A Short Veganuary Diary
So this January I decided to push myself and take part in Veganuary which is a campaign that aims to encourage people to be vegan for the whole month of January. I have attempted several times to be vegan/vegetarian in the past none of which I recall have lasted for longer than 2 weeks.
This year I felt keen to push myself and also my firm, PwC were actively supporting the Veganuary Workplace Challenge so I got a free #Veganaury lanyard and there were Vegan meals available every day in our canteen. So I thought why not?
Below are my lessons I learnt from the whole month and a short weekly diary of my Veganuary experience as well as some useful vegan resources at the bottom of the page.
My lessons learnt from Veganuary
You get used to it
I realised how many social activities are based around food and how eating out has become normalised. It made me think about how we almost live to eat when we really should eat to live.
Vegan snacks do exist!
You learn so much!
My intentions for trying Veganuary definitely stemmed from the health motives first but all the reading I did make me so much more aware of the environmental and ethical reasons people choose to become vegan. Through the truly amazing Veganaury.com newsletter, I learnt so much about food production and how those eggs, chicken wings and burgers end up in the supermarket. Not a pretty story! This made me think about how I eat and how much of my eating habits may be because in the West we are so far removed [perhaps also ignorant] of the food production process.
You have to be able to clearly articulate your motivations for being vegan.
Being vegan is still somewhat controversial and I was shocked at how often I had to validate myself and my eating habits to others. This is because as well as being a food choice, veganism is definitely a lifestyle too so people were quick to ask what I planned to do with my leather shoes and bags etc.…
You have to plan ahead
You can be an unhealthy vegan
Vegan fast food exists so you do need to have healthy eating intentions
Your food shopping money stretches further
Meat is usually the most expensive item on anyone’s shopping list, so as a vegan your food shop of mainly fruit and vegetables can stretch further. I also skipped out all the unique and random ingredients some recipes suggested
Food for thought! Here is my weekly food diary from Veganuary.
For the first week, I thought about food what felt like all the time.
On one hand, I had the new energy and buzz that comes with setting yourself a new challenge, but on the other hand, I was pretty anxious that I would slip up. I was constantly googling not just whether I could eat certain foods but also about possible cons of being vegan like lack of the Vitamin B12 and tiredness which had stopped me in previous vegan attempts.
I also definitely had at least one dream about chicken in this first week.
I can also openly admit that I was nervous to meet with people for lunch/dinner for fear that there would literally be one choice on the menu or nothing at all.
For me, week 2 was by far the hardest week!
One thing I found consistently difficult in week 2 was that I didn’t have any quick snacks that were vegan. So when I was feeling peckish I literally had to cook a whole meal (or starve). Also, most vegan snacks have nuts in them and as someone allergic to nuts, I thought this literally left me with no/minimal choice.
I eventually had to do some research about vegan nut-free snacks and found out that Bourbon biscuits, hippeas and pop chips are vegan. Yippee!
Another thing I really struggled with this week was that I really craved food with a different texture. Eating mostly vegetables for lunch and dinner meant that I really craved the crunch of a meat-based meal. Eventually, I started using chickpeas and every type of tinned beans I could find in Tesco as meat substitutes which worked well and was yummy :)
I noticed towards the end of week 2 I definitely started to feel ‘lighter’. Less bloated on average. Being ‘full’ on a vegan meal feels very different from being ‘full’ as a meat-eater which I had to get used to quickly.
Another benefit of Veganuary I quickly noticed was that my £25 food shop for lunch and dinner meal prep lasted close to two weeks which is usually the budget I have for one week as an omnivore.
I had spent the previous weekend testing out and learning new recipes including cinnamon banana vegan pancakes, vegan vegetable pie and meals with vegan sausages.
I did have a few dinners eating out in week 3 and had some bad experiences ordering unpleasant vegan dishes in places that clearly weren’t truly vegan-friendly.
I asked for some advice on social media and from a few long-time vegan friends about eating out and they gave me some great suggestions about Vegan places to eat (including By Chloe, Vanilla Black, Mildreds, Vurger & co) and also some practical tips — including that sometimes it is best to order a vegetarian meal and ask for no cheese etc. or make a meal from sides. #lessonslearnt
By week 3 I was also pretty good at reading food labels and scanning for the Vegan label or Milk in bold. I was surprised how often milk or milk powder or other non-vegan ingredients appeared in so many products you would never know — like some frozen vegetable packets, pre-made pasta sauces and even some chewing gum. As a result, I definitely learnt to shop more mindfully.
Throughout the month the hardest craving I faced was for eggs. I really loved eggs and they are a great addition to so many recipes as well as a breakfast omelette is so yum. I also hate tofu so the option of scrambled tofu was out of the window.
Apart from this, by the final week of Veganuary and I could definitely say that I was enjoying it. I no longer spent half the amount of time I did in Week 1 thinking about food and I had a good handful of go-to vegan recipes and snacks.
So what’s next?
I can’t believe I am saying [writing] this but I really do intend to stay (mostly) Vegan. It probably took till roughly day 20 when I started to feel less worried about slipping and aware of a range of tasty meals I could prepare. I say mostly Vegan because I am yet to find an egg substitute for scrambled eggs and honey in porridge is just so yummy.
So we shall see! Check in with me when you next see me!
Useful Vegan Resources:
Rachel Ama: Vegan Youtube Channel — probably my favourite cooking channel on Youtube, Rachel makes simple and really really tasty British/Caribbean-inspired Vegan recipes
Veganaury.com - go-to Vegan website with a useful daily newsletter and Youtube channel for Veganuary with useful, yummy & practical vegan recipes
Veganuary: Inspiring People To Try Vegan!
At Veganuary we inspire and support people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year. Visit our…
More healthy Vegan recipe sites