SEVEN THINGS I LEARNED DURING VEGANUARY


so, it's done. my month of "sacrifice" and "willpower" and "hunger" is over, and now i'm constantly being asked what my plans are now. am i going to continue eating a vegan diet? am i going to go back to before - eating whatever the heck i want? or am i going to find some happy middle ground that is both good for the environment, while also being good for me? truth be told, i've not actually decided what i'm going to do just yet, other than take it one day at a time. i have lots of cupboard and freezer staples that i stocked up on for january that will need eating up, and actually, a lot of the substitutes i made were ones i want to adopt long-term - nut milk and olive spread are the big two, but also the veggie sausages and meat-free mince were pretty tasty additions to my diet, so they will probably stay too. 

in all honestly, i barely found the month of veganuary (still fundraising, too) "hard" - sure, saying "is it vegan?" every time someone in the office brings in cake can be annoying, and forgetting your lunch and having to get a falafel meal deal sucks, but other than that? well - i definitely learned some things. like:

willpower is infinitely stronger when you're accountable

knowing that i was raising money and that people i love had donated because i was participating in the lifestyle challenge, i was more confident in my choices. cake and biscuits are regular items in the office, but i found myself almost sniffing my nose up at offers of non-vegan goods because "i'm doing veganuary" - i think people thought i'd cave, but knowing i had the support behind me, i didn't want to let anyone down.

the phrase "five a day" loses all meaning

only five? is this a joke? i found i was eating waaaay more fruit and veg than normal, mainly because they are super snacking foods that actually fill you up in the way your meatier options don't always. my dinners would have at least five types of veg in them, and that's before breakfast, lunch and snacks in between. so yeah, if you don't love veg, i don't know if a vegan diet is for you.

be prepared, or be prepared to go without

i read a lot of recipes before i made the pledge, because i know what i'm like and i needed an arsenal of dinners i could knock out without having to do too much prep. like, things i could just sub in for meat, which - for the most part, was the best way to make dinner time "normal". i did have to do a lot of prep, though, and make sure i did a big shop before i started so that i had snacks and drinks and mains and junk and all the things i would need to get through a day. if one day i forgot to pack lunch, i was a bit screwed. although, to be fair, the high street has become a lot more accommodating for those with dietary requirements. it comes at a price, though.

people have an opinion about everything you eat

"is that vegan?" well, yes, otherwise i wouldn't be eating it. "are you sure there's no milk in that?" well yes, otherwise i wouldn't have bought it. "i bet that tastes horrible", well it doesn't, you ignorant twig. "ooh, i doubt that's good for you", well, neither is that double cheeseburger you're tucking into, pal. the worst is when you "fail". people love watching someone miss the mark, and apparently me eating a cheese crisp my friend bought me back from australia, or eating quorn mince that apparently has egg white in it, makes people want to stone me to death and call me a "bad vegan". i'd sooner be that than a bad human, though.

"accidentally vegan" are my two new favourite words

and there's a whole movement dedicated to seeking them out and promoting them to the vegan masses. oreos? vegan. party rings? vegan. beef hula hoops? vegan! so many snacks and grab-and-go foods are vegan, without even knowing it. once you get used to looking for the "suitable for vegetarians" label and scouring the ingredients in bold for the nasties like milk, eggs, honey, whey etc, you start to build up a real little menu of things you can stuff your face with instead of the treats everyone else is eating.

i've never eaten so much toast in my life

what used to be a comfort food has now become and after-dinner-filler to get me through until morning. and, i used to think toast before bed was bad, but literally, toast is a suitable anytime-of-day snack. finding out that my favourite white bread is accidentally vegan was my best discovery, because now that i'm not eating meat and dairy, i'm getting far less calories than i used to so i can happily munch on toast and not feel gross about eating extra carbs. in fact, i don't feel bad about eating anything vegan, because so much of the food is 100% good for you, that a bit of toast here and there (and here, and here, and here) barely made a scratch.

oh, how my toilet habits have changed

too much info? well, consider that my diet is now like 90% fruit and veg and 10% oreos, you'll probably work out what i mean for yourself, so i'll save you the discovery. aaaanyhoo, so.. where does this leave me? well, here's where i think it leaves me: i'm going to continue to cook and eat vegan at home. it's easy, it's tasty, it's cheap, and it's good for the world. when i travel, or when i eat out and there's a limited menu, i'm going to eat vegetarian. i have no interest in eating meat anymore, but dairy (well no, just cheese actually) is still something i still struggle with not having in my diet. it's impossible to replicate in a tasty way, so i shall look at cheese as a "treat" (ridiculous as that sounds) from now on. everything else i shall judge as and when the time comes. but ultimately, i'm going to do what i think is best for me, and not concern myself with what other people think or say about it.

and, if you'd like to still donate to my journey, you can.