“I stopped eating meat when I was 17 or 18, but I still ate fish and dairy. About nine years ago, I met my husband. He was pescatarian too. For him it was a health thing. For me it was about not wanting to eat animals. It was rare back then to meet someone who didn’t eat meat. So it was quite a big deal for me.
“A couple of years ago, Michael said he didn’t want to drink milk anymore. Jacob was about two years old then and he used to suffer with tummy issues, specifically constipation. I thought it was because of bananas, but I read up on it and found that dairy can cause this too.
“So we all switched over to coconut milk and we stopped yoghurt and cheese. The difference in his tummy problems was almost instant. Within a few days his tummy issues had gone away.
“In the latter part of last year, we watched a couple of documentaries about the impact animal farming has on the environment – Cowspiracy and Vegan 2018. That was the turning point.”
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION
“On New Years Day 2019, Michael and I became vegan. We have had a couple of days during that time when we have had a little bit of cheese… It can be a hard diet to follow when you are travelling.
“Even that feels bad to me now – a bit of cheese feels as bad to me as having steak. It’s about the welfare of the animals during the dairy process. Male calves being slaughtered at birth and the cows being separated from their babies when they are born – the mother cows literally cry.
“But it’s also about the environment and our own health. We feel so much healthier since becoming vegan and, I don’t want to jinx it, but none of us have been ill or had a cold all year.”
LETTING HIM CHOOSE
“Jacob isn’t vegan. He tried red meat a few times when he was younger, but never liked it. He eats salmon, tinned tuna and chicken because he doesn’t like lentils, or chickpeas, so he doesn’t get a lot of plant-based protein.
“He is great with vegetables and he loves all the meat-alternatives, like Quorn and vegan sausages.
“I feel like he should be able to make the decision himself. But my husband says that the quality of meat isn’t that good these days and that we probably aren’t doing him any favours by giving him the chicken and salmon. If it were up to Michael, Jacob would be vegan now.
“I wouldn’t stop Jacob eating anything he wants, for example at a party. He isn’t vegan and in my mind he is free to be a four-year-old.
“We buy vegan ice cream and I make my own vegan ice cream, but if we are in the mall and he wants an ice cream, I just get him one. I want him to enjoy just being a little boy.”
“Meat replacements can be very expensive. So we tend to make big batches of meals like vegetable curries and lentil bolognaise.
“One of our favourites is Deliciously Ella’s Cauliflower and Red Lentil Dhal. It’s so tasty that work colleagues are always asking me to bring in leftovers.
“Michael and I have both lost weight without even trying – I have lost about 4kgs and Michael has lost about 8kgs. And that’s without changing anything else in our lives. I think a big part of that was cutting out cheese.
“I am very passionate about the choice we have made. But I always remind myself that 12 months ago, I wasn’t doing half the things I am doing now. I know that everyone is on their own journey and making the choices that are right for them and for their families.
“Sometimes I think I should be less vocal about it. But I get enthusiastic when talking to people about it and I can get frustrated when people are blasé.
“The next step for us now is taking these ethics into other areas of our lives. I have a leather handbag that I bought before we became vegan. I want to start looking at vegan clothing and make-up brands. Michael and I feel good about how far we have come this year. But there is always room for improvement.”
A GIBSON FAMILY FAVOURITE – HOMEMADE VEGAN ICE CREAM
1.5 cups of frozen strawberries
Half a can of creamy coconut milk
Maple syrup – a couple of tablespoons
Blend it all together and serve immediately.