Now I seem to have gotten into the routine of a Vegan diet, I’ve decided to finally blog about the important matter of what I actually eat on a daily basis. The answer? Surprisingly, a whole lot.
The first day of my Vegan month I was sad to think I’d have to give up my beloved breakfast of peanut butter on toast and sliced banana, only to realise that my favourite brand of PB (Whole Earth) was actually made with sustainable Palm Oil instead of any dairy ingredients. So it turns out I had already been eating a Vegan breakfast for the past year. (Yay Me!)
Lunch is a little more tricky. I’m usually between lectures or having a library day, and I am often too lazy or too unorganised to make myself a packed lunch. So I often just buy my food at the library cafe or snag a meal deal which, when you’re vegan, can be a little problematic. However, my University Library has actually been a relative success in providing options for me. They offered a falafel sandwich or Bombay spice Veggie Wrap, both of which were plastered with the word ‘VEGAN’, as if the food itself was embodying the supposedly common trait that Vegans always insist on announcing their Veganism to everyone. But there were still some difficulties. The most concerning one being that the Salt and Vinegar Crisps I usually have contain milk in the vinegar flavouring?!?!?! A huge reminder to always check the label!
Since then, it has became so much easier to just make my own lunch, which usually consists of a plain white wrap – as most wraps, I discovered, are Vegan – red pepper hummus, some vegetables and some falafels heated in the microwave for 1 1/2 mins (Sainsbury’s do a pack of 12 for £2, which gives you 3 to 4 wraps). If I’m working at home, I sometimes swap the falafels for bean burgers (which take 20 minutes to heat up in the oven from frozen), costing £1.50 for four burgers. Bargain, really. And the bean burgers really sort out any cravings for crispy/battered food which is usually non-vegan.
Its also been a blessing realising that there is a butter alternative, made purely from sunflower oil, that really doesn’t taste any different. ‘Pure Sunflower’ spread (as pictured above) is my personal favourite. With the butter alternative I can have toast or my favourite side dish – Mash Potatoes – which goes perfectly with the absolutely delicious Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages that have quickly become the love of my life (apologies Idris Elba). Then discovering that Bisto is also Vegan, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying tucking in to some lovely Bangers and Mash to warm me up in this freezing weather! These sausages are an absolute lifesaver and so tasty. I also put them in pasta with pesto. Yeh. That’s right. There’s Vegan-friendly pasta (without the egg, made with rice flour) and Sacla do a ‘Free From’ pesto which is just as delicious as the normal, parmesan-filled one – my pasta obsessed flatmate couldn’t even tell the difference. And with the sausages at £2 for 6, but currently on offer at Sainsbury’s for £1, they have been the highlight of my Vegan month.
In terms of chocolate and snacks, you’d be amazed at whats available in the ‘Free From’ section in your local supermarket. I managed to get treated to some lovely Vegan chocolate on Valentine’s Day from Tesco’s ‘Free From’ range, but again, as with a lot of things so reliant on dairy, chocolate can be a little hit and miss. I also made a delicious Chickpea curry which lasted me over a week, which you can find the recipe for here, acting as a topping on rice, pasta and even a nice soup.
And as for my beloved cuppa, I’ve managed to wean off my cups of tea, having not really found a good equivalent for milk to go with it, but replaced this with a lovely range of new herbal teas (edgy…I know), and Green Tea for a caffeine boost in the mornings. One thing I’ve actually grown to prefer over the original, is Soya Milk Lattes/Cappuccinos. The taste is ever so subtly different, but one I prefer. So, despite sounding like a stuck up rich girl, and being called a ‘Yuppie’ by my friends when ordering my coffee, the Soya Latte is here to stay.
I have even tried my hand at a few Vegan pizzas, which are essentially a form of Bruschetta, which is fine, as that is one of my favourite dishes, but as a home-made meal option, I feel the Vegan pizza should be left to experts who can find the right Vegan substitutes, such as Pepe Nero in Bristol. But it was still yummy, and cost next to nothing, with most pizza bases being Vegan, and with only a variety of vegetables on top.
The one main positive I have found having to prepare Vegan food, is a new creativity for cooking. Having to look for substitutes or for new options has given me a new love for cooking and trying new recipes, which I had definitely been lacking over the past few years. Also realising that you can actually have a lot of the same things was something I wasn’t expecting, let alone finding new things that I actually prefer over the non-vegan options. I really do encourage any of you to just try a vegan option, whether it be a curry, or sausages or even soy milk in your drinks, you’d be amazed at how simple and tasty the other options can be!