Saturday, 2 January 2016

Veganuary: Starting out

Written by Dee
The first day of 2016 marked the first day of our participation in the Veganuary campaign.

It was set up in 2014 with the aim of encouraging people to ‘go vegan’ for one month to encourage them to become more informed about this often misunderstood lifestyle and perhaps even consider making changes to their own lives which they may not have thought practical, or even possible, before.

We first heard about it during December via Twitter, where a few of our fellow food bloggers had announced that they were giving it a go.  We were looking for a healthy regime to start in January as we had been overdoing it with both food and drink for most of December, and a vegan diet seemed a healthy one, so we made the pledge.  I mentioned that we’d overdone it with food and drink, so after further discussion we decided to take our pledge a step further by making January alcohol free as well.  We knew it would be quite a challenge, and certainly a big change from the previous month, but we’ve observed alcohol-free and vegetarian months separately before, so we don’t consider ourselves completely unprepared.

We are aiming to report on progress each week, with discussions of our food and drink arrangements, what we liked, what we didn’t like and problems and obstacles we faced.  We hope also to share recipes which work particularly well for us, but we’ll take it one step at a time. 

It will be the most significant change that we have so far made to our eating and drinking habits, so it follows that there would be a number of issues to consider.  I have listed them below, accompanied by a few thoughts.  It’s impossible to reconcile all of them after just one day, but maybe in time we will be able to answer some of them more comprehensively.  We have already found responses to some of the most commonly raised questions about veganism on the Veganuary web site but we are prepared for a learning curve.

What advantages would Veganuary bring?

First, it would be a much healthier diet than we’ve had for a while.  The seven day diet plan that we undertook in June (click here for details), with its emphasis on clean eating and a reduction in our salt intake ended positively, so if we observe this one for a month we hope to end January feeling better in ourselves than when we started.  If we make it to the end the sense of achievement will be another positive.

Our reason for making the Veganuary pledge is dietary and as keen home cooks we are looking forward to discovering a new approach to food and drink.  As well as a whole host of new recipes to try out, there are many new ingredients too:  almond milk, rice syrup, nutritional yeast and egg-replacer to name but a few.

Now for the challenges

Would we start craving meat and dairy products, and no doubt alcohol, as the month proceeds?  It’s not possible to answer this now, but this will certainly be one of the questions that we will address in our weekly updates.  As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been alcohol free and vegetarian for a month before, so are not strangers to dietary changes.  The same answer applies to our next concern, about feeling hungry all the time.

I’ve grouped the next few concerns together as they are all connected: Whenever I thought about a vegan diet in the past I had notions of expensive, esoteric ingredients requiring complex preparations.  We now have our first Vegan recipe book; Lee Watson’s ‘Peace and Parsnips’, and have begun collecting recipes and looking into how to vegan-ise non-vegan recipes, so this will be another case of learning as we go.

The most significant challenge that we are going to face though is the constant checking of what food and drink is vegan and what isn’t.  There is plenty of information on line about this, but it’s the feeling of helplessness that is going to test us.  There is also a sense of fear of having used something that we later learn is not vegan.  How do we proceed if this happens?  This is something that I am going to be looking into.  Someone somewhere must have written about it.

Lastly, Monday 25th January is Burns Night.  Is it possible to host a Vegan Burns supper?  Well, wait and see…

At the end of Veganuary we hope to be able to share our experiences and plans for the future, but for now we are only at the start of our journey and we’re still adjusting to a new diet.  The first update will appear next week.

There is a label at the end of this blog entry which will list all the Veganuary themed content in one place. 

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