Whether you have decided to cut down on meat and other animal products for the environment, animals or your health; or you are considering being vegan, trying out veganism as a Durham student will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make in Durham, trust me. Or don’t trust me, just give it a try and see it for yourself!
Melda’s tips on how to try/sustain a vegan lifestyle while being a full-time student at university:
TIP #1: Take it easy, veganism is a journey
I cannot stress the importance of this tip enough. It is a non-vegan world and we are all individuals living in a system where we have been taught to believe that animal products are ‘healthy’, while the UN and WHO have classified red meat as potentially carcinogenic and studies have shown that eating animal flesh can cause certain diseases, such as heart disease. This is why reading up about what you are feeding your body is so important, but keep in mind that eating animals is a societal habit and the dominant ideology in society. So don’t worry if you slip up, all of us have. Don’t forget, being vegan is not about perfection. It is not possible to be 100% vegan.
TIP #2: Try out the alternatives
I’ll admit it: I have become an enormous foodie since I became vegan and moved to the UK. This will be one of the side effects of trying vegan food (especially junk food), so please eat responsibly. Growing up in Turkey, I have never been exposed to any veggie and vegan alternatives, so as you can imagine as soon as I came to the UK I had my first vegan Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in years and was addicted for an entire month until my housemates caught me having it for breakfast. One of my top tips is to go to Holland and Barrett at the end of each month, during the last hours of the day to catch the reduced goodies and remember the student discount.
TIP #3: Make it cheap and save money
In fact, all the cheapest foods are vegan. If you eat a whole-food plant-based no junkie vegan diet most of the time, you will save yourself a fortune. Let’s face it, fruit, veg, beans, legumes and grains are way cheaper than buying packaged meat, chicken and fish.
TIP #4: Learn to cook and try to eat a whole-food plant-based diet
I admit that I am not the perfect example of a whole-food, healthy vegan as I indulge in the dirtiest vegan junk foods. No one is perfect and I have a huge weakness for vegan Gregg’s sausage rolls and a big fat juicy Fat Hippo veggie burger. However, I try to eat a whole-food plant-based diet to get all the goodie nutrients because frankly, it makes me feel awesome and I love myself for it. You will not only feel healthier, but also develop a passion for cooking when you discover the choice of around 80,000 edible plant foods on this beautiful planet.
TIP #5: Get VEGucated and motivate yourself
Read. Watch. Learn. Modern science suggests that a plant-based food system is more sustainable than breeding an animal into existence, feeding it with grains and water for a lifetime, then slaughtering and finally transporting its flesh to a supermarket. Animal agriculture has been proven to be one of the leading causes of climate change. Furthermore, animals are not treated as nicely as we think they are. WE can change this. We have a moral responsibility to change because our daily choices have detrimental impacts on our planet and fellow earthlings. Knowledge is powa so get vegucatin’!
MUST SEES: Cowspiracy (Netflix), Earthlings (earthlings.com), What The Health (Netflix),
MUST READS: How Not To Die by Dr. Greger, Dominion by Mathew Scully, Food Choice & Sustainability by Dr. Oppanlander
FREE SUPPORT: challenge22.com
TIP #6: Get involved! Join Durham University Vegetarian and Vegan Society
Ask for more tips and advice from people who are on the same journey! Although social media is a great resource and a way to connect with other individuals who are on the same journey, meeting new people who are also trying to go vegan or are vegan in real life is another experience. Durham University’s Vegan and Vegetarian Society is one of the BEST in the country. This lovely community hosts delightful food socials, bar crawls, film screenings, trips to vegan festivals in both Durham and Newcastle and lots of activism events. OK, I may be a bit biased on how awesome DU Vegsoc is as I am one of the execs, but I guarantee you there is nothing dull about going out and devouring ah-mazing scran with people, regardless of whether you’re vegan or not. Or just come along to maybe meet the love of your life and eat free cupcakes!
Melda’s top 5 places and meals to eat out in Durham:
- Green Guerilla: try ANY flapjack, burger and tofu-cheddar quiche. They have a stall in Market Square on weekends
- Jumping Bean: It’s always either one of their hot dogs, the fat Texas burger and the Banana macadamia milkshake for me. They’re offering 20% discount this week so be quick!
- Bean Social: BEST sweet treats and pastry you will find in Durham and try ANY vegan pizza or the daily specials + their mystery shelf sweet treat
- Fat Hippo: Shroom Raider and Veggie Hippo with Trash Brown chips and vegan garlic mayo is to die for, you will thank me later.
- The Library Bar: BBQ Jackfruit Kebab (trust a Turk with the Kebab recommendation) and the vegan nachos. Food. Heaven.
Images by Melda Kelemcisoy