So, how was my #VeganChallenge?
On the 1st February, I embarked on a month of eating no meat, fish, honey, dairy or eggs, having set myself the task of going vegan for 28 days. I knew that I would be able to go vegetarian but I was very unsure as to how I would find the more pressing task of veganism as I was not sure what sorts of food I could actually eat.
I can honestly say that it was easier than I thought.
Why was it easier than I thought? That is down to the simple fact that there are alternatives for everything that you are not allowed to eat. It is about changing the small things which you’ve probably never considered doing. Soya yoghurt instead of dairy, agave nectar instead of honey, almond milk instead of cow’s milk, vegan chocolate, chickpeas and tofu instead of meat and you can even buy vegan mayonnaise!
There were 3 reasons why I decided to try out this way of life and having now completed 28 days of veganism I can look back and see if those reasons were justified and how I got on…
The first reason why I went vegan for a month was to set myself a personal challenge whereby I could control what I was eating, start my health kick and feel good about myself for achieving the target! I love challenging myself and having the will power to not eat certain things and refrain from indulging on too many snacks. I really did notice that I was able to control myself and my diet so much more than before because I was often checking ingredients in products. It also made me aware of what exactly was in the foods that I so regularly consumed before. I was quite shocked as to the vast amount of products and ingredients that included animal produce and indeed, how many restaurants were not vegan friendly! It prevented me being lazy by getting takeaways, or going out for dinner all the time because I just was not sure what I would end up eating if I did! (With that said, there were some really lovely vegan-friendly places but it was something I had to plan ahead, rather than a spontaneous meal out.)
The main reason I decided to go vegan was to learn more recipes that I usually wouldn’t have tried. This I achieved, and more! I never anticipated finding and creating so many yummy recipes that I will definitely be making in the future on a regular basis. Making most dishes from scratch meant that all the food I was eating was fresh and I knew exactly what was going into it – a great way to start a health kick and keep a track of my diet. Going vegan didn’t prevent me from eating a variety of dishes as I have made everything from classic meals like lasagne, to falafel burgers, curries and even sweet treats such as cakes. I have shared my favourites on my blog and will continue to try out vegan menus – so watch this space for more recipes…
If you love cooking and baking, as I do, then I would recommend setting yourself a challenge such as this to push you to try new flavours and ingredients. It is so easy to remain stuck in old routines but having this focus allows you to do something new, branch out and discover more!
I’ll admit, I got a lot of ‘stick’ for going vegan by family and friends (particularly my siblings who believe that I talked about it too much – I promise I was not a ‘preacher’!), but this of course, was expected. However, I now feel as though I have a far greater appreciation of those that choose this diet and of the moral questions that surround it. Speaking to people about my reasons for taking on this challenge and discussing the morality behind it did make me think more about the foods I consume. I think that this opened my eyes and I think it would be beneficial for others to do the same. It is very easy to carry on eating what you usually do, and you never stop and think about how it gets to your plate. However, whatever I now eat makes me think twice about its origins and makes me think twice about eating it. I do not think I will continue a 100% vegan diet, as it is quite hard to maintain if you don’t have time to prepare yourself lunch, or if you head out to a nice restaurant and don’t like their only vegan option. However, I think I will probably do 80% vegan/vegetarian diet from now on and that I am happy about!
I’ll admit, on the first day of March it did feel very strange to suddenly be ‘allowed’ a multitude of different foods that I’d previously avoided. However, it felt nothing like when I’ve previously gorged myself on chocolate for the entire day after Lent. Instead, on breaking veganism this month I opted for a vegan breakfast and only had a single non-vegan ingredient at lunch – feta – which was the one thing I was really sad to give up during the challenge. It tasted so strong, almost too strong and I think I could do without it so much from now on… Even for dinner I was going to choose a vegan option from the menu of a local restaurant when G said that I had to have meat (not in a forceful way may I add!)
I will no doubt slowly lose this feeling but I currently have no desire whatsoever to eat meat, fish, dairy or eggs. It is really odd, but I in fact feel a bit guilty at the thought of cooking meat. Salmon has always been a firm favourite, but even tonight I’m allowing G two pieces and I’m opting for basil tofu instead…
I’ve eaten so many incredible foods over the last month that have not restricted me to a plateful of salad and I am so glad that I completed it as I feel a real sense of achievement. If you are as intrigued as I was, try out a month of veganism. You may be sat reading this thinking you’ll never change your ways, but you may well indeed surprise yourself!
If you have any further questions about my #VeganChallenge, or want to know a bit more about what I ate each day, feel free to comment below or message me by heading over to the ‘Contact’ page here!