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Thursday, July 22, 2021

World Vegan Month: Being plant-based in the UK

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For World Vegan Month, The Vegan Review is sharing the stories of vegans from 30 countries around the world. Here’s one from the UK.

Jade Konkel, 26, is a rugby player for Scotland and Harlequins.

She went vegan in September 2018.

Why did you go vegan?

I did a lot of research around the health benefits, and veganism intrigued me. And when I start researching all about veganism, not only did I read about the health side of things, the Internet then took you to the ethical and environmental reasons too. So for me, in the end, it was a no-brainer and now, I could never go back.

What was the biggest challenge when you transitioned?

My biggest challenge was probably the million questions I got from teammates, friends and family: “But where will you get your protein?”, “Why would you do that?”, and then just the constant questions, ‘playful’ mockery and always being expected to justify my reasons.

What was the reaction of your loved ones when you went plant-based? How did they adapt?

There were a lot of questions. I’m from a small place in Scotland and vegan diets are definitely not as well understood there as they are in the bigger cities of the UK. However, they have been really understanding and supportive, and they ask questions.

My mum also tries to really pay attention to the finer details such as pillows, etc. when I go home to stay, which is really nice and thoughtful of her to consider. She has really taken it in her stride to try and learn more about it.

Who are your influences?

I absolutely love what Fiona Oakes is all about. She is an unreal athlete who really cares and does all that she can to make a difference.

Read our interview with UK vegan runner Fiona Oakes.

What’s your favourite thing to cook now? Have you tried to veganise a local traditional dish?

I love cooking all sorts. I currently love making a Tofu stir-fry/ramen bowl.

Local traditional dishes? That’s porridge, and you bet I make that fancy with all the trimmings. Chia seeds, flax, goji berries, fruit — the whole sitting!

What vegan product do you wish your country had available?

I have quite a sweet tooth so maybe some more dessert or sweet treat options, but then maybe it’s a good thing I don’t have my hands on it all. Biscoff is my downfall!

How accessible and affordable are vegan products in your country?

Massively accessible. I currently live in Surrey near London, and veganism has really taken off here. There are lots of options in the supermarkets now and it is much easier to grab and go if need be. There has been a huge rise in products, which is absolutely fantastic to see.

What’s your favourite spot for vegan food in your city?

Tough question. We currently have so many places we would like to try in London to eat. We had a very good burger from Mooshies at the beginning of the year and then some great curries at Sagar. The Vegan Bakes on Instagram has the best brownies and cakes I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to vegan burgers in London.

What is the one city you’d like to visit as a vegan?

I’m pretty spoiled with the vegan options in London. So I definitely want to keep making my way through the options there.

What’s the biggest roadblock to veganism in your country?

I’d say people’s perception and the habits they have engrained. It is slowly but surely changing though, which is positive. However, the need to drive vegan lifestyles in the UK is certainly still there.

Anay Mridul
Anay is the managing editor of The Vegan Review. A journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.