In the hot seat today is Tamsin Rose, a 23-year-old student from London. She’s currently studying Animal Management / Behaviour and welfare. She also helped create Bright Zine, a new ethical lifestyle zine born in London.
How long have you been vegan?
My decision coincided with New Year’s Day last year – so just over a year.
What was your diet like before?
I’ve been vegetarian since I was 12 years old. My sister dared me not to eat the fish fingers my mum had cooked me, she’s 5 and a half years older than me and decided to go vegetarian when she was 11 years old. Her words were “you could never be a vegetarian” and well, I’m really stubborn.
What was the tipping point that made you go vegan?
I was travelling throughout Asia late 2015 / early 2016, I met up with some friends in China and we were eating in Shanghai on New Year’s Day. I ordered this grilled tomato, aubergine garlic dish with rice, and half way through eating it, I noticed there were loads of tiny ground up mincemeat style pieces all over the dish. I realised I was eating an animal’s flesh.
I ran to the bathroom I was crying so much I literally couldn’t breathe (I’m so dramatic). I figured I would never really know what animal I’d eaten, we were in a restaurant where they served bullfrog, pigeon and rat, like most restaurants in China. It was the moment where my brain clicked, it was like I’d finally seen what everyone had been showing me. I never wanted to consume anything that had come from an animal ever again.
I figured I would never really know what animal I’d eaten.
Did you do much research beforehand? If so, can you remember where?
I used HappyCow from that moment on and pretty much only ate at vegan places throughout the rest of my trip. I was volunteering with an Animal Rescue charity in Vietnam so they also had loads of tips for vegan spots too!
Did you have a supportive network of family and friends around you? Are any of them vegan?
100%. My sister, Laura, is without a doubt the queen of my support system. I’ve had many friends go vegan this year and have since built stronger and closer relationships with them too.
My parents are also really supportive of literally anything I do, they’re really animal activists at heart, even though my dad will deny it. My mum goes to protests with us too, they’re all on their own vegan journey and learning to eat and live compassionately and I am honestly so lucky to be a part of a family who are this open-minded, I know many people struggle with being the only vegan in the family.
What did you think you’d miss the most, if anything?
I thought I’d miss cheese but I honestly don’t, not even a tiny bit. Once I got over the first three/four months of the initial change, I really feel like I got over myself and realised I hadn’t given up anything I just changed my views on what I wanted to eat, I didn’t want to eat the cheese (because let’s face it, cheese is really not healthy and is full of the grossest stuff). I also thought I’d miss scrambled eggs, then I read about the male chicks and yeah, I really don’t miss eggs either.
Did you have any accidental or purposeful slip ups in your first month?
Man, I was really drunk/sleepy/hungover in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and asked the hotel to order me a pizza because I could just about move my limbs to pick up the phone. I forgot to ask for no cheese and then the cheesiest pizza ever turned up so I scraped it all off and ate it. I felt guilty for a week.
What was your go-to recipe or meal for the first month?
I was travelling so I was always eating at loads of different restaurants, but when I finally settled in Vietnam I ate sticky rice, tofu and green beans with sweet soy sauce for about 2 weeks. I couldn’t get enough of it and I’ve never been able to make it the same back home, I even asked the family I lived with to send me the recipe, I guess our green beans just taste different.
How did you find the first month?
Surprisingly easy, having been veggie for so long it wasn’t that much of a shock to my system.
What’s the vegan scene like in London?
It’s buzzing. So many people are going vegan at such a fast rate, the demand is so high so there are vegan menus at most restaurants, a huge free-from section in every supermarket, vegan bakeries popping up. It’s really great.
Was there anything that you learned was vegan that you didn’t think it would be?
Oreos. Jammie Dodgers. Strawberry Laces. I’m all about the vegan junk food. I’m still offended that the majority of Quorn products aren’t vegan… what is that about?
I’m all about the vegan junk food.
What did you wish you’d known then that you know now?
That people will tell you how much they love eating meat, how they can never give it up, that they only eat chicken and only buy organic steaks but it’s only because it’s just so juicy that they just absolutely love it so much and can’t live without it, “but bacon” and “omg cheese” and I have to listen to it and let them justify it to themselves over and over again.
No one likes an angry person, especially with such ‘militant’ views like a vegan. But you listen to it because 4 weeks later, they’ll make the connection and send you a message letting you know they’re trying vegan foods and enjoying it. You’ll watch their Instagram flood with all the vegan posts, hashtags included, and be glad you politely educated them that one time they told you how much they loved juicy steak, because now they’re going to live a healthy cruelty-free life.
What would be your advice to anyone thinking of going vegan?
Be confident in yourself, you’re not addicted to cheese, you’re addicted to the idea of it. Give yourself some credit, you can do it!
You can also check out all our other 31 Vegans’ First 31 Days stories.