Well, I am a girl who likes a challenge but this one may be a bit of a stretch:
I have committed to maintaining a vegan diet for a month – that’s a full month; 31 days of meat free, fish free, dairy free meals and snacks. As that month is March I have only one omnivorous day left before I start.
Please don’t misunderstand; I have no intention of becoming a permanent vegan. I eat meat, I like eating meat and, as I invest a little time and effort in ensuring that I buy ethically sourced meat from a local butcher I have very little guilt about eating meat. I also live on the coast so I eat fish – I think it is important to support a declining fishing industry and some of those fishermen are also my friends.
So why am I doing this?
To be honest it’s mostly because, as I have already said, I like a challenge. I am viewing this as an extended thought experiment. Despite the fact that I am always on the lookout for interesting new recipes for bun scuffle, our diet at home can be a little predictable; you can almost guarantee that we will eat pork escalopes with cabbage at least once a week and the chances are that chicken will feature quite high on the list too.
To be vegan requires thought; I will need to consider nutritional balance as well as flavour, I will need to think about what I can and can’t eat and, of course, what I can and can’t drink. I will need to think about everything in a way that I don’t need to now (I have already done the thinking about meat eating). I will also need to take my glasses with me when I go shopping so I can read all the small print on labels.
Funnily enough, I don’t think that meat and fish will be the challenge. We already eat vegetarian meals once or twice a week but they are usually milk, egg or cheese based meals. I think replacing dairy food might be more difficult. How will I live without cheese?
We don’t really eat processed food now – I tend to cook everything from scratch – and I don’t intend to change that. So will I use “vegan egg substitute” out of a packet? How will I bake if I don’t? I don’t know yet. I do know that I won’t be eating chicken flavoured chickenless burgers or soy bacon. If I want the taste and texture of meat I would rather eat meat than some faux substitute but that’s just about personal taste.
I have been doing a little research and it seems that honey is out but yeast is ok (although lots of bought bread has milk in it). More worryingly, most wine is out as it is clarified using finings which are often gelatine or casein based – the same applies to lots of beers which use isinglass to settle the sediment. Apparently this is not allowed in German or Belgian beers so they are all vegan friendly – what a pity lager isn’t my thing!
Baking will also be a challenge, most cakes and bakes rely on butter and eggs to make them taste great but I will be experimenting with vegan baking and I’ll let you know how I get on. What will puddings be like without cream or custard or ice cream? Surprisingly, sugar is also an issue but more on that later.
If I am honest, when I see photos of vegan food it often tends to look very worthy and not very pretty. I am not into deprivation – I like my food to be a feast for the belly and a feast for the eyes so I will be trying to bring some comfort and joy into my vegan diet.
I am looking forward to this challenge with a mix of excitement and trepidation. A month is a long time and March has Mother’s Day and Easter Sunday in it – so (just in case my daughters are reading this) it might be worth mentioning that Green and Black’s organic dark chocolate is accidentally vegan (hooray!) – no milk or casein in it.
I’m not trying to convert anyone here – not even myself, but I do hope to inspire you to try some plant based meals from time to time. If you try any of my recipes let me know how you get on. I’m also open to tips and advice from any vegans who migh read this. Wish me luck…
I will write regular posts here on the blog but will keep a daily diary on the bun scuffle Facebook page so please visit and “like” my page to keep up with my vegan adventure.