When I first dipped my toes into vegan territory almost a month ago, I was slightly concerned. How would I eat enough to stop me feeling hungry? What happened if I suddenly had a hankering for scrambled eggs? And the most awkward part of all, what about eating out?
The first two questions went out the window when I discovered that being a vegan meant that I had to be more imaginative when it came to eating at home and work.
I swapped those scrambled eggs for avocado on rye and have started to make almost healthier choices by default. Out went the SnackaJacks and sugary-filled biscuits at work, replaced by healthier salads for lunch comprising of a rainbow of colours, beans, falafels and hummous. As for eating treats, there are some for vegans which are on the whole healthier but on the whole, you stop eating rubbish because most of it is non-vegan. Instead you satisfy your hunger pangs between breakfast, lunch and dinner by having a stash of seeds, healthy granola and fruit at your disposal.
I’ve actually startd cooking and thinking about what I’m eating. As I’ve said before, I am no Natasha Corrett (co-author of Honestly Healthy) or Deliciously Ella and I’d rather be out running than stuck in the kitchen, however, this change to my lifestyle has forced me to become more proficient at serving up proper dinners that taste good so my partner would not complain. I’ve replaced pasta with courgetti and found the basic ingredients to create a tasty stir fry using with fresh ginger, chilli and vegan sauce from the vegan aisle and tofu. Soup is another staple that I have been serving up for dinner and then storing the leftovers in the freezer for lunch at work. From lentil casseroles to spicy bean chilli with rice, I am determined to show that you don’t need meat, fish, dairy or eggs to make something tasty. Almond milk and coconut milk are now stored in the fridge and while I’m still eating yoghurt, it’s not half as much and it’s one of the delicious soya versions from Alpro and Provamel.
How I feel a month on
I hope this list of changes above illustrates how it wasn’t as difficult as I first thought to make that jump to veganism. In fact, 31 days on I don’t really miss eating dairy and eggs. My energy levels are constant, I feel better, my digestive system and skin have both improved and my once constantly bloated tummy is flatter. It seems that #veganuary has been a success in every sense of the word.
I am a pretty social person who enjoys a meal with my partner and friends and this is where #veganuary proved to be a little problematic. Having been vegetarian for 20 years now, I have watched how the scene has changed dramatically to cater for veggies. When you go to any restaurant, there is normally at least one veggie dish on the menu but when it’s comes to vegan – I think the word is “nada”.
Of course, Indian restaurants and to some extent Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese all include some vegan on their menu (check first though as they can add fish sauce to some supposedly vegan options). There are some chains that have started embracing the vegan lifestyle. Pizza Express, for example, launched a vegan pizza (hoorah), Bill’s do a delicious squash salad, Wagamama has plenty of options and I’m sure that many restaurants would make you something vegan if you asked but it does make eating out an entirely different experience.
Last weekend I was invited to a night out at Bounce Holborn, which included dinner and ping pong. I glanced at the menu and the only thing available was olives and a mixed side salad so I tweeted them to ask what they could do. No response. Yes, I could have turned up and asked but it can just get awkward. And there’s nothing worse than having to explain what you want when you’re at a table of 10 guests. So instead I forwent the dinner and turned up for ping pong.
Just for #Veganuary
Not that I will let my experience at Bounce Holborn put me off sticking to the vegan diet. I don’t want to say it has transformed me completely but cutting out dairy and eggs has made me feel better. Is it all hype and am I just jumping on the bandwagon? Probably. But I think I’m going to try and stick with it for as long as I can because it suits me personally. Now it may not be for everyone but you could try it and see.
And if you can’t forgo your meat and two veg for a long period of time, maybe you could subscribe to a #meatfree Monday. It’s just a suggestion. Please let me know your thoughts below.