So I completed my two week vegan challenge.
I didn’t eat meat, fish, cheese, milk, chocolate, basically anything that contained animal products. This also included milk powder, honey, gelatine… oh yes, I went all in (or all out…). I wanted to do a recap post of how I found things, things I liked, didn’t like and what happens now.
Let’s start with the bad stuff.
I did not get on with chickpea or lentils. This is possibly because I went from full meat-eater to full legume consumer in a short amount of time. On my first few days I ate a lot of chickpeas. I saw them as a fantastic source of protein and something I could use to basically replace meat, cheese and eggs.
What I didn’t see coming (foolishly) is how that would hit my digestion. Within hours of eating I was VERY bloated. To the point that I went to bed looking pregnant. I’m lucky that I have a boyfriend that is apparently blind because although he couldn’t tell (pffft mere mortal man that he is) I could 100% tell and it made me feel quite low in self-esteem (I’m only human).
Vanity aside, I felt incredibly uncomfortable. My diet was never bad beforehand. I ate a lot of fruit and veg so adding more fibre-rich foods just overloaded my system. Getting real here, before the vegan diet I had a very nice regular toilet routine and rarely had any issues. Call me perfect poo Anna 😉 But add in a whole bunch more fibre and gaseous legumes and everything went out of whack. My system just was not happy and suddenly I felt very, well, backed up. I felt uncomfortably full all the time.
So quickly chickpeas and lentils were removed. This massively improved things, but it did cause me a somewhat annoying issue of having to buy more expensive food items to fill in the chickpea holes.
I bought Linda McCartney sausages (GAME CHANGINGLY GOOD), kebab-style fake meat and relied more heavily on tofu.
Now I know that protein isn’t the be all and end all and we don’t need as much as protein powder companies and gym buffs would have us believe, but personally for me I work better on a higher protein lower carb diet. This new vegan diet however was a lot higher in carbs and a lot lower in protein. It was hard to find protein to slot in. But don’t get me wrong, meat is expensive too. I guess my issue is more than I couldn’t just throw cheese on things or have eggs – both are very cheap forms of protein/fat.
A Bit Boring
I found tofu very dull. I mean this is highly likely to be an experience thing and over time I’d get better, but honest to god it was dull. Not matter how many spices I threw on it, it just tasted very boring and the texture was a bit ehhhh.
I’m not a huge bread, pasta or rice eater so this left a lot of salads to eat at lunch…and salads that didn’t contain a huge amount in my eyes. Or soup. I got to eat a lot of soup as an easy filling lunch. Again this is down to experience but to make something I was going to enjoy required a lot of effort and thinking.
As a non-vegan I can whip up very boring and fairly bland meals but still really enjoy them – scrambled egg… chicken… tuna salads… I can eat this stuff for days. But without those options I was left a bit lost. I used butternut squash and sweet potato A LOT.
Now I know this would get better with experience and learning but for my two week stint, eating was hard work. Checking ingredients for anything non-vegan. Trying to find items that would be filling and not too fibre rich and not too expensive to add to meals. It just made eating difficult. It was a pain each night to think of exciting meals that would fill me up and not bloat me.
One of my favourite go-to meals was a sausage sandwich. But I missed eating lots of vegetables and not worrying about their compounding affect on my digestion.
Vegan Protein Powder
I tried two types. One upset my tummy (I tried Form Protein three times, and it just sat in my stomach like a rock) and one just tasted meh (MyProtein Vegan blend). It made eating porridge a bit sad for me.
Now onto the good…
This is INCREDIBLE in tea. It really has changed my ways for good. I love it! It just upgrades a cup of tea. I probably won’t go out of my way in cafes to ask for it but if I notice they have it I’ll be getting it.
Linda McCartney Sausages
These are in my life for good. I used to eat a lot of the Heck chicken sausages but I’ll be replacing them with these one now. So tasty, so much flavour and FULL of protein.
Man this stuff is good. I was sprinkling it on everything. A small amount contains so much protein and B12 and FLAVOUR. Cheesy savoury goodness.
Vegan Meals Out
I enjoyed trying pulled BBQ jackfruit and I loved the seitan “chicken wings” I had at the Rockstone pub in Southampton.
Omg so good! Choosing something off a vegan menus is something I would NEVER have done before as I was worried it wouldn’t fill me up or be that exciting but after three different vegan meals out I can say that wasn’t the case.
And vegan cake is damn good too!
The only thing is, vegan cheese is not good. I’m sorry but it isn’t. I’m a blue cheese kind of girl. Strong mature cheddar. Goat’s cheese. Vegan cheese was literally fake cheese. Horrible. It didn’t taste of anything and it made me feel slightly queasy when I thought too hard about what it contained (you could argue that cheese made from animals should make me feel the same but as I don’t see eating animals as an issue this argument doesn’t work on me).
I Didn’t Miss Meat that Much
This was an eye opener. I didn’t crave meat. I didn’t miss it. The only times I missed it was really when I couldn’t think of something to throw together. Ordinarily I’d be throwing chicken into something and boom there’s a meal. But it was more the convenience of it than the taste (don’t get me wrong though, I bloody love chicken). What this has shown me is I can think outside the box and not just be lazy and reach for meat. I can eat a non-meat meal and still be full.
It has shown me though how much I love cheese. That I won’t be reducing! But meat, definitely. I can see several days in the week being meat-free. Chicken wings aren’t going anywhere though – if they’re on the menu, it’s likely I’ll be ordering them.
Overall, the two weeks taught me a lot. It helped me become more conscious of my animal product consumption. Showed me vegan food isn’t terrible (chickpeas aside) and helped me assess my diet going forward to a be a bit more environmentally conscious.
I raised a little bit of money for a local animal shelter too, so that’s bonus! (HERE’S the link if you’d like to sponsor!)
Have you ever changed your diet in a big way before?
Do you eat a lot of meat?
Do you eat a lot of cheese?