V for Life

30 years vegan: A Supermum’s journey of plant-powered living

Posted by Claire on 27/02/24 in Articles, Life After Retirement

Veganuary was a huge success this year with 1.8m people signing up to the annual challenge. With this in mind – and with Mother's Day just around the corner – this month we chatted to Sue, a mum of five and a long–term vegan who made the transition from vegetarian over 30 years ago.

Sue turned 74 in February. Originally from Birmingham, she moved to Devon with her first husband, then moved to Brighton almost 15 years ago after divorcing her second husband. She has four sons, one daughter, and six grandchildren.

Sue tells me: “I've always loved being a mum and my family has grown over the years.” With two sons from her first marriage, and a son and daughter that she adopted going into her second marriage, she continues: “My youngest son knitted us all together as one family.”

An estimated 80% or so of vegans were previously vegetarian. I asked Sue about her vegan journey: “I originally decided to become vegetarian almost 34 years ago. I had wanted to become vegetarian for many years and kept putting it off thinking it would be difficult with a large family.”

She adds: “My 40th birthday treat to myself was to announce to the family that I am going to become a vegetarian, and that I would still continue to cook for them, but one day a week we would all enjoy a vegetarian meal together.”

I loved this idea of bringing a family together to share a vegetarian meal. Despite being apprehensive at first, Sue enthuses: “It went down really well, and before long my daughter was the first to announce she preferred the vegetarian meals and would join me. Later one of my sons announced he was now a vegetarian.”

Before long the whole family was on board with the new plant-based meals: “The biggest shock was when my youngest son came home from school one day and announced he was going to be a vegan! He hadn’t even transitioned from vegetarian. So, in that moment I decided if I was going to source vegan food for him, I may as well join him and become vegan as well.” Sue adds: “Eventually another son became vegetarian, and to this date my youngest son is still vegan, one other son is still vegetarian.”

Sue has felt the health benefits from becoming vegan: “At that time I had been asthmatic for about 10 years and decided on the change in diet. I feel that going dairy–free made a big difference and I’ve never used an inhaler since.”

I asked Sue what she wished she had known about going vegan: “I wish I’d known how difficult it was going to be sourcing plant–based foods. The choices were quite limiting 30 years ago, unlike today”. She continues “But what a fun journey of discovery it has been, watching plant–based products slowly entering the marketplace and growing so rapidly over the last 10 or so years.”

We went on to reminisce about family favourite recipes “I don’t really have a favourite recipe, but I enjoy making soups with carrot. Red pepper and lentil, pea, courgette and basil are particular favourites. I enjoy stews and casseroles and like to batch cook so always extra to go in the freezer.”

Sue enjoys baking for her family and friends: “I do love making vegan chocolate tiffin or truffles, which are always received with delight. Especially as I try to top with a different flavour chocolate each time, for them to guess the flavour.”

Our VfL Chefs agree that truffles are a great treat, and make the perfect handmade Mother's Day gift.

With more and more plant-based ingredients being widely available I asked Sue about some of her go–to items: “My favourite product, or product that I can’t do without, would have to be Marigold vegan bouillon stock powder. I add it to almost everything and it also makes a tasty hot drink.”

When starting your vegan journey, eating out can be a bit of a challenge. Though there are more options now than there have ever been for vegans, it can still be hard to eat out on a vegan diet, in particular for special occasions like Mother’s Day. Sue agrees: “If we eat out it’s usually a local small independent café/restaurant... times have changed so much that most eateries cater for vegans if not at least vegetarians. However, I have complained to a couple of well–known cafés within department stores in the past regarding the lack of vegan options and was delighted at the response and reassurance that they would be changing their policies – and before long both of those well-known stores started including vegan options on their menus.”

Sue does prefer to eat at home with her family but was excited when she first moved to Brighton and delighted to find a large annual vegan festival: “It was the highlight of my year. The first year I watched a demonstration of the Vitamix power blender. I was amazed at the variety of functions it could perform. I just knew I had to have one! That and my juicer are my favourite kitchen gadgets. Sadly during lockdown the festivals were cancelled, but I was thrilled when last year its return was announced, and even better than before.”

As well as being a busy mum and grandmother, Sue likes to keep active in her community: “I keep myself busy doing volunteer work for Lifelines Volunteering Matters. I cohost a weekly online quiz and a monthly quiz at a local retirement home, as well as supporting another volunteer-run monthly card-making session.”

Sue is always on the go: “When not volunteering I enjoy weekly Mah Jong games, Pilates and Sound Healing sessions, and am currently learning to play a handpan – a wonderful Xmas gift from one of my sons.”

If Sue has inspired you to make the transition to vegan, we have lots of support, advice, and fantastic recipes to help you:


Vegan rescue pack

Veganising classic dishes

Furthermore, if you are keen to learn more about how rewarding volunteering can be, please consider becoming a Friend of VfL. Like Sue, you can really help us to make a difference to someone’s life!


14 March, 2024

Sue is my mother in law. And she makes us all proud for the way she looks not only after herself but as well for the planet. My husband is vegetarian after her and our 10 years old son as well ( vegetarian from birth and he decided to stay that way). What beautiful and fantastic grandma my sons have..

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