It’s been about a month now since I challenged myself to do one plant-based week and since then I’ve just about managed to keep it up so I thought I’d do a bit of a check in post with a few recipes and recommendations thrown in.
*Disclaimer* all the views I express here are my own, based on my own research and relationship to the world around me. I am in no way attempting to shame anyone who chooses to eat meat, I just wanted to put my current thoughts on veganism out there so my readers can consider my view points and so I have a record of this journey of vegan discovery I’m on. Maybe in another month’s time I’ll feel completely different about the whole thing but that’s a thought for another day – this is a thought for now.
After trying the plant-based diet for a week there was no viable reason for not continuing. At the beginning of the month, just post plant-based week, I did eat a couple of pizzas because I was still thinking about veganism as a culinary challenge rather than an ethical choice (more to come on that later). And I did slip up a few times while I was away before Christmas in Dublin because there wasn’t a any vegan options available when I was hungry – and when I’m hungry I get grumpy and my energy level completely nose dives, so it was better in those few situations for me to eat something with dairy than to just eat a side salad which would not give me to blood sugar boost and calories I needed.
A Vegan Christmas:
Being vegan for one week was a really fun culinary challenge for me and being vegan for a whole month, a month that included Christmas day, has been still been fun. I got 3 different vegan cook books for Christmas, so I’m definitely not going to run out of fun opportunities in the kitchen.
Christmas to me has always been a time of chocolate, cheese, and cake! And I didn’t miss out on any of these things. A surprising amount of chocolate products are vegan, I had some great ginger dark chocolates. I made some of my own cashew cheese (recipe here) which was creamy, delicious, and killed my craving for boursin and crackers. And I made a good selection of cakes which were all very well received: pineapple, banana + walnut, and clementine. So I certainly didn’t feel like I was missing out on my favourite things about Christmas. Luckily I have a very supportive family and they know how much I love cooking so I was let lose in the kitchen on Christmas Day. I was cooking for 2 very skeptical omnivores, 2 rather skeptical pescatarians and myself. I cooked a mushroom + kale wellington, roast garlic sweet potato mash, roast carrots + brussel sprouts, peas, and onion gravy. The plates were scraped clean. The skepticism was swept away. And I really got a vegan cooking confidence boost – show stopping meals are still easy to make. I was a little scared that I’d end up cooking way too many simple curries and stews (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but they’re not very exciting).
Other culinary highlights from the last month include: pizza made using Violife cheese which was a complete success with homemade dough and lots of veggies on top; fried breaded tofu that reminded me of fish fingers; african spiced roasted tofu; a hearty and creamy mushroom lasagna; a big and bountiful burrito from Go Burrito; miso soup; and a lot of avocado toast.
A Ethical Stance:
Christmas is meant to be a time of compassion, of charity, so it made sense to me to continue to be vegan throughout the festive period in order to extend my compassion to non-human animals. Veganism is not just a dietary choice, it’s an ethical choice and I realise that now after taking time to think about my vegan journey. To think that I can take something from another creature just seems so entitled, and there’s so much cruelty and apathy in the world right now that I thought that in my own little way I should try and make a difference. I should try and be more kind and more empathetic, and I think veganism really represents these emotions.
My mum keeps hens back home, these hens are characterful, funny, and cute. They all have names and individual personalities, I was even allowed to choose the names of quite a few of them. I absolutely love them. It therefore doesn’t make sense to me to consume any products that contain eggs; if I love the hens that potter around my garden so much I should extend my love and empathy to all hens. Just like I love horses, so I should extend my love and empathy to cows who are just as big and stupid and characterful as horses. I love animals, and I always have since I was really young, and now I think I understand a lot more that veganism isn’t extreme or strange, it just makes sense – how can I be a self-identified animal lover and contribute to industries that hurt them?