Veganuary: Week 1 – I’m surviving!

My whole life I’ve been told I’m a fussy eater. Perhaps I was when I was younger, but the fact that I still don’t like broccoli apparently means I’m unable to shake that label!

But the truth is, I’m not fussy. I love a range of foods. I would say I eat most things and I especially love spicy food. I’d eat curry for every meal if it wasn’t considered a bit weird!

But even I’ll admit, the thought of going vegan has always seemed crazy to me. What would I eat?! I love bacon, cheese and chocolate far too much.

But for some reason, back in December I decided I would challenge myself and take part in Veganuary. More than anything because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it; that I do still have some self-control (though I often have to dig deep to find it!).

There are a number of reasons why I’ve chosen to give the vegan lifestyle a go, most of all because it’s hard to take a moral high ground on animal suffering when you’re a meat eater.

So I thought I’d write a post on life as a vegan and my experiences so far. Turns out, I’m not the crazy, chocolate-deprived monster I thought I’d be by this stage.

Understanding what you can eat

You’d be surprised what random things you actually can’t eat as a vegan. For example, the other day I wanted to buy some vegetable stock, but after reading the packet I realised that some of the budget brands contain milk – who knew!

So the first week has been really interesting because I’m having to get to grips with what I can and can’t have and learning which products are best to avoid.

Getting inventive with food

When you can’t have any animal products, you have to find a reasonable replacement. So I’ve had to become really very inventive with my food choices. And it’s actually really fun. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at so many recipes online!

I’ve also been trying a lot of new ranges of food, in particular the Linda McCartney vegetarian/vegan range. So far I’ve found that most of it tastes just as good as the real thing!

That said, I’m yet to try vegan cheese and am a little nervous about this as I haven’t heard good things. But this week that is definitely on my list of new vegan foods to try, so I’ll let you know how it goes!

Feeling the benefits

I’ll admit that I do already feel quite a lot better. Whether that’s just because pre-Veganuary I was on the Christmas binge. But either way, all the fruit and veg I’m consuming is certainly taking effect.

I was concerned I’d feel ill as some people have reported feeling unwell when they first went vegan. I’ll admit I’ve not got as much energy as I once had and I am feeling more tired, but I’m certain that this feeling will go as I adjust to a meat and dairy free lifestyle.

Struggling with the balance

There is one downside to my change in diet. I had previously convinced myself that going vegan would lead to steady and healthy weight loss. But the reality so far is that actually I’m just carb loading and eating far too many Oreos!

Replacing meat with starchy veg is OK, but as I feel hungry more often I’ve found myself snacking on crisps, biscuits and chocolate (all vegan varieties of course). So as I move forward this is something I need to get to grips with and make sure I’m getting the balance right.

Eating out

Another concern about going Vegan was that I’d never be able to find something decent if we chose to eat out. But since going vegan I’ve been out for lunch and dinner and was so surprised to find that actually, it’s been totally fine!

It does of course narrow down your choices a huge amount – but when you’re as indecisive as me, that’s not always a bad thing!

I even went to a bar and grill with my family, pretty certain I’d just end up eating chips. But no! I had an amazing vegan Jambalaya.

My experience so far?

I’m really enjoying it! I’ve had a few wobbly moments where I would have loved a bacon sandwich or to have some cheese on my dinner. But I’m pulling through and slowly adjusting!