Here at Portlebay we are particularly proud of our vegan products, and understand the importance of these in a world where veganism is a increasingly popular lifestyle choice. Currently three out of our six flavours are vegan friendly, these being the delicious Chilli & Lime, Sweet & Salty and Lightly Sea Salted. Unfortunately some of our wonderful popcorn relies on ingredients such as milk (our seasonal flavours; Cinnamon swirl 1st October- 31st March and Lemon Sherbet 1st April-30th September) and bacon (in our Crispy Bacon and Maple Syrup), however even these flavours are carefully hand-popped using completely natural ingredients and as always no palm oil!
For those of you who are completely new to the vegan world, veganism can be defined as the decision to abstain from the use of animal products and the belief in excluding all forms of exploitation or harm to animals for the use of food, clothing or any other purpose.
People choose to become vegan for many different reasons including dieting, compassion, health and environmental reasons. We decided to interview some young and vibrant vegans who go by the names of Elena, Imogen, Emmy and Naomi, to learn a bit more about the world of veganism and how it affects them on a day-to-day basis.
Each of these four lovely ladies are at a different stage of their vegan journey and are happy to give us a little insight into their vegan lives:
Emmy– A year and a half into the journey!
Elena– One month into the journey!
Imogen- 6 months into the journey!
Naomi- 10 months into the journey!
1. What Are The Main Struggles You Face With Being Vegan?
Naomi: Definitely the lack of choices when going out to eat!
Elena: I’d say sometimes helping people understand why I’ve made this choice is difficult, particularly with older generations.
Imogen: Alcohol is a huge struggle. A lot are filtered through fish bladders, so finding vegan ones at the bar is difficult unless your vegan alcohol knowledge is faultless. Also, I hate how products can be marketed as vegan just as an excuse for it to be priced ridiculously.
Emmy: The main struggles I face being vegan is to know what’s vegan when you travel, especially abroad. Many places don’t cater for vegans, or don’t make it easy to identify which products are vegan or not. But I think many places in the UK are becoming increasingly better at this, and you can find some vegan options both from the shop ‘on the go’, or in restaurants. Also, I find it really annoying how almost all product have some sort of milk-powder or dried egg, even though there shouldn’t be a reason for it.
2. What Do You Tend To Look For With Vegan Friendly Products?
Imogen: I look for fresh ingredients that are written in plain English (not chemistry compounds), no preservatives or artificial additives, it being organic is a bonus, it has to be dairy-free of course, and depending on the product I might see if it’s recyclable and what the brand’s ethics are, oh and the protein content.
Elena: Ingredients that I recognise and aren’t just full of loads of long weird chemical compound sounding names are a must. Otherwise I feel I’m back to square one. And yeah, it has to be macro-nutrient. The fact that Portlebay use natural ingredients as well as being vegan is a great bonus to me!
Emmy: I look for ingredients and nutritional value in vegan products, and try to avoid stuff which has palm oil, high levels of saturated fats and sugar. I also try to find food with high protein levels, and fewer ingredients.
3. What Made You Decide to Become Vegan?
Elena: I disagree with the meat and dairy industries ethically, the meat industry is one of the biggest contributors to the planet’s pollution problem, I don’t believe humans need animal-based products and in fact believe they are detrimental to our health. I just want to eat food that I know is good for me and leaves me feeling guilt free. This is a recent decision for me so I’m still learning and am transitioning my products and clothes slowly.
Imogen: environmental reasons, ethical reasons of course, so many of our British farm animals and homeless cats and dogs are put down it makes me so angry! Also, weight management and religious reasons too (the Hindu holy book, The Bhagavad Gita, states to not harm any living things which is interpreted by some Hindus as going vegan whilst others opt for vegetarianism). I also feel so much more energised on a vegan diet. I just like making sure what I put in my body is healthy and wholesome it makes all the difference mentally too.
Naomi: You guys put that perfectly, I’m literally exactly the same!
Emmy: I became vegetarian first for environmental reasons, but then got more engaged with ethical and animal welfare arguments, as well as the health benefits of a vegan diet.
4.What Do You Wish People That Aren’t Vegan Knew About The Vegan Lifestyle?
Naomi: People always assume it’s really expensive and you don’t get your ‘protein’ when actually there is so much more protein in beans, nuts and vegetables than there is in meat. A lot of people don’t realise the cruelty that happens behind closed doors especially in the dairy industry, I had no idea until I actually properly researched it! I feel like if everyone knew what meat and dairy products were actually made from and the process in which they are made a lot more people would become vegan, also people just don’t hear about the possible side effects of eating meat such as cancers, bowel problems and weight gain.
Elena: It doesn’t have to be some massive deal when you decide to be vegan and with a bit of research it’s not too difficult!
Imogen: I wish people knew that it’s not hard to transition when you realise what you were taking wasn’t yours to begin with! So many places are now expanding their vegan range so it’s not as hard to find alternatives. It took me five attempts to become vegan but you get there in the end! Also, nutrients are easy to find in non-meat sources. Omega 3, commonly known for residing in cod liver, is actually in a whole range of things like Chia Seeds for example.
Emmy: I wish people knew that it is not hard to get enough protein, and it doesn’t need to be more expensive to eat a vegan diet. Also, I wish people understood that when you truly believe in the reasons why one has chosen to become vegan, it’s not hard to avoid animal products.
5. How Has Being Vegan Affected Your Overall Lifestyle?
Imogen: I’ve been looking after myself better as a result, going to the gym more because I feel great and energised and I am always coming up with new meals in the kitchen now. When I go out for food I am always discovering new flavours and I love that. I’m a little greener now too! Recycling more, growing fruits and veggies, being wary of our declining bee population and that sort of thing.
Naomi: I was vegetarian for four years and then became vegan in September 2018 and have lost over a stone! I also have less spots, my hair is way less greasy, I feel more energised and mentally I’m so much happier as well- so there are just loads of health benefits!
Elena: I feel more lean already, I feel excited to carry on discovering new foods and am more mindful about what I put into my body and the way my actions affect the environment.
Emmy: I’ve become more interested in nutrition, changed my cooking habits and experiment more with different ingredients. I probably have become much more aware of environmental sustainability, and may end up preaching ethical consumerism unintentionally at times. Other than that I wouldn’t say it has changed my lifestyle.
6. What Advice Would You Offer To Anyone Wanting To Convert To Vegan?
Imogen: Listen to your body – you don’t need to go cold turkey vegan right away! Start by reducing meat and dairy and then eliminate over time, I found my body was initially not coping with the sudden change too well so that’s why it took five attempts for me! You shouldn’t do it just because its deemed an Instagram trend, do it for you and never stop educating yourself, get in the kitchen more and browse the web! There are so many vegan recipes out there to begin transitioning!
Elena: Just don’t be too harsh on yourself, if you slip up just learn from it and don’t quit. Also don’t do it for anyone but yourself, consider it a self investment.
Emmy: My best advice would probably be to educate oneself about the impacts of animal products on your health and the environment. Watch a few documentaries, read some articles and get familiar with your own reasons for changing your eating habits. Also, I’ve got lots of inspiration from vegan Instagram accounts as well. And lastly, not to be to hard on oneself. As I don’t think everyone has to be vegan for the world to become a better place, as long as everyone raises their awareness of issues related to animal products, and cut down their consumption of these.
Naomi: My advice would be that any change is going to help, especially for the environment, even cutting down slowly, for instance, having one less meal with meat in a week and slowly making it less and less. Or have a list of companies that test on animals so you know that what you’re buying is cruelty free! Also just experiment with different food especially alternatives like milk, I had to try loads until I found one that I actually like!