Veganuary summary – vegan doesn’t mean bad food

So here I am (and my partner, he made it too!) at the end of being vegan for January.

Neither of us had done it before – we once tried it for a week to find out if James might be lactose intolerant but it only lasted two days after having major panic attacks and blaming it on that. So first thing first, did being vegan for the month heighten my anxiety?? No, of course not. I was just being silly, that scallywag anxiety tricking me all the time.

The most important thing I learnt is how delicious the food can be. That’s the one thing I will go on and share about being vegan.

It made me consciously eat and I naturally enjoyed food so much more.

The trick must be because you’re trying new things, you pay more attention to the flavours and texture, but also because you don’t want to eat any any byproducts, and the act of actually checking the ingredients makes you more aware of what you’re shovelling in. Checking ingredients was actually James’s favourite bit of this month. Strange that it’s actually fun.

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Unrelated to being vegan, I realised how important it is to try new things. At work, say the 3rd of Jan, someone said to me ‘Christmas and New Year went so quickly, now we are on the 3rd!’ and in the past I’ve said things like this hundreds of times – it can wiz by. And all the bloody memes going around at the moment about wishing January will end, so literally the opposite. Never satisfied.

I haven’t felt like this at all. I’ve had highs and lows, of course, but it’s clearly so important to try new things so you don’t end up just existing, life flying by and wishing constantly. Imagine trying new things every month?? It’s exciting.

I haven’t got much more to say that I haven’t already. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and how I want to live. It’s been a natural progression to go down this route.

To conclude: I’m still a foodie and I’ve decided to go vegan for February.

I won’t be be as strict, if I don’t want to keep to it I won’t but I may decide to stay at it forever (I have been veggie for 4 years, I won’t be going back to meat). So I don’t know. I currently don’t crave anything – apart from sunshine but that’s unrelated.

Whatever I decide, I will keep to a lot of vegan foods. I will also keep documenting the foods I’m trying on here and I definitely want to go back to Hackney Downs vegan market. Like, every weekend please.

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Being poor and what to eat – Veganuary

As I sit staring out my window, unfocused through the rain drop marks and hoping the wind won’t snap the open window (which nelly has a window open when its windy and raining AND IN WINTER?) (side note: me), I’m contemplating my almost empty bank account.

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It’s fine, it is what it is, and James is the same, my friends are the same, my siblings are the same, strangers are the same. I also booked a holiday to Morocco so there’s really no complaining (it was only £294 per person).

PLUS, excitedly being vegan, James and I didn’t hold back on what to buy and although I’ve lost a lot of weight this month I haven’t stopped eating.

I haven’t done research into why eating healthier costs more, I only know from first hand experience that when I lived alone most meals were processed meat and chips – and one really sad time when I just dipped bread into gravy for dinner. To be fair, I really enjoyed it.

BUT the shining light is to obviously NOT be lazy and make dinner from scratch – don’t just have a bag of chilli heat wave Doritos (or bread and gravy again). And when you have a shared fridge filled of food you can’t eat, and also no room for you to buy anything anyway, the answer is canned food.

emilyannlou simplesauce

I’ve always made my own pasta sauce, it’s easy. I add whatever, there’s no structure or instructions, but if you are stuck for an simple, cheap dinner here is Emily’s Simple Sauce. (Terms and conditions may apply.)

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Two onions, two garlic cloves and a teaspoon of Lazy chopped chillies. (See, I’m still lazy)
Drizzle some vegetable oil into a pan and fry the onions for a minute or two
Add the garlic and chilli and keep on stirring for a bit

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Smart Price chopped tomatoes (29p)
Add the chopped tomatoes and do a bit more stirry stirry
Let it boil and add salt, pepper and basil to taste
Then let it simmer, pop a lid on and cook for 5-10 minutes
Stir every once in a while

(Everything is give or take, it’s hard to go wrong, just be generous with flavours is my tip)
After ten minutes (or whatever) I usually start cooking my pasta, so the sauce cooks for that whole amount of time too.
I don’t rinse the pasta, just drain it and add it to the sauce so it clings to it like a cuddle.

To top it off you could add vegan cheese, but I regret that, It’s not the same.
Something I’m going to do with the left overs is add some crispy onions which are DELICIOUS.

So you still may be poor, like me, buuuttt your tummy is full of goodness.

Let me eat all the curry – Veganuary

If being vegan means I get to eat curry everyday, I think I’m okay with it.

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I swear I don’t eat out this much, ever.

My family didn’t realise it wasn’t ‘normal’ to eat as much curry as we do till one of my typically English friends (who’s parents wouldn’t cook it because of the smell) pointed it out. Then again her shock didn’t mean much because we were shocked at her, but I’m proud to say that she had her first curry with us.

We are a curry family.

Seeing as I ate meat up until 4 and a half years ago I would have the same dishes and always with chicken.

Once vegetarian, at our favourite curry house, I took the risk of trying a Vegetable Thali (I used to be a picky eater). My mind was blown away at how delicious it was – without any meat! Although I was trying new things you quickly fall back into a routine and naturally I had my ‘usuals’.

Now, this vegan month, we have been trying new things left right and centre and I have to say that has been the best part. All the delicious foods I’ve tried. You have this idea that vegans mustn’t like food, or you have to be a meat eater to be a real ‘foodie’. Couldn’t be further from the truth.

Vegan curry – you should try it even if you eat meat. Think of it as just curry, without a label. Just delicious food.

We ordered so many different dishes, not knowing if we would like any (and my old picky eater self came out when I saw a spinach one and judged it) and they were all amazing. I don’t remember curry being this good when I ate meat.

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Then quite naturally I had an onion Bhaji wrap from ASDA the next day, which wasn’t the best really but I can’t resist feeling like I HAVE to try things when I see they are vegan.

And as I finish this post I am day dreaming about finishing off the left overs from the curry house. Oh curry, I do love you.

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When in doubt, hummus – Veganuary

Have you ever dipped pizza into hummus? It sounds gross, but it’s a game changer.

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Now realising how unhealthy I clearly am (I’ve always known but because I’m putting my diet on the internet for a month, I’m pretending it’s a shock) I thought rather go for the easy option of crap food, I’ll dip some veg into hummus. Not wild and not pizza (but there was pita), but I had just come back from a 3 hour walk and it seemed a shame to ruin it.

Don’t worry though, I also snacked on Aldi’s version of Oreos after.

I’ve had a good vegan pizza from Pizza express but I was wondering if I should make a cheese-less pizza, full of veg, and dip that into hummus.

Please trust me, hummus and pizza. It’s the future.

Weekend treats – Veganuary

You want to know a secret? I’m a week and one day into being vegan and I still have no idea how to say Veganuary out loud when people ask me about it. I can’t work it out. I’ve never been one for pronouncing words correctly.

Anyway, on with the show. This weekend I had many, many treats – I really am not being healthy. Some say these treats included cinnamon rolls, food from Wasabi, biscuits and a takeaway curry, though I’m not at liberty to confirm nor deny this rumour.

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Though there may be some photographic evidence..

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That Wasabi dish though, omg, I’m not joking – I have fallen asleep day dreaming about eating it again. It didn’t actually say vegan in the shop, only vegetarian, but we did a little Google (the amount of times I’ve typed ‘is so and so vegan‘ into Google) (someone should do a troll site that says things that aren’t vegan, are vegan) and looked at the ingredients and we couldn’t see anything. Fingers crossed ay!

Although we definitely, no doubt want to do this honestly and stay vegan, I suppose it doesn’t worry us if by accident we weren’t. If this was about staying veggie though, it’ll be a different story. I don’t eat anything unless it says ‘suitable for vegetarians’. I’ve been caught out so many times thinking it was fine (thought of two more I was eating before finding out they weren’t veggie: French Fancies and M&Ms) (but at Christmas they do Frosted Fancies which are vegetarian) (I ate boxes and boxes of them) (seriously) (I’ve used more than my quota of brackets in this post).

I’m thinking of rustling up a summary post of good – not healthy – vegan snacks I’ve discovered and devoured.

I swear to you I’ve also been eating apples and bananas.

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Pizza Express, there was a lot of pressure on this pizza – Veganuary

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So other vegetarians will confirm that pizza is the only reason to live.

This may be a big/false statement, but it is pretty accurate for me.

I can’t have bacon, I will have pizza.

KFC? It’s okay, pizza.

Goodbye Big Mac, hello pizza. 

Kentucky fried chicken, with two beef patty’s and topped with crispy bacon burger?
Papa John, Dominoes, Pizza Hut, Pizza Express, it’s okay, PIZZA!…

Speaking of Pizza Express, my partner got a deal for 2 pizzas for £10. My favourite pizza from ASDA is £4, but 5 quid for a Pizza Express pizza?! You literally have no choice on whether you are going or not.

They may expect you to order loads of drinks, but we had tap water so jokes on them.

James first joked whether we should ditch this going vegan for January project, but it has not been broken yet! They have a vegan pizza – Giardinera pizza. Now, as you can tell, pizza means a lot to me, and James was eating meat less than a week ago so there was a lot of pressure on this experience. We both agreed though, when in doubt, drizzle the whole pizza in garlic and chilli oil. (Side note, we do this anyway, and always have. It’s delicious.)

The verdict? It was genuinely amazing. It’s like a normal pizza. It wasn’t a ‘oh that’s close to the real thing’ kind of situation, a pizza that vegans would like but everyone else would be able to tell the difference. There was no disappointment what so ever and James (like I said, big meat eater) said, and I quote, ‘f**king amazing’.

Vegan cheese, tomato, black olives, artichoke, onions, mushrooms and garlic oil.

This being vegan shindig is easy.

Maybe I should try and eat some healthy vegan foods instead, this is clearly no diet.

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I’d also like to mention that during a argument with my 4 year old brother he called me a ‘babybel‘. Now I don’t know how he knows but that’s very offensive to us vegans for a month. He went below the belt.

james pizza

Don’t know if it’s related but I am definitely feeling better – this is the first time out since Christmas Eve.

Veganuary – fajitas baby

First things first – let’s mention the elephant in the room.

I don’t know how to photograph food.

Yes, I may have ‘learnt’ it at college when I was 16 (ten years ago) but since then I am very rarely photographing my food. It’s not a thing I enjoy doing particularly, I prefer just to eat, but I want to document this month and so the show must go on.

So although I am not trying being vegan for the cause – I’m really not helping the cause with how bland my photography is.

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Regardless – these fajitas were delicious. So nice that my partners brother, who doesn’t like to try new things, liked it.

All this means that vegan food so far hasn’t been bad at all. It’s actually been good, really good and we are yet to have a bad meal.

So what we did;

We (my partner) started with Tesco vegan mince (£1.75) in a wok with some olive oil. 

We (him) added a bit of Tesco’s medium fajita seasoning (60p), and I’m sure a dash of some hot sauce. Cooked it for a few minutes.

Picked up a bag of veggies for 15p, added them in and then the rest of the seasoning. Cooked for only a few more minutes – I like a crunch to my veg.

Dash of water too, so it wasn’t dry.

We (me this time!) microwaved the wraps (this point doesn’t need to be mentioned, but I’m just proving I was there). 

We even added Tesco free from grated Mozzarella alternative (£2.50) to the wraps and it wasn’t bad at all! My vegan friend, after our shop at Tesco, warned us that Tesco’s cheeses are awful… but it’s not that bad. It’s not cheese, obviously, but I mean it’s like a separate thing altogether which isn’t a bad thing.

We also microwaved a tin of refried beans (£1.15), added the hot sauce again, and dipped tortilla chips in while cooking – because as you can see, I did sooo much cooking. Added it to the wraps too, just to make it taste extra good and look extra bad.

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Seriously, could anything look any worse?! This project is a learning curve for so many reasons.

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