Image: Crown Copyright reproduced by permission of the Open Government Licence
When you tell people you’ve become vegan, the ensuing conversation usually pivots on what you’ve given up; all the things you can’t eat, shouldn’t use, mustn’t wear. Ok. True. There are a helluva lot of things I can no longer eat and a good number of things I can no longer slather over my face/hair/skin.
In a world of choice, choosing a vegan lifestyle has undeniably narrowed my options. Frankly, though, that feels fantastic.
There are now whole aisles in the supermarket that can be bypassed. All but a tiny slice of the UK’s £17 billion-a-year beauty industry is now out of bounds. The energy I might have expended weighing up whether to blow £200 quid in Russell & Bromley is now back in the tank. There are a lot of things I can’t have but, because I already have so much, that’s just dandy by me.
My need to seek out new versions of all my beauty favourites is taking me to new and unexpected places. I bought my first cruelty-free shampoo and conditioner in my local Oxfam. (I should point out that these were new products rather than half-used donations!) The very knowledgeable owner of a small independent health food shop in Knaresborough, Natural Choice, introduced me to a mid-range Aussie brand of vegan skincare which is aromatic, lovely to use and a quarter of the price of its Clarins counterpart.
Perhaps it’s an age thing. Would I have been ready to shop for moisturiser and nutritional yeast in the same shop in my 30s or even 40s? Probably not.
But being in your 50s is, I find, a rather liberating experience. I am less inclined to do things I really don’t want to do and more inclined to make big plans and big changes because, if not now, when?
As an ‘old’ friend put it to me on my recent birthday: ‘We’re in the second week of our holidays and that always goes faster than the first’. Indeed.