I’ve been meaning to write a quick review of Veganuary, but was struck down by a mean little virus last week.
I was out of action for the best part of a week and pretty pathetic for that time. Just the thought of writing tired me out.
Usually I would feel incredibly guilty for this temporary pause in the production line of life, making myself feel even worse, but an interesting thing happened this time.
I just allowed myself to be ill and accepted this meant that some things wouldn’t happen. The world didn’t fall apart and I used the time to reflect on a few things (and watch television – a lot of television). I came to a conclusion that I wasn’t expecting, which is that although I considered my venture into veganism a success, I am not going to be a full-time vegan just yet.
It was a positive experience and I managed to eat vegan about 95% of the time, which I think is pretty good.
What went wrong:
- Eating out. We ate out twice in January, once I was able to eat vegan (at an Indian restaurant), the other just vegetarian (Italian). If I’d remembered to call ahead maybe things would have been different, but it was at the end of an intense day and I had a hundred other things on my mind. If I were going ‘full-time’ I would need to get better at this.
- Vegetarian food. Things like vegetarian sausages (which had egg in) lurked at the back of the freezer and the thought of throwing food away felt plain wrong so I had a couple of non-vegan meals while I restocked.
- Vegan cheese. Some were ok and some were downright nasty. I didn’t find anything that really replaced cheese and I think I tried quite hard. However, the amount of people trying makes me hopeful that it might happen…one day.
- Nutrition. It took me awhile to order some B12 tablets and I can definitely say this was a mistake. I didn’t notice I was tired until I started taking them and felt less tired, so I can see how these deficiencies could creep up on you.
- Wine. Although I was pleasantly surprised that Tesco have now started labelling their wines as either vegan or vegetarian, I didn’t always have time to get to Tescos. Where I had the information I needed, I bought vegan, where I didn’t, I suspect I didn’t.
What went well:
- Preparation. I don’t like being reliant on ready meals so I’m used to preparing meals from scratch – this undoubtedly helped me adjust and made life easier. Over the course of the month I noticed quite a lot of vegan foods appearing in supermarkets and I think people could probably get by on these, but I think adopting a ‘mostly from scratch’ approach will give a lot greater variety and allow you to make sure you’re getting the right mix of nutrients.
- Healthy eating. It’s funny that meat eaters get hung up on the whole protein thing, because back when I ate meat I didn’t give protein a second thought. If I ate my five a day, I considered my health needs met. Now I know there’s much more to it than that and actually think about my meals differently. I definitely eat a healthier diet as a vegetarian and trying vegan has helped take that to a new level.
- Eggs. I didn’t miss eggs anywhere near as much as I thought I would and I plan to make this a permanent change until my dream of owning a few rescue chickens comes to fruition. I just don’t feel comfortable supporting an industry that throws babies in a macerator because they’re not profitable. Not ok.
- Conquering the leftovers. It’s so easy to use up that leftover chunk of broccoli when most of your meals are plant-based. I think my husband was secretly grateful for my new hoover-like tendencies – ‘Half a bag of spinach left? Just pass it my way.’
- Variety. When I turned veggie, I tried so many new foods in an effort to conquer my new food landscape. The same thing happened in Veganuary and I enjoyed almost every single one of them.
I had a little help. A German friend of mine is vegan and was kind enough to send me a food package to make things easier for me. It included chocolate, biscuits, sauces, pastas and some sweets. I can honestly say there was no point where I felt I was missing out. I can honestly say that the vegan Christmas tart I made a few days before Veganuary was the nicest Christmas dinner I’ve ever had.
For the most part, I will stick with the changes. I’m happy to give up my weekend scrambled eggs (who wouldn’t when vegan banana pancakes are on the menu?) and to give up eating quite so much cheese. I prefer soya milk, so that’s no problem, and I’m happy to give up non-vegan chocolate and desserts. I can attest to the fact that there are perfectly good vegan alternatives and where these are available I will choose them.
But I am conscious that my husband is not vegan and has no desire to be. He was very supportive of my move to vegetarianism and generally joins me in most of my meals. BUT I think becoming a strict vegan may push him over the edge. He doesn’t want to have fake cheese if we’re making a vegetarian lasagne and, although we did on several occasions last month, it’s just not practical to cook two entirely different meals. We’re partners and it’s important that we work together.
For now, I’m simply going to be vegetarian plus. But I’ll be doing Veganuary again next year and I look forward to trying a few more recipes.