Hello! My name is Alistair and I’m just your average guy who did something unexpected and went vegan. I started this website to share plant-based (often gluten-free) recipes and do a bit of blogging around my newfound favourite subject area.
Whatever it was that brought you here – whether you’ve been vegan for years, want a little help in starting to make positive changes, are learning about all this for the very first time, or passionately disagree with everything veganism stands for – you’re very welcome here (and always will be).
From providing recipe ideas to answering any questions you may have, I hope this site can offer you something useful.
Read on to learn more about my story...
From everything-eater to plant-eater
I often hear stories about people who went vegan overnight. They watched a documentary with footage that they couldn’t un-see, felt desperate to do something that would change the world, or followed in the footsteps of their favourite celebrity.
That’s not my story. For me, it took a while to gradually make the transition, but I firmly believe that this is why I personally made a success of it.
If you feel like you could never go vegan, then I’d like to put myself forward as living, breathing, thriving proof that says the opposite is true.
Where I’ve come from
Originally from a small town in Scotland, I now live, work, socialise, and veganise out of the wonderful city of Sheffield, England.
Like most people, I come from a background where consuming animal products was the norm. It’s the world I was born into, and it’s just the way things were around me. I loved my food, ate everything under the sun, and didn’t stop for a moment to consider how it arrived on my plate.
I spent most of my twenties working as a translator, fronting a funk-rock band, and taking the opportunity to travel around the world. But despite broadening my horizons and growing up a bit, I never truly made the connection between my lifestyle choices and the impact they were having.
Trying something new
It was late December 2017 when my partner Vicky suggested that we try Veganuary and stick to a vegan diet for a month. I’d heard about this crazy escapade and had been wanting to become a more environmentally friendly individual, so I agreed to take up the challenge. Just for one month. Just to see.
I felt fine committing to this plant-based challenge for 31 days, but I had no intention of carrying on beyond that point. Because fish. Because steak. BECAUSE CHEESE. I agreed we should all try to cut down on those things, but eliminating them from my food altogether? Madness.
So off I went, cooking meals without the regular meat/fish/dairy components I had become so used to in life. One thing I realised is that most of our food already originates from plants (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruit, veg), and that plant-based eating comes down to a bit of creativity and a few simple substitutions.
I’ll admit that cheese was a worry. I famously used to say that if I could choose how to die, it would be through an overload of halloumi. So while it took a little bit of restraint (and the odd slip-up), I went ahead and did my best.
Incredibly, the cravings began to subside.
It also helped that I discovered some amazing vegan foods. From burgers, sausages, meatballs, seitan, and smoked tofu, to soya noodles, oat milk, and nutritional yeast – I found it easy to enjoy what I ate.
And what about my health? Well I certainly learned that plant-based food does not automatically mean healthy food, but I was genuinely feeling happier and more energetic for my efforts.
A month of realisations
Outside of my own kitchen, the hardest part was navigating the lists of ingredients on supermarket products. I quickly noticed something. We use animal products everywhere. Why did we do that? At which point did it become normal?
Egg white in this.
Pork gelatine in those.
Why on earth is there milk powder in that?
These may seem insignificant, but they struck me as so unnecessary now that I was taking the time to actually read through the ingredients.
I always thought vegans were a bit weird to cut out all the ‘smaller’ amounts of animal products in food. I saw it as a needlessly difficult endeavour that wouldn’t really make a difference.
Yet here I was, starting to see it from their point of view.
I didn’t put pressure on myself to try and instantly change everything.
Making small changes
That being said, I didn’t just transition from one month to the next. After Veganuary was over, Vicky and I returned to taking things one step at a time. We slowly cut certain products out of our diet, taking a very practical approach to eating non-vegan food.
Most of our home-cooked meals were now plant-based, but we still had lots of fish in the freezer that we used up instead of just throwing away. When eating out, we’d still have a non-vegan option if things felt too difficult or inconvenient. And I still saw ‘zero waste’ as a priority, so would even finish someone’s food for them if it was destined for the bin.
It sounds weird to me now, but this was how I went about things for a while. I didn’t put pressure on myself to try and instantly change everything, and when I did ‘slip up’, I didn’t let it bother me.
Completing the transition
In the end, it took me almost a year to completely stop eating animal products. While I transitioned to about 99% plant-based in that first Veganuary month, my overly pragmatic approach meant that there were rare occasions where I still consumed small amounts of meat or dairy if it was going to waste.
I justified this with the mentality of “If you’re going to insist on eating animals, the very least you can do is finish it."
So, what eventually pushed me over the line? What got me beyond the point of no return?
Being vegan for the animals themselves.
You see, for all those months that I spent being nearly vegan, I’d still never properly engaged with the animal welfare side of things. It's not that I didn’t care, I just hadn’t felt the need to watch any of the harder-hitting videos and documentaries out there.
Eventually I did watch them, and eventually I was doing it for the animals too. I had been almost vegan for almost a year, but for me, that little bit at the end felt like the biggest shift of all.
The Pesky Vegan (est. 2018)
One notable benefit of going vegan was my renewed passion for cooking and experimenting with recipes.
I loved the creativity involved in trying to ‘veganise’ dishes that I’d enjoyed throughout my life, and I’d stay up late just playing around in the kitchen. Around that same time, I was also developing an interest in growing veg and other plants in the back garden.
With a load of new recipe ideas, a garden full of flourishing flora, and a desire to share with the world what I’d learned about plant-based eating, I did what anyone else in 2018 would have done and set up an Instagram account.
Truth be told, ‘The Pesky Vegan’ was originally a play on words around the concept of a plant-based diet that still included fish, as this is what I could realistically see myself sticking to back in the early days. And while ‘pescatarian’ was already an established dietary label, I found it strange that there wasn’t an equivalent that included fish but excluded dairy.
Turns out it didn’t matter anyway, as I ended up going all-in on the vegan thing. But like many a great band down the years, the name just kind of stuck.
The ongoing journey
It sounds cliché, but going vegan really is a journey. Even if you do decide to introduce drastic changes overnight – which I personally didn’t – you will still be learning as you go.
For example, switching to a plant-based diet is just one piece in the bigger vegan picture. It’s arguably the largest piece, but there are so many other areas to consider. These include clothing, household products, cosmetics, alcohol, sports, and entertainment, not to mention all the other ways in which we can help the environment.
It’s also vitally important to remember that veganism is not about absolutes. Our modern world is full of crazy, complex, intertwined systems, and everything we do or consume impacts on the lives of others. What it comes down to is reducing exploitation and unnecessary suffering as much as possible.
While my personal story isn’t particularly special, it does allow me to offer up a simple piece of advice to anyone thinking about going vegan: slow and steady wins the race.
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end
If you’ve come this far, then thank you for reading. This particular page is all about my personal story, but The Pesky Vegan website isn’t for that. It’s for you. On that note, allow me to point you in the direction of a few more pages you might find interesting:
🍽️ Want to get straight to the food? Hop aboard the recipe train.
🌿 Got a question about veganism? You might find the answer here.