Food and Drink / Food Challenges / Nutrition

Dabbling in Veganuary

Veganism is a bit of a hot topic at the moment, and growing in popularity. The common theme in people deciding to give up meat and animal based products is the hope that eating a plant-based diet, is the best way to protect our planet and animals. Others decide to do it because of the health benefits that claim to come with it. Whilst doing research on veganism, I was shocked at how many celebrities actually choose to follow – what I considered at the time – a crazy way of living.

Luckily, my boyfriend is a chef so he helped me put together a weekly meal plan. Now before we get into the nitty gritty of what I did and how I found it, I would just like to share the fact that I eat continuously, snack all day (cheese is life) and my portion sizes aren’t exactly puny. So needless to say I played safe by doing it for a week and not a whole month.

I’ve never needed to diet, I am that friend who eats whatever they want, whenever they want and not put on weight, (sorry, not sorry). I don’t go around the supermarket and read the back of packets; to be honest those people annoy me a little. So following this diet, and having to check the back of packets had me mortified as I realised how much food is surprisingly unsuitable for vegans! For example, I couldn’t have Morrisons own trail mix because the label stated there may have traces of fish, dairy and other products. But I could have Original Bisto gravy! Go figure!

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Vegan Cheese and Tomato salad with Veg sticks

I have never seen so much greenery in my fridge. It hadn’t really hit home that I wasn’t going to be eating any dairy for a week. To be honest, I thought I had this task in the bag with my substitute vegan friendly products and almond milk for my cups of tea (usually I drink around seven cups a day – maybe more!). Unfortunately this theory quickly fell apart. After day two I gave up on tea altogether, and resigned myself to drinking black coffee for the rest of the week. Using almond milk made my tea watery and too strong, so I used it for porridge instead.

My meals started off well, my packed lunches at the beginning of the week were creative and delicious but as I got further into the diet, I got lazy and making a vegan friendly lunch felt like more of a chore. However, I actually enjoyed some of my vegan dinners, and would definitely make them again, although maybe a few tweaks here and there. You can check out my favourite vegan recipes here, or if you’re after a specific recipe click on the link in the captions.

As the week went on I found that I was getting fed up of seeing just lots of greenery either in my lunch box or on my dinner plate, and even though I jazzed it up with tofu (which I discovered I don’t like!), or vegan cheese on wraps and sandwiches, I still wasn’t enjoying my food.

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Vegan Cheese salad wrap and Veg sticks with hummus dip

Being vegan at work wasn’t so difficult due to my routine, eating at certain times and being pre-occupied by office goings on. My true struggle was over the weekend, visiting family and being offered baked goods that I couldn’t have, and not being able to go into the cupboard and grab a chocolate bar. My routine had vanished and I was craving butter, milk and something other than veg sticks and hummus to snack on. I missed foods like honey, eggs, certain crisps and stupid things like beer and other alcohol that would normally play a big part in my social life.

However, I was lucky enough to be sent Skinny lager (vegan friendly beer). The lager was the only vegan substituted product that I would consider buying instead of normal lager or beer. It had no strong after taste, didn’t make me feel bloated after having two bottles, and with only 89 calories a bottle, if you’re a calorie counter it’s a win win!

This diet made me feel isolated and cut off from my normal social life. I felt singled out, and I constantly had to think about what I was eating, where my food came from, how it was made and if there was anything in that product that was harmful to animals or the environment. I didn’t have the guts to go to a restaurant, sit down and ask for a vegan menu. I probably should’ve done, but since I used to work as a waitress, I know that a chef’s pet hate is a vegan customer (unless you’re in a vegan friendly restaurant of course!).

As I was only taking part in this diet for a week, I didn’t think it would be worth buying multi-vitamins and other nutrition tablets, as they would probably take more than a week to kick in. So I decided to try and eat high in fibre and energy foods, unfortunately this idea didn’t quite work. By the end of the week I was feeling fatigued, hungry (the food I ate only filled me up for a few hours) and missing fatty foods.

Unfortunately fellow vegans this diet choice isn’t for me, but I gave it a good go! For all of you who are thinking about trying this out, my advice would be to research the vegan diet properly, and make sure that whatever nutrition you take out of your current diet, replace it with the necessary vitamins and minerals. My last piece of advice would be to go vegan gradually, start off as vegetarian and then slowly cut out foods that you’re used to eating.

If you’ve tried going vegan, or are currently dabbling in Veganism, we want to hear all about it!

By Georgie Dias

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