And then the vegans took over

I became a vegetarian at the age of 17, 28 years ago. A lot of my friends became vegetarians at the same time. Like me, some of them still are vegetarian. We did it for the right reasons, because we cared about animal welfare. But it was also a bit of a trend at the time.

I’m not sure if it stayed a trend or if at some time during the 90s and noughties, teenagers stopped becoming vegetarians.

But I even raised a vegetarian child, as did a couple of the mums I have become friends with in recent years.

I’m not saying that being a vegetarian has been a massive struggle, but it hasn’t always been easy. For many years, there was a real lack of choice anywhere. It was always very easy to choose in a restaurant, because there was only ever one or two vegetarian ‘options’ (hardly an option if there’s only one of them). It was generally vegetarian lasagne or mushroom stroganoff. And I can’t think of anything worse than mushroom stroganoff. There were restaurants (I specifically remember TGI Friday’s) that had no vegetarian food at all.

I’ve always kept pretty quiet about being a vegetarian. Perhaps because we didn’t have social media in the 90s and noughties, so I couldn’t exactly Instagram my dinner. It’s only something I bothered telling people if I was in a situation where I was going to need to eat.

But in the last couple of years, something changed. It started with one or two people (on Instagram, of course) and suddenly the vegans took over.

I have nothing against vegans. That would be very silly if I did. But I do have something against the food manufacturers and the restaurants that are catering for the vegans and never bothered with us veggies. Because vegan stuff is EVERYWHERE. It’s expanding so rapidly. Restaurants have entire vegan menus. Not just one item.

All those years of being a vegetarian, not just me, but millions of women (mainly) of my generation and these manufacturers and restaurants really did sod all for us.

It’s almost certainly down to social media. The vegans are vegan in the interests of animal welfare or their own health, both very good reasons for changing your diets. And they’re sharing their food all over Instagram. There is even a running club called Vegan Runners. I see a lot of runners out proudly wearing their Vegan Runners tops. It seems a bit weird to me to make a thing about your diet while you’re running, but each to their own.

So the vegans are so much louder and prouder than us 40-something mums who have been quietly vegetarian since our teens.

I’m grateful to them for finally giving me a greater choice of food when I’m out. And I never thought I would hear myself in a restaurant uttering the words: “Can I have the vegan burger/ pizza, BUT WITH CHEESE?”

Vegan, And then the vegans took over, Vegetarian, Vegan products

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Ahh I think it’s fab! I’ve been veggie since I was a child and agree with you about the ridiculous lack of options. But the thing with having loads of vegan choices is that it opens up a world of possibilities for us veggies. I did veganuary and intend to stay predominantly vegan, for both ethical and health reasons. I’ve finally stopped craving cheese and can totally take or leave milk chocolate now. It’s much easier than going on a diet! I won’t be totally vegan though, vegan options will be my preference but I’ll still eat veggie because it’s a diet that I’m happy with although I do feel a lot better now I’ve cut out dairy.

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    • It sounds like you’ve got a good balance there. I didn’t say it in the post, but I’ve actually always been largely vegan anyway as the only dairy I have is cheese. I hate milk and I eat soya yogurts for health reasons. Milk chocolate is too sweet and gives me a headache. And eggs disagree with my stomach! But I don’t actively avoid dairy or eggs as ingredients. x

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  2. One of my close friends has been Vegan for over 20 years, and she is in awe when we go out to restaurants now. As you said there are menus just for Vegans now, they seem to have skipped the vegetarians and gone straight to please the Vegans, which is obviously a good thing. It opened my eyes when Katie became vegetarian for around 9 months x

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    • Your friend must really have struggled 20 years ago! It was hard enough for us vegetarians, but at least there was vegetarian lasagne. The vegan menus in restaurants are really good, as long as I can add cheese to things!

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  3. This made me smile: I know EXACTLY what you mean! I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 12. I remember when tuna was the ‘vegetarian’ option on many menus! I do love that there is so much more choice now, but it does make me raise an eyebrow when I think back over the 30-something years I ate pasta/pizza/omelette wherever I went 🙂

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    • Thanks very much, I’m glad someone understands! It takes a woman in her mid-40s to really know where I’m coming from. Holidays to Europe used to be the hardest – I would live on chips, salad and ice cream!

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  4. These vegan foods are a great alternative for food allergy sufferers as well. Easier now to find premade foods that the grandson can eat than there was even 10 years ago. Have to say I find next to nothing on a desert menu that is dairy free, but I am not a great desert eater anyway.

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    • I think the likes of Alpro were probably made more for allergy sufferers than vegans anyway, but they obviously work for both. It’s good that your grandson has more choice than he used to have.

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