WHY I TURNED VEGAN
My name is Chanelle White, I am 24 years old, born in London and of Caribbean heritage. I am a Business Management graduate working as a Project Management and IT Team Officer. I am obsessed with food, in my spare time I like to cook, bake and hold dinner parties. Since becoming vegan I have become more obsessed and experimental with food considering myself a foodie. I am always looking for new restaurants and London is the prime location for wining and dining.
During my time at university I became more concerned with my health, the earth, environment and people. It was after fresher’s was out of my system, during my second year, I joined the university challenge. This consisted of having a plant-based diet for the whole of February. I was shocked to see the difference in how I felt in just after 2 weeks. I had more energy and my skin was glowing, I started getting more compliments about my appearance. It felt good!
The following March, I went to a relative’s house and ended up eating chicken, then slowly started adding meat back into my life after this initial break and my diet was ruined. Sometime later I heard about Veganuary which is sponsored by Flora. I signed up to it and was sent a starter kit. After I completed Veganuary I decided to become part-time vegan. The meals I prepared were plant-based but if I was in social situations or if people offered non vegan food I would consume, if hungry or peckish.
I decided to move back to London in April 2017 and being back in the fold of my family I caved in. It is normal in a British Caribbean household to consume a lot of meat, especially when my mother dearest, creates her special seasoning from scratch, which she uses to cook jerk chicken, roast lamb and mutton curry. I was no longer a part-time vegan, I was a full-time meat eater and could not imagine life without cheese.
Then one day in September I decided to watch the Netflix documentary ‘What the Health’, which had been on my watch list for a while. I have watched many documentaries but this one was the first, to hit me to the point where I wanted to make a permanent change. There are so many health benefits to being vegan and the documentary discussed them with real life examples. I would like to live a long and healthy life and living on a plant-based diet is a great way to achieve this. I decided that day that I wanted to be vegan full-time. I finished off the non-vegan products I had in my fridge and on the 8th September 2017, I then became full-time vegan.
At that time, I was not in a happy place in my life, things were not going my way and I felt l was going backwards. I wanted more control in my life and changing my diet was a way for me to take back control. A month and half after I turned vegan, I got offered a job and things were looking up in my life. I am so glad that I made the transition, even though there is a lot of negativity surrounding veganism. I must fight my case when people try to dismantle my choices or my belief, in certain social situations. Veganism has become one of my passions and I am always happy to talk about it if people are genuinely curious or have questions to ask.
Furthermore, there are so many benefits of having a plant-based diet such as the reduced risk of heart disease, longer life expectancy, lower carbon footprint and reduction of animal cruelty just to name a few. If I can turn vegan anyone can. A few years ago, I was a heavy meat eater and I told my friends I could never be a vegan, and now that I am, my mentality has changed and I am now more open minded. With so much information out there, it is the perfect time to make conscious decisions on how your lifestyle affects the environment and people around you, even if being a vegan is not for you. You can be flexitarian (someone who is on a vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat and fish) or participate in meat free Mondays. There are so many food options out there and you can find a substitute for almost anything. I am looking forward to the next few years when there will be more vegan restaurants in London as well as more vegan options and menus in mainstream restaurants.
My current favourite place to eat is Mildreds, it is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant. They have several outlets around London, which I discovered through Buzzfeed’s vegan London special. Their food is tender, flavoursome and delicious! It a restaurant I would recommend people to go to whether vegan or not.
Mildreds also have a cookbook with vegetarian recipes, including some of the dishes from their menu. It’s for sale at the restaurant.
One of my favourite vegan Youtubers is Rachel Ama, she created a video giving her tips on how to become vegan.