Veganuary Day 29: 30 Days of Vegan to Save the Planet
This is Day 29 of Veganuary, a 30-day pledge to eat vegan to save the planet. Today is very odd. I’m reflecting on what I’ll take away from Veganuary but also, cruel irony, I’m breasting pheasants for the first time ever. Which is why I’ll gloss over today’s meals to get to the heart of the day.
When breakfast was a chore, it has now become a routine. I step inside the kitchen, pop some bread slices into the toaster, get almond butter and jam out of the fridge, and wait for the toasts to pop.
Granary bread has got to be some of my favorite sliced bread and it goes perfectly with the nut butter/jam combo.
The upside of Mondays is weekend leftovers, unless there are none. Working from home today, I recreate a lunch that I was very fond of in Pacifica. I used to do it with kale but baby spinach will do.
It’s corn tortilla and wheat wrap with baby spinach, hummus, avocado and marinated tofu. I eat them with salted broad beans as snacks and it’s both filling and nutritious. It’s a mess to eat, though. Why can’t I find large wraps in supermarkets?
For dessert, I ear pink grapefruit with a blend of pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, goji berries and other good stuff. It was discounted at my local Sainsbury’s and I’m wondering if it doesn’t mean that January is over. The post-holidays detox is doe, people are back to indulging. Waitrose’s February magazine is all about indulging. These people have a rather short memory. You get people committed to a 30-day detox of sorts (Dry January, Veganuary, whatever) and on February 1st, you tell them that it was only for kicks and we can get back to our unhealthy habits? That seems so weird. Why not build on what you’ve learned rather than raze it to the ground and start all over again? Beats me.
This brings me to….
Veganuary : What I’ve Learned
After discussing Veganuary with my mother who, very supportive, has been clipping vegan recipes from her Elle à Table cooking magazine, this is what I’ve come to realize.
- We can do without a lot of dairy.
- I like nut butter on my toasts.
- Soy single cream in spinach tastes the same as cow single cream.
- Coconut yogurt is delicious.
- Oat milk is very good.
- Olive oil and other vegetable oils can stand in for butter in many instances.
- I now have powdered oat and almond milk in my cupboards for recipes.
- Cooking vegan is difficult, until you get used to it.
- The learning curve is steep, particularly if you’re a baker like me.
- After a while, you can prep a lot of bases ahead of time and use them for shortcuts.
- Still, cooking vegan takes a shitload of time as you mostly need to cook from scratch.
- Stews, soups, currys and stir-frys can last more than one day. Leftovers!
- I don’t miss meat. I honestly don’t. Funny that, but very handy during Veganuary.
- Baking is still in discovery mode. I’m learning the insane chemistry of cakes and cookies without eggs and dairy. Good luck with that. Sometimes it works.
- Vegan processed food is mostly disgusting.
- I’m looking at you, vegan cheese. Apart from the occasional Violife, you’ve been a disgrace.
- A lot of vegan processed foods (fake sausages, fake chicken nuggets) look like dog food. Come on, guys, you can do better than that.
- Vegan sandwiches and ready meals often fail the creative test. There’s a time for beans and a time for other veggies in life. Why don’t you surprise me?
- Vegan egg replacement is weird.
- Vegan Nutella substitutes suck. Ferrero, pretty please, pretend like you care?
- Cooking vegan is healthy.
- No shit. By cooking with a lot of veggies and forcing myself to look at the nutritional value of my meals, I’ve been eating a lot healthier and balanced than in a long time.
- My sleep has improved and believe me, that was a big problem. I was prone to insomnia and now, I mostly sleep through the night without problems.
- My skin looks healthier too.
- I eat a lot more fresh fruit than I used to. My digestive tract is happy. Sometimes too happy.
- My energy levels haven’t changed. I’m as active as I’m usually.
- Veganuary turns you into a human methane factory.
- Why have I become a farting machine?
- Sometimes, I’m even a #2 machine.
- Dammit, farting is OK outside but offensive inside. What to do at the office?
- Family & Friends.
- My family has been very supportive and I thank them. Without them, it might have been lonely or not as hilarious.
- My 12-year-old did a vegetarian January in a show of support.
- My 14-year-old never complained about vegan dinners, even the failed ones (there were a few).
- My husband even researched his own recipes to cook vegan food he enjoyed.
- A lot of my friends were really interested in the experience and asked me tons of questions on what I had learned, what I would maintain and what they could learn.
- Some friends invited us for dinner and did the incredible effort to cook vegan for me. They are angels.
- Leave coconuts alone.
- You’re ruining entire ecosystems by encouraging monofarming.
- You’re keeping farmers in a vicious poverty cycle unless you buy fairtrade coconut products (but then, it’s bad for the environment).
- Every time a recipe calls for coconut milk or oil, ask yourself if it couldn’t be done with a plant grown locally to you.
Now, the irony of the end of Veganuary 2018.
The Pheasant Incident
When a good friend finds out that a hunting estate is going to discard 1,000 pheasants as hunters don’t care for the meat, what do you do? You volunteer to take four pheasants and you skin and breast them at home so that the food does not go to waste. It’s a crazy world when free food is binned because people have no respect for animal life.
As a result, tonight, after coming back from the office, I don a cooking apron and with a sharp knife, I breast four pheasants for the first time ever. It’s OK. Thank God for YouTube tutorials on how to skin a pheasant and how to breast a pheasant. My 12-year-old assists, interested in a Bear Grylls kind of way.
I’m upset that people would shoot game for fun without ever considering bagging the meat home. What’s wrong with them? For the time being, the dressed pheasants are in the freezer.
For dinner, I make eggplants stuffed with a tomato and carrot sauce, with a baby spinach and pomegranate salad on the side.
When the baking tray comes out of the oven, my 14-year-old looks at me dumbfounded.
“Maman, do you remember I don’t eat eggplants?”
Of course. Mouth sores.
No, I forgot. Have some salad, kid. I’ll pop frozen hash browns into the oven.
Kids can be a tough audience, I swear.