Six ways going alcohol-free is like going vegan

Amy HG | June 2022 | 8 minutes

Amy HG underwent a realisation that going sober isn’t so very different to going vegan.

Back in 2020, I was living in a London warehouse with 20 housemates. Every night was a free-poured, spirited dinner party with charcuterie galore. I’d blitz through a bottle of Merlot almost every evening, then wake up with the ghosts of “drunk chicken” in my bed. Clearing the bones and bottles from my room, I’d desperately search for clues to piece together last night's puzzle… a Smirnoff Holmes, if you will. I lived in a loop of alcohol-induced amnesia for years.

Until, I decided to quit, if only for a month. Somehow that month turned into 100 days, and something happened... I had boundless energy. My self-worth came back. I became more productive. My work thrived. My relationships became stronger and more meaningful. I saw how wonderful the world was because I was looking at the sky and the trees and not the inside of a toilet bowl.

Around the same time, I went animal-free too. And I’ve since realised how kindred the processes are. For a start, they’re both movements that are booming. A report has predicted that the plant-based food market will surpass £119 billion in the next 10 years, while the alcohol-free drinks industry is expected to be ten times that.

Let’s have a moment of silence for those early sober and vegan pioneers who were offered a coke and crusty handful of nuts at the pub in 1999… and take a look at how similar the two personal revolutions have felt for me.

Every night was a free-poured, spirited dinner party with charcuterie galore. I’d blitz through a bottle of Merlot almost every evening, then wake up with the ghosts of “drunk chicken” in my bed.

Finally, my values aligned

Before, I would say that I loved animals and I was passionately against animal cruelty, but my actions did not line up with this sentiment. I was signing petitions to Save The Whales at 2pm, but by 7pm I was Eating The Cows. Similarly, during the day as a sober, I was kind and respectful, a good listener and a loving partner… 12 hours and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc later, I was trying to work out why my friends suddenly hated me.

The inital FOMO

When I stopped consuming alcohol and animals, at first, I felt like the world wasn’t built for me anymore. I was the only sober vegan of my friends. Once the pink early sobriety clouds dissipated, I began mourning my old life and to be honest, felt really sad. We’re talking intense FOMO at friends enjoying their margaritas and devouring my once loved drunk chicken. But slowly, there was a shift as I met like-minded people through Sober Girl Society and was offered amazing opportunities because of my differences.

The extreme perception

A friend said to me “The whole vegan and sober thing? It’s a bit extreme”, but to me, paying for animals’ babies to be taken away and killed so I can enjoy some ice cream? That is extreme. When I used to pay money to drink a toxin to feel comfortable in my own skin and dance in public…and then lose days of my life due to self-inflicted illness? That is extreme.

The judgment

Drinkers and non-vegans often take my life choices as a judgement on their own. They have pre-packaged excuses ready to unwrap for me, unprovoked, “I did a DNA test and the results show that being able to drink a lot is in my lineage”, or “I’d go vegan but I can’t because I’m allergic to chickpeas”. We’re all on our own journey and I don’t judge. I was once vehemently on the other side so I get it!

Both are PUNK AF!

The same society which normalises pouring cow secretions onto cereal, is also the one that glamourises pouring a neurotoxin into your body at every occasion. It’s so systemic that I experienced first-hand the devastating effect of alcohol, growing up with an alcoholic parent, yet somehow this did little to dissuade me from getting absolutely mortal every weekend for ten years. Nowadays, I choose not to be a sheep, and not to eat any either.

The Virtue Stigma

A common misconception is that I’ve traded in shot glasses and drunk chicken for meditation and Mormonism. Nope, you will still find me deep-frying carbs on the regs and twerking on a speed boat in Mexico, hun. I’m the same me, but better. Saying no to drink and not wanting animals to suffer in no way correlates with my capacity for silliness.

I will still dutty whine at music festivals, eat a Beyond Burger at the afters, and continue the lols the next day because I’m not burning in my own personal Hangover Hell. Besides, the shot glasses? They make nice candle holders now. 

Amy HG is a plant-based food stylist, recipe creator and video producer for the world's largest food publishers: Tasty, BuzzFeed. Since she has gone alcohol and animal-free her vegan recipe videos have amassed over 200 million views. You can follow her on Instagram here.