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Veganuary: The First Week

Another helping of the pumpkin and chickpea hash was the perfect start to an active day. Between rain showers the dog and I had a long walk, then I got to a load of jobs in the garden. Although it was very warm for the season, having roasted vegetables, pulses and the healthy fats from the avocado really set me up for some pretty physical garden work digging and lugging compost and grit around.

The Big Guy was responsible for the lunch. He made a quick lunch of mushrooms in a soya cream sauce, topped generously with nutritional yeast in place of parmesan. We had shopped for the week in our local Asian supermarket, so we had a huge variety of mushrooms in this dish as well as the common button mushrooms. We had enoki, oysters, fresh shiitake, and a couple I don’t actually kow the name of. He topped the finished dish with some enoki that had been fried quite hard in oil, until they’re crispy and then tossed in smoked paprika. Such a great textural and flavourful addition.

Dinner was courtesy of my lovely friend and fellow British immigrant. We started with light snacks of crackers and tapenade. There were also digestive biscuits, which I was delighted to discover are vegan. I thought that they’d have been made with butter, but I guess that it’s a cost thing. Digestive biscuits are available here, but they’re not widely eaten. We eat quite a lot in the UK, often with cheese or as a cheesecake base. I like them just as they are. Then we had a delicious Mexican feast, containing sweet potato, corn, beans, onion, and much more. Alll served with a tortilla and a vibrant and quite spicy kind of coriander ‘chutney’ that she put together. A great evening was had by all.

Lessons from Week One

We’ve done a full week of veganuary now. Neither the Big Guy nor I have missed anything in particular, nor felt that we were missing out in any way. Overall, we’ve been happy with the meals we’ve eaten this week. I was never too worried about eating veggies, since we eat quite a few vegetables in our normal diet in any case, but I have been very reliant on dairy products. I thought it might be interesting to go over some of the things I’ve learned this week.

  • Not all plant-based dairy replacements are created equal. Some of the cheese replacements have been revolting, though other brands seem to do a slightly better job. Oat milk, especially the barista style, is great in your tea and coffee So good, I’d happily stick with it in the long term. The most widely available almond milk in my area is fortified with Vitamins B12, and D and with calcium, which is the things that are absent or tend to be lower in a vegan diet. I will never be drinking it in my tea after the first time I tried it, but I prefer it in dishes that call for milk. I haven’t bought any sweetened products, but some, especially the yoghurts are sweeter than you think. The result of all of this is we are buying several different kinds of products to go in different dishes and drinks.
  • Having a meal plan is key at this point in the month because otherwise we would fall back on old non-vegan staples, importantly because we know how much time each will take. This will get easier as we broaden our vegan recipe vocabulary.
  • Meal prep is also key – having veggies ready-chopped veggies on hand for a sandwich or a snack makes this a lot quicker, making not reaching for the cheese and crackers a lot more viable.
  • I’ve found getting protein easy enough, I already eat a lot of protein-rich pulses and other plant-based protein as a regular part of my diet anyway. I have been surprised to find that I need more fat to help me feel full faster. Otherwise, my attention span runs out long before I’m full, and I get really bored with the act of eating. I eat slowly anyway, and always have. I was finding bigger plates tricky to get through.

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