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Name: Hi, my name is Claire

Town you live in: I live in a teeny, tiny hamlet in the North East of Scotland

How long have you been vegan?:

I have been vegan since the start of December 2017

What made you decide to become vegan?:

I guess the decision to become vegan was dictated by my body. I have been very unwell for the past few years, suffering from complex anal fistulas (TMI, I know!) which is due to bowel disease. I suffer daily from pain and infection in that area plus when the infection gets bad, I also get Polymyalgia Rhuematica which is a connective tissue disorder which causes extreme pain in my hands, arms and shoulders. The swelling in my bottom also causes other areas to swell and become painful including hips, legs, lower back and um, lady parts. I had a big operation in June 2017, after that, I made the decision to become vegetarian to reduce the toll on my tummy. I had been suffering from bouts of severe abdominal pain since the start of 2017 and I blamed it all on the bowel disease. After a few MRIs to investigate my intestines, they discovered scarring on my liver. After an ultrasound scan they confirmed that I had numerous gall stones. From that day I became vegan. Dairy wreaks havoc on your gallbladder and causes it to flare up causing agonizing pain. I am a great lover of animals, so I had always wanted to make the switch to becoming meat and dairy free, but found myself making excuse after excuse. I am sort of glad my body made my mind up. I find the milk industry the most harrowing and I am glad that I am no longer supporting this horrible, un-natural practice.

What’s your favourite place to eat out?:

I love little independent cafes that use local produce. But as far as chain restaurants go, you can’t beat the fun and flexibility of Yo Sushi! Giraffe is also excellent as they always have at least 3 choices that are suitable, healthy and tasty.

What’s your favourite recipe to make at home?: Since I was a chef for over 8 years, developing new recipes comes naturally to me. Eating vegan is not as hard as people may think. I haven’t been vegan for long enough to have a favourite recipe, but really, you cannot go wrong with a huge pot of home made soup as it’s so versatile. Tomorrow night, I am having fishless fish tacos with mango salsa, I think that will be a winner!

What’s your message to people considering going vegan for veganuary?: I would say to people considering going vegan is, go for it! Try it, just even for three days. If you are a chocolate, cheese or steak fiend who think they cannot live without it, you can! You will soon find something that is even better than your favourite ‘naughty’ foods. You will also soon realize that on a vegan diet, you will be eating healthier and more satisfying meals, your body will feel great and you will no longer have that tiny bit of guilt at the back of your mind. There are so many excellent ‘fake’ meats, cheese and milk products out there, that in just a few weeks, you would try the real stuff and find it pretty unappetizing. But don’t spend all your time trying to replicate the real thing, be inspired, get weird, try something new. You should do it, do it for your body and do it for the animals, who should be loved and respected, you wouldn’t eat your guinea pig or milk an otter, so don’t do it to anything else!