It’s February 1st and Veganuary is over. And I’m not really sure how I feel about that.
As of today, I can technically eat whatever meat, dairy products, eggs etc that I fancy – but it doesn’t seem right. I’ve started my day as normal, as a vegan. Without even realising, I’ve got a vegan lunch of The Whole Ingredient’s Greek Butter Bean Pie (above) that I made at the weekend, vegan snacks a plenty, and plans for a meal at Mildred’s, my favourite gf and vegan spot on Soho. So far so good.
As January began drawing to a close, I saw more and more bloggers contemplating their next steps. In all, I think most of us agreed that Veganuary has been relatively simple compared to our first preconceptions, and in general, meals have been pretty tasty. Lauren and Cate are both considering veganism part time and even chef and journo, coincidentally from my home town of Southend, Jack Monroe isn’t turning back.
It’s been truly inspiring to see how many people have taken part this year and really give it their all. 2.1 million animal-free meals! In just one month?! That’s a HELL of a lot of food, amounting to a hell of amount of animals saved, and that feels good. Really good.
It’s very easy to turn a blind eye to animal cruelty, and I’m no saint, but in the past I’ll always try and source out the best quality products. When you’re on a tight budget, I admit it’s not so easy. But funnily enough, I think I’ve actually saved money. Lots of meal prep, cooking in bulk, freezing portions, planning lunch, and eating out less has definitely had an affect on my pocket for the better. And those pockets are feeling looser too. I’ve lost weight and am feeling really light on my feet.
So as February begins, it’s time to look at things from a different angle. Movements like Meat Free Monday have been fantastic in showing people how easy and tasty vegetarian meats can be and is the perfect start for anyone considering giving veganism a try. It’s a brilliant start, but for me, I want to do more. I can’t hand on heart solemnly swear I’m never going to eat meat again, but this will only be when I truly fancy it. I don’t think there were many occasions where I really craved meat throughout January, which surprised me, and I really wish more people would be more open to realising you don’t necessarily need meat on your plate to make a dish both filling and delicious – Dad I’m looking at you!
Going forward I’m going to continue as I have been, living day to day as a vegan, but on odd days when I really fancy that slab of milk chocolate, some cheese on my pizza, a burger when I eat out with friends, or roast chicken for Sunday lunch, I’ll have it. I’m hoping I can keep this up and have roughly four vegan days and three non vegan days a week. Flexatarian diets are becoming more and more popular, and I’m looking forward to making GF Sesh more and more vegetarian and vegan friendly over the coming months. I read a really interesting article on Flexatarianism and I really hope more and more people are up for giving it a go. We can’t argue that more veg and less meat is better for our wellbeing and the environment. It’s a fact.
When you add it all up, Veganuary has left me feeling lighter, happier and with a shinier soul to boot.
Some things I’ve come to realise since taking part in Veganuary:
- Almost all dark chocolate is naturally vegan, with no added milk. Get in.
- Curry is my best friend. Add anything to coconut milk and spice and you’ll have a delicious feast.
- I’m obsessed with homemade falafel. Listening to them sizzle in the pan is very addictive. See my recipe here.
- Vegans don’t just eat salad. This was never something I ever thought, but I’m pretty sure a good chunk of the population think so. Anyway salads are tasty, so there.
- I’ve made some fantastic vegan recipes. The Whole Ingredient’s Greek Butter Bean Pie was delicious and likewise Cate in the Kitchen’s Vegan Fajitas, which I made gluten free, were particular favourites. More on these to come.
- Pizza is a temptress. I cheated three times throughout the whole of January. (I’m sorry!!) I’m yet to have any meat, but I did have three pizzas with cheese… Twice where when hungover, and another just after I read Cate in the Kitchen’s cheat post on how she ordered a huge cheese burger and cheesy fries! I thought we were in it together Cate! I did also have two of Pizza Express’ vegan pizzas aka the Pianta in gluten free, which were nice, but there’s nothing quite like proper cheese on pizza.
- Vegan cheese is OK – I stress the OK. ‘Vio Life For Pizza’ was my favourite, and with a little push, it managed to melt. A tip from my colleague – add your vegan cheese to the top of your pizza and spray with a little oil before sticking back in the oven. The oil adds a little fat, which helps the cheese to melt under the heat.
- My saddest meal was rice with gluten free soy sauce. I forgot to bring herbs and my avocado was black. It was a bleak lunch time indeed.
- It’s really hard to find vegan and cruelty free products on the market. Here’s a list of some of my favourites.
- There are lots of really nice gluten free and vegan snacks out there, with little added sugar. More on this to come.
- Borough 22’s gluten free and vegan donuts were a godsend (above).
- However, I’ve found in general that I’ve eaten more sugar. I’m not proud of this one, but instead of reaching for a little chocolate boost I’ve gone for gelatin free sweets – Veggie Percy Pigs I’m looking at you.
- I totally sympathise with vegans and vegetarians. They get a lot of stick in the press, *glares at Gourmet Burger Kitchen*. Just let people get on with what they want to do. Don’t have an opinion on why they should have meat on their plate. It’s their choice.
- Restaurants and cafes need to get better at providing vegan options. Sadly eating out wasn’t so easy in January. This was something I really missed. I’m big on eating out.
- Having said that, I’m extremely lucky to work in Soho, where there are fantastic veggie and vegan restaurants that also have gluten free options. Check out Mildred’s, Wild Food Cafe, Tibits and Ethos.
- My first and only non vegan food today has been three Toblerone triangles. If truth be told, I didn’t enjoy them as much as I’d hoped.
A huge well done to everyone who has taken part. What a brilliant experience. Bring on next year. Who knows where we’ll be then?