Plant­ing seeds of change

Dubbo Photo News - - Business. - BY ELLA WALKER

“THE amount of dairy I was pack­ing away was shock­ing to be hon­est,” says Aine Car­lin, gravely.

It was this re­al­i­sa­tion, and the fact that “ev­ery sin­gle meal had some form of dairy in it”, that sent the food writer, for­mer ac­tress and award-win­ning blog­ger (www.pea­sou­peats.com) into a tail­spin over what she was putting into her body.

“I opened the fridge one day and had a hard look at what we were eat­ing,” she re­mem­bers – and six years on, she has no re­grets about go­ing ve­gan.

Un­der­stand­ably so, con­sid­er­ing her first book, Keep It Ve­gan, won the 2014 PETA Award for Best Ve­gan Cook­book and the 2015 Gour­mand Award for Best UK Ve­gan Book.

Orig­i­nally from Derry in North­ern Ire­land, Car­lin had al­ways been in­ter­ested in food and cook­ing from scratch, but her ve­gan trans­for­ma­tion took place dur­ing a stint liv­ing in Chicago.

“Chicago it­self had a mas­sive, mas­sive ef­fect on me,” says the 34-year-old. “They were so far ahead of us in re­gards to veg­e­tar­i­an­ism and ve­g­an­ism – I’d never seen veg­e­tar­ian food like it. So when I’d seen the pos­si­bil­i­ties of what it could be like, it be­came ex­cit­ing to me, whereas be­fore, it seemed like you were de­priv­ing your­self and it was just a hor­ri­ble, joy­less ex­is­tence, you know?”

Now based in Corn­wall, Eng­land, Car­lin sounds the op­po­site of joy­less.

Not only has go­ing ve­gan given her a whole new ca­reer av­enue, it’s had a huge im­pact on her health and how she feels about her­self.

“We weren’t feel­ing 100 per cent, I would say. We weren’t ill or any­thing like that, but we’d both put on a bit of weight, we were very lethar­gic, we were hav­ing ter­ri­ble sleep, my skin and my hair and my nails were never look­ing worse,” she says, ex­plain­ing how she and her now-hus­band were feel­ing in the run up to de­cid­ing to ditch meat and dairy.

“All of this was around the time of my wed­ding, so if you can imag­ine, I look back at those pho­tos and I just think, I was look­ing and feel­ing my worst. I’m sure no one else no­ticed, but you know when you can feel it in your­self that you’re not the best that you could be.”

Dairy “was the first thing to go”, she says, but claims there isn’t any­thing she misses from her pre­vi­ous, cheese-tas­tic diet.

“The prob­lem is peo­ple look for prod­ucts that taste al­most ex­actly the same as the dairy prod­ucts that they miss,” she muses. “I think you just need to for­get about that and just go: ‘It’s never go­ing to taste like that, but I’m go­ing to en­joy this for what it is’.”

The premise of her lat­est book, The New Ve­gan, is to make ve­gan eat­ing ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one.

“I love com­mu­nal eat­ing; for me it’s all about shar­ing food, and ve­g­an­ism has a very soli­tary im­age. You do it your­self and for your­self, you eat alone and there’s some­thing about that that’s very de­press­ing for me,” she ex­plains. “I wanted to open it out. It’s more about shar­ing your life­style and shar­ing your food, and ev­ery­one sit­ting around a big ta­ble and pass­ing bowls of this, that and the other.

“When peo­ple think about ve­g­an­ism, they think it’s very dog­matic, that you’re be­ing told what to eat, that you’re be­ing crit­i­cised if you slip up, and I want to get away from that mind­set, be­cause it’s de­struc­tive and it doesn’t work in the long term,” she says pas­sion­ately. “It’s about be­ing sup­port­ing and ac­cept­ing of ev­ery­one – and just en­joy­ing food!”

If you’re tempted to switch to a ve­gan life­style, get started with th­ese three recipes from Car­lin’s new book...

Aine Car­lin. Pho­tos: PA Photo

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