Going vegan doesn’t sound too hard… right? There are vegan magnums, nut mylk is a staple at 99.9% of cafes and Macca’s just brought out a plant-based burger #winning. But alas, when I decided to take on this challenge, I was a young grasshopper with so much to learn.
First up, why did I do it? I am a bit of an “eco-warrior” and do my best to reduce my waste in literally every facet of my life (it’s the reason why I started Banish). I decided to join Veganuary this year (along with over 400,000 people from around the world) in a bid to further reduce my environmental impact.
Animal agriculture is the second largest cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the world and is why cutting out animal products is a highly effective (and I thought simple) way to slash your ecological footprint.
Lucky for you, here’s everything I know now and will never forget so you never get yourself into the same vegan pickle as me.
1. Some Vegan Alternatives Rule, Some Do Not
I took my mission VERY seriously and tried almost every vegan cheese and ice-cream that I could get my hands on. From fluorescent orange grated cheese, to slimey “halloumi” that took days to get off the pan, heck, I even tried a spreadable cream cheese made from tofu.
I really did go the extra mile but in my professional opinion, I was nacho happy on the cheese front but I was udder-ly delighted by vegan ice-cream. I am converted to Magnum’s dairy-free almond ice creams, which are the vegan dessert I’m adding to my daily diet.
2. Some Foods You Think Are Vegan, Are Shit For The Planet
Did you know that a wasp dies every time a fig fruit is grown? I am not lying, Google it. I found out this not so fun fact mid-mouthful, pre-breakdown and post what I thought was going to be a good day. Soz wasp.
Another not so fun fact I learnt is that most red wine contains traces of eggs and in some cases animal blood is used to give wine that ‘bold red.’ Whilst I found a couple of $6 vegan reds at ALDI between the home gym and the bed linen, nothing compared to my usual $5 drop.
And whilst nut mylks get a terrible wrap in the press when it comes to water usage and environmental impact, overall being a vegan is better for the environment than eating a chunk of meat and gurgling some dairy each day, so shut it.
3. Vegans Are More Expensive Than They Look
While yes, chickpeas are as cheap as chips, and you can use the juice to make a vegan egg alternative (yes, really!), all of the dairy-free, fun-free alternatives often come with a hefty price tag. Save a coupla extra dollary-doos in preparation (or use that extra dosh for your house deposit) and ration that vegetable burger like it’s made of pure gold.
While yes, I ate a heck of a lot more veggies, which are much cheaper than meat, it was the funky fads that blew my budget. Vegan cheeses average a whopping $35 per kilo, over triple the price of cows cheese which will set you back $11 per kilo for a block of Tasty cheese.
Also FYI, some cafes are now charging a mammoth $1 extra for my beloved oat milk which worked out to be $31 down the drain.
4. Being Vegan Isn’t A Dating-Do
Unless you’ve signed up for a vegan-only dating app (yep, they exist), hitting the circuit while you’re vegan is a palaver itself. From choosing a vegan-friendly wine to sharing plates sans animals, I can confirm going vegan isn’t a great first date topic.
You’re faced with two choices: 1. tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth or 2. fail to mention being a vegan until you’ve won them over with your good looks, quick wit and charm.
Unsurprisingly, I found option two more successful and after a bit of collaborative discussion (points for mentioning that it was only temporary), I even converted one fella to give a scoop of vegan ice-cream a go.
5. Being Vegan Won’t Help You Lose Weight
Holy smokes, people going vegan ain’t a weight loss tool. Sugar, fat and carbs get the vegan-tick of approval, please refer to point #1 for more info or read the back of an Oreo packet (also vegan).
The only thing I saw lost kilos on was my carbon footprint which by switching to a plant-based diet is cut in HALF!
My conclusion? Honestly, I don’t think committing 100% to being vegan is for me, but sitting at around the 85% mark is. It was 110% easier than I anticipated in so many ways but I am not prepared to go all the way for the rest of eternity. So let’s bring back the honey and the eggs and raise a glass of (vegan-friendly) wine!
Lottie Dalziel is a writer and founder of Banish, she’s got a passion for the colour green including indoor plants, the environment and helping Australians create a greener future. You can follow her on Instagram @lottiedl and @banish.au