Trying to Be Vegan in January
January is the first month of the year but for loads of people also the beginning of the “new year, new me” approach. This is probably why the group behind promoting being vegan chose this specific month to encourage others to go on an entirely plant-based diet for (at least) one month.
Last year one of my daughters decided to do Veganuary. She did have some tough moments on the way (e.g. she craved milk chocolate). But in the end, she completed it so successfully that she went vegan again for a month in November to raise money for cancer research.
At the end of 2019, already both of my daughters planned to participate in Veganuary. So I decided on trying to be vegan and joined the club!
Although I do like some dishes containing meat, I have never been a big carnivore. Additionally, since my girls have been pescatarians for quite a while, I have prepared lots of meat-free meals. So all in all, I wasn’t too concerned about not eating meat. But having neither eggs, not dairy products for a month seemed to be a challenge for me. That’s why I decided to make notes and share them with you to let you know how (and if!) I managed to survive my Veganuary.
Today is not the 1st but the 7th of January, but this is finally my first day of trying to be vegan. I am starting it a week late merely because we have had so much non-vegan food left after all the festivities. And however much I don’t like not keeping to my promises (e.g. to start the Veganuary on the 1st of January), what I hate even more is wasting food.
I was in such a rush in the morning that I started my day with shop-bought granola with almond milk. It is one of my favourite granolas and luckily it doesn’t contain any animal products (I checked it at first!). I also like almond milk (or drink to be correct) so all in all – I enjoyed my breakfast a lot.
For lunch, we had a beetroot salad with rocket, grapes and walnuts. I usually serve it with goats cheese, but obviously, I had to skip it. (BTW I have just realised I don’t have a recipe for this salad on my blog. I cannot believe it! – I will include it soon as it had saved me in numerous situations when I quickly had to make something delicious and impressive).
Having enjoyed some nuts and coconut yoghurt with apples and cinnamon for a snack, I finished my day with an almond milk smoothie with bananas and raspberries.
Well, it doesn’t look like I had a lot of food, but I feel full and happy: I have completed the first day of being a conscious vegan.
Today has gone very smoothly again. I have enjoyed my vegan breakfast (the same as yesterday, I know it’s a bit boring…) and cooked Dhal with Spinach and Green Peas for lunch. While I was preparing it, I realised I almost ran out of red lentils so added green ones instead. The dhal did not look as great as always, but it was delicious. I served it with brown rice which – I must admit – is not my favourite but with the dhal tasted really good!
The lunch was very filling so for dinner I had a simple fruit salad and (probably too many) nuts to make sure I got the micronutrients and proteins.
Enough of being boring and having the same breakfast every day. Today I cooked a delicious chocolate porridge on oat milk with raspberries. Not only it was heavenly, but it also gave me lots of energy.
And for lunch I had… Chilli Con Carne! But joking aside, the meat is only in the name of the dish as it is 100% vegan. I came up with this recipe when my daughters became pescatarians ages ago, but they still wanted to enjoy this Mexican classic. So I cook it the usual way Chilli Con Carne is made, however instead of meat, I use mushrooms. Believe it or not, but it tastes authentic (if you don’t, you can cook it and check it yourself!).
Vegetarian Chilli Con Carne
It has been a busy day in the kitchen for me. We are having guests over tomorrow, and I wanted to prepare some dishes in advance.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I should make vegan food for our guests as I know they are keen meat-eaters. But in the end, I decided to cook something that tastes very meaty, although it is 100% plant-based: my Vegan Bolognese. (So glad I have quite a few plant-based dishes in my repertoire that taste meaty but at the same time can be included in my Veganuary recipes). I am only going to tell them there is no meat in it after they finish. I wonder if they notice…
The dessert I have prepared is not vegan; that is why I am not going to have it tomorrow. At least this is how I feel about it today. The truth is that it is a delicious chocolate truffle on a praline base. I could hardly resist trying it today (I must admit I love scraping bowls after such treats…) but I stayed strong!
However, to make sure there will be something sweet for me tomorrow, I have also baked Banana Blondie. It is so tasty that I am sure everyone, not just me, will have it tomorrow.
Vegan Bolognese Sauce (Mushroom Bolognese)
Apart from the dishes I made yesterday for today, I have also prepared Ottolenghi’s vegan salad with roasted sweet potatoes as well as absolutely not vegan Salad with Pear and Gorgonzola. Our guests loved them both; I obviously had only the vegan option.
For the main meal, I served the Bolognese with eggy Fettucine and Parmesan to our friends while I had it with egg-free spaghetti and yeast flakes. I had planned to reveal they were having vegan Bolognese sauce only after they finished it. That is why I was a bit afraid our guests were going to see my plate of food looked different than theirs, and ask questions. Luckily, they enjoyed their pasta so much that they didn’t notice anything. That was probably the best review of the meal!
Unfortunately, when it came to the dessert, there could be only one winner (and it was not the Vegan Blondie…). I didn’t taste it, but I could see the chocolate truffle cake was a hit. And since I served it before offering the Blondie, I guess afterwards nothing else could compare with it…
I knew for a long time that today I would not be able to be 100% vegan. I mean, I could be, but then I probably would make a few people upset. We celebrated my niece’s birthday, and I simply didn’t have the nerve to say to her “I am not going to have your birthday cake”. So I had it.
Did I feel guilty? No, I didn’t. When I decided to participate in Veganuary, I knew there would be times when I will be someone’s guest. And I couldn’t imagine refusing eating food that somebody took time and effort to prepare. Obviously, if there were a choice of vegan and non-vegan food, I would choose the plant-based options. But if there weren’t, I would not make a fuss about it.
Time flies, I have already been vegan for a week (with a 2-hour break yesterday)! And I can say so far, so good. I feel great and don’t have intense cravings towards non-vegan food yet. Even replacing milk chocolate with the dark one has not been painful because of two reasons. Firstly, I eat chocolate only once per week. And secondly, I bought excellent dark chocolate with orange peel and almonds, yum!
Now, I am looking forward to the rest of my challenge, cooking some more Veganuary recipes and seeing how I am doing with trying to be vegan. And if you would like to know it as well, please stay tuned!
Some other of my Veganuary Recipes:
Dhal with Spinach and Green Peas
Banana Blondie with Chocolate [vegan/GF]
Vegan Meringue Recipe [Aquafaba Meringue]