Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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Have you heard of Veganuary? It’s a global movement to eat plant-based food in January. I signed up on December 22 and chose January 8 as starting date for my 30-day pledge. Why would anyone go vegan if they’re not? Most people do it for animal welfare or health reasons. I do it, as my girls say, “to save the planet.” As an outdoors blogger and nature lover, I take a lot of decisions for environmental reasons and veganuary is no stranger to our family lifestyle. No dairy and no meat = less impact on the planet, more nature for everyone.
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In my own little way, I hope that by not eating meat or dairy during 30 days, I’ll help keep my carbon footprint as low as possible. The problem is, I’m not vegan. I love butter. And bacon. And eggs. And fish. So going vegan is a small revolution at home. My girls and husband will only eat vegan at dinner-time with me and on the weekend. I’ll go whole hog, if I may say. Is this a good idea? Will we get enough nutrients from a vegan diet? Only one way to find out.
Here’s my journey to save the planet with Veganuary Day 1.
6.15am Breakfast! We had pork roast last night and I’m not very hungry but a girl’s gotta eat. Fortunately, I made a batch of vegan granola yesterday and help myself to a bowl. Damn, it’s sweet. It’s really sweet. I should really have measured the light brown sugar instead of just dumping the end of my pack “just to make one thing disappear from the pantry.” Bad move. Of course, I’d love some Greek yogurt to cut on the sweetness but hey ho, no dairy. Fortunately, I drink tea with no milk and no sugar so at least, that’s not sweet.
I only eat half the bowl and at 7am, take my youngest daughter to Paddington train station for a school field trip.
Note to self: buy bananas today and maybe, some weird vegan yogurt. It’s an experiment. Might as well try new foods.
Second breakfast, I feel like a hobbit already. At 9.30am, I finish the other half of my bowl of cereals. Still think I should buy bananas or weird vegan yogurt today.
Action. I go buy weird vegan yogurt (soy and almond, 2 different varieties) at my local Waitrose but forget bananas. In my haste, I fail to notice that the almond yogurt is blueberry flavored. Why did I not check? I wanted unsweetened yogurt for my granola. Oh well.
More tea. No milk, no sugar.
I’m starving by 10.30am and craving an easy snack–slice of cheddar, bread & butter, you name it. It’s only Day 1 so decency saves me from food disaster. Instead of bread & butter, I eat bread. A pathetic single slice of bread. It’s toasted, mind you, but without butter or anything else, it’s quite dry. One more cup of tea helps wash it down.
Also. I just received a reminder for a business event tomorrow. I email them and ask if the vegetarian lunch option includes vegan. Crossing fingers.
Noon. What’ for lunch? When I work from home, I usually don’t do anything fancy and eat on the fly. It’s usually ham and butter sandwich or eggs or last night’s leftovers. Forget the leftovers. The two last slices of pork roast are staring me right in the eye but I ignore them. Why didn’t think of lunch before noon? I’m definitely not vegan-proof yet. I’m starving – again. Presto, I check out Deliciously Ella and find this wonderful recipe for roasted squash and kale with mushrooms. It looks absolutely amazing but by my best estimates, it’s going to be 1pm when I eat lunch if I’m lucky.
1.15pm. Everything’s cooked. It looks OK but not as pretty as on the picture. Isn’t that always the case?
1.25pm. Eating lunch. It’s good but… it’s not enough.
1.30pm. I email a friend who invited us to dinner this weekend. He had asked if we had any dietary restrictions and I was too shy to mention Veganuary. OK, better get it over with. Dear friend, I am doing veganuary and can bring my dinner if it’s too complicated (it probably is). I’m also doing dry January. In essence, I’m the worst dinner guest for omnivores this month.
1.41pm. I’m hungry. That wasn’t very filling. Because that was so long to prep (cooking time, mostly), I didn’t have a second helping and I’m saving leftovers for tomorrow. What now? I finished the last of my almonds/walnuts in yesterday’s batch of granola so nuts won’t happen. I could murder a chocolate brownie, I’m so craving a sugar fix.
Self control. Breathe. I do have dried fruit on hand and part of me is convinced that dried fruit is more filling than fresh fruit. It’ probably false but bear with me. I’m only on Day 1. Orgy of dates, dried mangoes and figs ensues.
I recently purchased Yotam Ottoleghi’s cookbook Sweet (you can get it here: UK | US) and hoped that I’d be able to find vegan recipes. Big fail. Butter and eggs everywhere. Plus. It’s making hungry just reading the ingredients list. Fortunately, I remember The Violet Bakery Cookbook (you can get it here: UK | US) on my bookshelves and have a recollection that parts of it were vegan. Hurray! Bless you, Claire Ptak and Alice Waters. I can’t wait to make the chocolate oat agave cookies and I can easily adapt the ham, cheese and leek scones recipe into mushroom, sun-dried tomatoes and leek scones using vegan yogurt (for yogurt) and mashed avocado (for butter).
Lightbulb moment. Searched for “vegan” in Epicurious’ Epi app. It’s under “Dietary concerns.” There are 3,440 recipes. Most breakfast recipes are sweet. It’s going to be tough to replace my post swim-workout soft-boiled eggs.
2.13pm. Received a wonderfully supportive response from the organizer of tomorrow’s business event at the Law Society. She thanks me for my involvement and my commitment in helping protect the planet. If their catering team cannot prepare the vegetarian lunch option as vegan, I’ll get access to the staff canteen with a range of vegan options. How awesome is that?
After being so hungry this morning, I decided to go shopping and fill the fridge. It’s only Day 1 and I have smoked tofu in the fridge! Also: soy sausages, soy yogurt, marinated tofu and tasty tofu (what’s the other kind? I’m afraid). Who’d thunk that I’d give in so quickly to vegan substitutes? In my defence, I was anticipating tomorrow morning’s swim workout and the following hunger. For the record, banana stocks are back to normal, as are potato, eggplant, grapefruit, spring onion and turnip stocks.
At the farmers market, one of the vendors complimented me on my shopping bag. Said it was a proper shopping bag. Thanks, I guess? I found this bag on the streets in Paris, that’s how much of a scavenger I am.
Not anticipated: total fart fest all afternoon. Don’t get too close! Seriously. I hope that side-effect doesn’t last too long.
Otherwise: surprisingly not hungry between dried fruit and dinner.
6.43pm. What’s cooking for dinner? My teen daughter was excited when she opened the fridge after school. “Are we eating frankfurters tonight?” Tofu wieners, I clarified. You should have seen the look on her face. Truth be told, they look amazingly realistic. Crossing fingers that they taste OK.
To make up for the tofu wieners, I’m making Epi’s recipe for hash browns. Both my girls love hash browns and that doesn’t even qualify as weird vegan food as they already like it.
I have discovered Kris Carr’s website and her healthy recipes section. Some really good inspiration in there.
8pm. Dinner. The excitement over dinner is palpable at the table. Here is the conversation.
“It’s a shade of sausage. Just eat it.”
“It’s a squidgy sausage. Eew.”
“It tastes kind of weird but it doesn’t taste like sausage.”
“It tastes like soba. But it’s a sausage.”
“It’s decent, though.”
At this point, it was obvious they didn’t like the looks. They didn’t ask for seconds. So. Not fan of taste either. It’s not bad but the texture is terrible. Just look at this.
Tofu wieners. As my husband said over the phone, “I’m so glad you tried when I was away.”
Our friend called to confirm Friday’s dinner. No blinis and vodka for me. Russian veganuary is on the menu. I’m excited!
The real kicker for dinner happened when both my girls realized that there was leftover rice in the fridge. They both helped themselves to a full plate and seasoned it with soy sauce. They got excited over white rice. Says a lot about my poor attempt at a vegan dinner.
Still hungry, my 12-year-old also ate poached quinces from yesterday’s dinner. “I only ate half of the calories I need for today,” she told me after logging in her meals on the app for her new Fitbit watch. Only half? Oh dear.
As Scarlett O’Hara said, tomorrow is another day.
Taste buds: 0
Family satisfaction: 0.5
Methane index: through the roof.