False starts and head starts
Today is the last day of my Veganuary challenge; my 31st day eating a vegan diet. I wish I could tell you about the amazing culinary adventure that I’ve had but to be honest, going vegan has been pretty unremarkable!
I had scheduled to start on the 1st of January, but I had to postpone until the 2nd as my aunt had invited me to join her and the rest of the family for a delicious New Years Day dinner (followed by all-out-war due to Trivial Pursuit!) The meal was mostly vegan; I think the only non-vegan items were the honey roast parsnips and the yorkshire puddings! Oh, and the bottle of Kopparberg cider I washed it all down with.
The false start wasn’t a real set-back though. Although I had slipped into pescatarianism, I still had 20-years of experience as a vegetarian behind me and I had been (unsuccessfully) trying to go vegan for some time, so I did have some goods and ideas to give me a head start.
Oh how I wish I was a goddess in the kitchen, but I am so not! Executive dysfunction and chronic fatigue often mean my kitchen is too much of a mess to even begin cooking from scratch. I do feel a bit ashamed of it, especially when I see all the amazing meals the “whole foods plant based” are churning out! My tummy just rumbles even at the thought of their rainbow meals!
But fear not! I have one meal that I both enjoy and can make by myself – Lentil bolognase. It’s cheap and cheerful!
I prefer to add an extra tin of tomatoes, to make the vegetable stock double-strength, and to over season. You can never have too much garlic!
Today I have learned that you can make lazy vegan cakes with Betty Crocker cake mixes, but instead of the egg, oil and water, you add a can of cola or lemonade. I will be sure to report back. Domestic goddess; fake it till you make it!
Pubs and grubs
I eat out a lot and consume far too much takeaway food, and to my joy most of it is vegan.
My ‘regular’ pub in my home town is a Wetherspoons, and they have a small but not too boring vegan menu. Breakfasts usually involve their smashed avocado bagel, and lunches include curry, chilli, and pasta. Of course they could do better. I would love it if they made their vegetarian cooked breakfast vegan-friendly!
My second ‘regular’ pub is nothing but disappointment. Their vegetarian menu is piss poor, and as a vegan I can have chips with a side of mixed vegetables. Brilliant.
In Glasgow I usually haunt the Flying Duck or the 13th Note, both are dedicated to vegan food. At the Flying Duck I swear by the standard seitan burger (no ‘slaw), and the 13th Note does a fantastic cooked breakfast. Nom. The recently opened Purrple Cat Cafe has a great light-bite menu for vegans too. I go for the french toast with a side of kitten cuddles.
The bummer has been the cider. I love bottled fruit ciders! Both Herrljunga and Kopparberg are not vegan, both of which are served at my locals. Thankfully Old Mout Cider IS vegan, so not all is lost. I have to drink at home or in Glasgow though. Pants.
Health and household
This is where my head start came in handy! Veganuary is focused primarily on diet, but I had been trying to choose vegan products in all parts of my life for about a year now.
All of my health and hygiene products now come from Superdrug. Always check, but the majority of their own brand products are vegan and have been certified by Cruelty Free International.
My partner does most of the “big shop”, and he chooses ethical cleaning products where possible. Ecover and Bio D regularly appear in our home. I also like to buy Humble Stuff so that I can support a small local business while doing battle with the greasy cooker top.
Some things change …
Veganuary isn’t the end of my journey. I am staying vegan for the forseeable future, but I can’t continue to be a “junk food vegan”. This means that I need to get a handle on meal planning, prep and cooking (and cleaning up afterwards!) Meal prep always makes me feel anxious; I see all these lush Instagram photos, and my mind races. Do you cook everything, or just part cook it? How long does it keep? Can you freeze it? Do you have to defrost it, or can it be cooked from frozen? … then I just end up ordering a burrito from the local Mexican takeaway!
While not exclusively tied into my veganism, I am in the very early stages of trying to re-establish our local community farm which we lost in 2011 due to a lack of funding. There is a real need for our communities to really learn where our food comes from, and a further need for a place where farm animals can escape to. I’ll probably write about all of this in further detail, because it also ties into my politics and religion.
… and some stay the same
I am still going to continue my work with animal remains. This psychopomp-esque work is a core part of my spiritual practice; I have a responsibility to return dignity to animals in death. I imagine if people see me dancing in a wolf pelt they will be horribly offended … but that doesn’t change my relationship with the sacred dead.
Reaching the finish line, just to start the race
I honestly thought I would be counting down the days till the end of Veganuary; my chocolate cravings battering my good intentions into the ground! But it didn’t happen. I still have a weakness for dairy chocolate on my emotionally fragile days, but sometimes I catch a smell of it and the sourness turns my stomach. My body knows it’s bad for me, my brain just needs to catch up!
I feel pretty good, inside and out. My diet, and (some) of my lifestyle choices are in alignment with my values. I’m lighter, and it’s nice.
Here I am at the end of Veganuary, and I am ready to keep going!