause emotional and physical pain to any animal.
I’m by no means a perfect vegan as I have bought plastic shoes from cheap shoe shops which probably don’t use vegan glue. My car isn’t vegan and probably not all the products at my hairdresser’s are vegan but I’m working on these things. I’m still learning more like which companies test on animals and hope to be a better vegan who can speak up more about it in the future.
If you are interested in sharing your thoughts in our Everyday Vegans slot, please get in touch and we’ll let you know what to do.