I’m Alice Shopland and I’m the proud owner of Angel Food – a business dedicated to delivering vegan goodness to New Zealand and beyond!
When I first went vegan in 2004 I had a ball exploring all the new food avenues which opened up for me. And as I learned more about the ethical, health and environmental reasons for being vegan, I became more and more gobsmacked that people weren’t turning vegan all over the place. I became, yes, vegangelical.
People say to me they admire my commitment in going vegan and they’d love to do the same, but “I couldn’t live without cheese!” It sounds silly, and is clearly untrue, but less than a decade ago, I too would have struggled to imagine life sans fromage… so I know what they mean.
That’s how Angel Food kicked off. I searched for the best vegan cheese, discovered Cheezly soy cheese, and began importing it and selling it through organic stores. I’ve gradually added other products, but the cheese is still our biggest seller.
I know that many people spend years as vegetarians before crossing over to the dark side (ha!) of veganism, but my own journey was short and sweet. (I am not claiming any kind of superiority in this, it’s just the way it happened.) I met a lovely inspiring vegan man in early April 2004, and by the end of the following month I’d gone from being an unhappy omnivore to a very happy vegan.
My health has always been pretty good, but I’m definitely healthier on a vegan diet. No surprises there: by cutting out animal products you automatically eat more plant foods, and boost your intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Plant-based diets also tend be lower in fat, especially saturated fat, and no plant food contains cholesterol (not even avocados!). I lost 10kg within my first three months as a vegan, without even trying. My skin also improved, and I get fewer colds now – and when I do get them, they don’t sit heavy on my chest like they used to. (I attribute most of these health benefits to ditching dairy. Strange to think that I used to see cows’ milk as so benign.)
I freely admit that before I met Billy, my only thoughts about veganism were that it was extreme behaviour by attention-seeking individuals who got satisfaction from depriving themselves of nice food. I now know, of course, that a vegan diet can be as varied as any other diet. I enjoy vegan treats like cakes, cookies, chocolate and icecream, but because I want to be a healthy vegan, most of my diet is whole foods – whole grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. The only supplement I take regularly is one B12 drop each morning. Click here for more about veganism.