January has arrived and with it brings a range of self-sacrifices we make to purge ourselves of December’s sins. After the unofficial month of excess has finished with us, most people want to start January with some kind of commitment to healthier living; new year, fresh start.
Veganuary is encouraging us to turn vegan for the month of January and I thought I would give it a go to see how cutting out animal products from my diet would make me think and feel. Although I enjoy a bacon sandwich and a rare-cooked steak as much as the next girl, many of my meals are naturally vegetarian, simply because I enjoy those kind of foods. Replacing meat with beans, pulses, veg and tofu would not be difficult but dairy products I might struggle with.
It would no doubt be a challenge, but I decided to approach Veganuary by focusing on what I can eat, rather than what I can’t eat. It becomes much more fun this way and I soon learnt that the variety on offer is huge. The Viva cookbook full of vegan recipes gave me inspiration and ideas so I got busy in the kitchen trying out new dishes. I cooked an aubergine and tofu curry, roasted cauliflower with chickpeas and bulger wheat and Mediterranean spicy filo rolls. All were delicious and filling.
I was also pleased to find out that Nakd wholefoods is the official sponsor of Veganuary – handy, as they are already my favourite snack. The Bakewell Nakd bar easily replaced my occasional Pret bakewell tart indulgence, but now the snack is guilt-free. Made from entirely natural products and completely vegan, the bars were my go-to snack if I got hungry in-between meals.
A vegan diet feels naturally healthier. In fact, it’s very difficult to be un-healthy whilst eating like a vegan. A lot of the creamy, stodgy, sugary foods we eat are out of bounds making it easier to make better meal choices. Within only a few days I already felt a lot less lethargic and I had more energy – a stark contrast to the meat and booze heavy month of December.
Some food swaps were initially hard for me but like any new habit, the replacement eventually feels normal and you don’t even need to think about it. My skinny flat white became a black Americano, my morning scrambled eggs became avocado rice cake stacks and my chicken stir-fry became a tofu stir-fry. No problem. Finding lunch options on the go could also be a little challenging but now I’ve got used to what to look for, it has became a lot easier. Most days I make my own lunch, which ensures I know exactly what is in my food. I now eat over and above my five-a-day without even thinking about it.
Aside from the health benefits, there is also the feel-good factor of knowing that you could be making a difference to the environment and the lives of many animals. Most of us know that the way our meat and dairy products are produced isn’t the most humane and even just reducing the amount of animal products we eat can make a huge difference to the number of animals suffering under this treatment.
Although I can’t admit to turning Vegan completely, I shall certainly be cutting down on meat and dairy products, instead enjoying the rich foods that the planet earth gives us naturally and saving that bacon sandwich for an occasional indulgence! The experience has so far helped me to become more knowledgeable on the nutritious value of foods and it has helped me become a lot more creative in the kitchen too. It’s a win win!
It’s not too late to give Veganuary a go. Visit the website for more information: http://www.veganuary.com