#Veganuary – the end is not the end 

I can’t believe January is over already. It’s usually a month that stretches far into the future and never seems to end. I think because I had focus and started new things it didn’t feel like that this year. 

I’m starting to become obsessed with my weight and body shape again, and it’s really hard to take my mind from that and onto the important stuff. Like eating for nutrition, and eating things that actually make my body feel good. I’ve lost weight in January, but not loads. That wasn’t my main aim. In fact it wasn’t one of my aims at all. 

Eating vegan food has been pretty life changing for me. I never really cooked before. When I had to I really didn’t enjoy it. Now I’m cooking all kinds of different meals from scratch, using ingredients I have never ever used. And what’s really stunned me is that I absolutely love it. I enjoy my time in the kitchen before dinner every night, even if Astrid hates me cooking and has to be nearby eating breadsticks or I won’t get away with it. 

I’ve made pasta sauces and curries and sweet potato fries and casseroles. I’ve loved eating without feeling any guilt, and I really love knowing exactly what is in my food. I know what’s there because I put it there. 

I tried to make a pros and cons to vegan eating list the other day and I just couldn’t. There are so many pros, and the only con I can think of is that lots of restaurants and cafes make it very difficult to eat out. I rarely eat out so it’s no biggie, and I think it’s something that is slowly changing anyway. There’s also the people who insist on commenting, but as most of their comments are either dumb (like “mmm, bacon” as if that’s going to upset me) or are from people concerned about my calcium or iron intake, I can handle it. With the amount of spinach I’ve been eating I’ve got no worries! 

I barely ate any dairy or eggs anyway. I’d been veggie for years and years and years with just the odd hiccup, and I didn’t like dairy and eggs. They just taste slimy to me. I only had them as ingredients in things, like cakes and biscuits, and I’ve discovered that I can find alternatives easily for all of those things. 

With so little left to actually give up, I wasn’t expecting to feel major benefits. So I’ve been surprised to find there are so many. It has had an impact on literallly everything. 

My skin has been dry and flaky whilst also spotty for a while, and I was regularly getting great big horrible boils. Gross. My skin is clearing up rapidly, and while it’s still not brilliant it is getting there. My stomach doesn’t bloat and feel uncomfortable after eating anymore. I have totally over eaten a few times in January, but it hasn’t been as uncomfortable and horrible as it used to be. Once I’d got past the excess wind (soz -tmi!) of the first few days my digestive system seems to be working so much better. I’m not reaching for the peppermint tea to relieve tummy ache every evening. My energy levels have increased greatly. I still get very little sleep thanks to a combination of babies waking up and my own insomnia, but I’m coping with it so much better now. I think I’m less moody, although you’d have to ask Trevor to be totally sure on that one. I definitely feel less moody, and less anxious too. My mental health has definely improved and that was the biggest surprise. I guess there’s some doubt that it’s definitely eating well that has changed it, as it could also be because I quit my medication over Christmas. A friend told me today that she’d been quite concerned about me last year, and that I seem to be in a better place now. That’s good to hear. I’m glad I seem better on the outside too. 

There’s no way I’m going back. 

In fact, I think I’m going to take this further. I think my sugar addiction (I reckon most of us are addicted) is holding me back. Instead of feeling pretty good, I could be feeling amazing! I don’t think I’m ready to quit it all together, but I do plan to be more ‘sugar-aware’. When I eat sugary stuff I don’t notice when I’ve had enough and end up binging. I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ve had the odd bar of vegan chocolate recently, and I’ve been making myself eat it slowly and stop when I’m satisfied. I’ve found that I can leave a half eaten bar in a kitchen cupboard for days and days now. Previously I couldn’t know it was there and not eat it. 

I’m really proud of myself for completing Veganuary, and for sticking with it too. I’ve saved animals, contributed less to global warming, spent far less on food every week, learnt to cook, provided my family with healthier meals than before, lost some weight, improved my health, made big steps in improving my mental health, encouraged a friend to change her ways, and learnt to like myself a bit more. That’s not small stuff. 

A diary of #veganuary – part two 

Friday 27th January 

I’m scoffing down pasta as I type this, completely unable to remember why I ever ate any animal products. A lot of the books I’ve been reading and things I’ve been trying to change since new year are starting to become connected to each other. Before buying or preparing food I’ve been thinking about what ‘sparks joy’ thanks to Marie Kondo and what ‘adds value to my life’ thanks to The Minimalists. I’ve realised that even the foods that do spark joy often only do so for a little while. A huge cheesy pizza is the only non-vegan thing I really fancy (thanks to a table full of it at roller Derby party tonight!) but as much as I always enjoyed pizza, I felt bloated, stuffed, lethargic and guilty soon after eating it. There’s no joy in that. We’re going to make pizza from scratch tomorrow, as the kids love doing that, and I’m going to give it a go with some Violife vegan cheese Trevor picked up for me. However, I know that even if it tastes amazing I’ll feel rubbish after eating it. If it doesn’t work out it’s no biggie. I can live without pizza. I never thought I’d say that. 

Saturday 28th January 

I’ve barely eaten today and I’m not hungry at all. I’m not sure what that’s all about. I don’t mean to skip meals, but I noticed today that I don’t snack constantly anymore and that’s a great thing! 

We did make pizzas this evening. After helping the kids with the dough and toppings, it was about 2 hours into pizza making when I finally got to eat mine. I didn’t really want it. Didn’t fancy it at all. Then the Violife cheese wasn’t all I’d hoped it would be and I couldn’t eat it anyway. I reckon it would have been nicer with just the sauce and vegetable toppings. I didn’t need the cheese at all. Next time I don’t think I’ll bother with it. Whilst the real cheese pizzas were cooking I had no desire at all to give in and eat them. I think I’m over it.  

A diary of #Veganuary – part one 

Sunday 1st January

I’ve woken up today after no sleep at all with horrendous period pain! I think ‘shark week’ is probably going to be my biggest hurdle (hello chocolate!) so I guess it could be a good thing that I’m starting with it. I often lose my appetite when I feel this rough, so I’ve only managed a couple of slices of toast today (with dairy free spread!) and can’t even face having a coffee. Squash and paracetamol are my friends today. 

Despite physically feeling rubbish, I’m excited for the month to come. We took the Christmas decorations down this morning, and it now feels like time to face the new year. I have been vegetarian most of my adult like with a few hiccups, so not eating meat isn’t going to be an issue at all. I don’t like milk, and switched to dairy free milk and butter substitutes quite a long time ago now. I can’t bring myself to eat eggs since having Astrid either. So my only hurdles really are going to be ingredients. Stuff that I eat and drink without worrying about it’s content, like cake and chocolate and alcoholic drinks, will need some thought. 

I want to use this as an opportunity to work on my dreadful eating habits, my health and nutrition, my organisation and my (in)ability to cook. So I’m meal planning. I’ve already planned evening meals for much of next week, and although Trevor and the kids aren’t going vegan with me they will be eating what I cook in the evenings. I think it’s going to have a positive affect on all of us. I’m a little bit worried about Iris who has become a real fussy eater lately and doesn’t have much of an appetite, but only time will tell. Maybe eating better will help her. 

My tummy is too unsettled for lunch today, and I’ll probably have something plain and light for dinner. I’ve just got to hide all of the Christmas chocolate that is lurking all around my house so that it doesn’t tempt me, and do some research into the best dairy free chocolates because I now it’s not something I can quit completely! 

I’m still reading the Mel Wells book, The a Goddess Revolution. It’s about having a healthy relationship with food and your body, and I’m really enjoying it. It very anti-diets, which I think is great. I do need to lose weight but counting calories just sucks all of the fun out of life and I end up rebelling and stuffing my face. 

Monday 2nd January 

It’s been such an easy and awesome second day! I’m not sure why I expected it to be hard really. We’re not shoppers in our house. We don’t do a big weekly shop and we don’t do meal planning. We quite often decide what’s for dinner as Trevor leaves work and he picks it up the way home. It’s disorganised and expensive, and I’m determined to change it. I wrote a big shopping list based on my meal plans for the week, and today while Trevor and the little ones hung out in the park I shopped. I know it’s such a stereotype, but it felt like such a break to go food shopping all by myself. Who needs a spa day, eh? About 90% of what I bought was fresh fruit and veg. I’m trying to minimise the amount of meat and dairy substitutes because they can get expensive, and frankly we could use a lot more fruit and veg in our diet. I did pick up some Oatly oat milk though, because it was on offer and I have wanted to try it for quite a while. I’ve never brought or cooked a fennel bulb before, but today I did both! I made a ‘super-veg’ pasta sauce from an online recipe, while Trevor played with the kids. I really enjoyed cooking (which was unexpected because I’ve always really bloody hated cooking) and the sauce was amazing. I love the lovely fennel flavour, and I feel really good tonight knowing I had more than my 5 a day today, and no animals suffered for a single thing I ate. Including the chocolate I’m currently munching on, guilt free. 

I have, however, discovered a downside! This is a bit tmi, but oh my goodness I am so windy. From reading the Veganuary Facebook group, it seems to be a common reaction to adding so much veg to your diet and thankfully it doesn’t last long. Phew. 

Thursday 5th January 

Wow, I’m really enjoying this! I’ve stuck to our meal plan every evening, and I’m really enjoying cooking. Iris has declared my food ‘disgusting’ a couple of times but she’s going through a phase of fussy eating and is the same with any food, so I’m not too offended. We’ve been eating a lot of pasta, and I’m a bit bored with it, so I need to have a think about alternatives. We’re not home from Breastfeeding Support Group in time to cook much on a Thursday, so tonight we had hoummous and salad wraps. So easy, and even Iris ate some. I’m still pretty windy (tmi, soz!) but I can’t quite believe how much better I feel already. I have so much energy and I’m managing to be pretty organised when normally I’m too tired to even keep up with the dishes. Go me! 

Sunday 8th January

We’re a week in, and I am having the best time! My tummy has settled now, and my craving for sugary stuff have eased off. Cooking from scratch every day is still really enjoyable. I’m utterly amazed by how much better I feel already. I’ve completely banned myself from using the bathroom scales (because I get obsessive and I’ve vowed not to give a crap what the numbers say anymore) but I’d be willing to bet that I’m a few lbs down. My clothes just feel better on. I’m less bloated and have lots more energy. 

There’s a vegan sausage casserole bubbling away in my slow cooker that has been making my house smell incredible and my tummy rumble all day. I’m hoping it’ll get Iris eating because she usually likes stews and casseroles. Fingers crossed. The little ones and Trevor aren’t going vegan with me (they had KFC yesterday!) but they’re having a vegan evening meal every night because I’m doing the cooking. 

I’m not missing anything. An old version of me might have really struggled with cheese, but I went right off it when I was pregnant with Iris and my love of it has never really come back. I like an occasional pizza, so will have to look into vegan cheese for that at some point. Dairy free chocolate or Snowconut ice cream are easing the odd sweet craving, or if I’m out of those I’ll have a vegan hot chocolate made with almond milk. 

I can’t really remember what the point in eating dairy and eggs is. I feel a bit repulsed by the whole idea now. I kind of hope that feeling lasts.