I am not sure where to start but maybe with the fact that I have been trying a vegan diet from about November last year (more about it here) so waking up on the 1st of January which was my first official day of being 100% vegan wasn’t a major shock. By January I wasn’t eating any meat (excluding occasional fish) or drinking cow milk. But I was still eating cheese / using normal cream / not reading labels and just experimenting with things that works for us and what doesn’t. Still, I signed up to Veganuary as I wanted to give this a proper go. Here are me thoughts on the experience and the big question on whether I say 100% vegan?
Being vegan at home
I have been eating meat almost all my life (went vegetarian for 6 months back in high school) so cooking a meal was always based on the meat I cooked. That was the main part of our dish, EVERY dish probably 2x a day (lunch and dinner) . Meat was on my pizza, in my curry when ordered take away, included in my main dish in a restaurant. Veggies were only there as garnish. So completely cut that out, the questions is absolutely valid, is there enough there left to fill you? And the answer is yes, there is plenty still. Replacing meat with a vegetable (or two) was still turning out not only filling but delicious. Luckily veganism hasn’t just been invented and there are a great deal of easy to follow recipes around from friendly bloggers to major chefs like Jamie Oliver. They don’t need years of experimenting to cook maybe only the new ingredients, like tofu. I had a bit of mishap with it, but I also had many mistakes with chicken / pork and steak the very first time I wanted to cook them. Practise makes best just like with everything else. Cooking without meat (and dairy) and finding new ways is a journey. I had some fails but mainly success. It is fun. It is exciting and I love/d it.
Vegan takeaway options
We do eat takeaway at least 1x (maybe 2x) a week, sometimes the day just turns into one of those. If I could I probably cook every night but sometimes it is nice to have a break. So during January I tried pizza from Papa John’s and I ordered their veggie pizza with no cheese which was lovely and totally vegan. From Indian, I had starters and sides only as I love the varierty of flavours and when it comes to Indian I don’t want to get filled up with just a main. (starters like onion, cauliflower and okra bhajis, vegetable samosas and vegetable pakoras are all vegan / saag aloo, aloo gobi, tarka daal, daal, chana saag and Bombay potato are all filling and flavourful dishes). I had falafel and grilled veggies from a Turkish grill and although didn’t have a chance to try Chinese I heard most of them have tofu on their menu which worth trying.
Vegan in a restaurant or pub
Good news on this front, we have been to quiet a few – to try as much as out possible – going to different ones throughout January and there were always vegan options with only a few exception but there the staff was very helpful pointing out what alteration they can offer to make their vegetarian option vegan. (these were Nandos and Frankie and Bennys). The dishes were always lovely. Filling? Well, I have to say I think restaurants have a preconception that vegan / vegetarians don’t eat much. But I have to say, they are wrong. Especially if one of them is breastfeeding. So there were a few times I was looking at the desert options (which never really happened before) and had to order in something unless there were no option and I got myself a snack bar to finish off the meal. So I don’t think it is a nutrition issue with eating out vegan food, it is the portions.
I have written here about my transition from cow milk to plant based milk – scroll to #7. It still works for me especially that since then I discovered Oatly Barista and that is the best, like better than cow milk best!! So silky, smooth. Lovely. As for the cheese alternatives, the fact is that I have never been a cheese fanatic. Wasn’t really into cheese boards after dinners / smelly cheeses from a small farm in France costing a fortune. I had cheddar in a sandwich and cheese on my pizza or my lasagna but that is about it. So giving that up wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. There are some lovely cheese alternatives (they DO NOT taste like animal cheese so if you try them keep that in mind) which worked well melted onto a toast. But I feel I just don’t miss cheese altogether as much as I thought I will. ( have peanut butter instead now!) For butter / cream / or ice cream there are lovely alternatives available and they are (unlike cheese) taste just as good if not better.
For baking – which I really got into recently there are lots of way to replace eggs. More about it here . I have used applesauce and chia seeds in water (10 minutes soaking before use) and they turned out to be great. Especially the later one, easy to prepare and very good for you. Other then that I yet to see if I miss any types of eggs from my diet. Haven’t fancied it yet but we will see as the weeks past.
Vegan body (mine)
It is a hard one to write as I have also just started yoga in Jaunary so the changes in my body could be both because of my diet and the little yoga I managed to do as well. Anyhow, I still going to dot down something here. So I haven’t stood on a scale since I gave birth to Brendan and he is now 2.5 years old. I was weighing myself for almost 2 decades and by now I just had enough. Are my old / favourite clothes fitting me yet? No. I need to lose more weight. Done. What I am very pleased with is that my metabolism is thriving. The myth that you have more energy turning vegan completely worked for me even with a baby waking up (and biting my nipples off) every 1-2 hours. I fell less bloated and less full generally which is a good thing even thought I don’t think I eat less. I also have to mention here that I love how my skin started to feel. I never had a very problematic skin but still it feels smoother.
Vegan mind (still me)
Watching all the “recommended” documentaries like Cowspiracy / What the Health (I know it has been criticised online and I do agree with some of the comments re sugar being in our diet) Forks over Knifes and yet to watch Earthling. I can’t see myself eating meat again. I kind of knew bits and bobs about farming animals and the cruelty that goes with it. Still, life just went on. I really can’t put my fingers on why now but the time has come. I don’t want to be part of it anymore. Something just clicked I guess. It is a personal journey. I won’t be preaching about it to anyone in person, here or on social media. I won’t judge or make remarks, comments on what others should or shouldn’t eat / do. How could I anyway, 3 months ago I was eating everything myself. Now, I just feel I know enough to make this decision and not being a part of it.
The kids (our boys)
I started to write this paragraph but got really long so I decided to write a separate blog post about it soon and just share my thoughts on what we decided with the Man.
Ordering takeaways / in a restaurant where vegan dishes are available or a veggie option is adoptable I will be 100% vegan. Going to see my family in Hungary / staying at our friends house / finishing off Brendan’s half eaten pain au chocolat or pizza crust / trying out a cheese bread the Man orders as a started in the restaurant and claims it is the best thing even (he always does that) a vegetarian. At home, I will be cooking mainly vegan dishes as I have been but I know there will be exceptions. I am living with a Man who – although ever so supportive and I love him even more for that – loves a home made mac and cheese or just cheese generally in food. He is not turning vegetarian himself but happy to eat meat when he is out or I will cook him meat separately, that is not a problem. So I am not going to label myself a vegan but I will be doing my best to be one.
When it is all added up, Veganuary has left me feeling lighter, happier and with a shinier soul as well.
P.S.I wanted to keep this post more of an overview of the past month. I feel the transition wasn’t as difficult as I first thought it will be. Could be because of my non vegan diet I am not sure. Things just seems to fall into the right place without too much effort or sacrifice. I will share recipes and cooks / bloggers who are inspiring me. If you want to check out some of my absolute favourite recipes, head to my Instagram page here and search for the hashtag #doradoesvegan
Thank you for reading me. Do let me know if you have any questions or comment. I always love reading your thoughts.