Veronica became vegan three years ago; having been a meat eater all her life, she turned to a vegan diet having rescued some chickens and discovered more about where her food was coming from. She went from meat eater to vegan pretty much overnight and hasn't looked back. She has been blogging for the last few years at Wrapped In Newspaper so we caught up with her to ask her all about vegan living.
Please tell us why your vegan journey began after you rescued four chickens.
Rescuing hens opened my eyes up to where our food actually comes from. I think I had turned a blind eye to the reality of it and excused eating animal products because I liked the taste. I started doing a little reading around the processes of farming methods and watched a few documentaries. It was when we rescued chickens that weren't from a battery farm, but were in seemingly good condition that I realised the reality. These hens were no longer seen as value for money, after a year they slow down their egg laying and so are considered worthless. They often end up as pet food, but the British Hen Welfare Trust rescue hens in this situation and rehome them, allowing them to enjoy the rest of their relatively short lives.
Please tell us a little bit about them- do they have their own personalities?
They absolutely did. Unfortunately, one problem with rescuing hens is they don't tend to live very long. They have been overbred to lay eggs and their bodies can't cope with the strain put on them, so unfortunately all our hens are no longer with us. They absolutely did have their own personalities and their own little ways. Just as dogs and cats have their own uniqueness, so do chickens. One definitely would rule the roost, and there would be a clear pecking order. They'd come up and find out what you were doing, make lots of noise, and loved to enjoy a dust bath in the sunshine.
Why does interacting with an animal one would normally eat help you to gain a new perspective on things?
I think it is very easy to focus on ourselves and only look inwardly at our lives, not really thinking of the consequences of our actions. I think when you get to know an animal you wouldn't want to inflict unnecessary pain on that being. We don't think it okay to harm a dog or cat because we don't see them as food and once I got to know my chickens I couldn't see them as food anymore. There is an abundance of food that doesn't need to involve an animal in any form and I feel that knowing no animal has had to suffer just for me definitely gives me an inner peace.
You went vegan overnight, so was it difficult to make these changes so quickly?
I made the decision overnight, but at first I did have to phase out what is in my cupboards, after all there is no point throwing away perfectly good food. I just gradually started replacing certain products, whether that was yogurts, ice cream or butter. I'm not a big fan of fake meat products but sometimes you can't beat a vegan sausage sandwich! Once I set my mind to it, I really didn't think of it as difficult. Thinking of each decision rather than the bigger picture is easier, for example, I could have said yes to that cake being offered around the office or I could politely decline and snack on something vegan instead.
You began blogging about veganism- so at what point did you decide to communicate this message to a wider audience?
It was just after a few months. Mainly people kept asking what I was eating. I wanted to show that it wasn't difficult to eat food that was delicious. It was funny how people had such a reaction to what you chose to no longer eat, and how people took it quite personally, some people were even quite angry.
We made a conscious decision to not always talk about our reason behind veganism, we wanted to show the food we eat looks and tastes good, oh and by the way it's vegan too. Whether it would lead people to go fully vegan, or eat a couple of vegan meals a week, or maybe just switch to a plant milk, even these small changes make a positive difference to animals and our planet.
You initially did this with your sister, however she has taken a step back and is no longer fully vegan- so why did she decide it wasn't for her?
Yes I went vegan shortly after my sister and we set the blog up together. Veganism really inspired her to look more deeply at nutrition and although a vegan diet has many health benefits everyone is different, what works for one person might not for another. After suffering with her mental health for a number of years she decided to experiment with introducing brain friendly animal foods such as wild caught fish and offal from wild game into her otherwise vegan diet. I think you do have to revaluate what you are eating if it isn't right for you - at the end of the day you have to be sensible and ensure you're doing what is right for you and getting the right nutrients.
Why should your food be inspired by the season? Does this way of eating have any added health benefits?
Seasonal eating for me, went hand in hand with veganism. My main reason for going vegan was for animal rights, but another reason was the negative environmental impact that farming has. I didn't feel comfortable with flying my vegetables half way round the world just because I wanted to eat it all year round. For me, fruit and vegetables taste better when they're in season, grown as locally as possible. The recipes on Wrapped in Newspaper always try to bear that in mind.
Please tell us about your recipe making process.
I always think around what is in season; I think about what I'm going to have access to, whether that's from the local weekly vegetable box I get or what British or European products are available in the supermarkets. I'll have a bit of an experiment in the kitchen and get other people's opinions on what I've made. My colleagues are very willing guinea pigs, as are my family. I've always been a bit of an experimental cook and never one to follow recipes so I really enjoy creating different recipes. I follow a lot of other bloggers and instagrammers and get inspiration from them too!
What is your favourite thing to cook at home?
My boyfriend and I love Mexican food, so we're pretty happy when we are eating that. I'm big into pancakes at the moment and you can't beat a good seasonal vegetable curry.
What is next for you?
I'm taking over Wrapped in Newspaper by myself now, and I've got lots of exciting new recipes coming up. I started a You Tube channel earlier this year, so far it has just the one video, but I'd love to create more content there. For now, you can find me on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook sharing my food pics and recipes.
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