When and why did you become a vegan?
It was a gradual process that started about 18 months ago. I’m 6ft 3in tall, I weigh 14 stone and used to enjoy body building. Add to that I’m Scottish and spent 17 years in the Territorial Army, and you have an unlikely vegan.
My work involves going to several corporate events every week, where I would have hearty meals, including steak, red wine and cheese. Over time, too many heavy meals left me feeling bloated and lethargic.
To balance things out, at home my wife and I decided to cook lighter meals, such as soups and meat-free dishes. But I was still feeling bloated, so we decided to cut out milk and cheese, and that made a real difference.
Do you feel different after becoming vegan?
I feel much healthier. My energy levels are up, and I no longer feel lethargic. I’m sleeping better and I’ve started running regularly, which I used to do.
I used to have a problem keeping my weight under control. My weight tended to yo-yo up and down. Now, my weight is stable. I can still fit into suits that I had made 10 years ago.
How much planning goes into your vegan diet?
We plan our meals and do a large supermarket shop once a week. We definitely put more thought into what we need to eat to make sure our meals are varied and balanced.
In winter, we tend to eat a lot more soups, so we’ll buy pulses and chunky vegetables. We’ll have apple crumbles instead of fruit salads. We go through the full range of foods suitable for vegans.
Is shopping as a vegan more expensive?
At first it seemed more expensive because we were buying foods suitable for vegans, in addition to non-vegan ingredients. But once we switched to a fully vegan diet, our shopping bill came down.
As a vegan, I tend not to eat junk food, so our weekly shops are cheaper. Planning our meals has made a big difference to our spending, as it means we don’t throw away as much food as we used to.
What are your favourite vegan dishes?
Vegetable biryani is my all-time favourite dish. It’s been a personal favourite since I was a kid. I also love soups, just about any variety, but especially broccoli and vegan blue cheese soup.
Since going vegan, I’ve discovered a real love of food. Finding out about new ingredients and dishes has introduced my taste buds to a whole new range of flavours.
How do you make sure your vegan diet is healthy?
It’s perfectly possible to eat unhealthily as a vegan, as with any type of diet. But if you pay attention to what goes into your meals, it’s very easy to have a varied and balanced diet.
Eating vegan is easier than it sounds. It just requires a bit more planning, to make sure you get a variety of fruit and vegetables, pulses, seeds and grains.
How do you get vitamin B12 and vitamin D?
I go sailing on weekends all year round, so I get my vitamin D from spending a lot of time outdoors in the sunlight. I get vitamin B12 from soya products, such as soya drinks fortified with vitamin B12.
Is it difficult to eat out as a vegan?
Most places offer vegan dishes on their menu. But one of the most helpful tools when going to new places or ordering off the menu is the Vegan Society’s Vegan Passport.
The Vegan Passport is a pocket-sized booklet describing what foods vegans can and can't eat in just about every language you'll ever need.