'Don't you miss meat?' This is the first question posed by the friends and family of the newborn vegetarian. The question, for me at least, isn't offensive. And the answer isn't complicated. I rarely miss the taste of meat - although I occasionally dream, like a vegetarian android, of mint-coated sheep - but I do miss the loss of ritual that accompanies meat consumption.
It's easy to realise that an animal had to be harmed to get a piece of meat onto your plate. But other products, such as dairy and eggs, are one step removed from the animal who produced them and are wrongly thought of as innocuous, friendly byproducts. This couldn't be much further from the truth - prepare yourself for some pretty grim facts.
Since beginning my new Food Optimising way of eating via Slimming World, I am always looking for ways to reduce my use of processed ingredients and for foods with lower syn values. This way of eating limits all kinds of flours, even wholegrain flours, although the whole grain itself, say quinoa, can be eaten freely in unlimited quantities.
For the last decade, The Vegan Society has been asked on a weekly basis how many vegans there are, and all we've been able to say in recent years was that we thought numbers would probably have doubled since 2006. On occasion, I've also replied that everyone eats vegan food on a daily basis, but that vegans just eat a little more plant-based than others.
There's no exact measurement for the amount of ingredients here; mix and match whatever veggies you like, add some sprouts, rice noodles, shrimp, different herbs, etc. The beauty of these is using what you have on hand or changing it up with what's in season for different colours, flavours, and textures.
It's hard being a young girl these days. Someone always has a better instagram than you, with more pictures of detox smoothies that have more likes than your profile has put together. It seems that everyone else is exercising more, is doing better career wise than you, and has perfect hair while they do it.
The great irony of Easter, a time of new life, is that we celebrate it with death; our culinary traditions at odds with spring's blooming plants and wildlife, lambs being born and chicks hatched. Society has normalised eating eggs. Very rarely do people question what they really are - hen's periods. Unfertilised menstruation. Not for me, thanks.
This past weekend we celebrated Earth Hour 2016, causing many of us to look at what changes we can make to do our bit for the planet. We all know about swapping light bulbs, shorter showers and driving less, but there's one change we can all make that has a bigger impact than anything else: what we put on our plate.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I'll keep saying it until people choose to listen. None of this is necessary. We have no need to use and kill animals for food, clothing, entertainment, or any other reason. To harm and kill another being without necessity is profoundly unjust, no matter how you paint it. There is only one way to bring this injustice to an end; and that is, my fellow animal-lovers, for each of us to be the change by being vegan.