Adventures in Veganatarianism, Part 1

Hello chaps, chapesses and miscellaneous. Due to excessive levels of, well, excess in the comedy cottage (see last post), I seem to have gained 7lbs, which I’m fairly confident is made up of:

1lb of pure, white lard from the various pastries and pies I consumed.

1.5lb of cream from the pints of Bailey’s I chugged.

2lb of cheese, various.

1/2lb of crisps, nuts, nibbles etc.

2lb of sugar, milk, cocoa butter, soya lecithin and preservatives (a.k.a chocolate).

With that in mind (and because I abhor cruelty to cheese, innit), I decided to give veganism a try for a month. Well, I say ‘I decided’ but what I really mean is ‘I weakly agreed to go along with Michele’s decision to try veganism for a month’. Also, I think I might be lactose intolerant so it’s a good way of finding out.

She’s a vegetarian anyway, so it’s no big stretch for her. I, on the other hand, am a Northofenglander, a region which thinks vegetarians should just ‘pick the bits of beef out’ if they object to a meaty chilli, and for whom a veggie burger is just a bap with some lettuce and ketchup in it.

The relatives reacted in shock when I told them, as if I’d calmly announced I’d decided to live on curried bees and splinters of wood…

“But what will you EAT?” they howled.

However, contrary to popular belief, vegan food is, in fact, normal food. Vegans don’t live off fresh air sandwiches and fried bugger all, and I’m going to try and prove to you that anyone can go vegan. Because frankly, if I can so can YOU. And you. And baba baaaaaa, ba ba ba ba ba ba baaaaaaaaa….

Ahem, sorry. Went a bit Jim’ll Fix It there. And ok, I’m probably only going to stick at it for a month but it’s still worth doing. As a vegan pal of mine said: it really makes you think more about what goes into certain foods, read labels more attentively and it raises your awareness of hidden, lurking cheeses and sneaky eggs.

So to prove to you that vegans aren’t limp wristed, slightly clammy, hemp-clad, long-haired loons on a permanent holiday from reality, and are in fact ALL AROUND YOU, behaving perfectly normally and eating crisps and drinking beer and being kind to animals and whatnot- I’m going to tell you all about what I’ve been eating and how delicious it was.

Yesterday, I woke up in a panic. Are Birds Eye potato waffles vegan? You’d be surprised how many products contain egg white. Most of them, seemingly. For example, Quorn, that stalwart of the vegetarian freezer section, contains eggs. Which is a shame as I’ve rather come to enjoy their versative, vat-grown fungus-wrapped-in-breadcrumbs product range…

Luckily, the waffles turned out to be 100% potato, and so for breakfast I feasted on Linda McCartney sausages (no eggs there either), baked beans, waffles and fried mushrooms. Hardly felt like I’d given up anything at all, frankly. I certainly didn’t miss the fried egg aspect of a cooked breakfast, although I acknowledge that some people might yearn for a runny yolk.

For dinner we had home made sweet potato gnocchi with Romesco sauce, a spicy and delicious nutty concoction from Spain. To make it, you’ll need the following:

  • 2 – 3 roasted tomatoes (both halves)
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 3 garlic cloves; chopped
  • 1/2 lime; juice & zest
  • 1/2 tsp of chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • Preparation:

    Blend everything together (adding olive oil if resulting mixture is too thick), heat and serve over pasta, gnocchi or whatever you gosh darn well want! I’ve even been using it as a dip for carrot sticks.

    Oh, for breakfast today I had a banana. I avoided dipping it in eggs and coating it with cheese and beef, so I’m still going strong. High five!

    Just one final note- I may be doing this for health and weight-loss and possible lactose-racism reasons, however there are strong ethical and moral arguments against the consumption of eggs and cheese. As a vegan character in my favourite series of children’s books said: ‘how can you call yourself an animal lover if you kill calves and drink the milk that was meant for them?’

    This is an extreme statement (which is probably why it stuck with me) but the truth is that male calves are an unwanted by-product of the milk production industry. Many of the 482,000 young males born are killed shortly after birth, they are either shot or electrically stunned. Other calves are exported on long journeys to continental veal farms.

    Although I could live without milk (I find soy milk tastes much better in tea and really brings out that nice tannin flavour), I’m a big cheese fan so whether I’ll manage to ditch the fromage entirely is still up in the air. However, I think it’s important to be aware of exactly how Stilton, Wensleydale and Brie actually come into being, as its easy to gloss over the details. It’s as if they (and other animal products) are left on supermarket shelves by some kind of food-fairy (who I envision as a plump woman dressed as a cheese, with beef wings and an egg-shaped head).

    Having left-over gnocchi for lunch today. I’m a big sandwich fan so lunches might actually prove to be the trickest thing as there’s only so many olive, houmous and grated carrot butties a lass can face. Anyone got any vegan-sandwich tips? If so, please fling them my way…

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    About Hilary Wardle
    Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at Hilary3@gmail.com.

    11 Responses to Adventures in Veganatarianism, Part 1

    1. Craig says:

      Peanut butter and jam sandwiches?

      Good luck with it, and think how good that bacon butty will taste in a few weeks…

    2. ladyribenaberet says:

      Hello! Haven’t actually had bacon for a while. I’m not a big fan. I find that Tesco meat-free bacon bits are delicous (and cheaper!)

      I often fry them up with an egg and make a towering waffle, egg and fakebacon sandwich. I find I much prefer to a greasy bacon bap with the weird stringy bits that bacon always seem to contain…

    3. Mads says:

      Man, vegans are proper wise. And good looking.

      As far as grub goes, dinnae forget avocado. Ever. Ever!

      • ladyribenaberet says:

        Hello, wise one. Do you approve this message.

        Also- try finding a ripe avocado in Edinburgh. All the ones I’ve encountered lately are harder than an Arctic explorer’s nipple. You could use the ones in Scotmid as a rock hammer.

    4. Amy Haynes says:

      Hilary!
      I did the vegan thing for about a month and a half, so I’ve got a little experience here. I ate loads of burritos (which I would recommend for a lunch option), and hummus, and fake meat, and other similar over-the-top healthy food. I remember it being a month of slight, nagging hunger. Bring nuts and Luna bars and snackies with you to work, cuz you really must eat more than you’re used to with the vegan diet. If not, you’ll be hungry all the time and tempted to eat an egg in a fit of vegan rage. Also, get a vegan cookbook (i’ve heard Veganomican is awesome) from the library and learn more about what you can add to your diet. Good luck — you’ll feel fantastic and will certainly lose some pounds before you know it. Not that you need to, you sexy minx.
      xo,
      amy

      • ladyribenaberet says:

        “tempted to eat an egg in a fit of vegan rage” <— mwa ha haa! Love it. Thanks for the tips. Have to say that I've been eating pretty well – made some tasty vegan flapjacks with banana, oats, pumpkin seeds, soya spread instead of butter, syrup and dried coconut and they are a delicious breakfast treat! I've been eating a bit too much houmous though…might have to vary that! It's not been a trial at all so far, but who knows how I'll feel when the weekend comes and I'm craving a fried egg and waffle sandwich with 'real' mayonnaise. xxx

    5. Reluctant Blogger says:

      I promised someone I would try going vegan for a month but now the month is approaching I am not sure I want to. I chose February obviously but even so – 28 days with no cheese. I’m just not sure.

      I think it is only cheese I will miss. Oh and eggs. And all those things I don’t realise have egg in them.

      I’ll be interested to know how you get on – whether you feel hungry all the time, faint, lose stacks of weight.

      • ladyribenaberet says:

        Hello there, oh reluctant one! Fear ye not, so far I’ve barely noticed my veganatarianism, and if I have it’s only to say ‘oh, aren’t a lot of things vegan, when you actually come to think of it?’ like ready salted crisps, cocoa (made with soya milk) and apple crumble (with alpro soya cream…mmm)

        However, I was surprised by the amount of fake meat products that have egg in. Luckily, the following Linda McCartney products are vegan:

        Deep Country Pie
        Cocktail Sausage Rolls
        Sausage Rolls
        Vegetable Slice
        Sausages
        Sundried Tomato Sausage

        …and who can resist a lovely curry? This one’s by Yotam Ottolenghi and I’l be making it this weekend. NOM http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/nov/21/vegetable-coconut-curry-vegetarian-recipe

        I’m not a huge chocolate fan, but I do love cheese. I’m not craving it yet, but strangely I *am* now randomly craving Wotsits for some reason. Darn it…

        • Reluctant Blogger says:

          Well, no I can never resist a lovely curry so it is probably just as well I don’t know where you live!

          It all sounds very do-able actually and I am having a resurgence of enthusiasm for giving it a go.

          I have two days to make up my mind . . .

          Thanks!

    6. Kate says:

      Good luck with the vegan experiment! Just try not to eat too many heavily processed food products made to look and taste like meat, they are usually loaded sugar, oil, artificial sweeteners and ingredients, and a plethora of words you can’t even pronounce.

      I’ve been a vegan for 4-5 months and it’s been awesome! I used to be super picky but I’m able to stick with it. Honestly, it has never been boring and bland to eat a vegan diet, you just have to look beyond the salads.

      For those who don’t know how to substitute eggs in baked goods, consider using mashed bananas or ground flax seed in a bit of water. I use both methods and they make delicious, moist baked goods!

      For those who really miss cheese, try nutritional yeast – It’s deactivated yeast, usually fortified with B12, that looks like pale yellow flakes and has a cheezy flavor. It’s used as a condiment for poopcorn, sauces, and pretty much anything you can think of. As for milk, there’s more than just soy. Rice (my favorite is Yu Basmatic Brown Rice Milk), almond, oats, hemp, even quinoa milk!

      If you’d like ideas for vegan recipes and tips, check out my blog UnReFiNeD http://nocrapdiet.wordpress.com

      Hope this helps!

    7. ladyribenaberet says:

      Hi Kate- thanks for the tips- and the link. Much more useful than my il-informed witterings on the subject. I’ll definitely give some of your recipes a try!

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