Apologies for the lack of post last week – my excuse was twofold. Firstly, I was so close to the end of Veganuary, I didn’t want to jinx it, and secondly, we had a massive power failure, and I found myself sitting in the dark, under a pile of blankets, with no heating or cooking ability, or internet to post my musings.
So I didn’t feel much like writing about how great everything was!!
So here we are, at the end of Janu-veg/Veganuary, and I suppose the question on everyone’s lips is: are you joining the ranks of the vegans permanently, or are you returning to the safety of the familiar meat-eating diet?
Well, Gentle Reader, grab your cup of tea with almond milk and your vegan baked goods, and settle in for my summary.
In Veganuary, I tried three brand new recipes that weren’t just vegan versions of old faves: satay noodles, vegan mac and cheese and beetroot burgers. I tried new foods: tempeh (bad times) and seitan (good times). I tried using chia seeds as an egg substitute, and I discovered that bourbon biscuits are vegan. I got inventive with my lunches, and I discovered vegan croissants for my breakfasts on the go.
With that final discovery, vegan pastry goods, I recognised that there was no real reason to hold onto my animal-eating ways. There is a plant-based alternative to almost everything, although you will never convince me a cauliflower steak is as good as a sirloin steak.
There were just a few things bothered me about eating vegan – in my quest to avoid all animal products, I didn’t give much thought to recyclable materials, or sustainable palm oil, or whether my eating was in season. And I found that I did want to think about whether or not there were a few thousand food miles on my lentils before I curried them. I don’t care about the food miles, I just want to think about them.
To cut a very long thought process short and readable, the conclusion after Veganuary is: It was very fun and I enjoyed the challenge, but there were one or two tricky moments. So I’m going to continue with a primarily plant-based diet for now, but with one or two….addendums.
I will probably eat meat occasionally. I have just missed a chicken breast or a steak too much to go without it ever again. But that meat will not be processed. And if I can get it locally or sustainably farmed too, that will also be a criterion. And I’m going to try and buy my vegan goods in more sustainable/recyclable packaging and with less unsustainable ingredients. I’m going to take the guidelines from the planetary health diet on board, and try to eat sustainable, plant-based nutrition to save the planet and I might even make vague attempts towards seasonal eating.
And that’s that. We’ll see how we go. There are still a million vegan recipes I want to try, so that’ll probably be the next step for me anyway, meaning I’ll stay vegan for at least another two months!! I also ordered a Mindful Chef vegan recipe box last week, so I’ll have a go at that when it arrives and let you know.
This feels manageable. And whilst I am a little bit sad to say goodbye to bacon, I feel so well eating this way that I don’t think the sadness will last long. (Don’t read this next paragraph if you’re squeamish or can’t talk about poop.)
The health benefits are intangible, and often small, but together they’ve made a huge difference. My joints are less painful, I can wake up in the mornings easily without feeling dire, my hair has stopped falling out quite so much, and my poos are a perfect 4 on the Bristol Stool Chart EVERY TIME I POO. It’s a bloody miracle. Or rather, a poopy miracle. Also, my period only last seven days instead of twelve days this month and it was not nearly as heavy as usual. I also only had cramps for three days, instead of ten. My next period is due in a couple of weeks, and if it goes as smoothly as the last one, I may never go back. I don’t know how my thyroid medication is reacting to a vegan diet, but as long as I avoid soya, I should be OK.
In conclusion: despite waking up on January 1st, reading the word “Veganuary” and thinking, “That sounds awful, let’s do it”, I’m quite ready for Vegebruary and a little more experimentation.