Is it me or has there been at least 87 days in January? It’s felt like an absolute age and I’m so glad it’s February tomorrow. I’m ready for a new month, I love that the mornings and evenings are getting lighter and it’s one step closer to summer. But it’s been a great start to the year and the two things I’ve enjoyed so far has been getting back into pole dancing classes at Momentum’s, and trying out new plant based foods.
At first, I found being vegan quite tough. Giving up meat wasn’t too hard as I was a vegetarian for nearly 10 years during my teens/early twenties, however dairy, fish and eggs has been quite difficult. I have been drinking Oatly (I recommend the Barista one!) for about four months now and I enjoy dairy free spread but cheese makes me weak at the knees so this was a tough one to give up, and I didn’t realise how much stuff had milk and egg in as an ingredient!
I bought the Keep It Vegan recipe book by Aine Carlin back in 2017 and shoved it in a cupboard, so I got it out and thoroughly utilised it through January. It’s been the perfect beginners handbook. My favourite recipes were the mushroom burger with wedges and cocoa cookies – a great sweet treat and perfect with a morning cuppa.
Most of the foods I ate were alternatives to things I already enjoyed. I eat veggy burgers and sausages anyway and just substituted other meat for veggies or tofu. I upped my fruit intake by about 300% and really cut down on snacks. And there lay my main problem – I found it difficult to stay full.
You really have to be prepared when being on a plant based diet and if I was running late in the morning or had a lot on in the evening this was quite difficult and I often found myself feeling hungry. For me this meant less energy, feeling tired and not wanting to do anything other than sit and read or watch TV. I cancelled a couple of aerial hoop classes because I just didn’t feel like I had enough energy or I struggled to get up in the mornings. So I upped my game, got some really handy tips from some lovely people on Instagram and made a few changes.
I prepared the night before, made my overnight oats with dairy free yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, stocked up on snacks like nuts, rice cakes and houmous, falafel and the yummy cookies. I swapped normal potatoes for sweet potatoes and white rice for brown; trust me, it made a huge difference. The last two weeks were much a more enjoyable experience.
Now that #veganuary is over, will I stick with it? I’d love to wholeheartedly be able to say yes, but it has to be “sort of”. At home I cook all my own meals and when I go to a restaurant I can choose what I want to eat, but with family meals, which we have one of every week, I do not want to put people under stress trying to cook me something that is vegan. I know how frustrating it can be to cook for a large family so I certainly wouldn’t want people to have to prepare something separate that takes a lot of time and effort (again).
I will certainly be more mindful going forward, I’ve enjoyed so many new combinations and flavours, and I have fruit and veg every day which is a massive improvement. When I was a vegetarian it was a long time ago, brands like Quorn and Linda McCartney existed but there wasn’t as much on offer as there is now, especially in restaurants, and I was an awful vegetarian too. What sort of vegetarian doesn’t like vegetables? *Puts hand up*. However as I’ve gotten older, my taste buds have changed and I’ll pretty much eat anything and everything. I think if we were all able to reduce our intake of animal products, humans animals and the environment would be happier and a lot healthier.
Have you started any new diets this year? Who’s looking forward to Sugar Free February? Certainly not me!