#Veganuary Week One Recap - Wins, Fails & Thoughts

I was so delighted when I posted on insta that I would be having a go at Venguary to see the amount of you that were keen to have a go too, were already eating primarily plant based or were at least keen to see that I thought of it.

Here’s just a few of my thoughts so far, I am by no means an expert on plant based eating (or a nutritionist), these are just my own experiences and what I’m trying out disclaimer out of the way.

The Good

I prepped in advance of the 1st and so the house was already stocked with lots of plant based goodness. Usually the only areas I wasnt already eating mostly vegan were dinners and the occasional bit of seafood in my lunch (e.g. tuna, prawns or mussels).

A day would look something like porridge for breakfast (gf oats, almond milk, maple syrup, frozen berries and a handful of cashews) and almond milk and coconut sugar in my coffee.

Another major staple in my mornings (or as a snack either) would be a simple green smoothie - usually using a handful of nuts and lots of fresh spinach instead of a protein powder (I do like the pulsin one, but between the two of us in the house we can go through it quickly and that gets fairly pricy).

Another major staple in my mornings (or as a snack either) would be a simple green smoothie - usually using a handful of nuts and lots of fresh spinach instead of a protein powder (I do like the pulsin one, but between the two of us in the house we can go through it quickly and that gets fairly pricy).

For lunch I might have something like vietnamese rolls and I just subbed some soft tofu mixed up in a little miso to replace the prawns for dinner I might make the veggie burgers from my cookbook Finn’s World (these are already vegan) with some sweet potato fries. The only diff here is no cheese on the burger.

I wanted to be able to do this month with as little “fake meats and cheeses” as possible, both to save money and be healthier, but also so that I felt like I was getting a better handle on “real” plant based cooking.

For resources this month I highly recommend these cookbooks that I’ve been using a lot Veganish by Holly White, Elsa’s Wholesome Life by Ellie Bullen and The Wicked Healthy cookbook (I’ve already used this to make jackfruit “carnita” tacos for new years and they were insanely good!).

I first came across Elle Bullen’s book on holiday in Oz, plant based eating is miles ahead there and very much “the norm”

I first came across Elle Bullen’s book on holiday in Oz, plant based eating is miles ahead there and very much “the norm”

When it looks this good who wouldn’t want to eat it?

When it looks this good who wouldn’t want to eat it?

For supplementing, just from what I read and from watching the Pick Up Limes Youtube channel (she’s a certified nutritionist and plantnbased herself) I’ve just been taking Vit B12 (recommended for vegans/veggies, but also for folks like myself with slightly weaker immune systems) and Vit D - this is more to do with living in Ireland in the winter. Vit D is a fat soluble vitamin so I just blend these tablets in my morning smoothie along with the peanut or cashew butter I’m putting in there, instead of taking them with something like a fish oil capsules.

Overall I’ve been pretty burnt out after a huge volume of work in 2018 and I’ve still been having a lot of problems sleeping (aches & pains, insomnia and waking up a lot), but I have found that eating primarily plant based has made me feel lighter and more alert after meals. I don’t have an afternoon slump and I found I don’t need to wait as long after eating before doing something like surfing. I have found that I’m hungrier, likely due to the generally lower calorie intake on a plant based diet (at least for me), so I’m snacking more and also having a little something before bed. I’ve also noticed that the usual post Christmas pudge never materialised even though I let myself have lots of treats, but I guess leaning more towards the hummus then the cheese has its upsides!

The Bad

So I feel its alwasy best to be honest. Even though its only week 1 I’ve already “failed” veganuary numerous times. But I also think that’s ok. I watched a great Tedx talk called “Being a Bad Vegan” (check it out below) and I reckon this is likely where I’m always going to fall on the plant based spectrum.

Here’s why;

Coeliac

As a coeliac I’m already fairly limited when it comes to travelling and eating out. I have to do a lot of research before I even set food in a country to see what/if I can eat much and when I travel I’m at the mercy of airlines, airports etc. Including having my prepped food taken off me, forgotten notes with airlines and flight delays I’ve often gone up to 36h with no food while travelling. Its unlikely then in these situations that strict vegan eating is always going to be possible for me.

Bees Business

Hopefully I wont draw fire for this one, but having seen first hand amazing aviaries on an organic farm in Oz as well as knowing several beekeepers who keep their bees with absolute love and respect (and dont do any nasty processes like smoking out the bees), I believe it is important to support bee related businesses that are doing their bit, seeing as bees are so I’m important to the flora of the globe as well as nearly all food crops that wee eat. Being able to makes things like beeswax wraps (guide here) has helped me cut out lots of plastic both in the kitchen and travelling and is also a component in my homemade natural cosmetics allowing me to eliminate using chemical cosmetics (recipe for lip balm here).

check out the link above for making your own beeswax wraps

check out the link above for making your own beeswax wraps

Being a Guest/ Getting Fed

Already this week I’ve had three different instinces of a guest wanting to give thanks and make us a dinner, visiting family and visiting friends. I already very much appreciate that they are already going through considerable trouble to carefully make GF food and don’t want to cause additional stress. In the case of it being a meat dinner I simply helped out a bit and made myself something instead of the steak. With family I appreciated that they chose sustainably caught fish from a local fishmonger and for the last one I had the lovely homemade crepes (veggie but not vegan) and simply had them without the bacon and drank my coffee black. I felt this was the best possible option for enjoying being a part of it while doing my best. I’ve had some people say I should just bring all my own prepped things, but I’m not sure if I think thats sustainable and I think its great that people are willing to have a go at doing gluten free!

Afterthoughts

I’ve really enjoyed the wins and the challenges of this first week and have already tried lots of new and delicious dishes. We have a trip to Madeira coming up this week and already I can see that Veganuary for me might be more along the line of the “bad vegan” philosophy - doing almost all plant based at home, but accepting slip ups and not limiting myself completely. I do feel I am ready to give up meat, poultry and milk completely (as in general I find the practices in these industries pretty horrific), but I do think that a little sustainable seafood (especially that that I forage myself or see coming off the boats) will still be in my diet. My big mission for this week is to find a good vegan butter and find good cheese replacements as this is certainly where I slip up the most!

Finn Ni Fhaolain