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  • Aaliyah Iona

Veganuary: My Final Thought

Given my first post at the start of Vegunary, I thought it would only be fair to round up my entire vegan experience. Despite proclaiming the vegan life was not for me within my first week, I stuck with it. To conclude, I did enjoy it however it didn't come easy.

If you don’t have me on Instagram, you may be unaware that 12 days until Veganuary, I said, “I can’t do this anymore!”. In hindsight, I truly believe I could have continued animal product free, had I not woken up hungover. It was a Sunday morning, and I remember thinking the only thing that could make me feel better was a Bacon baguette. “Noooo, don’t do it you Vegans say!”, I didn’t. I made garlic sauteed mushrooms with toast and Lurpak. I remember feeling so relieved finally tasting butter that I didn’t regret it. Until I tried Pure’s Dairy Free spread. I bought the Olive spread and loved it. Although it doesn’t have the Lurpak's ‘slightly salted’ taste, it is flavoursome.

Until this day, I hadn’t craved meat once. Being completely honest, I think my desire for bacon was more to do with my yearning for grease than anything else. That being said if there is one thing I craved throughout my entire Vegan experience it was smoked salmon and calamari. I regularly imaged the taste of both. Although I enjoyed a surprisingly nice Veggie Fish burger by Vivera, which tasted and dare I say it, smelt exactly like fish, it didn't compare to Calamari. Breaded fish isn’t something I would regularly eat so it really isn’t something I’d purchase again. The Meatless Co. Meat Free Burgers, on the other hand, were delicious. I’d definitely buy them again if I wanted a pre-made burger. Furthermore, it  contained 21.8 grams of protein which is hard to fault on a nutritional standpoint.

The quality of my diet was something I extremely really conscious of throughout Veganuary. I’m unsure whether my approach is outdated, but, I literally build my meals around the process of obtaining a sufficient amount of protein for muscle, carbohydrates for energy, calcium, fruit and vegetables for vitamins and minerals. As great as Jackfruit burgers are, particularly the ones from Biff’s Jack Shack, I was concerned with how little protein they contained. Consequently, I made a point of adding beans and lentils wherever I saw fit.

For the most part, Veganuary was a good experience. It truly rekindled my love for cooking. There are plenty of foods and recipes I will continue to include in my diet as they were tasty and nutritional. I spent a lot less money at my local shop on snacks which was good too.  Now that it’s over, I’m looking forward to being more conscious of the food I consume and how it affects everything from my skin, mood and environment.

Veganuary in short:

  1. I felt like a great person. Seriously, I did! By refraining from eating meat and fish, I strongly felt I had done some good in the world. I won’t lie and say I’ve always felt veganism or vegetarianism were great concepts because I didn’t. I thought it was all hype and totally unnecessary. I can now admit, I was wrong. My preconceptions were ignorant, and I truly lacked an understanding of the impact the meat industry has on the ecosystem. Although I’m not able to commit to giving up animal products entirely post-Vegunary, I am certain my diet will change.

  2. My bowel movement has improved. It is clear as day a plant-based diet was appreciated by my body.

  3. I have never felt so light in all my life as I did during Veganuary.  There wasn't a single Vegan meal that made me feel bloated or tired. I personally don't experience bloatedness. Nevertheless, my body never felt so good. It really makes you question all the meals you have ever eaten. Why is it food designed to provide energy can often feel as though it’s given you none?

  4. This may sound silly, but, I loved not having to worry about the cooking time of my food. Unlike meat, you can’t poison yourself if undercooked. By all means do stick to the cooking times advised, but, you will feel some ease not worrying about it as heavily as you would with meat.

Vegan Food I tried (in alphabetical order):

  • Alpro Fruit Yoghurt - Very nice, zero complaints.

  • Alpro Coconut Yoghurt - I ate the yoghurt with muesli and bananas.  I'd be lying if I said the yoghurt itself isn't a little sour. However, I feel the muesli and bananas masked this.

  • Ben & Jerry's Dairy Free Peanut Butter And Cookies Ice Cream - BEST ICE-CREAM EVER.

  • Ben & Jerry's Dairy Free  Coconutterly Caramel'd Ice Cream - It was nice, but, the B&J Peanut Butter And Cookies Ice Cream made it look basic.

  • Cauldron’s Falafel - Although the flavour was nice with good use of spices, the falafel itself was extremely dry. I was very disappointed. A little more moisture and this would be great.

  • The Coconut Collaborative  Rice Pudding - Strangely nice. Disclaimer: the rice 'lumps' are softer and larger than your traditional rice pudding.

  • Tesco’s Free From Mayo - What is the difference? I don’t eat mayonnaise regularly so this could be why I’m unsure. Either way, I was happy.

  • Fry’s Family Food Co. Steak and Ale Pie - Oh. My. Gawd. This pie was nice. I’m partial to making my own Chicken and Mushroom pie now and again so I was intrigued to know what a vegan one would taste like.

  • Fry’s Family Co. Artisan Southern-style tenders - I slightly overcooked these as I got distracted; I wasn't used to my food cooking so quickly in the oven. Although the pieces I saved were pretty tasty, they are not something I'm likely to buy again. Would make good nibblets for parties

  • GATO Salted Caramel Chocolate Ganache - It was Gato's range of sweet treats which forced me to try shopping in Sainsbury's for Veganuary. Sadly, this Salted Caramel Chocolate Ganache was a disappointment. There wasn't a single note of caramel, and I found the cocoa extremely overpowering. It may have just been me, but, unless you love that bitter dark chocolate taste, I can't imagine the average chocolate eater enjoying this.

  • GATO Chocolate and Coconut Hot Brownie - Similarly, the GATO CHocolate and Coconut Hot Brownie was bitter. I would not recommend it.

  • Linda McCartney’s Meatballs - One word: delicious! I cooked these in the oven with chopped tomatoes, peppers and onions.  Although the package didn’t recommend I cook them with a sauce, I think it helped prevent the meatballs from drying out.

  • Linda McCartney Scampi Bites - Surprisingly nice. Not very filling so I would recommend filling up your plate.

  • Linda McCartney Sausages - Dry, AF. They’re still in my freezer, and I don’t plan on cooking them again so if anyone wants them, holla!

  • The Meatless Farm Co. meat-free burgers - Tastes and looks like meat. A great option if you’re looking for a meat alternative.

  • The Meatless Farm Co. mince meat - Yuk. If you are Vegetarian, I'd say give this a complete miss and stick with Quorn's mince. It resembled corned beef, but, it was a lot more mush. In turn, the resemblance of corned beef meant it didn’t taste very nice considering I prepared it for a bolognese.

  • No Dough Pizza Co. Cauliflower Base  - I love Italian food, pizza in particular so I was looking forward to trying this. Unfortunately, there was barely any cheese or tomato sauce. It got cold quickly and turned pretty soggy.

  • Sainsbury’s Love Your Veg! Chorizo style Shroomdogs - Now this sausage was a game changer. It tasted just like a chorizo sausage. I honestly struggled to believe it wasn't meat. There was plenty of flavours, considering it was a shroomdog. My only wish: it was bigger so I can't finish it so quickly.

  • Sheese Dairy Free Chedder style with jalapeños and Chill - Crazyyyy.  Tasted fabulous in my meat-free burgers and even better still in my vegan Mac n Cheese. To anyone wondering, the consistency is softer than your traditional Cheddar cheese but don't be alarmed as it is good.

  • Summer Pride Jackfruit in water -  I bought this to make 'Jerk Jackfruit', and I was thoroughly impressed. Jackfruit, you legend! My only wish is you had more protein in you *sad face*.

  • The Tofoo Co. Smokey Tofu - I was reluctant to try this as I had tried Cauldron’s Tofu and I wasn’t impressed. The Tofoo Co. Smokey Tofu was firm in texture, and the smokey flavour added authenticity.

  • Upton Natural’s BBQ Jackfruit - Tangy, but good!

  • Vivera Veggie Fish Burger - This burger looks, tastes and smells like fish. I have no idea how, but, it is very good. Definitely worth a try for those new to Vegetarianism/Veganism.

  • Vivera Veggie Greek Kebab -Vivera is onto something! I prepared this in a wrap with tomatoes, onions, parsley and free-from mayo. Super easy and super tasty.

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