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Veganuary, Weeks 3 & 4: Will I Keep Going?

If you're expecting the good old 'Hasn't this month gone fast!' spiel, I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint you  January has been long.

Not because of Veganuary, I hasten to add, but because the shiny promise of New Year has worn off and feels like a lifetime ago. I haven't even made any goals or resolutions for 2018 (yet), so Veganuary has given me something to focus on, and I've thrown myself into finding new meals to make. You know the saying 'Some people eat to live; some people live to eat'? Well, I belong in the latter category. Here's what's been going on this past fortnight:

Week 3

I was still craving cheese and eggs a little bit at the start of the week, although that wore off pretty quickly, especially when I cracked the recipe for a non-cheese cheese sauce. You soak some cashew nuts in boiling water, roast cubes of butternut squash, chuck it in a bowl with some nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, and a little dairy-free milk, and blitz it all up until it reaches the consistency you want. I'll post a recipe if I can take some decent photos and figure out the correct measurements (I normally just chuck everything in and hope for the best)  it's lovely served with pasta and garnished with fresh herbs, if you're feeling fancy.

Other cooking experiments were a bit hit and miss. I made a lentil lasagne by sort of following a recipe in Vegan Food and Living, and that was okay, but not something I'll be making again, and then I baked some of Lauren's banana bread, which went down a treat with my housemates despite me burning the top a little. It's a simple recipe, even if you're not really into baking, and the sponge is really moist and moreish.

I had one day when I really couldn't be bothered to make anything and grabbed a falafel, avocado and chipotle wrap from Pret. It was delicious and full of different flavours, but I wish shop-bought falafel wasn't so crumbly. Still, Pret is definitely the best option for vegan and veggie food on-the-go  check out their vegan menu and try not to drool over your laptop.

Homemade vegan pizza
One of my favourite Vegnuary meals: homemade pizza

Week 4

Monday did not get off to the best start when I woke up at 2am feeling like I was going to puke my guts up. I remember making my way to the bathroom, I remember deciding I wanted some water, and I remember waking up on the kitchen floor with a bump on my head. I had (and still have) no idea how I got there.

Once I'd staggered to my feet, I rang NHS 111, and the operator sent paramedics to the house. They took all the necessary tests and said my low blood pressure was to blame.

(Side note: how bloody amazing are these people? Working at all hours of the night, coming directly to me because I couldn't get to A&E, and making sure I got the medical attention I needed. All for free. The NHS is the best thing about the UK and it'll be a crying shame if we lose it.)

This isn't the first time I've fainted because of my blood pressure dropping; it happens every couple of years. Low blood pressure runs in my family, and apparently being a slim, female, non-smoker means it's more likely to be low anyway. I'd be very surprised if a vegan diet had anything to do with it, although that didn't stop a few people telling me I'd feel better if I ate some meat. (I used to faint more frequently before I was a vegetarian, and I tell them this, and suddenly my food choices and my fainting spells are no longer related in their eyes.)

Afterwards, I craved eggs on toast more than anything. I'm not sure whether it was a gut reaction (eggs on toast is my go-to when I feel a bit wonky) or whether it was my body telling me that's what I needed. Maybe it was both? Lots of people on Twitter recommended making a tofu scramble and trying out Follow Your Heart's egg replacement  they're now both on my list of things to try.

My appetite took a while to return, so I didn't cook as much as I wanted to last week, with a lot of meals ending up as the throw-it-together kind. Leftover veggie fajitas were a highlight: it turns out mushrooms are pretty damn good in a wrap with some peppers, onions, and spice mix, plus plenty of guacamole and salsa. Oatly's creme fraiche makes a nice sour cream substitute, too.

BBQ pulled jackfruit wrap with homemade slaw
It's amazing how good leftover veggies can taste when you season them and shove them in a wrap with other yummy things. This wrap was made with Sainsburys' BBQ pulled jackfruit and some homemade chunky carrot and cabbage slaw.

Will I go vegan?

Veganuary has taught me I eat more vegan food than I thought I did, and I don't intend to shy away from that at all. If anything, I'm seeking out more cookbooks than I did before (Feed Me Vegan by Lucy Watson is next on the list).

But even so, I'm not sure if I want to go ahead and label myself as vegan just yet. This is a bigger step up from vegetarianism than I thought, and I'm still learning; I can't say there wouldn't be slip-ups. On the other hand, am I letting the side down if I don't want to be defined as one thing or the other?

I wish I could give you all a straightforward answer. What I will say is that Veganuary has been a positive experience, on the whole, and I'd recommend it to anyone who's curious about a vegan diet. It's a big commitment, what with researching the nutrition side of things and finding new recipes to try, but even making one recipe a week, if you're more time constrained, is a good way to get into it. If you go in with an open mind, then I don't think there's one right way to go about trying vegan food.

How have you found Veganuary? Would you ever consider it? If you're already vegan, what are your favourite substitutes? Let me know in the comments.

Previous Veganuary posts:

Further reading:

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Beth, 23, South East England. I'm a writer with a love of books, lipstick, and the Oxford comma. I love beauty and I also love animals, so I only buy, use, and feature products from cruelty-free brands. (Seriously though, I am the person who stops to fuss over every dog she sees.) You can also expect posts about vegan/vegetarian food, and plenty of musings about life as a 20-something. Want to get in touch? Email me at beth.toasty@gmail.com

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