I have spent over 7 months of my life on a vegan diet. The first time was a few years ago, while I was still living in Scotland. I don’t have a cool “why I went vegan” story. I just got bored one night while I was searching netflix on my iPad looking for something to help me kill some time before I fell asleep. Decided for some reason to have a look at a vegan documentary, watched it, then I couldn’t help but watch another, and another. I was literally persuaded overnight by binge watching three vegan propaganda documentaries. I fell asleep promising to myself that from morning I was going to stop eating anything containing meat, eggs or dairy. However the diet I immediately switched to wouldn’t please any vegan nutritionist out there. I was almost exclusively eating rice, porridge oats and nuts. Whenever I was feeling lethargic, which was often, I would normally drink a red bull or a black coffee. I think most vegan nutritionists would’ve recommended the keto diet over what I was eating, just for the vegetables. It lasted a couple months before I gave in. Unspurisingly, I did lose weight while on this diet, but I only lost just about everything else, my energy, my routine, my sleep schedule, my will to live. Just not a very pleasant journey to go on.
Which begs the question, why would I ever try the vegan diet ever again after that whole experience? Two main reasons. When I started again earlier in 2019 I was living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which has a reputation for being one of the easiest cities in the entire world to be a vegan in. The easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables is like nothing I’ve seen in Scotland. Being immersed in a city with countless street food carts selling chopped up watermelon and mangoes, so many vegan friendly or completely vegan restaurants and a local population that generally avoids beef and dairy makes it a way easier environment for people to give veganism a try (again). The other is the cost. Food is very cheap in Thailand compared to the western world. Restaurants are generally cheaper, farmers markets are generally cheaper and snacking is generally cheaper. In the western world, the vegan diet can easily be expensive. Vegan restaurants are often pricier than a lot of their meat selling competition and tropical, imported fruits are obviously a lot more expensive than in the countries that they’re grown in.
It’s definitely cheaper to be vegan in Thailand than in Scotland. But being vegan i Thailand is still a lot more expensive than the standard Thai diet. One of the real perks of living in South East Asia is that you’ll never have to cook for yourself. Even if you’re living or travelling here on a shoestring budget, there’s plenty of in every town or city where you can get a nice plate of food somewhere for $1.50 or less. You can eat at those places three times a day, and that along with being able to rent a one bedroom apartment for less than $250/month with bills included means that living in parts of South East Asia on less than $1000/month is far from a strain. Unless you’re going to go vegan. Vegan friendly restaurants are scattered all over the cities, it takes time and money to get there and back. And instead of $1.50 for a plate of food you’ll be paying $4-6 for food. Still cheap, but eating that 3 times a day is going to add up to a substantially bigger food bill than your standard $1 plate of rice, pork and vegetables. And cooking at home is not really an option, because most apartments in Thailand DO NOT HAVE A KITCHEN! I have stayed in 5 apartments since moving to Asia in January, none of them had kitchen. It’s very understandable because Thailand and Vietnam, it is literally cheaper to go eat at some Thai restaurant or street food stall than go out to the store, buy the ingredients and cook yourself. So if you’re vegan, you don’t have that option either, unless you’re going to pay $600-800/month for an apartment that does have a fitted kitchen. Whatever way you look at it here, being vegan will cost you money.
I don’t think it did my body much good either. Having spent time on a vegan diet, I really can say that it’s not the healthiest diet in my opinion. I would wake up pretty fresh in the morning, but I was often tired during the afternoon. I started defecating 3 or 4 times a day and my work rate on the computer withered away too. I wasn’t on the diet I was on the first time I went vegan. This time I was eating an abundance of fruits and vegetables, pasta, potatoes, beans, lentils, plant-based milk alternatives, soups and even vegan junk food. It still didn’t work for me. I’m not going to pretend like I don’t think vegans have a point, but I’m just not willing to make myself poorer and do damage to my health for the cause. I really hope that my vegan friends I have and who I’ll meet later in life can be accepting of that.
Stand-up bit I wrote about veganism