Let’s take part in Veganuary they said. It’ll be fun they said. No-one warned us about the cheese cravings, dangers of sudden fibre uptake and how easy it is to get fat. But, it aint all doom and gloom, have a read and find out what the experience has been like so far:
For those who don’t know what Veganuary is, we explained it in our previous blogpost: Top tips to tackle Veganuary.
DAY ONE: HANGOVER 💀
My first day as a vegan was quite uneventful, I skipped breakfast as usual (because bed minutes are worth more than breakfast minutes) and waking up on New Years Day still sporting the previous nights make-up (across face and pillow) to the realisation that it was now Veganuary and I couldn’t call up Mr Pizza Man for the usual fix was really tough. More so, with a hangover. But, I mustered up all my energy and rolled out of bed, first into the bathroom to turn myself from drug addict to relatively normal looking human and then into the kitchen to make some avo toast in true cliche Vegan style.
I hadn’t really given much thought to what being vegan implied, I just knew I didn’t want any other living being to suffer unnecessarily on my account, and no I have not watched Earthlings yet.
The hangover had claimed all my energy and nothing was gonna culminate in a greasy cheesy pizza.
The rest of the day was spent opening the cupboards in a majorly uninspired fashion, the hangover had claimed all my energy and nothing was gonna culminate in a greasy cheesy pizza. The night before the change, I spoke to my only vegan friend, and he advised me to throw out all non vegan products. I said I would, but I didn’t. Ingrained in my very being is my father’s voice saying “waste not, want not” or “starving children in Africa would fight over that plate”,every time I attempt to throw food away. So, when the temptation to whip out the cheese and crackers came along, I knew they had to go.
Sorry dad. Was there no one I could offload my brie on?
Humus and carrot sticks for dinner it is.
And with that, day one finito.
*Pats self on back*
DAY TWO: INSPIRED ✨
Woke up late (earning extra bed minutes) and in a huff decided to be pro-active in a bid to make up for those wasted hours. Chopped up all the veggies possible, laid them in a tray and popped them in oven to grill. +5pts to me.
Determined to stick to my plan, I spent a considerable amount of my lunch hour in the health shop along with most of my life savings; stocking up on organic fruits, vegetables, beans, pulses and vegan alternatives.
Then it hit me,Chocolate!
What the hell vegans? Why would you do this to yourselves, and more importantly, me.
Chocolate is my thing. I eat it every day.
Now, for any of you thinking about going vegan, let me tell you this; your chocolate will never taste the same again. Say goodbye to Green & Blacks Butterscotch bars *sad face*. This does not mean vegans cannot eat chocolate, we can, just not the deliciously smooth milk variety.
I’m a fan of all kinds of chocolate, so after a frantic Google search, I found that some of my favourites were in fact vegan. Lindt Excellence, as from 70% cocoa, awesome! It also helps if you (or in Lisanka’s case, your best friend) is a wizard in the ‘free from’ kitchen. *insert Hazelnut truffles here*
Anyhow, whilst on my splurge at the health shop, I discovered something much better than chocolate anyway, dried pineapple. My absolute favourite fruit ever. There are many versions of dried pineapple on the market, most of them heavily laced with preservatives and sugars. Sulfur dioxide is not something I want to be consuming thank you very much. I’ve become an additive snob along with my vegan-ism. Tropical Wholefoods ‘sun dried pineapple’ is 100% pineapple and is organic to boot. I may have eaten the whole bag in sheer excitement.
Lunch was a bit of everything. I went to the only vegetarian place I could think of close by and ordered enough food to feed a small country. Avocado and tomato salad, roast sweet potato and beetroot salad, 3 bean soup, falafel and humus. I must stress, I did not eat this all. The falafel and humus was enough and I saved the rest for later. I guess I tried to over compensate for the lack of obvious protein on my plate.
I spent most of my afternoon engrossed in vegan literature, i.e. Google, Pinterest and Instagram.
Inspired by the colourful offerings I held in the palm of my hand, I set to work on writing up an endless list of ‘to-do’ recipes. The first on my list? Bean burgers. What i ended up with? Lentil & Quinoa patties. Ah well, its only my second day, ill get this.
I know most vegans and vegetarians say this when they make a meat free alternative, but seriously, I did not miss the meat at all. My bean patty was divine and my mother agreed. Although, I’m going to be honest, I missed the slice (or two) of cheese.
For dessert? The remaining Hazelnut Truffles of course.
DAY 3: HELLO FIBRE 🙃
O.K, so none of these vegan blogs warned me about the side effects of upping your fibre intake dramatically. In hindsight I should have seen it coming. I won’t go into the technicalities, but I am under the mercy of my digestive system, and she’s not being very gracious.
To be safe, my breakfast choice was a Coconut Milk smoothie laced with flaxseed, oats and a generous dollop of Hazelnut butter. Somehow, it felt sensible to keep to liquids, or at least it seemed logical to me.
I’ve started slowly telling people that I am cutting out meat, dairy and any other animal products from my diet and for the most part everyone is surprisingly supportive. Vegans tend to get a bad reputation for being pushy, preachy, holier-than-thou know-it-alls, so the common response when you tell someone you’re vegan is a defensive one. I know, because I used to get that way.
I once tweeted something quite awful about a vegan, and how I wanted to slap her in the face with a steak. In jest, of course. It’s not that she was vegan, she was just an ass hole; an ass hole who happened to be a vegan.
I don’t want to be one of those people who sneers at your life choices at the dinner table, or aggressively pushes their beliefs on others.
Lunch was leftover bean patties paired with homemade sprout crispies; an idea that was inspired by one of many Vegan Insta-foodie accounts I have began to follow since starting Veganuary. My judgement clouded by excitement, but my fibre intake jeopardised. A decision I would come to regret.
I feel a constant need to eat and to be nourished, and as a result I’m eating copious amounts of nuts, nut butter, seeds and dried fruit, namely cashews, peanut butter and dried pineapple. I may be eating too much, but how can something so small be so calorific?
Dinner comes along and in usual post-workout fashion, am really tired, cranky and hungry. I only have enough macros left to eat protein and not much else and with that, for the first time since starting, i wish for some chicken. I give myself a few imaginary slaps and proceed to whip up some Satay Tofu. (Honestly… it was horrible, but i ate it anyway.)
Tomorrow will be better, surely.
DAY 4: BLOATED 💩
Not loving myself at the moment if I’m totally honest. I feel like a blow up doll. I’m swollen, uncomfortable and fat.
The thought of a lean scrambled egg breakfast was plaguing my mind. I banish the little yellow clouds of protein goodness from my thoughts and again opt for a liquid breakfast. Paired with a bowl of oats. Girl logic.
Getting ready for work was a chore, everything feels too tight and I was in no mood for the confines of hosiery. I look in the mirror and liken myself to a dairy cow who’s been pumped full of hormones. Even my face looks distorted. What’s happening to me?
Google will know.
“Is veganism making me fat and ugly?”
The short answer is yes, the long one is no.
There is a common misconception, that there are certain things one can do to “detoxify”
When you starve your body of all animal products, a lot of weird stuff happens. You might feel overly emotional and sensitive,experience unexplained aches and pains, tension headaches,flu-like symptoms bloating, constipation, diarrhea (or both), vomiting (or all three). You may start thinking your body is punishing you for deviating from what we all believe is our God given right, eating animals. I likened it to going cold turkey on Heroin, not that I’ve ever been a heroin addict, but if Eastenders taught me anything, it’s that addicts go through hell when they give up the goods.
Hang in there. It will get better, you will get better. Much better.
Your face wont always resemble a big hunk of celeriac (organic of course), I promise.
I will say this though, the withdrawal symptoms are real. It will happen to you. Just think of it as a good spring clean. The body is ridding itself of mercury, pesticides, bacteria and hormones along with a whole host of other nasties found in animal based foods.
Thankfully, i didn’t have to worry about lunch today. Wagamama had my back. All the Edamame beans please.
Note to self: Stop buying dried pineapple.
DAY 5: STILL BLOATED 💩💩
The ugly continues.
I stare at my reflection in the mirror… how is this bloat even normal? I look like I’m in my third trimester, ready to pop triplets and my partner has already begun mocking me. ‘Stop sticking your belly out.’ he says … I wasn’t even. I start to think of all the moments in my life i wasnt bloated and took for granted.
F**K you sprouts.
I proceed to rummage through all my clothes, finding all and any baggy items, telling myself, ‘Today, i will refrain from eating fiber. I can do this.’
Breakfast was again a liquid option. With toast, toast is always a good idea, and 100% vegan.
In a bid to avoid any extra fibre, I steered away from all the cans of neatly stacked beans which I had impulse bought in my pre- veganuary excitement. My next best bet for getting some high protein foods in my belly? Tofu. I remembered a chicken nugget recipe i used to make, so applied the same ingredients and methods to the tofu instead. Thankfully, it was a success and possibly the best Vegan recipe ive made so far. #VegansOfIG rejoice. Tofu nuggets was born.
I start feeling a little bit better come afternoon and the bloat subdued after several toilet visits. (Gotta thank the extra dosages of lemongrass tea for that).
Then much to my surprise, an asos delivery came a knocking at my door, inside? Some new training gear! I popped it straight on, and pranced around feeling as light as a pringle. What a contrast to this morning!
Eager to test out the new gear, i opened up my NTC app and set off for a run. I started running and couldnt stop. I felt alive. For the first time in all of Veganuary i was PUMPED! Was it being Vegan that had made me able to run for so long? Maybe it was, who knows. Either way, i was loving it.
DAY 6: OK, I GOT THIS 🙅🏼
Fresh from the previous days motivation i woke up feeling great, not only had it been a while since i was capable of running 10k but for the first time all week… no bloat! YASSSSS! Guess this Veganism is kinda alright!!? With a smile on my face, i swirl up my daily dosage of super greens and hot lemon water before seizing the day ahead.
It was a busy day prepping bars for the week ahead, and even when my oven broke and toilet started leaking… my positivity levels were still high. After all, what is a broken oven in the grand scheme of things? Im alive, i’m healthy and have a fluffy gown that warms me up at night. It could be worse.
DAY 7: HAPPY ONE WEEK! 🎉
I would love to say that I woke up this morning feeling rested and refreshed. The truth is I was kept up half the night by my upstairs neighbour. 1 am is as as good a time as any to grind cacao nibs in your antique heavyweight bronze pestle and mortar (So 2017).
I know because after half an hour of racking my brains I asked him what the hell that was.
“I’m making chocolate, darling, come up it’s fabulous. I’ve got cacao nibs on the grind.”
“No thanks, it’s late. I’m trying to sleep.”
“Save me some.Goodnight.”
If I wake up at 10 i’ll get a solid 8 hours.
6 hours later, a frantic mother charges in my room like a bull in a china shop, looking for her charger (why in my room I don’t know).
I’m up. I’m annoyed. Tea.
I love the ritual involved in making a pot of tea. i opted for my favourite: mint tea.
Soak some loose green tea leaves in about an inch of water in a tea pot. Drain after a couple of minutes, this reduces the bitterness in the tea. Add a bunch of fresh mint leaves and add just boiled water. Wait 3-5 minutes. Pour. Sit outside. Watch the ships go by. Relax.
After about 6 months, endless cancellations and several illness excuses, our attempt at a girl date was successful. I met Liz and we ventured up the Rock and onto the new suspension bridge. The day was still, the sun was warming. The apes were out in abundance.
On our way back down from our trek, Liz was telling a story about how she and her family had been chased by a pack of apes because her youngest brother had mimicked one and proclaimed “OOOH” in its face.
As she demonstrated what her little brother had done over a decade ago, an adolescent ape (who up until that point had been indifferent to our presence and totally engrossed in a fruit peelings), leapt from behind her and onto her back baring its teeth whilst grabbing her arm. Luckily, she’s well acquainted with a quick backhand, and she shook the ape off. It seemed like she’d done this before.
I thought animals were supposed to appreciate vegans?
Exhausted from our ordeal we head off for lunch. But first, a quick stop at the supermarket for some lettuce i needed.
Sixteen impulse buys and £50 later we made our way to Wagamamas for lunch. By the way, vegan bacon bits exist, as does “just add water” sausage mix (vegan of course) and Lotus biscuits are Vegan. You’re welcome.
Wagamama’s always delivers, those edamame beans are life. I have been tempted to hit it up everyday instead of cooking myself but, my bank account denies me this luxury. We engross ourselves in eating these little green pellets of protein goodness, sip on green tea and enjoy eachothers company.
One week Veganuary down, i celebrate by making a Veggie Paella and treat myself to a bag of crisps. Yolo.
Note to self: The stated amount of rice in mother’s recipe is correct. Do NOT add more rice. Repeat. DO NOT ADD MORE RICE.
We hope you enjoyed our week one Veganuary. It has been fun to do, (challenging somewhat) but exciting to try new recipes and foods and not as hard as you may believe it to be! You may feel that it is impossible to do it and give up *insert favourite animal based food here* (most people say cheese) BUT, eating LESS also makes a positive change on our environment! Try it 😄
This text is based on the experiences of Elke Hurtado and Lisanka Trinidad. Written by them both. You can find Lisanka Trinidad and some of her blogposts on Just Weight and Tea.