Well, it’s the 1st of February which means that Veganuary is officially over. I’ve eaten a vegan diet for a whole month, and as of today I can go back to eating whatever I want!
Except that I’m not really that fussed. I’ve been eating pretty much whatever I want all month long, and it’s been – well – really normal. I honestly expected to be struggling a little by the third or fourth week, and I thought that I would really be looking forward to the first of February so that I could have some cheesy pasta, or eat the rest of my stash of Christmas chocolate. But I’m really not.
I have to be honest and say that this is partially because I cheated a few days ago and I’ve already eaten a little bit of my Christmas chocolate. Woopsies. I had a few handfuls of Smarties, confided my terrible secret in Oli, and told him not to tell anyone. He could barely contain himself for the time it took him to run downstairs, burst into the living room and declare gleefully ‘Georgi ate some smarties!’ It was definitely a slip up but I don’t feel toooo bad about it – and I think it’s really interesting that I wasn’t craving anything except chocolate. (And even then, I only had one sneaky chocolate-eating moment!)
(Above: Tastiest curry ever thanks to my incredible housemates!)
So, Smarties aside (thanks, Oli), I really have not been having a bad time food wise. I’ve been eating all the same tasty meals that I normally eat, going out for meals and grabbing lunches on the go. My flatmates have been so good at adapting our communal meals (the most delicious curry I’ve ever had, pasta dishes, jacket potatoes, stir frys, you name it) so that I can eat them. Dishes like curry and stir fry don’t need any changes, but with other things it’s really just a case of leaving the cheese out to be added at the end. Granted, I’ve been transitioning from a vege to a vegan diet so I haven’t had to suddenly cut out meat, but – and I really can’t stress this enough – it has been so, so easy.
Anyway, let’s cut to the chase. What’s the one thing that everybody (including myself, circa December 2016) always says about a vegan diet? Apart from “but protein?!?!” , the number one thing I hear is “I could never go vegan, I like cheese too much.” And you know what? I get it. Cheese is good. Cheese is tasty. Cheese goes with everything, and eating a really good mac and cheese can make you feel like you have transcended your physical form and accessed a higher plane of ecstatic consciousness, but (and you’ve really got to just believe me on this one), the cheese thing is actually not a huge deal. I’m so surprised to be saying this because it’s the opposite of what I expected but I really, truly, do not miss cheese at all. You know this is true because I apparently have no will power (see – smarties incident) and Oli clearly has no self control (see – smarties incident), so if I had been sneakily snacking on pieces of cheddar, Oli would already have announced it to all and sundry.
(Above: The best fries and ‘awesome sauce’ from Dinerama in Shoreditch!)
I’m not in the business of going around slapping cheese sandwiches out of people’s hands, but what I am saying is that if you’re curious about veganism, or worried about the dairy industry, or if you want to try making a change for your health or just for fun or for any other reason, don’t let these excuses worries be the reason that you don’t try it out!
So, I’ve been thinking really hard about whether I want to commit to ‘being a vegan’, or start eating a vegan diet full time. It has been easy and tasty and it’s made me feel good, so I feel like it’s a bit of a no brainer, but in all honesty I feel nervous about making such a big statement. I’m also aware that I am not good at doing things by halves so a ‘flexi vegan’ kinda deal might not work for me either. I’m not entirely sure, but what I am sure of is that I feel hugely, hugely positive about my Veganuary experience, and there a ton of learnings and recipes that I am taking from it. I’m definitely going to cut out eggs and cheese in my diet but I might not be as militant as I have been this month about checking ingredient labels for traces of milk or egg.
And as a fun little bonus I’m now soooo freaked out by the idea of eating meat that it makes me feel a bit sick just to smell it or watch it being cooked. It’s like a little switch in my brain has flipped from ‘ew raw meat, better cook that properly’ all the way over to ‘there is a dead chicken in my kitchen!! There is a dead chicken corpse in my kitchen!! Somebody has hacked it into pieces and now they’re going to cook it and eat it!!!!!’ Very unsettling.
(Above: We celebrated Burns Night at work with haggis, ‘neeps and ‘tatties, and vegetarian haggis is also vegan – and delicious!)
All this to say, I would wholeheartedly recommend giving Veganuary a go. I’m so pleased to have done it for so many reasons (see above and my millions of other effusively enthusiastic posts), but I’m also pleased that I’ve tried it. I feel like ‘don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it’ is a pretty good motto for life, and also a good response to almost any objections other people may have to your personal choices (veganism, making your own clothes from hessian, eating marmite and cucumber sandwiches, naming your first born son ‘Château’, etc…) *
It’s been great and I hope you’ve been interested in the process!
Thanks for following along,
P.S. Major shoutout to my Granny for the lovely vegan ‘mayo’ recipe (which my Aunt invented) which I’m copying here because it is gooood…
– Get a screw top jar
– Fill the jar 2/3rds of the way with non-dairy yoghurt (Alpro is tasty)
– Add 4-6 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 4-6 tbsp of olive or groundnut oil and 4-6 tbsp of Magi or soy sauce
– Add 2 tbsp of mild mustard
– Season to taste with celery salt, pepper, dried herbs, garlic or onion powder
– Shake well to combine
This recipe will keep in the fridge for several weeks (according to my Granny – it wasn’t around for that long after I made it!)
P.P.S. Also big up those people who went to the trouble of acquiring vegan mayo for me. What a lovely thing to do – my sweet potato fries experience has been blissful since all this vegan mayo came into my life.
*Another good response to people questioning your diet is ‘poke your nose out’ or ‘I eat what I want, go away’, but an extra good response to people asking about vege/vegan diets is just to stick to factual statistics like how much lower your carbon footprint, water footprint and general impact on the environment is, and how studies are now claiming that we could solve world hunger if we fed the food that we feed to animals (mostly cattle) to humans instead.
(A few pics of some vegan heroes that have made for awesome desk snacks this month! There were a lot more but I don’t always have the patience to take a picture before I eat them.)