MEAT and two veg is the traditional UK meal and we’re known for being a country that enjoys a Sunday roast and a bacon sandwich.
However, more and more people are turning their backs on tradition and embracing a life without any animal products.
A vegan is someone who does not eat or use animal products, and that’s everything from diet and clothes to toiletries and medicines.
And veganism is on the rise with approximately half a million people said to be following the lifestyle nationally (The Vegan Society).
Life coach Linda Wheatley, of Dumfries, is one example. She became fully vegan 15 months ago partly for health reasons but mainly due to a love of animals. She said: “Once I started researching where animal products come from I was appalled at what’s going on right under our noses, the abuse of animals which are only bred for our food consumption is totally shocking.
“Once I made the connection there was no way I was going to continue buying into it.”
Previously vegetarian, it’s been a gradual change and she admits to having been, at times, ‘overwhelmed’ by the amount of items containing animal products.
Linda – pictured- said: “I had no idea before. I always used to avoid products which involved animal testing but this is a much, much wider issue.”
It has also awoken a new found love for cooking, she said: “Being someone who was never very creative in the kitchen, I now enjoy experimenting with various vegetables, herbs and substitutes.
“I absolutely love my vegan vegetable korma, my vegan pizzas and lentil soup.
“I am lucky to have such a supportive family who are very happy trying my concoctions and giving their feedback.”
Shopping and eating out are getting much easier, she says, with more places locally stocking ‘free from’ items and the region’s restaurants on board too with menu choices.
Linda said: “We are all used to phoning up restaurants and cafes beforehand and most people are very obliging asking what we would eat and putting on options where they can, so it’s getting better.”
Looking for support and advice, she started the Our Vegan Journey Facebook page last year and it now has over 70 members.
“We are such a supportive wee group filled with lots of people all on various stages of their journey helping and educating each other. We have some local businesses who have joined looking to develop their products for fellow vegans – it has been great,” said Linda.
And it has opened up new work avenues for her too as, along with daughter Abbey, she has become an Arbonne consultant, promoting a range of vegan toiletries and cosmetics.
Loving her new lifestyle, she says she feels better “emotionally and physically”, but added: “The only negatives are that more people aren’t seeing the reality of what we are doing to these beautiful
animals and not turning vegans themselves.”
Keen to see others following in her footsteps, Linda added: “My message would be to give it a go. Do some research, try some of the vegan options: what have you got to lose?”
IT was a dissection class when she was amedical student that first prompted Alison Boyes, above, to have vegan thoughts.
It took place right before lunch and put her off eating meat and over that year she gradually became vegetarian. That was in 1980 but it was another two decades until she embraced veganism:
“In 2001, when the Foot and Mouth crisis hit locally, I was living opposite a dairy farm. I had to drive my kids past piles of dead cows burning in fields.
“I didn’t like the industrial scale of modern farming and its consequences. I decided to give up dairy and my husband and children said they would join me.”
However, the family didn’t initially call themselves vegan in a bid to avoid criticism and occasionally had dairy products if choices were limited, as was often the case then.
Alison, who lives in Irongray, said: “We never wanted to offend people if they cooked for us and used dairy. We kept hens so we were still eating eggs.
“Fast forward to early 2017. My daughter, now 26 and living in London, said she’s seen a film called “Carnage” and had decided to be properly vegan. We all watched it and made the decision there and then to be vegan. No more dairy, no eggs, no wool. No more “plant based diet”.
“We would be vegans and proud to be called that from now on.”
Arguing there is no need for humans in developed countries to eat meat, she said: “To choose to do so is to kill animals for pleasure. I couldn’t be a part of that any longer. Also, as I care about the
environment, I am aware that raising animals for food is the single greatest human-caused source of destruction to our planet.
“So, it would be selfish not to try to live this way. I find it hard not to despair when I see perfectly nice people eating bacon rolls.”
Her decision is sometimes greeted with curiosity, she explained: “I wish I had a pound for everyone who has said “But where do you get your protein?”
“I’m not one of those notoriously “preachy” vegans but I’m happy to answer questions about my diet. I have found, however, that some people just don’t want to know.”
Although health reasons didn’t play a part in her choice, she has noticed a positive effect on her arthritis since switching diets and feels less bloated.
Food and cooking is a source of pleasure for Alison, who said: “People always
assume that you will miss cheese or eggs, but instead I find I’m having fun discovering new things to eat.
“I like making big pots of curry or chilli for family meals, or soups and salads and stir-fries. We always get excited making a special pie for Christmas lunch!
“I’m not a fan of cakes or rich puddings, although there are plenty of recipes for vegan desserts.”
Encouraged by how many fellow vegans there are, she added: “I’m amazed at how many people locally are vegan or are on the journey to becoming vegan.
“It’s really encouraging to know that there are like-minded folk out there and that they are mostly just ordinary, thoughtful people.”
And at the start of World Vegan Month, Alison’s message is : “Be kind to yourself, animals and the planet – give veganism a try!”
■ To find out more go to
On Facebook: Our Vegan Journey, Dumfries and Galloway and Vegan Dumfries and Galloway