Fashion and Beauty: Vegan lifestyle gives me so much energy
IT’S PROBABLY fair to say that most of us don’t give much thought to where our food comes from.
Charlotte Coleman, on the other hand, thinks about everything she eats and has made a conscious decision to avoid anything with animal origins.
She won’t wear silk, leather or wool, all her grooming products are free from animal ingredients and have not been tested on animals and she eats only fruit or vegetable-based foods – no dairy, eggs or meat.
It is a lifestyle choice that the mother-of-five and psychology lecturer admits has been far from easy. But it’s one that is attracting a growing number of adherents. The Animal Aid charity estimates that there are at least 600,000 vegans in the UK, maybe up to one million. In 1993 there were only 100,000.
“It’s not an easy change to make,” says Charlotte, 41, from Clayton West. “You have to learn about it and you realise that there are a lot of things you take for granted that you can no longer have.”
A vegetarian from the age of 12, the young Charlotte had an aversion to meat but continued to eat eggs and dairy products.
“Vegetarians won’t consume things that are dead but there is death in the process of getting products like milk and cheese – it’s just that you choose to ignore it,” she explained.
However, there came a point a decade ago when Charlotte felt she could no longer ignore the ‘abuses’ of the dairy and egg industries and decided to gradually adopt a vegan lifestyle.
“I had wanted to make my ideals a reality for a long time” she said. “I wanted to do more.”
Today Charlotte is living proof that a vegan diet is both healthy and sustaining. She is a marathon runner – recently completing the Dublin marathon – and says she has never felt better.
With a full-time role at the University of Sheffield, a part-time job tutoring for the Open University, a large family and charity work for Animal Aid – she gives lectures in schools – she’s certainly busy.
She said: “People ask me how I do it all, but I feel healthier than I have ever been and have so much energy. I’m sure it’s my diet.”
Sourcing vegan foods has been her biggest problem.
“You have to do it gradually or you will find it difficult and probably give up,” she said.
Label checking has become a way of life as dairy and meat products can find their way into the most innocent of foods.
“A lot of sweets have gelatine in them (made from carcasses), like marshmallows,”she said. “I used to love them. And even vegetarians who eat cheese don’t realise that there are meat by-products (rennet from calves’ stomachs) in cheese.