Lauren Flood is Assistant Co-Ordinator (Family Services) in Health, Wellbeing and Children’s Services.
So Veganuary… I decided to give it a go!
From a young age I always struggled with the association with the meat on my plate to the animals I loved. I toyed with becoming a vegetarian throughout my teen years and would regularly refuse to eat any meat off a bone that my mum presented to me. I eventually became vegetarian in October 2017 after watching ‘What the Health’ on Netflix. I now had both health and moral motives to give up eating meat (if you haven’t watched this already, it’s really eye-opening). The vegan lifestyle has interested me, but seeing others claiming being vegan was ‘extreme’ put me off and I continued to make my excuses so I could continue to eat chocolate and cheese.
However, at the latter end of this year, I was becoming increasingly aware of my diet, the suffering this caused to animals and the effect that consuming meat/dairy had on the planet and I decided that 2019 would be the year I gave Veganuary a go.
It came to New Year’sEve and I was in a cheese and chocolate coma and was ready to welcome aplant-based break. Consequently, I sat with Lucy Watson’s ‘Feed Me Vegan’ andDeliciously Ella’s ‘Plant-based’ cook book and picked out my favourite recipes.I wrote an extensive shopping list and headed to Tesco. I would be lying to youif I said this was an enjoyable experience. I felt like I was in there anabsolute age, trawling each aisle multiple times to seek out dairy freealternatives and unfamiliar items. I left the shop with my purse feeling significantlylighter but was excited to see so much vegan goodness in my shopping bags.
So my week in a nut shell…
I’ve reignited a passion for cooking and to name a few, I’ve made a banging Sri Lankan curry, a creamy mushroom & butternut squash risotto, and enough hummus to feed a small army. It’s been great knowing exactly what I’m putting in to my body and best of all, not a single animal has been harmed in the process.
Of course, there has been some low moments too; I tried a dairy-free Parmesan cheese and to put it bluntly, it was disgusting. I took salvage in BBQ Pringles and chocolate bourbons. All in all, it’s been a successful first week. With David Attenborough stating we are heading towards a “man-made disaster of global scale”, I can’t help but think about the catastrophic effect that animal agriculture is having on our planet. This has further motivated me to continue with my Veganuary journey and my news year’s resolution to reduce my plastic consumption too!
Right now, the struggle is real. It’s like it with all new year’s resolutions, you start off full of energy and 2 weeks in you start to wobble.
I live with my partner and although he’s been supportive, I’ve found it difficult to watch him munch away on some of my favourite things. The Yorkshire puddings and chocolate fudge cake hit me particularly hard.
This week I’ve felt tired from work and I’ve been craving nothing but chocolate, wine, chips, McDonalds, garlic mayo, mozzarella, korma and generally EVERYTHING off a Chinese take away menu. So, when my iPhone slipped through my fingers and face planted the floor and the screen smashed to smithereens, I wanted nothing more than to turn to
the dark side. Instead I found solace in Tesco’s own brand vegan biscuit
‘Oaties’. I’m worried I’ve developed an addiction. My god they are delicious.
On to the positives, because there are lots!!! Last week I commented on a bad experience I had with a dairy free cheese. Well this week I’ve experimented with another alternative to Parmesan and I think I’ve found the one. Thank you Violife. I also made pesto from scratch and although it looked nothing like the photo from the cook book, it tasted lovely!
I had my mum over for dinner and made a delightful vegan bolognese and it was my first-time cooking with lentils! The dinner went down an absolute treat and my mum was shocked to find out the garlic bread was vegan too.
Some adjustments to my diet I’ve found really easy, particularly breakfast. I’ve always loved vegemite (a much better version of marmite, if you know, you know) which is lovely on toast with some vegan marg. Overnight oats are also a staple for me and is an easy one to throw together the night before and graze at your desk early the next day.
Since the beginning of Veganuary, I’ve been sharing my journey on my social media and have been overwhelmed to have such a positive response from so many people I know. It’s nice to know we’re in it together.
Onto you week 3. I’ve still been struggling with chocolate cravings and have just been working my way through a different pack of biscuits every other day (and people think vegans only eat salad ha!) I came in to work Monday morning and my colleague had picked me up two different bars of vegan chocolate over the weekend; one infused with orange and spice and the other with marzipan. The marzipan wasn’t for me but the orange spiced choc was a delight and I felt so much excitement over finding the dark chocolate ‘for me’, now I’m not missing out on chocolatey goodness.
I joined some colleagues from our Vegan Network (woo!) and went on a group shopping trip to Sainsburys. This really helped me with exploring new vegan foods that I hadn’t tried before, and it reminded me it’s good to shake things up and try different supermarkets as they stock different products. Something that caught my eye was vegan scampi. I’ve been doing a lot of home cooking and have been missing a cheeky little takeaway, and fish & chips is something I’ve been particularly craving. Later on in the week, I popped the oven on, put in the scampi, bought myself a lemon, stocked up on ketchup and took myself to the local chippy. It was such a success and a nice change to try a take away, which is something I’ve been nervous to do!
Something else I picked up food shopping was a vegan shredded hoisin duck, I haven’t yet tried this so can’t give an honest review but it’s exciting that there really does seem to be a vegan alternative to everything now.
Overall my working week has been a slightly stressful one so I was elated when my boyfriend came home from doing his own food shop, having picked me up a vegan organic wine. (If you didn’t know, a lot of wines aren’t vegan which is quite gross when you think about it, although some stores aren’t great at making this clear, the co-op clearly label their wines and prosecco vegan).
It’s so important to have supportive family, friends and colleagues to help you along the way.
I made it. I’m writing this on January 31st, knowing today is the last ‘official’ day of Veganuary. I know it sounds cliché, but it has been a real journey for me. It’s been a great challenge and I’m really proud of myself for seeing it through.
I have learnt a lot over the last month and it’s made me aware of the importance of education. So many people don’t want to research into a vegan diet because they know that reading some hard truths would put them off their dinner. I think some people are put off by ‘militant’ vegans too. I can agree that at times, vegans are guilty of preaching, this is not done to be malicious or nasty, but when you’ve been awakened to information you find so shocking, you can’t help but want to share it with others to try and educate them too. Whilst on the topic of education, here are a few of my favourite vegan facts:
- There is more protein in a Greggs vegan sausage roll than the regular one
- It is estimated by PETA, by going vegan you save 100 animal lives a year
- Veganism is the single biggest way to reduce our environmental impact on the planet
- Vegans save 1100 gallons of water a day
- Vegans are less likely to have a stroke or die from heart disease
- The number of vegans has doubled twice in the past 4 years
It’s becoming apparent that a vegan diet and lifestyle is becoming more recognised and mainstream! Even if veganism may seem too extreme, why not make little changes? Introduce a meat free Monday or try a plant-based milk on your cereal! If everyone makes small changes, together we can make a big difference.
“If you think that being vegan is difficult, imagine being a factory farmed animal.” -Davegan Raza
Thank you for joining me on my Veganuary journey 😊