30 Days of being vegan

Today is the last day of my VIVA! 30 day vegan challenge. For the last 30 days I’ve eaten no animal products: meat, fish, milk, eggs or dairy. Why on earth would I do that? Well, for two reasons. First, I want to see if I can feel healthier eating a vegan diet – since I don’t need to lose any weight, this means feeling more energetic and focused during the day, and sleeping better at night. And secondly, I want to try new foods – something other than fish and chips, spaghetti bolognese and curry.

I decided to give this ago after I learnt that a few celebrities who cross my radar are vegan or vegetarian. John Bishop’s recent BBC documentary where he visits Australia shows him going to a crocodile ‘conservation centre’ where they kill the animals they are conserving to make purses and shoes and call it ‘conservation through commerce’. This made me think – do I want to be supporting that kind of business? He then later visits a ranch where the owner thinks less of him because he doesn’t eat beef. Why is it considered ‘not manly’ to be vegetarian?

Russell Brand talked about the horrible state of the food industry, summed up by the horse meat scandal last year. Do I know what is in my food, and is it an industry I can trust?

Jason Mraz has been another huge motivator for me. He has his own avocado ranch for heavens sake! He only eats raw plant-based foods and he seems to be doing all right.

The simple fact is that I was curious about a vegan diet and wanted a free ticket to vegfest so I didn’t have to pay £6 to go with my girlfriend. So I did it. And in true Instagram-style, here’s a selection of things I ate:

salad sandwich and home-made garlic bread
baked potato with baked beans and chips
avocado cake courtesy of @pippatollow!
amazing salad with croutons
@emilyreacts made cupcakes. Om nom nom!
One thing I didn’t know is that a lot of breweries use isinglass, which is basically fish bladders, to gather up the yeast and make it sink to the bottom of the cask quicker. This means a lot of beers are not vegan by default. Scrumpy, however, is! Good times!
grilled peppers, tomato and cucumber roll
sweet potato filled with 5 bean chilli and home-made guacamole
tomato pasta and salad made by @zanmatoer
2014-08-13 14.47.23
falafel wrap (my new favourite food!) with couscous loving made by @emilyreacts – candidate for best meal of the 30 days
yasai itame in Wagamamas with @sophiedean90
another amazing salad
potato curry and some fancy bread that I can’t remember the name of
yup… it’s vegan.
first time trying polenta, like potato but softer, with vegan burgers and fake cheese
2014-08-25 19.40.39
vegan scones! @emilyreacts is a culinary wizard!
2014-08-26 18.08.30
chickpeas, mayo and pasta. @emilyreacts calls it ‘tuna pasta’, and it’s just as good if not better
fake bacon sandwiches. Not as good as the real thing, but certainly tasty. I have to say I’m not a massive fan of this fake meat stuff, I think I’d rather just stick to using plant stuff instead. Especially if you want to use the mantra about knowing what’s in your food… I mean, what is in it?!
cous cous and sweet potato
tofu curry from Young’s Kitchen on campus

So what have I learnt? Well, I’ve learnt that most of the time other people seem to cook for me!

But seriously, I don’t see the point in cooking a meal for one, so I love to cook with other people, and when that happens I usually end up doing the washing up and letting them get on with the cooking. But, over the last month I have made some very successful potato curries and lunch wraps/sandwiches (I hope Emily would agree). I’ve also learnt how to make guacamole recently, a skill that I use as much as possible because avocados are amazing!

So now it’s the end of the challenge I need to decide if I’m going to return to my meaty past or not. And the conclusion I’ve come to is that I will continue not to buy meat or dairy products for my home cooking, but still occasionally eat meat at restaurants if I’m out with friends. I’ve never been a big fan of milk, and soy milk in tea, on cereal and in mash is just as good as milk, cheaper and has a longer life.

Very few restaurants cater for vegans or vegetarians very well, despite the fact that there are thousands of things they could make with just minor changes to the ingredients they use in other dishes – use egg free mayo, soya butter, soy milk. Emily and I visited a vegan afternoon tea place in London and it was honestly better than a traditional afternoon tea. Simple changes to recipes make them vegan, it’s not hard.

In terms of beer and other alcohol, that is something I’ve found too difficult to follow. It’s too hard to know for sure if a drink is vegan or not that I won’t be sticking to that side of vegan-ism just yet. Even with the Barnivore app, local ales and ciders aren’t listed, and it’s an industry I want to support and continue to explore.

As for chocolate – bourbons are vegan, and so is dark chocolate; and now I have my free Vegfest ticket, I’m sure they’ll be some sweet stalls there just waiting for my taste-buds approval…

until next week,

Charles x

One thought on “30 Days of being vegan”

Comments are closed.