I wasn't going to do a post for yesterday's MoFo theme, but then I saw Caroline's post on Tea and Sympatico and it made me realise how becoming vegan has totally transformed my social life.
Before going vegan, I had a small circle of friends, not because I'm a difficult person to get along with (or at least I hope not!), but I'm quite shy and quiet as well as being an introvert. And like many of my friends I had just moved from living in Manchester City Centre to Bolton, whilst others had decided to also up sticks and move to Chester, Wilmslow, Lancaster, Cambridge and Warrington and even friends still living closer by have busy lives.
But then I became vegan, and despite never being one for joining groups, I went along to my first vegan meet up, The Cake Liberation Front, where I met Caroline of Tea and Sympatico (I'd been devouring her blog posts for a while- I remember feeling like I'd met a celebrity!), her lovely partner Matt and Anna who was also new to veganism. After stuffing myself with cake (really, my tea that evening was just cake!), Anna suggested I might want to come along to another meet up that weekend at a place called Pie and Ale.
The meet up at Pie and Ale turned out to be for another group called Vegan Manchester, where I met Andrea, of Chocolate and Beyond, Sophia and Gareth. I found out that Gareth was from the Bolton area, and there was going to be a meet up for the Bolton Vegetarian, Vegan and Animal Rights (BVVAR) group at The Kitchen on Great Moor Street the following weekend.
So, then I attended my first BVVAR meeting, where I met Rachel who ran the group with Gareth. And at some point I also went to my first Manchester Vegan Society meeting, where I met my friend Pamela.
Since my first few vegan meet ups, I've been to plenty more, and the groups have just grown and grown, and at every new meet up I've met someone new. There are groups popping up all over the place, and I've been to meet ups arranged by Glossop's vegan and veggie group as well as the newly founded Warrington, Widnes, Runcorn, St Helens and Wigan Group.
It's not just at specific vegan groups I've made vegan friends- I met my friend Debbie at a job search workshop, she saw my Unicorn Grocery tote and immediately recognised me as a fellow vegan! We got chatting and discovered that not only did we have mutual friends in common, but we had been to the same events and just not met- including the time Vegan Manchester completely took over Jaipur Palace Restaurant in Manchester.
I also have vegan friends I have never met face to face, but we've become friends through Facebook, Instagram or each other's blogs. And of course, you always end up bumping into the same people at the various vegan fairs, or in a pub in Sheffield- like when I met someone I knew from the Cake Liberation Front and proceeded to show her pictures of the cake I'd just had from Steel City Cakes!
The great thing about vegan friends, is that they TOTALLY understand your need to take a picture of your food before you eat it, usually because they're doing exactly the same thing. Also, you won't be the only one trying to take the leftovers away in a Tupperware box, thanks for introducing us to that idea Anna!
I would definitely say that the social aspect is the best part of being vegan, I've gone from spending weekends doing bugger all to having to actually use a diary to keep on top of things, and even then I've managed to accidentally double book myself. On various occasions, I've been faced with the dilemma of having to choose between two different vegan events that have been taking place at the same time. Sometimes, it's hard to believe how far I've come from that first Cake Liberation meet up January 2014 to where I am now with a great bunch of crazy new friends, and still meeting more!
So in conclusion, this post is not about the one new vegan friend I've met, but dedicated to all my awesome vegan buddies and all the ones I'm to meet in the future.