My Vegan Week

I have reached the end of my trial as a vegan. Do I feel like I’ve changed the world? No. Do I feel full of energy and vitality? No. Do I crave cheese? A bit. Being a vegan isn’t actually as hard as I thought it would be. Yes, it is restrictive but as long as you plan your meals it’s pretty easy to find a wealth of suitable foods to create tasty recipes with.

I’ve realised that veganism, like most radical life choices, can open up a whole load of debates that I didn’t know existed. There’s the whole honey debate, should vegans have honey or not….I didn’t go too far into it in fear that I would get confused but decided to have honey as Deliciously Ella does. If it’s good enough for her then it’s good enough for me. Veganism also largely divides opinion. I had work colleagues trying to tempt me off the wagon with offers to buy me burgers. The office also saw a few heated arguments about the pros and cons of a vegan diet. Thankfully I had support from a real life vegan colleague who helped me along the way.

I should probably mention that I was only fully vegan for 5 full days from Monday to Friday. On Saturday I ate a doughnut which contained milk powder and also forgot about my trial and had chips with burger sauce in the evening, which I presume was not vegan. As I had already blown it I had milk on Sunday in the form of three lattes (yes I missed coffee! – I only have it with milk) and I also had a fried egg with breakfast, but did have vegetarian sausages and resisted the bacon. I don’t think I did too badly.

I shall share with you my thoughts in the form of a good old pros and cons list.

Cons

  • I spent the entire week feeling incredibly tired and very grumpy. Even my cat knew to stay away from me as I was pretty vile to be around.
  • Bowel trouble. I will not go into detail but anyone who has tried a vegan diet no doubt knows what I mean.
  • I couldn’t just grab a snack or lunch from a normal shop and had to spend ages each day cooking all my meals from scratch which I am used to doing for much of the time, but doing it all the time was a bit of a chore. Everything I made also seemed to generate so much washing up too. So much.
  • I got bullied by work colleagues.
  • Tyler often ate a different meal to me and we didn’t eat together very much.

Pros

  • I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my meals as they have been full of flavour, texture and colour. If you think about it there are a lot more types of vegetables than there are meats so you can have more variety in a vegan diet if you put your mind to it.
  • There’s a great vegan community out there and by blogging and using social media to share my journey I have felt really well supported.
  • It was ridiculously easy to get my suggested allowance of 5 portions of fruit and veg a day and I mostly had around 10 servings.
  • Amazingly, I lost 5lbs during my week on a vegan diet which is an amazing amount considering I was never hungry and didn’t follow any calorie constrictions or portion control guidelines.
  • I admit I felt quite good about not eating any animal products and found myself getting a bit preachy towards the end of the week. It’s definitely made me think more about where my food comes from and how it gets to my plate.

So what did I eat?

Breakfast was usually either a smoothie, wholemeal toast with cashew butter and banana or, my favourite, coconut yogurt with fruit, homemade granola and coconut flakes. I had no trouble finding suitable breakfast foods and am in love with coconut yogurt despite the ridiculous price tag.

Lunch was either grain bowls or leftovers from dinner. I consumed a lot of quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, roasted vegetables and humous during lunch. I made my own humous at the start of the week but my food processor broke in the process (great timing) so I had to resort to shop bought. I found a really nice red pepper version in the Co-Op which is really delicious.

Dinners varied quite a bit. Again, I had lots of sweet potatoes as I just love them, plus quite a lot of other vegetables, avocados and kidney beans. One of my favourite discoveries was a new way to cook kidney beans which I will share with you soon and I became rather creative with the spice rack. I made amazing pizzas by spreading a toasted pitta bread with some red pepper humous and topping it with vegetables. Not exactly Dominos but a girl’s gotta try.

I mostly snacked on fruit but did discover towards the end of the week that bourbon biscuits are suitable for vegans. I’m not yet sure if this is a good thing or not. I’m also going to be giving our a recipe for sweet and salty pecans soon as these are darn good.

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So, time for the all important question: will I be a full time vegan?

In a word, no. I have enjoyed my food, am made up with my weight loss and am starting to feel the benefits. However, I don’t like the idea of having to cut out so much from my diet and I hate having to eat a separate meal to my partner. So, I’ve decided to go 75% vegan and 25% non-vegan but to concentrate on eating less meat overall and to keep the focus on plant based products. That means I will mostly continue to eat a vegan diet but allow some flexibility for days when I either can’t be bothered of fancy a treat like a bar of milk chocolate. Some hardcore vegans might turn their noses up at my plan but I still feel like I’m doing good for making an effort to consume less animal products.

I shall continue to share some vegan recipes and ideas on my blog (but the occasional meaty treat will be there too) and will re-assess in the future if I want to go fully vegan full time. For now, burgers.

 

 

 

 

What I Ate In A Day #10 – Vegan Edition

As part of vegan week on The Gammon Kitchen, I figured it only right that I take you along for the ride and share everything I eat in a day on a vegan diet. I’m halfway through my trial and I’m feeling tired, grumpy and in desperate need of a McDonalds. I kind of want to give up but I’m not going to. I’m just eagerly waiting for the day when I bound out of bed full of vigour with wonderful glowing skin and a new found zest for life. Please God, let it be soon.

Breakfast today was of the liquid variety. I made my chocolate and peanut butter milkshake that was featured on my blog earlier in the year, but used cashew butter rather than peanut and coconut milk rather than almond. Anything goes really. It was delicious and set me up for the day.

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The 11am slump was fixed by a few dates. Ugly little things aren’t they? Medjool dates are amazing, like soft, chewy toffees. They’re more expensive than other varieties but totally worth it.

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I’ve been making the most of leftovers for my lunches and today was a classic example. It’s great to have a fridge full of things that you can just throw together to create a pick’n’mix lunch bursting with flavour and nutrients. Today was brown rice, roasted vegetables (peppers, onions and courgettes), garlic and herb roasted sweet potatoes and some homemade spicy, smoky humous (made smoky by smoked sea salt – AH-MAY-ZING.)

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I snacked on some fruit between lunch and dinner. Doughnut peaches, or flat peaches as they’re sometimes called, are my favourite fruits ever. I had a plum too but ate it without thinking so didn’t take a photo.

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The biggest hurdle I’ve faced during this trial is having time each night to cook a healthy meal, prepare my lunch and tidy up all the mess made along the way. It’s hard. I can’t just order a pizza now and it means every night is chore night. Tonight I decided to go for the easy option. I’d bought some ready made bean burgers in my weekly food shop to have on stand by for when this day came so we had those with oven chips, homemade guacamole and a bit of salad. It’s the first night Tyler and I have had the same dinner since I started my vegan journey. The bean burgers were alright but I probably could have made better myself.

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As an evening snack I had a slice of wholemeal bread, toasted and spread with cashew, cinnamon and honey butter and topped with a sliced banana. Snack heaven.

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I ate a little more today than I have been to see if it would help my energy levels. Here’s hoping! I love having such colourful, vibrant meals and I’m not really missing meat (apart from that McDonalds craving) but I would give an arm for a bit of cheese now and then.

A Vegan Food Shop

So I decided to join in with the current trend and become a vegan. For a week. I love my food and the thought of having to cut stuff out of my diet filled me with fear, but I wanted to try a different kind of food lifestyle and figured it can’t be too hard if I only have to sacrifice some of my favourite things for just a week. Right?

‘Why bother?’, I hear you ask. Well, veganism is on the rise as more people learn of the damage caused to the planet by consuming animal products. There is also a belief that following a plant based diet is better for you health wise. So if we can help the planet, save a few animals and nourish our bodies in a better way surely it’s worth trying. I don’t think there is any scientific proof behind the vegan health claims but if people feel better for eating this way then good for them. I’m trialling it to see if I feel any different from cutting out all animal based products. I keep getting a mental image of a little lamb skipping away from the slaughter house saying ‘Thank you Tania!’ as it bounds into freedom.

The first thing I did in preparation was a food shop to stock up on the right kinds of foods. I’ve already got a huge stash of cooking ingredients such as grains and loads of spices and condiments so it was mostly fresh fruit and vegetables I needed as well as some tinned goods. Tyler, my partner, has decided to meet me halfway and will be eating some of the food I make along with fish and has a few emergency meals planned for if he just can’t take it. I thought about making the cat vegan too but she begged me not to, so she’s eating the rest of the ham that’s lingering in the fridge from last week. Our food shopping, including Tyler’s cheat additions (not pictured) came to just under £80.

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Here’s what I bought:

  • Mixed leaf salad
  • Baby plum tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Jersey Royal potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Mixed peppers
  • Spring onions
  • Cucumber
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Courgettes
  • Mushrooms
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
  • Pomegranate
  • Bananas
  • Medjool dates
  • Raw cacao powder
  • Pecan nuts
  • Maple syrup
  • Mixed herbs
  • Gherkins
  • Coconut milk (tinned)
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Butter beans (tinned)
  • Kidney beans (tinned)
  • Chickpeas (tinned)
  • Black beans
  • Beetroot juice
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut yogurt
  • Bean burgers

So I’m all ready to tackle a week without meat or dairy. I’m OK to forgo meat for a while, I like meat but actually don’t have that much of it, but cheese. Oh God. Cheese. And to be super helpful, my food processor has just broken so I can’t make the raw brownies from Deliciously Ella which I think would have made this week so much easier! Never mind. I will let you know how I find my week as a vegan in a later blog post, stay tuned!

 

 

Help – I’m a Food Addict

So here I am, slumped on the sofa in my leggings and dinner-stained t-shirt, eating my way through yet another bargain price Easter egg when I catch a glimpse of myself in the switched off TV. At first I convince myself that the TV has turned itself on and I’m halfway through a Wayne and Waynetta sketch, before I realise that’s not Kathy Burke. That’s me. I’m Waynetta. Sitting there cocooned in a blanket, hair shoved up on top of my head in a bid to avoid washing it, dropping chocolate crumbs everywhere, I am a vision. A feast for the eyes.

Does this image make me want to want to change? To ditch the chocolate and start drinking green tea? Hell no. It makes me want to snatch the next Easter egg from the fridge and crawl even further under the duvet. I’m in denial you see and do my best to conceal my inner fattie, a task becoming increasingly more difficult the fatter I get on the outside. I’m in a constant state of despair about my ever increasing waist line whilst fighting a losing battle with my food addictions. Unfortunately, though, I’m not addicted to celery. Or carrots. Or cabbage. I like coleslaw though and that’s kinda the same thing right? No, you’re right, it’s not. I have issues with junk food. Pizza, McDonalds (screw you Ronald), chocolate, crisps, they’re always there to guide me down the dark path of temptation, away from the light of the chia seed brigade and towards the never ending tunnel of doom. Once I’m on that path I find it very hard to turn back, as I think is the case for most of us.

I eat well some of the time, in some cases more often than not, but I quite simply can’t say no to the bad stuff. There’s balance – porridge and fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch, chicken and veg for dinner then a small bar of chocolate as an evening snack, for example. Then there’s me – porridge and fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch, a large Domino’s pizza with chicken strippers for dinner then a share size bar of chocolate to finish it off. That’s not balance, that’s being a greedy fat pig. Oink Oink.

At the beginning of the year I vowed to not go on a diet and I’m sticking by that. Diets don’t work, at least not for me. I’m an intelligent person and I know what’s good for my body and what’s not. Domino’s, I love you, always have, always will. But you are not my friend and my feelings for you are unrequited. For you do not love me. Instead you treat me badly, making my clothes tighter and my chins multiply with every slice of you I consume. You are bad. But oh so good. Who can resist a glistening pizza, cheese oozing into the sauce with slices of pepperoni winking naughtily at you? STOP IT PIZZA!

I’m not saying goodbye to pizza, for I can’t quite summon the strength for such a commitment, but I’m really not feeling the Waynetta look right now and need to try to eat better. At least until Friday. And once this last Easter egg is finished.

 

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Help

My Thoughts On Dieting

Isn’t it ironic that the first part of the word ‘diet’ is ‘die’? I mean, whoever invented the word can’t have been in a particularly positive place can they? My bet is that it was first used by a crazy, deprived woman who had eaten nothing but a lettuce leaf all day and needed a word to describe the torture she was inflicting on herself.

The sheer mention of the word diet makes me want to hurl myself off a bridge with a brick chained to my ankle. If the deprivation and hunger pangs alone weren’t enough cause to end it all, then the sudden arrival of nutritional experts that spring up this time of year will do it for me. Julia at work who is on a new juicing plan that her sister recommended, which is so much better for you than what you’re doing, insists you join her as she has already lost 2 stone and has only been on it for 5 days. Your mum worries that you’re not eating enough and warns of the dangers of being too thin during the winter as ‘the cold will will go straight to your bones’. The bloke next door corners you every time you go to your car and tries to sell you the benefits of his girlfriend’s cousin’s dog’s diet who has lost 5lb from some special biscuits the vet prescribed. It’s exhausting!

Deep down, we all know that there is no special fix and the fact is for most of us who want to lose weight, we just need to stop being greedy and lazy. It should be easy, we are surrounded by health freaks and the clean eating brigade. Instagram is filled with mythical creatures who drink green juice in their yoga pants and look blissfully happy all the damn time. We can visit YouTube and literally watch a beautiful being with perfect hair and amazing teeth eat her way through kale salads and avocado on toast. We should be inspired, motivated and eager to start our journeys to perfection through healthy eating. Instead, I’m just jealous. I will never have perfect teeth or perfect hair, regardless of how much green juice I drink. I may as well eat a Gregg’s sausage roll. But then I feel guilty and the viscous circle starts again. The mythical creatures of Instagram will judge me. Even I, a fattie, found myself frowning upon someone eating a pasty in the street recently. It’s just not cool anymore. Gone is the glamour of Carrie Bradshaw munching on a cupcake, now replaced with a Victoria’s Secret model drinking her coconut water and waving her wings to mock us all.

But is it my fault that I eat Domino’s pizza every week? No. I blame the fact that they text me more than my boyfriend does, enticing me with the latest sizzling hot deals. I don’t have someone contacting me reminding me to eat my blueberries, so who can blame me for turning to pepperoni instead. I’m only human after all. Don’t get me wrong, I like healthy food and often gulp down a green smoothie in the morning, but it usually goes hand in hand with a bacon sandwich. I miss bacon sandwiches when I’m on a diet. I’m talking proper bacon, loads of butter and crusty white bread. When you swap for turkey bacon on dry wholemeal bread, it loses its charm and I would rather just not bother. Same with cake, who wants a sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, calorie free, fun free cake? Not me. Give me a fat slab of happiness any day.

So this year, at a time when many people are starting their diet journeys, I am refusing. I don’t want to diet. There I said it. It’s not that I don’t need to lose weight, because I do, for my health if not for vanity, but I have come to the conclusion that dieting isn’t the answer. I’ve been on so many diets during my adult life and the truth is I’m still fat. The answer for me is common sense. Eat that Domino’s pizza with extra pepperoni and double cheese, but ignore the flirting texts you receive almost daily and only have it once a month rather than several times a week. Have a chocolate bar, but do some exercise to compensate. In fact, do exercise anyway. When I start moving more I automatically want to eat a bit better so as not to undo the hard work I’ve done. I will not deprive myself or feel guilty for not being one of those mythical Instagram creatures, because that’s exactly what they are: Mythical. When the camera is turned off they probably stuff their perfect faces with a greasy kebab whilst sitting around in their stained dressing gown nursing a hangover like the rest of us. So they can judge me all they like whilst I live my happy little imperfect life, enjoying all the food that life can throw at me.

Gotta go, I need to post a picture of my avocado and poached egg on toast to Instagram (look at that yolk though!) then eat a whole Toblerone behind the scenes.

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