The Blog

I'm Coming Out: Spilling the (Soya) Beans on Being Vegan

Despite saving my wardrobe, there is one notable downside: veganism has apparently ruined my ability to think. I have had to accept that despite my age and experience, my friends and family think I can no longer read or speak English when it comes to ordering food.

I never really liked meat or fish unless it was sneakily disguised as something else. Like most children l ate hot dogs, chicken nuggets and McDonalds but I always insisted that the head and tail be removed when my dad ate fish. And preferably the skin too. It used to make me feel really queasy.

I went vegetarian-ish in my early teens which, when trying to annoy my mother, I say is because her cooking was questionable. I'm not sure that's fair but then again don't ask her for a chicken soup recipe or you'll get my grandma's phone number.

I remember arriving in Paris in the late 90s. As I got in a taxi to my new home I'll never forget the driver's response when I asked if he knew of any local vegetarian restaurants. "Did your parents bring you up badly?" The French hate vegetarians.

Whilst I never much liked milk or strong cheese, I loved melted mozzarella, Walnut Whips and 99s with Flakes. My mother's weakness for soft whipped vanilla was a real perk in my teens and the younger version of me would never believe these things would be off my adult menu.

Then things changed. Since my late 20s, I have been unable to eat eggs and milk: They make me really ill (as in REALLY ill). But every cloud has a silver lining and I treat this challenging development my digestive system threw at me as a blessing as opposed to a curse.

I am convinced that if able, I would spend most evenings on the sofa eating pizza and ice cream. I like to excel at everything I do so I'm pretty confident that within no time, I would balloon and be confined to wearing only clothes with elasticated waists.

So in becoming vegan, it's actually a positive because it saved me from a lifetime of shapeless clothes. I also think its made me better able to build my businesses as I only fuel my body with 'the good stuff'. I don't need that early morning caffeine high or 4pm sugar hit to keep me going. I can't remember the last time I ate anything processed, I can't eat desserts and yes, I love green juice. We are what we eat.

Tesla can deliver a car with non animal-based interior materials, no one misses leather or fur when they shop at Vogue loving Vaute, ASICS have a cool vegan shoe range and delivery services like Quipup have a special category for healthy bites. In the UK alone some 12% of the UK population identify as either vegan or vegetarian and 20% of 16-25 year olds self-identify this way, so it's good business too.

And I know you boys: You think it's a faddy, chick thing. Well, it isn't and people from Al Gore to Samuel L. Jackson and Woody Harrelson have all converted to veganism alongside famous newbie Jay-Z.

Ann Wigmore said it perfectly: "The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison." If you're reading this and you think my diet is weird, I eat vegetables, grains and nuts. You probably eat fat, muscle and organs from dead animals. Which one sounds better for you?

Despite saving my wardrobe, there is one notable downside: veganism has apparently ruined my ability to think. I have had to accept that despite my age and experience, my friends and family think I can no longer read or speak English when it comes to ordering food.

As Lee Kern said in Vegan Wankers (the only article to ever make me cry with laughter): After reading the menu for you and explaining to you what you can eat, your friends will then speak over you trying to communicate to the waiter on your behalf and interpreting back what he or she says in a loud, clear voice. There will normally be seven of them doing this at once.

I can testify to this being true. It's really annoying.

Thankfully, there are a few things that make my vegan life a bit easier. Happy Cow and Planteaters are the daddy of gastronomic apps. Press a button and hoards of vegan friendly eateries magically appear. Christmas in Cancun: Business trips to Basil: Meetings in Manchester? I find culinary havens wherever I travel.

When vegans die and go to heaven I'm pretty sure it looks like California; The home of Silicon Valley, Hollywood and... Earth Bar shakes and tech savvy, healthy vegan fast food chain Veggie Grill. I worship at their plant based alters. But what to do when not in the Golden State?

Italy is most people's culinary mecca. Not me - cheese alert. French food? Butter everywhere. NIGHTMARE. London is my home and I think I know practically every place a vegan can eat - and they know me too.

As we become more health conscious as a nation, restaurants are starting to offer vegan and vegi menus. Riccardo's led the way in healthy inclusive eating for me and that's why I've been a loyal customer for 20 (yikes) years. Just as carnivores are catered to, so should pescatarians, vegans and healthistas be catered to too where possible.

There are some pluses for you haters out there. I am hands down the best person to travel with. Stuck on a long haul flight and don't like plane food? Come and find me; my bag will be full of snacks. Need to bribe me? As my career has evolved and I have gone from intern to business owner, my inbox fills daily with people asking for half an hour of my time to talk about a business idea or career change. I have no free time, friends and family I don't see enough of and a day job (or three), so can rarely say yes.

Here's a tip. If you want my attention, invite me for a drink at Press London's Soho Store, a Tibits buffet lunch on Heddon Street, an Inspiral vegan milkshake in Camden or a Bounty Bar at Nama Foods in Notting Hill because.... I WILL say yes.

I don't think I ever set out for my diet to align with my goal to leave the world in a better state than I found it but ... it seems to have happened anyway. There's no doubt about it: The world would be a better, healthier, more sustainable place if we all ate less meat. Ps #GoVegan