At first I was a basic vegetarian, ovo- lacto, eating eggs and dairy products but no meat, then about a year ago I gave up eggs and so became a lacto vegetarian. Now I have started along the path to veganism, which means cutting out all animal products from my diet, so no milk, cheese, yogurt or honey. For me the hardest among that list is the cheese, as I love cheese, but I love animals more than cheese so it’s not an impossible task.
Maybe in countries where vegetarianism and veganism are more common it is easier to make the switch as there are many substitutes on the market that taste similar to their non-vegan counterparts. For example I was in Wales for Christmas and one of my nieces gave me some vegan chocolate as a present and it tasted absolutely delicious and no different to normal dairy chocolate.
Here in Colombia it’s more complicated as I don’t think those products can be found here, at least not yet. So even though it’s not impossible to become vegan, maybe one has to be more inventive to find some alternatives to the non-vegan products. Margarine is an example; I assumed that margarine was made entirely from vegetable oils, such as rapeseed or sunflower; however, they all, at least those on sale here in Colombia, have some derivative of milk added, thus making them non-vegan.
The milk replacement is in fact very easy and I have already discovered various alternatives that I am happy with, such as soy milk, almond milk or other nut milks. Nut butters are also possible to make and likely to be a good alternative to margarine. Cheese is the hardest to find an adequate replacement for. An ingredient I see mentioned frequently in vegan cheese recipes and that seems to provide a cheesy flavour is nutritional yeast, which I haven’t seen on sale here. In fact I had never heard of it until I started looking for vegan cheese recipes on internet. I knew of brewer’s yeast, which is easily found here as, levadura de cerveza, but nutritional yeast is a new one on me. Maybe I will need to buy some on internet and have it shipped to Colombia or find another ingredient I can use as a substitute.
I certainly have to be far more selective when eating out, but there are some restaurants here that have vegan dishes in their culinary repertoire, one very good one being Prana not far from where I live.
I even asked my doctor if it was okay and he said I shouldn’t have any problem as long as I had the vitamin B12 injection every year or so and this in fact is something which is recommended for everyone over fifty, irrelevant of their diet, as the body loses its ability to absorb the vitamin as age increases.
I accept that it may seem I am complicating my life, but I would rather complicate my life than that of another living being, and I’m sure I will discover new foods and recipes along the way which will make this new journey an interesting one.
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