Food, Life

Veganuary: Four months on

Veganuary review

This year I’ve taken on something of a lifestyle change, particularly in terms of my diet,  and I thought it was about time I broached the subject on Sophar So Good.

For the first month of 2017 I took part in Veganuary. For those who don’t know, this is where you pledge to go vegan for the month of January; it’s an initiative that started in 2014, and nearly 60,000 people took part this year. This post will act as a review of that experience and the impact it has had on me, which I hope will be useful for anyone considering doing it in future years – or at least interesting even if you’ve never considered a vegan diet. I’m going to use the questions I’ve been asked along the way as the framework for the post. Here goes!

What were your reasons for taking part?

I find this difficult to answer, because in all honesty I’m not sure why I decided to do it. I’m the kind of person who likes to set challenges and have little projects, I guess, and as I’ve been interested in health/fitness/diet for a long time, I thought it sounded like an interesting thing to try. There was definitely a growing awareness of the animal welfare related reasons in my mind – but equally I wasn’t even vegetarian, I was still eating meat, fish, eggs and dairy so I can’t claim that that was something I was already very passionate about prior to this. Either way, I had the urge and I went with it!

How was it?

It was great! I learnt loads about food, became so much more conscious of what actually goes into what we eat (I can’t even tell you how many packaged foods that you wouldn’t expect have dairy in them) and had fun experimenting with new recipes. After a matter of days I found I had more energy, less spots, and I was still more than adequately fuelled to smash the standard January workout regime.  Best of all, I genuinely enjoyed the food I was eating – in particular I found that I could feel full and satisfied without ever getting that uncomfortable, bloated, yucky feeling which is something I struggled to avoid when I was an omnivore.

Veganuary email you throughout the month with various resources and just to check in and their website is full of useful bits like recipes, eating out guides, and general information so as a charity they are really helpful and support you through the process.

Did you manage to stick to it for the whole month?

Yes! Omitting the animal products was relatively easy in the sense that I didn’t actually miss any of them enough to be a problem – I found that it was only when I was hungry and felt like grabbing a tuna sandwich or a twix that I had a craving for meat, fish or dairy. As soon as I had something to fill that gap, like a veggie burger, dark chocolate, bean chilli, milkshake made with almond milk (okay getting hungry now), I wasn’t fussed. However, it’s probably worth noting that although I was an omnivore before January I was an absolutely rubbish one. I didn’t like red meat if you could tell it was meat – steak or pork chops were my food hell.

What was the hardest part?

Not what you might think (especially considering I bloody loved cheese)! What was difficult was eating out and being worried that they wouldn’t have anything. Or only having one choice at a lot of restaurants, and not wanting to be the difficult person who asks if we can please go somewhere else as I can only eat pasta and tomato sauce if we go to the place that’s been suggested. Harder still though, and the most difficult part of the whole thing, was dealing with the reactions from those around me. I was (and still am) completely happy to discuss it and answer any questions if people were interested, and had many conversations free from judgement with with people who were curious which was great. However, reactions from some were as though I’d announced I was joining a religious cult or stopping eating altogether. Some didn’t ‘get’ it (hint: it’s not something for you to ‘get’) and some people demanded to know my motivations and then tried to argue with me about them. Not cool, mate – you just worry about what you put in your mouth and I’ll worry about what I put in mine (if you didn’t see an innuendo in that you are a far better person than me).

Did you carry on when the month ended?

The big question…yes! (although I must caveat that by saying please do read the next answer). There were a couple of instances in February and March where I ate animal products but not since then.

Have you eaten meat, fish, eggs or dairy since?

Yes, I have. I’ve eaten meat once – I had a Five Guys burger on 1st Feburary, and do you know what, it was not the great occasion I was expecting after a month off it. In fact, it was kind of gross, and that was my decision made on the meat front.

I’ve had a couple of dairy-related accidents – once I was at my friend’s birthday and for some reason I merrily went and dunked a tortilla in some sour cream. That’s not vegan Soph. I don’t know why it just didn’t even register that it was an animal product but I guess that says something about the way we view our food. I also ate vegetarian at times during a weekend in Marseille in March as I wasn’t getting on too well avoiding butter/cream/cheese in France – however I think I would manage it now I’m more experienced at dealing with it.

Will you be vegan forever now?

I have a long long answer for this question which I expect I will blog about at some point but this is already rather long, so for now; this is the right choice for me at the moment, and I have no intention of stopping.

Would you recommend taking part in Veganuary?

It’s a massive, resounding YES from me – even if you don’t plan on taking it further than January, even if you have no interest in actually living a vegan lifestyle in the future, even if you think all vegans are a bunch of tossers (we aren’t, I promise). The month is a massive learning curve. You’ll learn so much about food and probably a lot about yourself as well (even if it’s just that you simply don’t want a life without steak). If your experience is anything like mine you might have some of the best meals of your life while you’re at it.

What I think is really great about Veganuary is that by positioning it as a month long challenge, there’s far less pressure to commit yourself to a massive lifestyle overhaul, making the prospect far less daunting. That was certainly my thought when signing up – but just over four months after January ended, I’m still loving it!

Have you ever tried going Vegan – or would you be tempted to?

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26 thoughts on “Veganuary: Four months on”

    1. Yes it really can cant it – it’s quite amazing! That’s really interesting, so important to find the right diet/lifestyle for you xxx

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  1. YES Soph, so glad you have chatted about this! I fo’sho think people can be super judgmental which is annoying, and my mind definitely went straight to the gutter ‘you just worry about what you put in your mouth’ LOL. I am a pescatarian who doesn’t have much dairy or any eggs. Bit of an odd one! I hopefully can switch to straight up vegan soon, just need to slowly step away from the salmon. I will definitely take part next Jan! Immy x

    http://www.immymay.com

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    1. They really can, bloody people! I’m glad your mind went to the gutter too, would’ve been well awkward if everyone was like ‘um…no?’ haha. Salmon is delicious to be fair, I used to love salmon and prawns (think I’m actually supposed to say ‘Oh I feel sick at the thought and I don’t even like it anyway’ but lets be honest) – but yeah I would definitely recommend Veganuary especially if you’d like to try a switch, it’s such a nice way to make the transition without any pressure and then you can always go back to the salmon if you find it isn’t for you! xxx

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  2. I find it so fascinating that you went from a meat eater straight to vegan, that takes a crazy amount of dedication. I feel like I would find it a lot easier as I am Veggie and I’m pretty much 90% Vegan at this point as well. I am also Gluten Intolerant so I completely get why you felt awkward eating out. I like in Northern Ireland, a country that still can’t wrap it’s head around the idea of avoiding meat, so Vegans are few and far between to say the least. It isn’t so bad in Belfast but rural towns it is pretty difficult to eat anything other than salad. Throwing my intolerance into the mix makes it near on impossible. I’m pushing through though and slowly getting to grips with asking 1000000 questions to the poor waiters. LOL

    Hoping you post some of your fave recipes, really in need of some inspiration lately. 🙂

    http://www.hellosaralou.blogspot.com

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    1. It was quite a massive change I have to admit! Oh my, you must have such a hard time eating out, some places are just not accommodating of dietary requirements are they, it can be so frustrating. Hopefully in time this will change and we will actually have a bit of choice or at least things will be clearly marked on menus! I would definitely love to do some recipe posts in the future and I have a list of the recipes I want to start with, the only thing stopping me is that our kitchen is horrible (I live in a rented apartment) and I want the photos to look nice haha! Thanks for reading lovely xxx

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  3. Very interesting read – from a total non vegan by the way! And well done you for finding something so interesting and life changing within a challenge!
    I did a month long challenge in Nov 2015 – NaNoWriMo (writing a 50000 word book in a month) – and the sense of achievement was immense even if that was purely just personal! I had lots of whys? I told lots of people to keep me commited! But lots of encouragement too!

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    1. Thank you! 🙂 Oh I’ve always wanted to take part in NaNoWriMo but I’m not sure how i’d manage it with trying to keep the blog updated too nowadays! Well done you for completing it, thats amazing and so cool that you have now written a book! xx

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  4. I’ve never really understood why people think that your dietary choices need to be justified to them! I eat veggie during the week for sustainability reasons, which a lot of people don’t really get! x

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    1. It is very confusing isn’t it, I just can’t see how it makes a difference to anyone else. The sustainability thing is so important, I didn’t really go into it as I was rambling on too much already but good on you for that! xx

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  5. Good for you for keeping up with this for four months! When I did this (for a much shorter time- ha) I too had a difficult time at restaurants. There was always something I could order, but that didn’t necessarily mean it appealed to me haha. Good luck continuing on with this challenge! So much respect haha.

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    1. Oh god I know exactly what you mean! They say oh yes we have a vegan option but then it turns out to be something you don’t really want OR they say stuff can be made vegan but what they actually do is give you an omnivores meal with all the flavourful parts taken out. Thanks so much Courtney, we’ll see how I get on! x

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    1. Oh amazing, I’ll go and check it out! I think thats great anyway, it’s all about learning and building awareness isnt it and if you’ve made any changes at all it just goes to show that the month can have an effect on you x

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  6. I found this really interesting to read because I’ve been thinking about trying out eating purely vegan (can you even try it out?) for a while now, just because I’ve heard a lot of people talk about their positive experiences with it. I have to say though, I know the people around me would react so negatively and that really bothers me!

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

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    1. Thanks so much Julia – and of course you can! I know exactly what you mean about the people around you though, it’s unfortunate that that would even come into it but it really does. Hope you figure out what works for you if you decide to give it a go xxx

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  7. I think I’m probably a lot like you were before you went vegan – I’m a pretty rubbish meat eater as it’s basically just chicken and fish that I eat. It’s totally not ok for people to question your choices though – I gave up sugar for lent and never took it up again because of the health benefits I saw and I feel so much judgment for it when I tell people so I totally get how you feel about that! Good on you for sticking with it though, I don’t think I could ever give up cheese, I like pizza too much!
    Amy xx
    http://www.callmeamy.co.uk

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    1. Yes that was definitely me! That’s ridiculous isn’t it really, I just don’t understand why that should make a difference to someone else…such a shame that it does. Haha, I am working my way through the vegan cheese and have found a couple of good ones! Lots of them are similar to edam or gouda, no substitute for cheddar or the cheesier cheeses (?!) that I’ve found yet though 😦 xxx

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  8. Good on you, I would worry I would miss meat and cheese but from reading this maybe it wouldn’t be as hard as I imagine. The health benefits have to be weighed in the favour of the Vegan Lucy

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    1. Yeah I think it just depends on what you are used to but for me it wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be at all! Thanks for reading xxx

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  9. Wow – well done 🙂 I’d like to try going vegan sometime (I’m veggie/flexi but very reliant on cheese right now) but January is never going to work for me! Too much of a crap month to risk also removing cheese…

    Did you find it was more expensive? One of my concerns is that if you aren’t cooking everything from scratch or eating only fruit/nuts, buying prepackaged vegan snacks and treats seems extremely pricey!

    https://theotherrosieproject.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you! Haha I feel you on the cheese – that is probably the thing I miss the most but found some decent alternatives. If it’s something you’re interested in it’s definitely worth giving it a go to see how you feel, anytime that works for you 🙂 I found it was actually cheaper, obviously it will depend what you buy but for me the most expensive items in a food shop tended to be meat, so it was nice not to have to spend on that! But yes, if you are buying a lot of prepackaged vegan snacks and treats it may add up – although there are also quite a lot of ‘accidentally vegan’ sneaky treats like oreos, walkers prawn cocktail crisps so you dont necessarily need to buy anything ‘special’. Thanks for reading lovely xxx

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