My Vegan Challenge For SBC
To Begin . . .
Let me start by saying that I am the least likely person to ever (willingly) choose to take on the vegan lifestyle – I love dairy products and bacon far too much to ever give them up. I’m also a fan of leather shoes and woollen jumpers (two clothing items that would be strictly a no go as a vegan!) However, I do love vegetables and most fruit, and when I was asked if I’d try and live like a vegan for a week my first thought was that I could eat large amounts of hummus without feeling a shred of guilt, and I am partial to the occasional bag of chickpea crisps!
As soon as I said yes to this, and agreed to blog about it for SBC, I called my sister. My partner crime and bestest chum, who has been a vegetarian for months and (much too my shock and horror) informed me the other day that she no longer eats cheese and rarely drinks milk! So, when I told her that I was going to be a vegan for a week in April, she laughed
(a response, I was prepared for), after she’d finished laughing, she seriously asked me the following:
‘How are you going to get your protein?’
‘Ummm’ I replied thinking that I’d just have to eat more hummus – hummus was surely full of protein.
‘Do you like pulses?’
‘No, I like none of those things, and the only form of bean I eat comes from a tin and is covered in tomato sauce.’
She agreed with me that I was just going to have to eat more hummus, and vegetables and some vegan cheese spread, that both of us quite enjoy from our local health food shop.
My husband was far less supporting, meat to him is a staple food and everything else is secondary. He did momentarily offer to support me but it was a short-lived idea.
I told my parents – my mum told me that it would be fine because I could eat grilled fish, after a brief moments pause the penny dropped and it clicked that even grilled fish couldn’t be included in this lifestyle change. And my Dad, who has been a vegetarian since the age of 11, thought I was joking about the whole endeavour.
So, I turned to my cousin Helen, a bona fide vegan, who I was hoping could give me some tips on what I could and couldn’t eat as a vegan (it may surprise you to know that Razzles, are vegan, as are Party Rings and Oreos!)
She came armed with cookbooks, clearly under the illusion I was planning on doing this long term and not just for 5 days. I asked her a host of questions from what I could eat, to what I could wear – she informed me that most people start with food and then concentrate on other areas of their life such as clothing, makeup etc. So, I decided that I would solely concentrate on food and skincare.
I felt happier after talking to her, especially as I was able to plan a week of meals without too much difficulty, and she gave me the recipe for a vegan banana bread which she assured me tasted fab and looked amazing.
The Food Shop
In all honesty, I was not looking forward to my weekly food shop and was feeling slightly apprehensive about the whole endeavour, but with my shopping list clasped firmly in my hand, I filled my trolley with a whole host of yummy looking vegan food, and when I got to the checkout I was feeling far more excited about it, the thought even crossed my mind that maybe this would become a permanent way of life for me (if others could do it, why couldn’t I?)
I was feeling confident, I’d planned my meals, baked my vegan banana cake (which tasted as amazing as it had sounded) and had prepped my lunch.I walked in to work fully prepared to succeed at my first day of vegan living, I had my plant milk (I chose oat milk), avocado butter, vegan banana bread, and vegan sausages and veg for lunch, but in my manic morning rush had forgotten my crumpets for breakfast. After a momentary panic, I realised this was the perfect excuse to eat cake for breakfast (though do we ever really need an excuse to eat cake for breakfast?)
Oat milk in tea wasn’t too bad, yes it made my tea look as though it had little bits floating in it, but once I’d moved past that it was rather tolerable.
My vegan sausages at lunch were a little squidgy and I had to overcome their extreme spiciness (something which I’m not that great with) but it filled me up and was far more fulfilling than soup.
However, by the time I returned home I was ready to give up on it all; I made pasta with mushrooms, onions, spinach and tofu cheese for dinner, which even my husband ate, but what I really wanted was a normal cup of tea, however after a pep talk from my husband and my mum I begrudgingly made a cup of tea using rice milk and ate yet more banana bread and a chocolate bourbon biscuit.
Before I went to bed I swapped my normal Collagen 3-in-1 Cleanser, for the SBC Sage and Lemon cleanser which I loved, it smelt amazing and gently foamed as I used it. I then applied a generous layer of Vitamin E Skincare Gel to my face and headed to bed, feeling a little hungry but pleased that day 1 had been a success.
I decided to add the Vitamin C Skincare Gel into my routine, alongside the Vitamin E Skincare Gel, my face felt hydrated and it was the perfect primer for my makeup. I also moisturised using the Grapefruit & Ginger Body Butter which I’m a big fan of.
You’ll be pleased to hear that I didn’t forget my crumpets for breakfast, and avocado butter – which is actually quite nice. Again, my oat milk tea looked a little peculiar, and I drank about half of it.
For lunch, I’d given up with the vegan sausages and instead concocted a stir fry vegetable mix that I was hoping could be thrown in the microwave and would come out resembling something vaguely edible. I had covered it in soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame seed oil to add more flavour. It turns out I’m not overly inept at cooking vegetables in the microwave but by 2:30pm I was so hungry that any form of vegetable would have been acceptable, and my odd stir fry vegetable mix was at least edible.
I think it’s good time to give a mention to Lyndsey, our SBC educator, an actual superstar, who voluntarily agreed to follow a vegan diet all week to support me! (if you’re deciding to give this a try, I can assure you it’s a lot easier if you have someone else in tow to give you moral support!) During our afternoon meeting we each demolished a packet of Nairn fruit oatcakes, which I love and have been part of my afternoon snack routine for quite some time.
I made a quick stop on way home to pick up a bag of Quinoa Sour Cheese and Chive vegan friendly crisps – if you’ve never tried them then you’re seriously missing out they are yummy.
I decided that jacket potatoes would be a good choice for dinner, though I was rather sad that I could smoother them in beans but not add a generous amount of cheese on top, so instead I added a large dollop of my trusted friend Hummus, a whole bag of lettuce, and some baby beetroot that had been hiding in the bottom of my vegetable drawer in the fridge, and even though it was a month out of date , it was still perfectly tasty.
We went for a long walk as the grey fog that had been hounding us all day, had finally cleared and the sun had made a very welcome appearance.
As soon as we returned home I treated myself to a large slice of banana cake and a glass of orange juice.
Though still missing large milky cups of tea, I’m pleased to say day 2 was far easier than day 1!
I was ridiculously tired this morning and stayed in bed until I could no longer ignore my alarm.
Crumpets again for breakfast, but I swapped my odd-looking oat milk tea for a fruit cranberry and raspberry tea, which was far more appealing as it didn’t have sediment floating in it.
Lunch consisted of half a tub of hummus, left over from the previous evening and carrot and celery sticks. I was asked by Lianne, my SBC cohort, what I had for lunch.
“Hummus, with carrot and celery sticks…” I replied
to which she asked, “and what else did you have with your snack?”
I laughed, and explained that I was hoping it would keep me going until I could eat my fruity mid-afternoon oatcakes (which it did, but the oatcakes were a very welcome snack!)
I went to my parents for dinner, and was offered numerous cups of tea, I said no to all (strong will-power had kicked in!), even though my mum kindly went through the different types of milk they had in:
“Almond, Rice or…. Hemp milk”
I had to query this and check that my parents hadn’t brought some new-fangled type of ‘happy-milk’ but I was assured it was all perfectly legal and after a little research discovered that: ‘Hemp milk, or hemp seed milk, is a plant milk made from hemp seeds that are soaked and ground in water, yielding a beany-nutty cream-flavoured substance’ who knew such a milk existed!
They cooked me a vegan feast for dinner, consisting of roasted vegetables, tofu, couscous and a big bowl of spring greens. All of which I happily ate and would happily eat again. And they even made me dessert, rice pudding, made with rice milk, brown sugar, and vanilla essence!
Even after my vegan feast for dinner, I still went to bed feeling hungry, but pleased that I was more than half way through my vegan challenge.
I woke up feeling pleased that I’d got to Day 4 without caving. I added the Jasmine and Evening Primrose Oil Bath & Shower Crème to my morning routine, which is the perfect shower products for spring, as it smells light and floral without being too overpowering.
Breakfast was again my trusted crumpets, with a large mug of fruity tea.
Instead of hummus and vegetables for lunch, I brought in my tub of vegan garlic and herb soft cheese and dipped my carrot and cucumber into that which was really tasty, and I also had a big handful of sour cream and chive quinoa crisps – yum!
I felt as though I was doing really well, this was confirmed as I did our weekly food shop (yes, I brought lots of non-vegan foods) but I didn’t snack on any of them in the car on the way home.
I had veggie burgers, in pitta breads with salad for dinner with a big dollop of ketchup which I loved, but it was just after this that things started to go a little off track.
My week-long cravings for a cup of tea with lots of milk had not subsided; at this point it would be quite easy to not confess to this, and act as though I had lots of willpower and once again powered through it but I’m afraid to say that I gave in to my ‘tea-cravings’ and made the largest mug of tea possible.
I messaged Lyndsey to tell her what I’d done, and she replied with the following:
‘Well…I have a confession. I ‘shared’ a cup of tea about 2 hours ago!’
I instantly felt less guilty that I wasn’t the only one to have had a momentary lapse in self-control. I did have vegan banana bread with my mug of tea rather than a large chocolate biscuit, so that was something I suppose.
I was in London all day for a conference on Friday and after falling off the wagon the previous evening it was hard to get back on – in all honesty, the wagon was 200 miles away and I vaguely contemplated running after it, but instead I waved a fond farewell and breathed a ‘slightly guilt-ridden’ sigh of relief.
I had scrambled eggs on sour dough toast for breakfast.
Was plied with biscuits and tea during the conference.
And for dinner I went all out with a big chicken and bacon burger, with rosemary salted chips, it was amazing, and the best possible way to end my week as a vegan.
Let me start by saying that I sometimes think vegan’s get a lot of stick, they’re made out to be self-righteous and preachy, but after trying to just eat like a vegan for a week I think that they have every right to be. If they can eat like this 365 days of the year, then they deserve some sort of prize, better yet give them all a great big medal that they can occasionally shove in people’s faces.
I did enjoy parts of it, vegan banana bread will now become a must-have in our house. I enjoyed having to think outside the box when planning our meals, I sometimes think I get into a bit of a rut when cooking and choose to cook the simplest meal I can after a long day at work. But doing this has made me realise that, with a tad more organisation on my part, my meals could be slightly more exciting and incorporate a wealth of different ingredients and flavours.
However, I can honestly say, that unless forced to, I won’t be trying this again, what I might do though is have a few vegetarian days every week and put meat on the back burner. I will even mix up my skincare routine so that I’m not solely using my Collagen products, and instead I’ll use a mixture of products, which is one of the wonderful things about SBC, the products are just so versatile.
If you are a vegan I salute you, you have my everlasting respect. But for now, I’m signing out, and going to make a large milky cup of tea.