The day before I began my vegan challenge, I made sure that there were no temptations left in my fridge. It was like the days before lent, or The Last Supper(s). I used up the eggs by making pancakes for my breakfast, I created a Scandi-inspired salad using the pickled herrings my mum had given me with apples, beetroot and mayonnaise (which was utterly delicious, FYI), I made myself a buttered chicken curry and scoffed a vast majority of my Christmas chocolate. There was no longer any dairy, eggs, fish or meat goods left in my fridge (apart from mayo and salad cream, because i’m not a monster and wasn’t going to throw those away. They’d simply have to be ignored for a few weeks) And I was ready to begin my vegan journey.
On day 1, I panicked. I hadn’t received my big online food shop yet (that was due for delivery on Monday) and had no idea what I was going to possibly eat. It was a Sunday, a day I was spending at home, and I was hungry.
For a late breakfast/brunch I enjoyed a sachet of mixed fruit porridge with soya milk and a big dollop of peanut butter – I have this most mornings. I love the way the peanut butter begins to melt into the porridge and makes it more indulgent. Later that afternoon I had a snack of peanut and almond popcorn by Propercorn. This is my favourite go-to snack and it says in nice big letters on the back that it is vegan (very good news). Dinner time rolled around and I had company, so I made us a rice noodle vegetable stir fry with packet satay sauce. I added prawns to his bowl while I had to resist and luckily it was delicious regardless, and for afters we snacked on frozen grapes – the perfect healthy ice-lolly alternative.
Day 2 was the first day at work as a vegan: My al-desko breakfast was once again porridge with peanut butter, and for lunch I enjoyed 3 crumpets with sunflower spread and marmite – all happily vegan friendly. My dinner was roasted Mediterranean vegetables & potatoes with sweet chilli sauce. Basic but delicious. I love the sweet flavours of the vegetables and the addition of the potatoes ensured I didn’t finish the meal left still hungry, working as a good substitute for the meat I would usually have with it. My pudding was a whole ripe mango, a few almonds and a couple of easy peelers which had arrived in my food shop.
On day 3 I mixed it up a bit and swapped around my lunch and breakfast – crumpets & sunflower spread followed by lunch of porridge & peanut butter. I like to do this sometimes. Keeps my tastebuds on their toes!
The first big challenge of the project came that evening as it was Pub Quiz night and we always have dinner at the pub. I feared that i’d be reduced to a meal of chunky chips and a side salad, but to my delight I was able to enjoy the Sri Lankan sweet potato & coconut curry with lime and tamarind with rice. It was delicious and creamy from the coconut milk. I had actually been eyeing it up on the menu for a while so it was great to have an excuse to try it. We didn’t win the quiz and I consoled myself at home with a pudding of frozen grapes.
On day 4 I went off piste and had blueberries for breakfast and a lunch of wholemeal pitta with red pepper hummous, though this wasn’t particularly filling and I was craving a snack by mid-afternoon so I snacked on another pitta with some smashed avocado. I’ve recently become obsessed with Starbuck’s green tea latte so I treated myself to a soy one not long after that, and then found myself nicely full that my dinner was no more than a bowl of almond and peanut popcorn & some M&S santorini tomatoes (which, by the way, are the BEST tomatoes in the world)
On day 5 my breakfast was 2 crumpets slathered with ginger preserve (one of my favourite spreads after peanut butter and Nutella) and my lunch was a pre-prepared salad of roasted vegetables, rocket & sweet chilli sauce, utterly delicious and really filling.
I went to the gym after work and worked up quite the appetite, and my dinner reflected this with two of those half baked petite pains with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I always keep these in my cupboards), followed by baked sweet potato with my favourite smashed peas with mint, chilli and vegan feta. Admittedly this fake feta tasted nothing like normal feta… it was different in consistency, texture and flavour… but it brought together the rest of the ingredients which is part of the point.
Cup of frozen Petite Pois (thawed!) + a handful of chopped mint
A few inches of cubed feta (real or vegan replica)
1 red chilli & a grind of Salt & Pepper
Put all together in a pestle & mortar and pound together until the feta has become creamy and combined ingredients together. The peas should be smashed but not completely unrecognisable as peas!
Day 6 and I was back on the breakfast of porridge with peanut butter, and a lunch consisting of 2 pitas with a tub of sweet onion hummus, and for dinner I baked two small sweet potatoes served up with Linda McCartney’s veggie sausages with peas and vegetable gravy. The sausages were oddly delicious despite not being meat, and the gravy was enjoyable despite not being laced with animal fat! My dessert was an apple; crunchy, sweet and fresh.
Saturday was day 7, and started with a bowl of my step-mum’s incredible home-made granola, with a dollop of vegan coconut yoghurt & mixed berry compote. My mum popped round to clean my oven (because she’s my hero and it hadn’t been cleaned in the 12 years of my flat’s previous owner’s occupancy) and we popped out for lunch with Daisy (my brother’s girlfriend) to Wagamama… I had faith that they’d have a fair few vegan options and I ended up enjoying the Yasai Itame; rice noodles in a spicy green coconut and lemongrass soup topped with tofu + vegetables, stir-fried beansprouts, red and spring onions, bok choi, peppers, mushrooms and chillies. garnished with coriander and lime curry. It was delicious, but I don’t think i’ll ever be able to get on board with tofu… it tastes like bland sponge!
I snacked on an apple before making myself a dinner of salad with roasted vegetables, ending my first week as a vegan.