I decided to be a Vegan for lent, despite a complete lack of belief in God in general and Christianity in particular. Yes, I borrowed the bits I needed and left the whole ‘Jesus’ thing but who doesn’t? Find me one person who turns down the presents and turkey and cake at Christmas?
If we can borrow Christmas Dinner from the Christians I figure I might as well borrow a bit that’s intended to make us stop and think about something that we normally take for granted.
Besides, Steve bet me £10 that I couldn’t do it.
Even though I spend a good part of every day missing cheese, and the easiness of just going to KFC on the way to work or Burger King at two in the morning, it’s not as dramatic a change as I thought it would be. I assumed I’d struggle to find things to eat, and get to explore all kinds of things I’d never normally get to try.
I thought I’d have something more worth blogging about…
As it turns out, I’m eating pretty much the same stuff as I normally would, just more often and with fewer variations. It’s costing me less overall as I don’t have to spend money on meat and fish. And takeaway.
The biggest drama was right at the start, as I didn’t realise that Quorn has egg in it, but then I also didn’t realise how good green lentils in a can are (really, make it like bolognese and try for yourself!).
I don’t miss meat at all, and I love houmous enough that I barely miss cheese in my sandwiches. It gets annoying when I want to make a recipe: lasagne, pizza, pie from the Pieminister book I bought Steve for his Birthday.
Vegan Fajitas are as good as non-vegan, and I put more effort into my Guacamole than I would have done. I invented something so good to spread on toast that it’s better than cheese. (Half a cup of semi-dried tomatoes, a tablespoon of Jalapenos, and a tablespoon of olives blended into a paste. Try it Try it Try it) I remembered Pesto exists, and discovered Hazelnut milk…I invented a rather wonderful sweet and sour vegetable recipe that I would never have tried before. So many times I’ve used meat or cheese rather than having to think about what else would make a heap of vegetables into a delicious meal (jalapenos, sweet chilli sauce and garlic work just as well).
The absolute worst part is how little I can eat from restaurants. Bizzarely, I find that pizza-type places are better than classier real food options. If I want to go to Pizza Hut, I can just get them to leave the cheese off, and pick delicious toppings like Jalapeno and Pineapple. This worked particularly well today even though Steve had a blue cheese and mushroom Pizza just LOOKING at me.
If I want to go to Pieminister however, I can get them to leave the cheese and dressing off my salad, which I can eat plain from a plate with no pie. Still, I completely believe that I could happily be Vegetarian if I didn’t ever want to go out for dinner.
What I notice most is how much I’d eat before, simply because it was there: Plates of cakes in work, McDonalds (which I’ve never particularly been fond of) just because Steve wants it. Pizza just because it’s more fun to sit on my bum than go to the kitchen. I haven’t deliberately given in yet, but one time I accidentally gulped down a handful of Milkyway Chocolate Stars because someone offered them to me and I was too busy fighting with someone about a bingo welcome bonus (they expire after 30 DAYS, PEOPLE!) to think about it. I understand for the first time the appeal of ‘diets’, however ridiculous (no carbs! only orange foods! only things with the words ‘Jenny Craig’ written on them! etc etc) because if you’re sticking to a black and white list of Yes and No foods then you know the rules, even if they don’t make sense, and though you have reasons and excuses for eating something not on the list, the simple fact that it’s not on the list stops you. So much of being a Vegan doesn’t make the absolute most sense, health-wise (such as the time I ate chips wrapped in bread when what I actually wanted was a flame-grilled chicken and mushroom kebab with salad) or moral-wise (it can do, if you try hard enough, but even being a vegan is far from perfect) but overall I feel like it’s an improvement on both parts.
Then there’s days like today, when I get in from work, stand in front of the fridge while Steve makes himself a bagel and I eat an entire packet of marinated Tofu just because it’s there.
To demonstrate exactly what I’m doing, here’s a sample menu from a good day:
Two Kiwi Fruit and a soya yoghurt for breakfast
Houmous Olives and Tomatoes on toast for lunch (in which I notice I don’t like white bread AT ALL)
Falafels, guacamole and peas with butternut squash for dinner
Banana from the free work fruit bowl
An entire bar of dark chocolate
Multivitamins + iron because I remembered.
And from a bad day:
75 grams of dark chocolate, 2 Soya Creme Caramels for lunch
Half a litre of chocolate Soya milk
Toast, with marmalade
Some olives eaten from a jar
Half a bottle of Margarita mix from a lovely trustworthy man called “Cactus Jack” who sells his product for £4 a litre in Lidl
Chips, wrapped in Naan bread, spread with Chilli Sauce
I’m still less than a third of the way into it, so I’ll keep y’all updated.
Eventually I’ll get round to writing down some of my thoughts about the moral side of eating, and being a vegan.