Veganism – the diet of the over particular and permanently hungry. This appears to be the general consensus when people think of what it means to be a vegan. To be honest it was one of my main concerns too, but luckily I managed to eat more than just leaves and peppermint tea over the course of the month!
I decided to live as a vegan as part of a university project to see what impact it would have on my health and attitudes towards foods. However, I did not anticipate how much of an impact it would have.
By the end of the month I found myself reading the labels on everything, questioning the sources and really considering the impact of what I was eating would have on the environment. It had moved from being a dietary experiment to a deliberate lifestyle decision.
I looked at various websites and blogs for useful recipes and advice and one in particular stood out: http://www.thedailymeal.com/10-tips-going-vegan?page=0,0. One of the main points was not to beat yourself up if you make a mistake and eat something which isn’t vegan friendly. I really wish I’d have heeded this more, as I think because I was so consumed with the idea of being a purist vegan, that when I messed up it was almost like I had forgotten the point and was just competing with myself (which just sounds ridiculous).
I do eat meat occasionally, but now only buy it from the local butchers, who I know and trust to source it responsibly. I have cut dairy from my diet and actually enjoy rice milk in my tea and soya milk in my lattes. I feel happier, healthier and think that this was definitely a positive lifestyle choice.
After the month stretch of veganism, I would have thought I’d be back to eating dairy and meat galore. Strangely I’m still making and enjoying completely vegan dinners.
Something I didn’t know before going vegan is that you can stuff pretty much any vegetable and make it delicious!
I am utterly frustrated to have to admit that I ate meat a couple of days shy of my month target of complete veganism. However annoying that is, it’s interesting to consider why this happened.
To put it bluntly, I was bloody starving! Stuck in the library for hours without breakfast, I ventured up to the Students Union on campus to get lunch. As it was nearing the end of term the shop was painfully low on stock. All the vegan options were gone and as my stomach continued to rumble, I caved.
What has been a huge struggle and one which I don’t really see letting up, is getting lunch whilst at work. Mainly, it’s down to me wanting to just be able to grab a panini and go. I don’t like eating into my lunch hour having to make up my own sandwich or panini because everything is lathered in mayonnaise. Working in a bakery is not vegan friendly in the slightest!
However, when I do get the time I make up a new favourite; roasted vegetables, humus and sweet chilli sauce toasted sandwich or baguette. Yum.
(Here’s a link to a recipe on how to cook roasted vegetables)
So as much as I have enjoyed spending more time preparing my food, it can become tiresome. I’m not the only one who is becoming a little tired with waiting for food…below is a photo of my housemate cooking tofu. Can you spot the tofu?
What I found most interesting about this experience was other people’s reactions. It was as if by saying that I was a vegan I had automatically offended everyone within arms reach. I had not just changed my eating habits but I was making some big statement, looking down at everyone who ate cheese or just being petty and irritating. the point I think they were making was that to follow such a restrictive diet needed more reason behind it.
In some ways they’re right. If you know what you are doing is for a cause you strongly believe in then it is much easier to continue doing it. What came from heated discussions about my decision to go vegan was that I researched ‘why’ more thoroughly so that I would know where I stood and be able to defend my reasoning.
I expected headaches, mood swings and hunger pains. I was disappointed.
I did get a few headaches when I fist cut meat out, but overall it’s been a positive experience.
Being vegan is making me a lot more adventurous with my food. Above is a delicious vegan option of lentil curry pie with rice, my housemate’s speciality!
After interviewing the lovely Coral (who has been a vegan for the past few months after being a hardcore vegetarian) and taking into consideration I was going from Asda-meat buying carnivore to must-read-back-of-every-packet vegan I decided I should ease into it. I’d definitely recommend it. It’s far easier to cut one product from your diet and gradually cut out the rest than to cut them all out. I think if I’d gone straight into veganism I wouldn’t have lasted long.
(Click on the picture for info on how to become a vegetarian and it’s benefits.)
Going vegetarian was easier than I expected. I was pleasantly surprised that a meal could still be a filling and tasty meal without having meat in it. This could be seen as completely ignorant, but I honestly had never really considered having a meal without meat before. It always felt like the main ingredient. However, one item I did depend on through these weeks was cheese. That’s going to change very soon…
I should add that Lynda McCartney is a life-saver. Check out her site here or find her food in the frozen section of Co Op!
(I’d recommend these…)