To V or not to V

01 Feb 2018 To V or not to V

That is the question I asked when the gas had stopped at our house and my stomach was empty. Here I was, poised with my vegan dinner ready to go in the oven - the gas oven which was now gas-less. Meanwhile the crumpets and butter were screaming at me from the fridge. 

Ok so perhaps the scream was the voice inside my head. The hangry voice of “Oops! I forgot to eat lunch and getting home from the supermarket took longer than expected. Now I’m starving” In my mind, at that moment, I was like a woman stranded on a desert island with only a dairy cow as a source of food. 

But this is not a desert island, my fridge is not barren, and yes you can eat falafel cold. 

Amidst the wrestle, my flexitarian tendency rang true... I ate those crumpets and they were delicious! I ate them with lashings of butter. I am not proud of it. But neither am I ashamed. Which prompts reflection... how were my Veganuary efforts? Am I going to become a full-time vegan? To V or not to V?

Image: The Desert Island, Paul Hellier - Vietnam

Waste not

My main challenge lay in my flexitarian approach to Veganuary - only doing it three days per week. Because what do you do with the leftover take-out from your non-vegan day? Let it go bad? *cringe* No no! No Food Waste is one of the FFF icons as well. A sustainability value. Equally important. So eat the chicken curry. Yes, if I went all in with Veganuary then I would not have this predicament. But then I would have been grumpy for sure… or gone mad. Let’s not mention the moment when I stood in the supermarket staring at Reese’s Pieces on the shelf for a good 10 minutes on a vegan day. I got some quizzical looks from fellow shoppers. 

Impact 

Small things count. Whilst this blog post could be considered a long winded excuse for my flexible Veganuary attempt, consider this. Before this month I would eat animals products with every meal. I'm not a huge carnivore, but I love milk and butter. So considering this, my vegan meals equalled a big reduction by comparison. Check it out - 

I even had a few 'bonus' vegan breakfasts because I enjoyed my 'vegan porridge' creations so much. 

No shame, only pleasure 

Veganuary has been surprisingly enjoyable. Generally I’m feeling good, not deprived, thanks to my ability to create a mean stir fry.  And I have dined out with vegan and non-vegan friends alike thanks to great restaurants on the Fair Food Forager app. So whilst I was only a 3 day vegan (per week) I embraced those three days. 

But at Week 3 the cheese cravings hit me like a tonne of bricks. I meditated on it continuously. So I made the Cauliflower 'Cheese' from So Vegan, which took the edge off. Oh and there was that time I ate half a block of milk chocolate without thinking. Normally I'm a dark chocolate kinda gal, so it didn't even cross my mind. 

However, I made a decision not to feel bad about consuming animal products, only celebrate the plant-based. 

My goal for Veganuary was not to be 100% vegan and hate it. It was to change my mindset & associate the v-word with pleasure and good food

Going vegan is a challenge, but it's helpful for creating new habits and eating with a lighter impact on the planet. 

Image: Elle, our resident vegan, with the help of Balinese Spice Magic Wollongong

Here's an easy way to start... 

  • Find a 'regular' you love - some of mine include oats with oat milk and jam, hummus on toast, carrot & celery sticks with nut butter, cauliflower "cheese" bake, choc vegan cupcakes
  • Swap the simple everyday things - plant-based spreads instead of butter, oat milk instead of cows milk in coffee (yum!!!) 
  • Play around - try new recipes! vegan baking is quite easy once you understand the principles... and it's delicious!!

Now I think twice before adding milk to my porridge or cooking eggs for breakfast on the weekend. There is a new normal for me, a more green leafy normal. Or should I say oven roasted aubergine with coconut oil and paprika normal …mmm yes that does sound good.  I still don’t like the ‘v’ word very much. There is so much tied up in the word - preconceived idea, societal attitudes etc. But plant-based eating is delicious. 

So, maybe we could call it ‘Plant-based Pleasure Month’ instead? 


Dayna Ortner - UK Director

A foodie with fierce skills in the kitchen, Dayna loves to try new recipes and is always playing around with flavours. She loves to travel and is passionate about bringing people together with good food and making the world a better place.  Based in Oxford, she manages the UK branch of Team Forager. 

Cover image: Ozan Safak on Unsplash

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