Tegan Rogers from World Animal Protection kindly shared with us her reasons for moving from a vegetarian to a vegan diet and what animal free foods and products she can no longer live without.
When and why did you decide to go vegan?
I’ve been vegan for just over a year, but vegetarian for most of my life (save for a couple of years when I was a student). I’d been living in South East Asia for a while and the challenge of finding veggie options over there really made me more aware of what goes into your food. Reading ‘Animal Liberation’ was the deciding factor for me. I realised that simply liking the taste of eggs and cheese wasn’t a good enough reason to carry on participating in an industry I didn’t agree with.
What changes did you notice once you gave up animal products?
I’ve often heard from other vegans that they noticed an improvement in their skin or their energy levels when they made the change. For me though, the changes have been less specific, although I’ve certainly noticed a huge boost in my general wellbeing. I put this down to the fact that my diet is so much more balanced now: every meal inevitably contains fresh fruit or vegetables, and I’m taking more time to prepare my food, which I was surprised to find really rewarding.
You are a keen runner, so how does vegan food help to fuel you for this?
I’m pleased that more and more people are realising that you don’t need to eat meat or dairy protein if you want to be athletic. I’m not hugely controlling about what I eat most of the time – and like most vegans I eat so many chickpeas that I’m fairly certain I’m getting my protein quota! But if I’m training for an event I’ll eat lots of grains to carb-load before my long runs, and then I’ll refuel with peanut butter and hummus afterwards.
How much does being vegan link in with your job at World Animal Protection?
Animal welfare is so close to my heart that of course I jumped at the chance to work for World Animal Protection. While it’s not a vegetarian organisation, there are naturally lots of veggies and vegans who work there, so it’s great to be amongst likeminded people. And the organisation is working on some really important farming campaigns which will not only have a huge impact on the welfare of millions of farm animals, but encourage people to start asking questions about their food, and make kinder choices. While World Animal Protection is arguably more renowned for its fantastic wildlife work, its Animals in Farming campaign is helping thousands of people to consider the welfare of pigs, cows and chickens too.
What is your favourite vegan meal to make at home?
It’s hard to choose between pizza, Mexican food, and the huge vegan cooked breakfast that I make pretty much every single weekend.
What’s your go to vegan beauty product?
I’ve been using Bare Minerals makeup for years as it’s cruelty-free and so good for sensitive skin. Sadly though their makeup brushes are made from animal products so I always buy those from the Body Shop.
What vegan convenience food could you not live without?
Hummus, every time!
What advice do you have for people who are struggling to go vegan from veggie?
I was the biggest cheese-lover when I was a vegetarian, so if I can give it up, I think anyone can! I think the biggest misconception for me was that there’d be certain things I’d never be able to eat ever again. But there are so many great vegan substitutes for dairy products – veganaise, tofu scramble, almond feta (see below!) – that most of the time you can make an alternative that tastes just as good, if not better. And although I probably shouldn’t say this, nobody’s stopping you from never eating those foods again – you’re allowed to slip up occasionally. For me, telling myself that really took the pressure off and removed some of that sense of finality to the decision.
What is the best thing about being a vegan for you?
I enjoy cooking and preparing food so much more now. Whereas before I didn’t put a lot of thought into eating, now I look forward to mealtimes.
What is your best and latest vegan discovery?
Maple Spice’s Almond Feta recipe is amazing! It’s so easy to make and may actually taste even more delicious than feta cheese.