Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Selective Veganism For Sort-Of Lent

Over the past year, for some reason, I've become increasingly interested in nutrition. Mostly it comes from spending too much time procrastinating on the internet, reading food blogs and nutrition articles, and I find it fascinating. I wanted to try being full-on vegan for a bit, thought that Lent was a good time frame, and decided to give it a go.

I'm not doing this for any religious reasons, nor for any beliefs about animals. Some people say that eating no animal products gives them more energy, makes their skin and hair more beautiful etc etc, and I'm simply interested in whether being vegan does make a difference.

Anyone who knows me will attests that so far I've been a terrible vegan. I haven't even been a particularly good vegetarian! Initially I thought that this would be easy. Thoughts on veganism went something like this: I rarely eat meat or cheese (except when I've had a bad day and Cambozola is on sale at Co-op and I inhale the whole cheese in five minutes. Don't judge me). On the few occasions I have some sort of spread on bread it's usually sunflower or olive spread rather than butter, and I can do without it. Eggs are delicious, but I can manage not to eat them for forty days. It's not that long. I use natural yoghurt for mayonnaise/spread in sandwiches/as a substitute for crème fraiche, and I like soya yoghurt so that's that one solved. I only have milk in tea and coffee, and I don't mind soya milk so no problem. Sweets, chocolate? Not really my thing to be totally honest. Nope, this was going to be a breeze.

Goodness. Could I have been more wrong? Ladies and gentlemen, this has been hard. As soon as I told myself I couldn't have these things, I wanted them. I wanted them all. It's a simple case of denial, and wanting what you can't have. And also that I seem to have eaten out a lot since I started this, where there's very little vegan food to be had. If I'm paying for a specific dish I like to get the best-looking one on the menu, which almost always involves meat. I've been corrupted into getting takeaway as well, especially after my birthday when my hangover was chronically bad. Don't turn 22, it ruins your life. But that's another story. Food at home has actually been easy, I've stayed vegan there, so perhaps I'm not doing as badly as I thought.

There is one thing that I can't give up, though. Milk. I've had soya milk and almond milk before, and it's been fine in coffee. But not in tea. It is so wrong in tea. I love tea, most people can tell you that. It cures everything, especially headaches when paired with two chocolate fingers and a teaspoon of sugar. My ideal mug of tea is not-too-strong, nice-and-milky. And I will not give that up. Soya tea doesn't cut it. Since this has nothing to do with animal rights and more to do with nutrition, I'm allowing myself this one luxury. I'm in what is definitely the most stressful term of my time at university, and I think I'd go mad if I couldn't have milky tea.

This week I'm starting afresh. There's no point in simply giving up at the first hurdle, so I'm turning over a new leaf. I've worked out a new way to keep me interested: interesting cooking. I love to cook, but usually I don't have the money for expensive ingredients. Vegan cooking, however, is a new experience, so I've hunted out some recipes to try. I say "some". I have 23 recipes open from a single blog. Whoever says vegans don't eat are talking a load of rubbish.

I've taken all of these from The Detoxinista, whose recipes look delicious.

I'm actually excited to make some of these, to make food that looks and tastes slightly like the food I normally eat. I made some almond butter this afternoon, using The Detoxinista's recipe. All I did was dry-roast the almonds at 200c for 10 minutes, and then blend. And blend. And blend some more.

I added some ground cinnamon and it tastes delicious. Almond butter has such a gentle taste that it's great for adding spices - I think I might try a chilli one next...

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