Over 30 years ago RJ turned vegetarian. Not in a gradual way, he simply stopped eating meat overnight.
RJ's dad was in the army, however his dad grew up on a dairy farm in Scotland and was a meat and two, well meat actually - he hardly ate any veg unless it was split peas; even then it was as his home-made split pea soup.
His mum's idea of a healthy meal was only using 1/2 the block of lard.
So at the age of 15 years old RJ started to learn how to cook for himself; though he did have fantastic help.
Perth (Scotland) in the 1980s was a very challenging place:
- Sir Nicholas Fairburn was the sitting, and one of the last, Conservative MPs in Scotland;
- Perth was extremely homophobic, where a bar would be 'fired' the night before it opened as an LGBT venue;
- Perth was sexist and it was racist; a place where there were no more than 50 non-white people at the time in the whole of the Fair City; though Chinese and Indians were accepted because they had restaurants and takeaways.
That was the 'society' in which he grew up in. However, due to the fact that his parents used to run pubs in Ipswich and Perth, as children he and his sister were lucky enough to not be affected by others' discrimination and RJ was lucky enough to have an Indian lady and her son living across the road in the same close (close is a Scottish name for a block of flats) as my cousin, were vegetarian and where at least once a week would prepare and cook vegetarian food for us.
Yet why became vegetarian at such a young age?
At 13 years old RJ had a paper-round that took him across Perth from Old Muirton, down to the North Inch, across the bridge to Bridgend and back again passing the South Inch.
A couple of mornings a week the Marshall's Chunky Chicken vans would pass by full of dead, half dead and alive chickens; all crammed into small cages as they were sent to the factory for 'processing'.
What struck him wasn't the noise, the ghastly look or the feathers flying everywhere - it was the smell.
In March 1986 he was watching a TV programme about battery hens and the smell came back to him - he stopped eating meat overnight.
Now don't get him wrong, he isn't an ardent "we must all be veggie" type of person and he has prepared meat meals for ex partners. However, after an occasion where a tin of tuna nearly made him throw up, he felt that it was time to stop.
So why after 32 years, has he decided to create a VEGAN website?
During the process of creating meals for his vegan rugby coach and then deciding to make an extra emphasis on giving up more dairy products during Veganuary 2018, he realised it was great to experiment with vegan desserts and creating new recipes for cheesecake, chocolate fudge cake, muffins and various other classics.
Having quite a few recipes and 'experiments' under his belt, with many people asking me for a copy of the recipe, RJ felt it was easier to create this website rather than re-writing the recipe each time.
RJ is hoping everyone gets something from this new website and will at least try and re-create their own.