16 things I learnt doing Veganuary

I did it! I spent 31 days being a Vegan during January. Ok, I did slip up a few times when I was really ill with flu (eggs were pretty much only thing in the house I could or wanted to eat and Alex cooked pizza for me) and when in London I had to find dinner in half an hour and I couldn’t find anywhere that was vegan. I also accidentally ate dark chocolate with milk in (I thought all dark chocolate was vegan!) and I once ate crisps with milk in (why is there milk in crisps?). As someone who is a bit fussy, hates cooking and is pretty bad at it, having to find and cook yummy vegan recipes has been a challenge!

But I’m still really proud of what I have achieved, especially as I can find it so hard to stick to things like this. I tried to give up cheese for lent last year and failed miserably in a few days. This month I proved to myself I could do it and that I can live without dairy, eggs and all other animal products. Whilst I’m not ready to go full vegan yet I’m certainly several steps closer and could see myself going all the way one day. I’ve certainly developed an aversion to dairy products now.

Here’s what I learnt over the month:

  1. The art of scanning ingredients in the supermarket. Luckily the key non-vegan ingredients in most food are also allergens (milk and eggs) so they are always printed in bold capitals so they are super easy to spot quickly.
  2. You need to eat more food. I was constantly starving in the first few days. I had to take more time and effort in making sure I was eating enough. Though the flu did not help at all with that.
  3. Humans can’t get iron from spinach (yes it’s full of iron but our bodies can’t absorb it), I feel I’ve been lied to all my life!
  4. Lots of meat eaters really love having a judgemental opinion about vegans and seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to insult and cast judgements on someone else’s lifestyle choices that have nothing to do with them!
  5. Just being associated with the word vegan will have you labelled by some as a radical militant protester that values animal lives over humans. This mass generalisation is ridiculous on so many levels. Veganism is just a diet. For example, vegans eat plant-based food for all sorts of reasons, some of them have nothing to do with animal welfare.
  6. People will always assume you are not getting enough protein. Odd when I’ve been vegetarian for 2 years. I’m not exactly a stranger to getting enough protein.
  7. I learnt that with the massive physical strain put on dairy cows from constant breeding and carrying unnaturally heavy amounts of milk for extended periods of time, they often only live around 5 years instead of their natural lifespan of 20 years. There’s also the emotional distress they go through each time their calf is taken from them. It’s heartbreaking.
  8. Most vegan cheeses are really disgusting. Violife and sheese seems to be the only ok ones but I think I’d rather just go without.
  9. Dairy products are in nearly everything! Crisps, sweets, naan bread, brioche, Quorn, to name a few.
  10. But despite that, I discovered so many accidentally vegan foods. Thank goodness for Doritos and dark chocolate.
  11. Asking for vegan food in a supermarket will often result in being directed to the free-from section. Not the same thing.
  12. Coming into the office when everyone has made cakes or brought in sweets is the WORST.
  13. Overall, the vegan online community is the BEST! Apart from a few judgemental preachers, nearly everyone on the Veganuary Facebook group were really supportive. They are different from the perceived image everybody has of them.
  14. Don’t ever assume food that your friend has put in front of you is vegan even when they know you are vegan. That was totally my bad!
  15. Nothing is black and white. I knew this of course but this experience has reaffirmed it to me. Many vegans see things as black and white, killing animals is always bad, if you cause them harm you are wrong (and evil). But, as ever, it’s never that simple. Death is part of life and part of natural balanced ecosystems. Humans tend to have an unnatural fear of it. It’s impossible to live in today’s society without causing some level of cruelty and harm to other life, whether you are vegan or not. Everyone has their own perspectives, their own moral code and it is up to them to make that decision on how to live.
  16. Overall, it’s a really rewarding positive experience. I did far better than I thought I would and my perspectives have changed. I had highs and lows, with several bursts of tears and frustration. But guilt-free eating does give you an amazing proud feeling, which somehow even beats the taste of cheese!

Did you take part in Veganuary? What did you learn?

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5 comments

  1. Well done with sticking with it 🙂

    I haven’t been doing veganuary but I’ve had a mostly vegan diet for a few months now (I love eggs and honey a tad too much). And it’s amazing how quickly your body adapts. I don’t personally feel I have to eat more than before, just differently. I’m more conscious of my potential lack of protein but I easily make up for it in other ways. I find myself more prone to experimenting with cooking and new to me ingredients (some nuts, of adding nuts in places I wouldn’t have before, seaweed, spelt porridge, etc.).
    Also I find I really don’t miss dairy anymore. Quite the opposite actually. I had a friend who made me a cheesecake once and my body really couldn’t cope with it (before I had zero problem).

    Are you going to stick with a more vegan diet now or back to normal?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks!

      I think I had to eat more because I’d given up eggs which I used to have nearly everyday. They tend to be pretty filling I think. I’ve definitely got a bit braver with experimenting but I think it’s something I need to try more, I want to try seaweed! That’s great you don’t miss dairy anymore but really strange you couldn’t eat the cheesecake. I guess that makes sense as we’re not designed to eat dairy anyway? Your body might have resorted back to normal perhaps.

      Yeah I actually think I will be sticking with a slightly more vegan diet than before. I can’t give up eggs (and I’m ok eating them as long as they are organic/free to roam). I actually went to the supermarket today (first time shopping since end of Veganuary) intending to get normal shopping, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy mayo and several other things with dairy in! I found myself checking all the ingredients still. So maybe I’m further along the path to being vegan than I thought! I did eat cookies earlier though, chocolate and cakes might be a more difficult one to crack.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with eggs 🙂
        I would actually love to have my own chickens but at the moment it’s not feasible so I do the same as you.

        Cookies and cakes are definitely tough ones 😛 If I’m out, I sometimes order a cake even if I know I shouldn’t. I’m not necessarily trying to be vegan at all times, just healthier and kinder to the planet and animals. And depriving myself of a treat now and again isn’t the end of the world (at least I don’t think so).

        Liked by 1 person

      • We actually have pet quail as an alternative to chickens, much smaller and you have to keep them in a pen. So you can have them if you have a garden that’s not huge. And the eggs are delicious! But the eggs are tiny and they only lay eggs in spring and summer so we have to buy normal eggs too to keep me going haha.

        Like

  2. I wanted to take part in veganuary but didn’t get myself organised in time!

    I currently eat meat, however I know that going vegan eventually is the path I am on as it is the right thing for me to do given how I am in other areas of my life.

    I was actually a vegetarian in my late teens due to pressure from a vegetarian friend, who kept reminding me that I was eating a cow every time I had a cheeseburger, which was every Saturday! This was in the nineties and veggie food came from the freezer in the health shop. Sadly I only lasted a year, the Christmas ham was too tempting for me 😦

    I think it’s a lot easier now, I have bought and borrowed some vegan Cook books and followed some vegan blogs.

    I had a Linda McCartney veggie burger Friday night, not too bothered about meat burger anyway, and tonight had a red lentil Bolognese.

    I’m pretty sure I could give up meat, but I do like my dairy products! Proper butter, double cream and cheese!

    Like

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