This month, I decided to jump on the vegetable bandwagon and do #Veganuary.
Having heard a lot about the demons of dairy, I took the plunge – mainly for health reasons (and to try and lose a few of those Christmas Camembert pounds, too)
With that said, I headed to the shops on the 2nd January (New Years Day was a write-off given a killer hangover that could only be cured by cheese) to stock up on soy milk, quinoa and chickpeas.
I took the ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ mantra in my stride and over the course of the month made a quinoa salad, ratatouille, a spinach and chickpea curry, a kale and tofu stir fry and possibly the tastiest mousakka I’ve ever eaten.
The biggest hurdle was definitely eating out. I’ve never been a fussy eater, so having to be that person and awkwardly tweak a menu took some getting used to. Skipping the poached eggs at brunch with avocado and toast and swerving the halloumi in a veggie burrito was tough. So tough.
I became a pro at reading labels and when in doubt, Google always had my back.
(I was very pleased to discover they are, along with Oreos. (Mmm, Oreos.)
That being said, there were times I failed.
During a trip to London for work, I went for dinner at Dishoom in Shoreditch with two other #Veganuary-ers. With a 40 minute wait for a table, I ordered a Bombay’s version of the London Chip Butty to pass the time. Chips and bread – surely vegan, right? Wrong.
By the time we were at the table and about to make our order, we were offered the vegan menu only to discover our bar snack wasn’t on there. Dum dum dummmm. And neither was the dahl or naan bread we’d been drooling over. So in a rash decision (and since we’d already broken it) we made our non-vegan order. Fail #1.
In addition to this, I unknowingly bought Quorn sausages to bulk-make gnocci for dinner and was told by a friend they contained eggs. And not wanting to waste food (and money) I ate them. Fail #2.
And then my final vegan fail was eating a bowl of Coco Pops whilst having a wild (and dry) Friday night playing Monopoly – which apparently contain lanolin.
But aside from those hiccups, I actually enjoyed drinking soy milk and eating soy yoghurts, cheese-less pizzas (yep, that’s plural) made all the better with truffle and chilli oil and cooking with tofu and vegan cheese.
I even had a vegan trip to Nando’s (following a quick Google of what I could eat, obvs.)
While this challenge was initially intended to be for my health (and waistline), I watched Vegucated on Netflix, Dairy is F*cking Scary and numerous videos from Hipster Veggie thanks to a vegan friend’s recommendation which made the whole thing a bit realer.
Admittedly, I broke #Veganuary five days early along with #DryJanuary – turning down free prosecco and pizza seemed unthinkable. And while I very much enjoyed some deep fried halloumi, the heartburn wasn’t quite worth it. But the baked Camembert definitely helped with my hangover the next day.
But it wasn’t all for nothing. I did lose a few pounds, my head felt clearer and I learnt what a carb bloat really feels like after eating seven roast potatoes in a row.
I’m going to be sticking to the soy milk and yoghurts, dairy-free butter and skipping on the meat and fish – much to my Nando’s-loving friend’s dismay, though I’m still undecided about cutting out cheese and eggs completely. ‘Cos, cheese.