The Vegan Challenge – 1 Week and Counting

Salad

If you know bun scuffle then you know that I am an omnivore; I love to cook and I love to eat just about anything and everything: My recipes include meat, fish, vegetables, dairy, desserts and cakes so this vegan challenge; one whole month of an entirely vegan diet, may come as something of a surprise.

I am now one week into the challenge and the word which best sums it up so far is “interesting”.

Finding and devising vegan recipes is quite easy; the internet is full of fascinating blogs and recipe sites and there is plenty of nutritional advice out there too (although I would suggest that you choose your sites wisely). In addition I have had lots of help and advice from my vegan friends and from some lovely people who have found the bun scuffle facebook page this week.

I have been trying hard to find meals which are nutritionally balanced and which meet the needs of the rest of my family who, after all, had this experiment foisted on them. So far, we have been doing pretty well although my daughter sometimes opts out in favour of a meat option. On Sunday she decided to make a roast dinner for the rest of the family and I had to coach her through roasting a shoulder of lamb and making gravy – which made it a little harder to get excited about my sweet potato and borlotti bean patty! (Actually it was scrummy and the meat eaters shared my food rather than the other way around).

Breakfasts have been good; porridge (made with water) topped with fruit and toasted seeds, a fruit smoothie with a handful of nuts, toast and peanut butter or a “Raw Chocolate Wake-Up Call”; a protein rich, raw chocolate and banana smoothie courtesy of Day Radley. I am usually a bit lazy about breakfast so the discipline of eating properly in the mornings has been really good.

PorridgeLunches have mostly been of the soup and salad variety and the freezer is full of individual portions of carrot & coriander and spicy parsnip but my favourite is definitely Asian matchstick soup.

Soup - carrot & coriander

Dinners have really allowed for some creativity, I’ve made friends with tofu (I was never a fan before), played with pulses and fried falafel. I have “veganised” family favourites like cottage pie and mushroom risotto. I’ve even had a go at a banana and chocolate mousse and I baked blueberry muffins which my daughter claims are the best she has ever eaten.

Vegan mushroom risottoSo why do I feel like my efforts are just not good enough?

Perhaps I am just reading too much – vegan bloggers tend to set the bar high: Somehow it is not enough to be vegan; to be really healthy I should apparently also give up gluten and all forms of sugar or I should stop cooking altogether and only eat raw food.

This week I also read a piece by a well known vegan blogger who suggested that people who eat a vegan diet for the “wrong” reasons “dilute” the message that “real” vegans are trying to get across. In other words, people who are vegans for health reasons are diluting the animal rights message. Judging by the ensuing debate she is not alone in those thoughts.

I have immense respect for people who have strong beliefs and find a way to live their lives without compromising their convictions. Personally, I don’t choose to eat a raw food diet but I am more than a little in awe of those who do. I don’t normally choose to be a vegan but this experiment is increasing the (already immense) respect I have for those who do.

The best advert I know for a vegan lifestyle is seeing the people I know glowing with health and vitality but I’ll be honest with you – being lectured about what a bad person I am (despite the fact that I am eating a vegan diet at present) makes me want to go out and eat steak.

In fairness, the same distinctions exist in the omnivorous world. I am conscious that my own concerns about sustainably sourced fish and high welfare meat might seem judgemental to people who choose processed products without knowing their origin. Just think about some of the media reporting of the recent horsemeat scandal with anger and hyperbole on all sides of the debate and everyone looking for someone to blame.

I guess these food debates will continue forever. In the meantime, bun scuffle is about “one woman’s adventures with food”, as I am that woman, I will continue the adventure with my mind and my mouth wide open.

Links to some of this weeks recipes:

Asian Matchstick Soup

Falafel

Asian Marinated Tofu

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Vegan Chocolate and Banana Mousse

 

 

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