Name: Jane (Instagram: starrychaos) – I post a lot of food inspiration and my own recipes so feel free to follow!

Town you live in: Glasgow but I grew up in the west Highlands of Scotland

How long have you been vegan? A year and a quarter

What made you decide to become vegan? I’ve worked in the environment sector for years and am hugely passionate about nature, during my biology degree I studied some modules on animal behaviour and welfare. It was a real eye opener but didn’t turn me vegan at first. I gradually started opting for higher welfare and eating more veggie meals but I still had the misinformed idea that veganism could never be healthy. Since then I have had the opportunity to visit a lot of farms and places where meat is processed.

I remember feeling a strong sense of injustice when in these places and it made me start to question everything I’d known before. I started to meet vegans in the environment sector and learned about the impacts our diet can make to the environment. I tried the food and was so pleasantly surprised, I thought it would be all bland, raw vegetables but when I realised I could have vegan bacon, pizza, creamy pastas and cheese I was won over! After seeing some documentaries and doing more research I realised that veganism was going to be best for the planet, my health and also for the animals. I decided to try it for 1 month to see how I felt despite having my doubts and feeling unsure of a new lifestyle. At the end of week 4 there was no going back, my energy levels were up and I felt amazing!

What’s your favourite place to eat out? Novapizza vegetarian kitchen in Edinburgh is unreal! So much choice and will give you that “I can’t believe this is vegan” moment.

Hanoi Bike Shop is my favourite Glasgow restaurant, it does serve meat but has a full vegan menu on request. They serve Vietnamese food and everything is so bright, fresh and full of flavour. Where possible they try to source local ingredients and they even make the tofu themselves!

What’s your favourite recipe to make at home? (Pictures are welcome!)

Aine Carlin’s black bean chilli is a real crowd pleaser for vegans and omnis! In fact any of her recipes are amazing and if you’re a new or old vegan or even if you just want to try it out! I would really recommend her books.


Tips for new vegans:

Invest in a good cookbook, with easy to get ingredients and quick recipes

Preparation is everything, plan ahead if you are not sure you will have access to vegan food then bring your own!

Don’t be frightened to ask – most restaurants will have something and if not they will likely veganise something for you. If you don’t want to ask at the table you can call ahead, not only will this give you peace of mind, it will help the restaurant prepare.

Research nutrition - make sure you get it right so you can sustain it, there are great vegan starter kits online for free. It’s easy when you learn the basics.

Join some groups online or locally to help give you support.

Best things about being vegan?

I learned to cook! Vegan cooking is very fun and creative. I love trying to veganise my favourite foods from pre – vegan days, I find it a challenge and it’s so satisfying to know I can make a healthier and more ethical alternative.

I am more keen to try new things and be open minded, I used to think being vegan would be limiting but I eat a far greater diversity of foods now.

It improved my health – before going vegan I was getting tonsillitis, colds and was suffering with debilitating PMS and period pain. Although I wouldn’t ever paint veganism out to be a magic cure for people it really helped me. I haven’t had tonsillitis since I transitioned to veganism and haven’t needed antibiotics once. I’ve only had the cold twice since turning vegan too which was a great improvement for me! I have also seen benefits to my energy levels, memory and concentration. My acne cleared up and I started getting compliments on my skin, hair and nails. I had always had low iron so this was a concern to me when I changed diet, to my surprise, I now have normal iron levels. I put this down to my awareness of nutrition. I think people have a concern about missing out on things when they go vegan, interestingly average vegan diets tend to be deficient in 3 nutrients whereas average omnivores tend to be deficient in 7. I have had my b12, iron and calcium checked and so far am getting all I need on this diet without having to try hard.

Going vegan feels like a weight has lifted, I know deep down I used to feel guilt when I thought about what I ate. I think that was part of the reason I reacted so negatively to people talking about veganism. I don’t have that now.

What’s your message to people considering going vegan for veganuary? Just have a go! Veganism isn’t about being perfect it’s about doing your best. It’s not a golden ticket to morality but you will find when you let awareness and compassion into one area of your life, it will soon begin to spread to others. It’s almost like a contagion that makes you feel more fulfilled! Studies have shown that the more you choose compassionate behaviour, the more compassionate you become and vice versa. We can train ourselves to be kind. In a challenging and constantly changing world like ours this will be crucial to our happiness and survival as a species.