Welcome to my Veganuary Diaries!
I made a spontaneous, last-minute decision to join in Veganuary this year, for the first time ever.
Our cupboards and fridge were empty on 30th of January, and while making my shopping list for New Year’s Eve, I just thought: why not! :)
My brilliant friend Cate is my go-to for all things Veganuary. She has completed the challenge for about 4 years now, so as soon as I’d made the choice to sign up, I texted her for newbie tips.
Her (edited) words of wisdom were:
1) Learn your vegan proteins and make sure you’re eating enough of them everyday, as that’s what’s going to keep you full.
2) Make sure you’ve got some drunk/junk food in the freezer, so you’ve got options when you’re craving them.
3) There are great vegan cheeses available (Cate recommends ASDA’s vegan cheddar) but they are very different, so maybe don’t worry about them too much your first time.
4) Nutritional yeast is a decent investment for flavour and B12.
5) Familiarise yourself with accidentally vegan products (Oreos! Boxed puff pastry!), that make life a little easier and delicious.
6) Enjoy the opportunity to inject a ton of vegetables in your diet, cos it makes you feel v v v v great!
Honestly, I’m finding it shockingly easy.
It really helps that every coffee shop I’ve been to so far in London has dairy-free milks, and everywhere we’ve eaten has delicious vegan dishes on the menu. I would definitely find it a bit trickier without those options, and it will be interesting to see how I get on outside of London.
It also helps that I got prepared before I started. I read through Cate’s Veganuary Diaries from last year, and stocked up on everything from oat milk to lentils, beans, fresh veg, frozen veg, and “fun” stuff like veggie sausages, hash browns and Oreos.
I’m not missing anything. Actually, that’s a lie. I miss eggs. I keep finding delicious vegetable recipes and thinking, ooh that would be lovely with a poached egg on top!
But that’s just a brain training thing, and I know that I can turn that around. I’m just not used to building meals around beans and legumes, so when I’m considering protein sources at meal times, my brain immediately goes back to what I’m used to.
The other (slightly more embarrassing) issue no one had mentioned to me beforehand is the gas. I’ve never been so bloated and gassy in my life! Thankfully, it’s apparently totally normal (due to all the extra fibre I’m eating), and actually it’s already started to ease up. SWEET RELIEF.
It’s going to be an interesting month, for sure, and I’m actually really excited to break out of my little rut, learn some new habits, and try some new recipes!
Yes. Only accidental ones though!
We had two Protein Weetabix left over from last year that I wanted gone, so I had those with oat milk one morning – thinking it must be vegan because it’s WEETABIX? But apparently the Protein version has Vitamin D3 in it, which comes from animals.
I also picked up some multi-seeded flatbreads in Sainsbury’s which, I only realised when I got home, have evaporated cow’s milk in them.
And only last night I noticed that the artificial sweeteners I have every day in my tea and coffee have lactose from milk in them. Doh.
No food waste though, thankfully. Gary’s eating vegan meals at home with me, but he’s not actually doing Veganuary, so he’s happy to polish off all the non-vegan bits we still have left in the house/I’ve bought accidentally!
Breakfast: Hash browns, Heinz baked beans (the reduced salt ones), mushrooms fried in rapeseed oil, steamed spinach, and a dollop of ketchup (reduced salt).
Lunch: Sainsburys piri-piri falafel, half a tub of piri-piri hummus, carrot sticks.
Dinner: Linda McCartney rosemary and onion sausages (Gary and I made the move from pork sausages to these months ago, and we love them!), garlic mashed potato, steamed courgette, and Bisto reduced salt gravy.
Snacks: Fox’s Chunkie cookies with chocolate chunks (I did a little hooray dance when I discovered these were vegan as I got sent a giant box of Fox biscuits just before Christmas. We donated a lot of it to our local food collection point, but these were two of the random packets I had kept for our cupboards!)
Breakfast: Protein Weetabix (bah humbug), oat milk and a banana. Coffee with oat milk. Then I got shaky at around 11am (this happens to me sometimes) so I also had 1 slice of brown toast with crunchy peanut butter.
Lunch: One big wholewheat wrap stuffed with red cabbage, cannellini beans, carrots, avocado and an Italian herby olive oil dressing.
Dinner: Sweet potato and lentil curry, made with onions, carrots, peppers, a jar of Sainsbury’s Rendang curry paste, and a tin of coconut milk. Served with one of the above-mentioned non-vegan multiseed flatbreads.
Breakfast: Brown toast with crunchy peanut butter and a banana. Coffee with oat milk.
Lunch: Went for brunch with Charlie at Ask for Janice and had an oat milk latte and the BEST vegan sweetcorn fritters with chilli jam and a side of avocado. It’s a variation of their usual menu fritters, so you’ll have to ask for it, but it’s so gooood!
Dinner: Sweet potato and lentil curry leftovers.
Breakfast: Two brown toasts, one with peanut butter, and one with Marmite (for B12). Coffee with oat milk.
Lunch: Wholemeal wrap with the last bits of the red cabbage salad from Wednesday.
Dinner: More leftover sweet potato curry! Tea with oat milk (oat is the only non-dairy milk I can drink in tea. Soya tastes bad, and though I love nut milk in coffee, I hate the oily texture of it in tea!)
Breakfast: Brown toast with peanut butter and a banana. Coffee with oat milk.
Brunch: Hash browns, baked beans, fried mushrooms and steamed spinach.
Dinner: My own chickpea, tomato and spinach masala curry recipe (coming this week!), served with these incredible spiced potato cakes.