My month as a vegan: how I survived and is it really worth it?
As a meat eater and keen carnivore I can’t deny that marrying a vegetarian has somewhat put a spanner in the works when it comes to mealtimes.
Sunday roasts aren’t quite the same; there’s no Chateaubriand for two on date nights, whilst my famous seafood linguine and homemade chicken Kievs have had to take the back seat at dinnertime.
My general attitude to cooking a quick midweek meal has changed dramatically and for the better. I can honestly say I feel far healthier (and thinner!) for a more plant-based diet. I’ve been challenged creatively with my dishes and have had to rethink and rework my usual repertoire to accommodate the lack of meat to create flavoursome and wholesome vegetarian dishes.
After feeling such a positive change in wellbeing so quickly, I decided to take things one step further and trial a month of veganism. The prospect of ditching the dairy was, although challenging, not completely daunting and I was keen to push myself in the kitchen creating exciting dishes that were 100 per cent vegan. Anyone that knows me will attest to the fact that two of my great passions are cheese and butter - and in vast quantities. Cheese is such an easy way to add rich flavour to so many vegetarian dishes.
I started out strong, determined and organised. I watched the documentaries that got me on board morally (Cowspiracy and What the Health) and cooked up some seriously good food; homemade pasta using silken tofu, rich garlic and turmeric daAls with homemade flatbreads, Mexican DIY style wraps, curries, Asian style broths, cashew cream ice creams, risottos, filo pastry pies. There were endless salads, roasted, charred and confit vegetables, vegan pestos...Things were going well. Even dining out was relatively painless with most restaurants being more than accommodating, especially if we gave them a heads up when booking.
So did I last the whole month? The truth is no. Things were very much on track until we visited the Grandparents. I just couldn't tell my Nan on her 89th birthday that I wasn't going to eat her cottage pie. It’s the same cottage pie she would make for my brother and I the moment we were weaned onto solids and I’ve had hundreds since. As you can probably imagine, this isn't just an average cottage pie, it comes served with the hugest jug of mince meat-heavy, thick, rich gravy, garden grown green beans and carrots from the chap round the corner. I caved, kept quiet and enjoyed every mouthful. A small blip in an otherwise successful month.
My month long trial was a great experience. There's no doubt the vegan diet is trending; there's not a day where I don't see a new vegan product, restaurant or cookbook. I agree with the benefits that are preached. I felt healthier and less sluggish, my conscience was clearer and I enjoyed researching new and exciting dishes.
For now, I’m aiming to keep meals at home 100 per cent vegan and have the odd cheese binge or fish treat when I eat out. For me, a ‘Flexi-vegan’ or ‘Flegan’ diet feels like a challenge anyone can achieve with some simple planning and research. Why not give it a go?