“Gently Vegan is an inspirational guide for you to feel supported on your individual journey towards a kinder lifestyle. It is a community of like- minded people celebrating and encouraging your vegan choices, with zero judgment when life gets in the way.”
Once a pesco-vegetarian for many years and now a vegan, Gently Vegan’s Founder, Counsellor and Vegan Food Coach Catherine Carr, acknowledges that every one is on their own food journey. Food Choices are personal and they are exactly that – choices. With this in mind, Catherine created this website as a place to feel supported, encouraged and cared for – never criticised.
Here, she reveals her story: “I had been pesco-vegetarian for many years. My love of animals has always made this an ethical, easy and obvious choice. However, while I felt vegan was a better choice it always seemed too hard. I couldn’t
imagine “giving up” my morning milky latte.
But after years of battling Hashimoto’s disease and the increasing side effects of the medications required to control this common but rarely spoken about auto immune illness, I began to realise there had to be an easier, better way to live a healthy, pain-free life. Around about the same time, I watched a movie called What the Health. There was a line in it that struck me to my core: “We are killing the animals and they are killing us back.” This was my ultimate “ah-ha” moment.
The cruelty of factory farming – our main source of meat and animal products that we use for food, can’t possibly produce a healthy product and I didn’t need to look far for glaring proof – my own immune system was telling me that!
I have always believed in food as medicine, but after watching this movie and with my growing awareness that even milk had a cruel and unhealthy side, I decided to immediately switch to a vegan diet. The first days of black coffee weren’t my finest moments. However, the discovery of almond milk in my lattes was absolutely a high point. I even convinced my husband to try them. Needless to say, he loves them and now they are our go-to morning caffeine fix.
They say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit and I will freely tell all who will listen that it’s true. Three weeks in to my transition to a vegan life, I felt amazing! The kilos dropped off me in all the right places, my energy levels skyrocketed and my fitness levels had me pumped at the gym.
Even a trip to the supermarket had become a new adventure – how many vegan treats could I find? Farmers markets were even more enticing and exciting. I was dusting off long forgotten cooking skills from my childhood, reaching into my memory for family favourites I could convert to vegan – my mother was a wonderful cook, so there were many!
Having grown up in New Zealand, it was an awkward transition to change butter and eggs to various oils and alternative binding products. Many cakes went in the bin along the way, but each new triumph fed my enthusiasm for change. Naturally, I wanted to share my newfound lifestyle and did so at the first chance I got – an Indian dinner with friends. Enthusiastically, I regaled them with my new routine, how incredible I felt, how many amazing vegan choices existed, and how much I loved almond milk lattes.
However, as I looked around at the table of stunned faces, I realised I was in my own happiness bubble that nobody wanted to share and most certainly at least half of them wanted to burst. Suddenly, I was surrounded by nutritional experts.
“What about iron?”
“How will you get protein?”
“Do you know Vitamin B will become an issue for you?”
No one was in on my joy.
They just wanted to order the Lamb Rogan Josh and move on!
Then it struck me: other people feel uncomfortable around vegans. They don’t want to consider diet options that question their meat-eating ethics, so they in turn feel like vegans are judging them. It seems a new vegan is sometimes viewed like someone who recently discovered Scientology; on a conversion mission, seeking followers for their new religion.
But that’s not how I view vegan choices. While I have a 100% vegan diet I want others to choose how they want to live. My husband probably makes vegan choices about 70 per cent of the time. Our meals at home are all vegan, but when at work and at restaurants he sometimes makes different choices.
Here’s the thing: Any vegan choice, no matter how small or infrequent, supports nutritious living and makes this world a kinder place for animals. While I am personally committed to being vegan, I am just as committed to freedom of choice. I believe if you offer great food, eventually more people will choose vegan options when it suits them.
And that is what Gently Vegan is about – an inspirational journey of food and lifestyle, a community where plant based options are celebrated as daily choices, without pressure and without judgement. I hope you enjoy it and that it encourages you to make choices that you’re happy and comfortable with.