Food & Drink

My Veganuary experience

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January is a month of resolutions and revolutions whether it be eliminating things from or encorporating things into your life. Veganuary is becoming more of a popular choice with people challenging themselves to eat solely plant-based for the month, which has shown to have a varying success rate. With so much hype, Jojo Jenkins decided to ditch the dairy and tells us about her month being vegan.

A MONTH without chocolate or cheese, are you kidding?

These two foods made up at least 75% of my diet until 1st January this year when I took on the Veganuary challenge. I (almost) completed a month without dairy, meat or eggs. The meat part was particularly easy for me as I am a vegetarian, so the bacon cravings didn’t come into it; cheese, however, was a different story.

Photo taken by @thehungryvegetable

On New Year’s Eve I sat myself by the cheeseboard stuffing my face and gushing to my friends about how terrible the next month of my life was going to be. Waking up the next day, I immediately reached for the buttered toast on the table to help my churning stomach and managed to break Veganuary only 9 hours and 27 minutes into 2019. Ignoring this initial slip up, I put a lot of effort into the rest of the month.

Photo taken by @thehungryvegetable

With a couple of additions to your cupboard, cooking continued as normal. I ate lots of nuts and pulses for protein, and loads of pasta… because I like pasta. Meat substitutes are good, particularly anything from Linda McCartney, but I tended not to have them every day as they made me feel a lot heavier. I found that when you strip your diet back this much, you become more aware of how foods make you feel, and while almost everyone can be persuaded that Quorn ‘chicken’ nuggets tastes just like the real deal, I didn’t want to eat processed food every day.

Photo taken by @thehungryvegetable

On a vegan diet you have to make sure that you are getting enough B12 – a vitamin normally found in meat that keeps our blood functioning normally. I ordered a B12 vitamin spray from Amazon, ate lots of marmite, and stirred the strange, strange dust that is ‘Nutritional Yeast’ into most sauces I made.

What I learnt from Veganuary was that I actually can live without cheese (if absolutely necessary), almond milk hot chocolates are incredible, and paying more attention to your food forces you to make better meals.

Photo taken by @thehungryvegetable

A few things I would recommend having in your cupboard if you’re up for the challenge:

  • Nutritional yeast (as suspiciously like fishfood as it looks, you really can’t taste it when you mix it in)
  • Nuts and seeds (for high protein snacking)
  • A can of chickpeas (for a protein boost and make meals more substantial)
  • A box of Linda McCartney sausages (For when you just want bangers and mash and nothing else will fix it. The sausage rolls are also brilliant)
  • Free-from pesto (normal pesto contains cheese)

Coming up with inspiration for my next meal was also something I struggled with, but you can always turn to the classics: vegan chilli, curry, stirfry, and pasta.

Photo taken by @thehungryvegetable

I definitely feel happier and healthier than I did on that first day of January (hangover aside), and veganuary has been a big part of that. I recommend it for anyone up to the challenge!

For more plant-based inspiration, head to Jojo’s Instagram account, @thehungryvegetable

Words by Jojo Jenkins

Edited by Alice Lorenzato-Lloyd

Hope and Vicky are your lifestyle editors.

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