So I didn’t really tell too many people I was going to do this, only the ones who had to suffer through trying to choose somewhere to eat out with me. But I was just looking over my diary and I realised that today is the last day of My 30 Day Vegan Challenge.
That absolutely flew by!
I have been vegetarian since May 2014 but will honestly admit, I was a bit lax with it. I occasionally ate fish and would ignore the gelatin in packets of sweets. There was even a drunken slip up a few months ago when I ate some left over bacon one of my flatmates cooked (he didn’t even know I pinched it. Probably does now…) It was only a small bit, and I wrapped it in cabbage so ya know, it wasn’t ALL bad. But I felt awful and couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone as I was, honestly, guilt-ridden. It took me two weeks to confess to Himself and I hated admitting it. Now, I can joke freely about it. Thank God.
Then on the last day in September, I decided to watch Cowspiracy on Netflix. Leonardo DiCaprio appears as one of the Executive Producers in the opening credits. If you follow him on twitter, you will already know he is a huge environmental activist. The documentary had been released before and you can buy it on the website but once DiCaprio saw it, he decided to fund the cause, re-edit and help get it up on Netflix where everyone can see it.
It was honest and raw and really made me see how what we are doing is very wrong. There are so many aspects, I won’t even try to go into them. I am also not here to preach, if you want to inform yourself, head over to Netflix and give it a go. The main point that stuck with me was that you can cut down using your car, you can turn off all the lights, you can recycle all you want in an effort to try and help prevent global warming. But you cannot call yourself an environmentalist if you continue to eat animal products.
At the end of the documentary, the maker Kip Anderson encourages you to head over to their website and try the 30 Day Vegan Challenge. Considering the next day was the 1st of October, I said fuck it, I’ll give it a go. On the website, it allows you to sign up to daily emails from Kip’s friend Colleen Patrick-Godreau which inform you all about the vegan lifestyle. From tips on where to shop, weight loss and sticking with it under pressure.
I made of list of things I would have to change in my diet and went about replacing the animal products I thought I would miss most.
Milk for my tea was replaced with soy milk or I would drink it black. I bought vegan cheese which is delicious melted. Coconut yogurt is expensive but honestly 100 times nicer than any dairy yogurt you will taste. There is even a vegan pizza available from Credo so I didn’t have to miss out on that! Most bread bar soda bread is already vegan, as is pasta.
Colleen taught me how to read labels properly. The amount of junk food that is vegan is amazing. Skittles and Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Company don’t contain gelatin. Oreos are vegan, most crisps are and so is most dark chocolate. It suddenly wasn’t at all limiting in what I could have.
I was excited by the challenge and embraced it. I started taking pictures of my food to keep an eye on what I was eating but realised I didn’t need to. I did become a little frustrated the more I got into it. Not with veganism but with everything that wasn’t. If we can make products like jellies without using gelatin, then why don’t we? I’m sure even meat eaters don’t want to chew on bits of boiled tendons and bone marrow! Why do we put lactose into food that clearly doesn’t need it? Like salt and vinegar flavouring? It was a little baffling.
I knew I was also going to be visiting Toronto in the middle of this challenge but I was excited. What a city to go to if you are vegan. There was so many restaurants filled with really tasty food, desserts and ice cream. I ate my way around the city… which could explain why my weight may not have changed but it was worth it.
Himself has COMPLETELY humoured me in all of this. He even let me take him to a vegan restaurant for lunch on his birthday. BUT they had vegan ice cream and the most UNREAL vegan cupcakes. They really were something else. Sure how could he complain?
We went to have dinner in the 360 restaurant at the CN Tower and both of us were able to have a main course of veggie spaghetti bolognese. There was a mango sorbet for dessert. All free of animal products.
There is an awful stigma attached to the word ‘vegan’ though. I found myself declining to use it when eating out and asking if there were animal products used in the dish instead. Vegan has a reputation for sounding very extreme and limiting. But I honestly have discovered that it isn’t. The basic principles of eating more fruit and vegetables have been cropping up everywhere. This new ‘clean-eating’ trend is preaching the same thing. Cut back on processed food and meat and up your vegetable intake. It seems like an important rule now more than ever, especially with the World Health Organisation declaring processed and red meat are highly carcinogenic. Some vegans do give the term a very bad name. The prime example being of what happened to a Dublin restaurateur recently…read all about it here. Some vegans just take over reacting to the extreme. But then some give it a really good name, like Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson. So, you take the good with the bad.
I have to say, overall, I really enjoyed it. I may have been a pain to eat out with but a lot of restaurants are really flexible. If it means I have to skip dessert eating out sometimes, I will. Sure I’m probably better off anyway. I feel fantastic, I haven’t noticed a huge change physically but sure that may come. But I think this is something I will carry on with. After all, every little helps…
The picture above is of an amazing Fruit Crumble I made with the help of Deliciously Ella’s recipe. Topped off with some amazing coconut yogurt. I used a mixture of my own fruit but it was mind blowing-ly good. It was one of the desserts I made for himself to show this vegan challenge wasn’t going to be all doom and gloom. And it really wasn’t. If you feel like a challenge or trying new foods, I recommend it to everyone!