It all started on a beautiful spring day in 2016…not that long ago really!
Having lived as a vegetarian for 30 years, I suddenly made the decision to go vegan. It happened after I read an online article that brought together lots of studies about the positive impact of veganism on individual health, animal welfare and environmental preservation. I didn’t learn anything new from this article, but bringing it all together as one piece made for a compelling case that I couldn’t ignore. Everyone that becomes vegan has their own motivation and their own journey – for me, it was a combination of many factors.
A Frustrating Start
My decision to become vegan marked the beginning of an exciting but frustrating journey. Exciting because I was suddenly exploring new and creative food experiences at home and discovering new sections of my local supermarkets; frustrating because I was at a loss as to know where I could go out to enjoy a vegan meal, without having to ask for special treatment and feeling awkward or embarrassed as a result.
My frustration came to a head in December when, like many people, I was invited out for several meals leading up to Christmas and during the holidays. Not being the organiser, I had no choice on the venue and so had to ask for a vegan option to be made available. The result was a mixed bag! Some venues did a good job, coming up with creative suggestions and checking with me that it was suitable. Others didn’t fair so well – I actually got a huge bowl of very plain salad without dressing at one venue – vegans need protein too, for goodness sake!
I needed information!
Connecting with Vegan Social Networkers
Web and mobile app searches revealed very little information and much of it seemed out of date. Some apps were for vegetarians and vegans and I got fed up trying to sift through what I could and couldn’t eat. But, thankfully, it soon became evident that there was an army of vegans hanging out on social networks and this is where the up-to-date information was to be found.
I set up the Facebook group, Vegan Life MK, at the end of December 2016 and, sure enough, people started joining, asking for advice, sharing information and building what I would describe as a very supportive community. It’s definitely not the only group out there – there are many – but I’ve been thrilled by the generosity and kindness of people who have joined and have shared tips on good food and great places to eat. Veganuary (January 2017) also created a shared sense of purpose with many people trying out veganism for the first time and helping to grow the community.
Finding Vegan Eateries
By around March 2017, I was increasingly aware of just how many eateries there were in and around Milton Keynes, most of which didn’t feature on any major websites or apps and most of which I’d learned about through the kindness of people in social media networks.
I had a sudden realisation! We needed a database, a directory, a website that we could pour all this fabulously useful local information into from our brains and which we could share with others, especially those new to the area and new to veganism – people like me that didn’t know where to start a few months ago!
Creating Vegan Life
And so the FaceBook page, Vegan Life MK, has expanded to become veganlife.org.uk which has, at its heart, a directory that will become an essential tool to promote and celebrate all the fabulous businesses out there that are making vegan life that little bit easier for all of us.
It started in Milton Keynes but we are already expanding to surrounding counties so watch this space for more!
veganlife.org.uk is run by volunteers and its future growth and success will rely on the army of vegan social networkers out there, whether that’s in helping to keep the listings up to date, contributing to the blog or visiting and reviewing vegan businesses.
I’m super excited to see where this journey might take us!