Welcome, Francine from the Vegan Society to the LiberEat Blog today!
Today we hear from Francine Jordan, one of our friends from the Vegan Society, in her capacity as Media and PR Officer.
LiberEat and the Vegan Society join forces through the LiberEat free app to help people avoid certain ingredients and vegan options. Our work helps consumers to find vegan food products, restaurants and suitable dishes on restaurant menus and loads of tasty vegan recipes – making food easy to discover and enjoy!
Today, Francine shares her story about becoming vegan and her exciting 77km skateboarding fundraising challenge to celebrate the Vegan Society turning 77 years old!
Francine, when did you first go vegan and why?
In 2014 I was living in Manchester and working in a really busy chain restaurant, there was something about seeing so much wasted food go in the bin that really stuck with me and so I decided to go vegetarian.
Like many people, I was vegetarian for a while before I considered veganism, taking the time to research the realities of both the dairy and egg industries. While I was initially inspired by documentaries such as Cowspiracy and Vegucated, it wasn’t until I was living and working on a sheep farm in outback Australia in 2016 (as part of visa requirements) that I decided it was time to go vegan. While the farming family I lived with were lovely, kind and courteous, I couldn’t help but feel something was wrong when I saw the way the animals were treated and the conditions in which they were kept. I get asked a lot about what ‘I miss’ since going vegan but there truly isn’t anything – while at first I really relied on the vegan alternatives such as burgers, sausages and cheeses, after a while it got easier and now I follow more of a wholefoods plant-based diet and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
What are some of your favourite vegan dishes?
I will never say no to Asian fusion.
On a cold and wet day, there’s nothing better than a delicious vegan noodle ramen for comfort food– I really like to make my own and go mad with bok choy, coriander and sesame seeds.
My husband also makes a really great cauliflower and chickpea curry and we often use couscous instead of rice to make it a bit lighter. I also love to eat out. My go-to restaurant at the moment is Khmer Kitchen in Margate. It’s one of only four Cambodian restaurants in the UK and only opened recently but I’ve already been three times. They have amazing jackfruit dumplings and a fantastic red seitan curry.
What is the Vegan&Thriving Challenge?
The Vegan Society turns 77 this month so we’re asking supporters to take on a unique activity based around the number 77 – for example they can walk 77,000 steps, complete 77 press ups each day, cycle 77km or swim 77 laps of the pool. We wanted to leave the challenge fully open to interpretation – that way it can be done across a day, a week or the full month of October, depending on people’s fitness levels and schedule.
The Vegan & Thriving Challenge was created to raise funds for the charity which provides information, guidance and support on various aspects of veganism, while also promoting the message that it’s perfectly possible to get everything you need from a vegan diet, no matter your age or energy requirements. As well as interest from our charity supporters, inspiring vegan athletes such as Kate Strong, Team GB’s Lisa Gawthorne and boxer Jamal Ledoux are also taking part.
We also created a Facebook group so everyone who has signed up can keep in touch and share updates about their challenge – I’ve found reading other people’s stories really motivating.
What are you doing for your Vegan&Thriving challenge?
I wanted to do something a little different – especially as I’ve done 5ks and a half marathon before – and as I live by the seaside I initially thought about doing swim laps. However, as it’s now October I was worried about just how cold the seawater might be! Instead, I decided to challenge myself to skateboard 77km. My husband and I have collected a few skateboards over the years and I’ve done a lot of skateboarding in the past, mostly cruising about and trying not to fall off. I think I underestimated just how far 77km is though as my legs are already aching!
How are you finding it so far?
It’s been really fun, especially the past weekend when the sun was shining and we took the dog out with us too. However, I’m always surprised just how little we’ve done when I check my Strava App! We usually start just outside our house and go along the seafront. It can feel like we’ve been going for miles and miles and then we’ll stop and check and it’s only been 5km. I guess that’s why it’s called a challenge!
How much money are you hoping to raise?
I would have been really happy to reach my £100 target but I passed that in the first day so now I think raising £200 would be a really great achievement. I know there are other people taking part in the challenge who have already raised over £250. It’s incredible to see so many inspiring people come together and raise money for our work.
All the money raised from the challenge will be used to support the Vegan Society’s work, including campaigns such as Plate Up for the Planet, which promotes veganism for the environment and Catering for Everyone which works to get more vegan options on public sector menus. Funds will also be used towards ongoing work with policymakers, putting vegans with nutrition queries directly in touch with our in-house dietitians, and supporting vegans facing discrimination through our Vegan Rights work.
How are you going to celebrate when it’s over?
With some delicious vegan-friendly food of course! If I manage to complete the challenge (fingers crossed!) I’ll definitely be treating myself to a takeaway as a little pat on the back. I downloaded the LiberEat app a few months ago when I first heard about it and will definitely be using it to find a local restaurant with suitable vegan dishes. I love that you can see The Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark on all the vegan options– this makes it so much easier to find what you’re after. There’s nothing worse than scrolling through menus when you’re hungry and trying to figure out whether you can eat everything in the dish or not. Another thing I love is that when I created my LiberEat profile I put that I was vegan and gluten-free. Although I don’t have a gluten allergy, I do try and avoid it where possible so I love that I can find options that are perfectly suited to me. After skateboarding 77km, I think a big vegan burger with fries would be perfect!
Best of luck to Francine and anyone else doing the Vegan&Thriving Challenge!
The LiberEat App support vegans and vegetarians alongside the community of people who avoid ingredients for other reasons such as food intolerances and food allergies, this includes nuts, dairy, lactose, gluten and avoidance. We also help people avoiding ingredients like palm oil for ethical reasons.
It’s the LiberEat mission to make food easy and safe for everyone. We work with caterers, restaurants, food producers and retailers to enhance their food allergy communications. Furthermore, our free app helps people to find restaurants, recipes and food products (via search and barcode scanner) that are suitable for their dietary requirements.