Thinking of going vegan but not sure where to start? Read a real life account from Raina Marwaha – a retail professional with over ten years experience in buying and international sourcing.
Now the co-founder of online destination, House of Kind, Raina is increasingly aware of how her life choices affect everything from animal welfare to the environment.
She talks us through a week by week account of her journey into veganism detailing the challenges she faced along the way, including giving up sushi and mixed reactions from peers:
“I get the usual eye rolling from some people who think I’m jumping on the hippy bus trying to save the planet”.
Tell us why you wanted to become a vegan?
I’m not a diet fan. I love food and I enjoy alcohol. I also feel rather confused with all the dietary advice that is out there. One day something is great for you, the next it’s the biggest cancer cause. But I was coming across articles every day on how meat and dairy are not that great for us anymore due to how they are farmed.
In addition, I am starting my own business, House of Kind, which will sell products that all have an element of kindness. As part of this, I came across a multitude of vegan beauty items, natural candles etc all of which are chemical free. This got me thinking about what chemicals and processes go into everything we consume. So I decided to give veganism a try to see if I felt a change in my body or wellbeing.
It felt like an easier, more straightforward move to cut out all animal products than doing another type of diet. There was also a part of me that got a good feeling to think I could benefit the environment and animals. This motivated me to stay committed.
What preparation did you take on in the weeks prior to becoming a vegan?
I chose a four week stint to see how I got on. Four weeks felt like something I could commit to. I made sure I planned it around a month I thought would be fairly non eventful. Before I started, I hit up some of my favourite places for my ‘last meals’ – a steak, Korean BBQ, tapas, Turkish!
Two weeks in, how are you feeling? Any cravings?
I’m now at the start of my third week and I have to say, I feel pretty good! The main difference I have noticed is that I feel much more alert in the mornings and I’m generally less lethargic during the days (I used to feel a drop in energy levels around 3pm daily).
I’ve noticed my skin seems clearer and healthier. A few people have commented that I look less tired – i.e. my bags have reduced! I haven’t weighed myself but I do feel lighter.
I haven’t changed any other parts of my normal routine so I can only put it down to my change in diet. I’m having to plan my meals more which I don’t think is a bad thing. For one, it means I cut out a lot of crap as I can no longer pick up any old takeaway or a quick fix dinner, as most of that is not vegan!
Secondly I find I’m actually eating when I’m genuinely hungry and not just snacking.
What has been the hardest part so far?
I missed sushi and seafood a lot in the first week but other than that, I’ve really not had any cravings. I’ve had to go for some work dinners to places that only sell burgers or lobsters (can you guess where that is!) or sushi or steaks. But I have always had some option available to me. I was surprised how many places now cater for vegans. Some are better than others but it’s clearly a growing market.
I can genuinely say, and this is coming from someone who loves their food, that I have not had food envy when i’ve been eating out. Maybe the vegan wine helps take the edge off! Who knows, but whatever it is, there are no cravings which is helpful.
How long do you plan on being a vegan for?
Originally I set a time frame of 4 weeks. But I’m going to take each day as it comes after that and see how it goes.
I definitely don’t think I will go back to dairy. I never realised how much dairy was in my diet until I had to find alternatives to it. And I do think that has been the biggest contributor to the change in how I feel in my body. As for the rest of it, I am going to try and follow it for the foreseeable future.
I travel a lot with work mainly to the Far East, and I think being a vegan there could be a bit more challenging. So I may need to opt for vegetarian instead of vegan. But I think that’s the trick – try and be as committed as you can be but don’t put too much pressure on yourself!
Do you recommend going vegan ?
If it’s something that interests you or you’d like to see the impact it could have on you, then why not. I’m not a preacher on being vegan. I’m learning myself. I still own leather bags and shoes (for now anyway!) But if you can feel better and also do some good to the environment and animals, then for those reasons I would say give it a go.
How have your friends, family and colleagues reacted to you going vegan?
It’s a mixed bag really. I get the usual eye rolling from some people who think I’m jumping on the hippy bus trying to save the planet. Some friends look at me in complete shock knowing I can’t stick to any diets so how am I managing this. And others who are really supportive and intrigued by it all.
But with anything, it’s your life and your choices. Everyone can have an opinion on it. It doesn’t stop me doing it!
Have you discovered any new great snacks?
Coyo coconut yogurts and alpro soya yogurts are yummy! My friend sent me a recipe for cashew cheese which she said is amazing so that’s on my list to make and try.
Most supermarket vegan cheeses which I’ve tried and tested are not pleasant! From what I’ve researched, homemade is the best option). I also have a cookbook by Aine Carlie and there are some superb easy recipes and snacks in there.
Any vegan based restaurants in London that we should know about?
Mildred’s does a great vegan brunch and there are a few options on the menu. Like I said most places do offer vegan options.
I’ve not been to Pizza East since turning vegan, but I hear they do some good options. I did get a vegan pizza delivered from Firezza to a friends house and it was pretty good.
But overall, homemade still feels like the best option for now.
Favourite workout in London?
I’m a big fan of BOOM Cycle. I love doing classes with Rose.
Be the best, happiest, healthiest version of yourself. And everything else will just come.