It’s starting to feel more ‘normal’ to be eating Vegan, and consequently I’ve not felt so much interest in writing about it!  Anyway, here’s the food diary for the past few days.  I haven’t forgotten that one of my correspondents has asked for information about how much money I’m spending on food.  I’ve started keeping track of my receipts since Monday morning, and I hope to report on this later in the week.  Over the weekend I had a few meals out, more than would be typical for me, and I was also away staying with a relative, so I spent less at home, but more out of the home, in a way that wouldn’t represent my typical eating patterns.

Friday 22nd February

Breakfast – wholemeal toast with homemade marmalade, tea with soya milk

Lunch – a baked potato with baked beans in the work canteen

Dinner – at POD Deli, an independent café near my home.  Houmous and Roasted Vegetables deli sandwich, with salad and olives, a packet of Ready Salted crisps, Moroccan Mint tea

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Saturday 23rd February

Breakfast – fab homemade breakfast of leftover quinoa and leek ‘risotto’ from earlier in the week scrambled with tofu, rye toast, baked beans, fried V-Pud (black pudding), tea with soya milk

Mid-morning: a soya latte at a coffee shop

Lunch – nice meal out at Summersaults restaurant in Rugby www.summersault.ltd.uk   – chestnut pie and red cabbage salad, pot of Raspberry and Cranberry tea

Dinner – baked potato, lovely salad from recipe on internet with a sweet, spicy dressing, followed by a warmed slice of Crimble’s Dutch Apple Cake with Alpro dairy-free custard

Water

Sunday 24th February

Breakfast – Museli and soya milk, an orange, wholemeal toast with ‘Vitalite’ vegan margarine and marmite, instant coffee with soya milk

Lunch –  recipe from internet using orzu (rice shaped pasta), tomato paste, garam masala and mushrooms, leftover salad from day before, followed by warmed Dutch Apple Cake with Alpro custard

Evening – trip out to the Indian buffet at Nawaab, near where I live – I ate all sorts of things from the vegetarian part of the buffet, with chickpeas, spinach, aubergine, okra, rice, cornbread, carrots.  I think I might have failed to stay Vegan, because I realised afterwards that carrot Halwa is gently cooked in milk.  It was a lovely meal, but I wasn’t thoughtful enough about it in terms of staying Vegan, and I also ate too much which made me feel unwell the following day.  The peril of greedy me at the buffet!

Water

Monday 25th February

No breakfast

A lot of peppermint tea

During the day I nibbled on 2 packets of Ready Salted crisps and drank some apple juice

Evening meal – a ‘burger’ made with a baked mushroom, avocado, spinach, pesto (‘Meridian’ vegan pesto) and tomato ketchup

Water

Herbal tea

Tuesday 26th February

Breakfast – Museli and soya milk.  Herbal tea.

Mid-morning: orange juice, dried apricots and Salt & Vinegar crisps

Lunch: ‘Urban Eat’ ready-made sandwich of Roast Veg and Houmous, an apple, black coffee

Dinner: Mushroom and avocado burger with pasta, steamed spinach, pesto, beluga lentils, herbal tea

Later: snacked on brazil nuts and dried prunes, fruity tea

Water

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I had a lovely weekend with some very positive food experiences, but unfortunately I overdid it last night and ate too much at the Indian buffet.  I suffered the consequences of indigestion pains which kept me awake a lot of the night and I’m feeling a bit rubbish today.  This shows me I still haven’t got this ‘how to nourish yourself’ thing right yet.  Sigh.  Oh well.  I’m drinking water and peppermint tea and hope to be feeling back to rights soon.  I’ll be developing several posts for this week on eating out and on what I’m spending, among other things, so look out for those later in the week.

The month has gone really quickly and I can’t believe this is my final week with The Vegan Pledge!

Breakfast: Bowl of ‘Eat Natural’ gluten-free toasted museli with buckwheat, with some dried prunes and a sprinkling of dessicated coconut, with unsweetened soya milk.  Mug of fruity tea.

Mid-Morning: Black coffee and a banana.

Lunch: Sandwiches made from left over Vegan sausage from the day before and tomato ketchup, some raisins, dried apricots and pumpkin seeds

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Dinner: plain rice, a simple stew made from butternut squash, sweetcorn, kidney beans, onions and garlic, some homemade bread hot from the oven (Oh wow! Wasn’t my bread, so grateful thanks to the Vegan baker who baked it….)

Bedtime: herbal tea 

Breakfast: 3 slices of wholemeal toast with Pure soya spread and Marmite.  2 mugs of Herbal tea.

Mid-Morning: a black coffee, a banana, a handful of raisins

Lunch: Sandwich made from 2 slices of wholemeal bread with houmous and slices of ‘Tofu Rosso’ left over from yesterday’s dinner, 500ml fairtrade apple juice drink, packet of Walker’s Salt N Vinegar crisps.

When I got in (hungry after cycling from work to an appointment and then home): A slice of rye bread with tahini and nori strips.

Dinner: some ready-made vegan ‘sausages’ (from Tai’fun Tofu – called ‘Sombreros’ – not bad!) with mashed swede and pickled red cabbage.  A pudding made from 2 x Alpro dark chocolate flavour soya desserts mixed with toasted museli (mmmmmmm!)

Herbal tea.

Horse meat – the hardest thing to digest is that it’s your fault.

I found the above article in ‘Freshly Pressed’ this morning.  I like it.  Here’s what I wrote in reply:-

This is a great post.  Your writing in this, and other posts, burns with the angry desire for authenticity.  I think it’s the ache of our age.  You are absolutely right, we are responsible for the world we create through our choices.  Well said.

I was raised by a mother who worked part-time and cooked real food, from ingredients, and knew how to use up leftovers.  She had been taught by her mum in turn, and both my grandmothers were of the WWII generation, where I think they learned how to live frugally and resourcefully.  There are elements of conservatism in the family life I knew as a child that I have sought to move on from in my adult life, but in terms of food I’m 100% with the people who mourn the state of the food industry, contemporary consumer habits, and the lack of time available for proper cooking, or indeed proper living.

Finding your post in ‘Freshly Pressed’ has come at a time when I’m struggling with paradox.  This month I’ve been trying out a Vegan diet, with the intention of exploring whether this is a lifestyle change I’d like to adopt permanently.

One of my reasons for transitioning to Vegan is concern about animal welfare and horror at the practices of the food industry.  I had a grandfather who was a vet and another who was a free-range pedigree poultry breeder, both trying to do the best in their professions,  but I don’t know if I would ever feel confident enough about animal welfare in today’s society that I would feel it’s ok to eat an animal/animal’s products.  I sometimes think I might be able to rear animals for food purposes myself, and kill them, but I’ve never tested that, so I don’t really know.  What I do know is, that the level of care I think a ‘used’ animal deserves leaves no room for profit.  Trying to make money out of selling animals for milk, meat etc. means that the pressures of the market will always be there, and, as you acknowledge, they are ferocious pressures.

The paradox I’m struggling with at the moment, in my third week of Veganism is the knowledge that it’s not just animal welfare that’s important.  Human welfare is equally important, and, I’d go as far as to say that, if we can’t get the human welfare sorted out, there’s little chance that we’ll manage it for the animals as well.  Humans feeling the pressure for whatever reason can easily cut moral corners and turn a blind eye to the sufferings of others.

You rightly acknowledge the misery caused in the lives of food producers in the UK as they’ve struggled to survive under market pressure and meet the ever-more-ridiculous demands of legislation.  There is a great deal of human suffering here.

I have a sneaking suspicion that, by choosing Vegan, I’m simply shifting the human suffering elsewhere.  As I’ve started choosing different products (for example: soya, quinoa, different plant oils) I’ve noticed that many of them come from far-away places and I have nothing but the bland assurances on the product’s packaging that what I’m consuming has been ethically produced.  You don’t have to Google very far to find evidence that the West’s appetite for different foods, or ‘wholefoods’, or ‘superfoods’, is leading, in some cases, to the clearance of native habitat, and to the displacement and/or hunger of local populations.

And that’s to say nothing of the air miles the lie behind the food I’m now choosing to eat.  It’s harder to avoid imported food if you eat Vegan in the UK, unless you live on root vegetables, cabbage and potatoes.

Your post vividly expresses  the monster we’ve collectively created in the Food Industry by our desire for cheap and convenient food.  I can see that choosing a Vegan diet isn’t going to make that monster go away.  There are still huge ethical concerns about food production on a mass scale, whatever it is and wherever it happens, and in our global society we have a collective responsibility for this.

I’ll be sticking to my Vegan choice for the time being, because I have strong concerns about animal welfare, whether in the slaughterhouses of Romania or an organic farm in the Cotswolds, and there is proper, statistical evidence that we all need to cut down our meat and dairy consumption for both health and environmental reasons.  I would really like, however, to be able to eat food that’s locally, and wholesomely produced.  I would like to know that the people producing that food have been able to work in decent conditions, that they have been well-paid for their work, that the lives of the communities of those food producers are good lives.

I’ve little idea how to bring that about through the power of my purchase.

For now, I’ll do my best to shop local, and where I can’t shop local, I’ll try not to be naïve, and be discerning about the food that’s being imported in my name.  I’ll be looking for Fairtrade products and companies that have authenticity and ethics at the heart of their operations.  All this searching uses up valuable cooking time, and, yes, it does cost more money than buying products for price alone.  It’s not easy swimming against the tide.  I applaud anybody who bothers to try to do it.  I applaud all food producers and consumers who are struggling to do what they can to make a better world.

Breakfast: 1 slice Biona rye bread, toasted, half a can of baked beans, slices of V-pud, lightly fried in olive oil.  2 mugs of tea with soya milk.

Lunch: Sandwich made from 2 slices Biona rye bread with tangy tomato tofu paste.  A raw carrot.  A salad of chopped lettuce, cucumber, red and yellow peppers, canned sweetcorn, tomatoes.  A packet of Walker’s Ready Salted crisps.  A black coffee.  Some dates and pumpkin seeds.

Dinner: Quinoa ‘risotto’ with onion, leeks, carrot and chestnuts, served with some slices of ‘Tofu Rosso’ (bought from local shop – not bad) and a spoonful of mango chutney.  Herbal tea.

I had ‘V-Pud’ for breakfast today.  I found it last week in a local health food shop (The Eighth Day Co-operative, Manchester) and popped it in the basket, full of newbie enthusiasm.

http://www.reallancashireblackpuddings.co.uk/vpud/

Lightly fried in olive oil the V-Pud was a satisfying addition to breakfast and suited the frosty morning ‘I’m hungry’ feeling.  It was pretty good and I’d give it 8 out of 10.  (Points are lost for being a bit crumbly and not being as strongly flavoured as I’d hoped.)  I’m glad it’s there as a great convenience food, and I’ll probably use it again.

On the other hand, as an ex-meat eater, there’s no disguising the fact that this ain’t black pudding as I knew it.  You can’t re-create the flavour of blood.  I don’t think meat-eating friends would find this the same as genuine black pudding, although they might accept it as a ‘vegetarian dish’.  I think over time I will forget what meat tasted like and this won’t be such an issue, but, at the moment, I feel genuinely excited by new, different, vegetable foods and recipes, and just a bit let down by anything that purports to try and convey the same experience as eating meat.

I’m not remotely tempted by the vegan cheese imitation products.  They look disgusting.  I’d rather learn how to cook with nuts, beans and tofu, rather than trying to ‘bring cheese back’ in other ways as a vegan delicacy.

My personal feeling is that Veganism is a different way of living and needs to be recognised as such.  If you think of it as a ‘cutting out’ and try to re-create taste experiences you had as an omnivore, you’re bound to be disappointed.  You need to find new things to get excited by, new food passions, and re-conceptualise the whole food paradigm.

What do you think?

A few days ago I wrote about what I’m finding hard, so here, to balance things out, is what I’m loving about this new way of eating.

Simplicity

I’ve always loved food, and have often struggled to resist types of foods which are not necessarily good for you if you eat too much of them.  Somehow, having a rule to live by, makes it much easier to make healthier choices.  On the Guide to Vegan Living website, this is aptly represented in a simple diagram: “Does it come from an Animal?  No = Eat It, Yes = Don’t eat it.”

http://www.guidetoveganliving.org.uk/

It looks simple, and it is simple.  I’m finding it much harder to overeat when eating wholefoods, and cravings I used to get have just dropped away.  I’ve not missed chocolate, I’ve not even missed cheese very much.  Although there is a great abundance in the vegetable world, and I’m loving that, having a definite limit around the types of food I can eat feels very mentally ‘clearing’.  Maybe having boundaries around things just suits my personality.   Anyway, I’m appreciating the discipline at the moment.

Falling in Love with Veg

I’ve never been a veg-hater, and have always enjoyed vegetables and vegetarian meals, so maybe this isn’t such a great leap for me, but it is wonderful to make vegetables the main event.  Making sure that I eat a wide variety of them across the week ensures a feast to the senses, a cornucopia of colour, texture, flavour and scent.  When you bring your attention specifically to the vegetable kingdom you suddenly realise how packed with variety it is.  I love selecting the veg, touching it, imagining how it might be prepared.  In the space of the past few days I’ve eaten asparagus, butternut squash and tomatoes, to name just few things, and you couldn’t get more vividly different colours or flavours.  The flip side of this is that, on occasion, I’ve overdone it, and upset my stomach through eating too much fibre, but it’s easy to get the balance back.  I’m listening to my body and it’s letting me know what is and isn’t ok.  The signals are coming through more clearly than they were in my cheese-laden pizza days.

Trying out New Things

It’s all an education.  I would never have considered drizzling molasses on my breakfast before, or sprinkling on milled linseeds, but now I’m on a quest to make sure I pack in as much nutrition as possible, that becomes a possibility. Grains I’ve not been sure of, and therefore reluctant to try, are recommended as good foods to eat, and so I’m trying them.  Creativity and ‘do-it-yourself’ are the order of the day.  I guess it’s not so long since everybody was doing it themselves (I’m thinking back to my mother and granny in their kitchens), but it’s certainly less the m.o. for people today, in our ‘convenience food’ saturated culture.  I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with food and so it’s a pleasure to be pushed by circumstance to try that now. It’s sort of like taking the sense of adventure you’d willingly engage with when travelling in a different place and bringing it into your everyday life.  On the few occasions when I don’t feel like getting busy in the kitchen, the choice is simple: eat plain, raw vegan foods, or don’t eat.  No succumbing to junk food.   (See ‘Simplicity’ above.)

Conversations with Veg Lovers

Chatting with someone over the ‘Lunch That Wasn’t’ the other day, I learned all about something called ‘Seitan’, which is apparently what you get when you boil dough to extract the gluten.  This is the weird and wonderful world of Vegan, and it’s like meeting other interplanetary travellers who’ve already ventured furthered into its depths than I have.  Some of the things they tell me are useful, others seem quite bizarre and a bit beyond my grasp, but the enthusiasm with which they convey their news is unmistakable. Like any good obsession, be it retro arcade games, cupcake decorating, or train spotting, people pride themselves on their specialist knowledge and clearly derive great pleasure from sharing it.  Out there in the blogosphere there are hundreds of people waxing lyrical over mushrooms and taking seductive photographs of their breakfast to display to the world.  I suppose taking more of a conscious interest in the food you eat, whether Vegan or not, puts you back in touch with something fundamental.

Breakfast:  Fruity tea.  2 slices Biona rye bread with omega 3.  1 slice spread with dark, creamed tahini.  1 slice with nori strips and spread with tangy tomato tofu paste.  A fresh kiwi fruit.  5 dates.

Lunch: Leftovers from the day before – roast parsnip, butternut squash, broccoli and cauliflower with beluga lentils.  A large handful of raisins. 500ml ‘FruitHit’ fairtrade orange juice.

Evening:  Bowl of museli with soya milk, herbal tea.  Wasn’t feeling hungry, or like having a big cooking session so just had this and got an early night.  Slept like a lamb for about 9 hours.

Friday 15th February

Breakfast: a banana, an apple, some black tea

Lunch: a baked potato, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, peppers, beetroot.  Fruit: watermelon, pineapple, red grapes.  A handful of mixed nuts.  A mug of almond milk.

Dinner: Boiled rice, toasted hazelnuts, asparagus, spinach and mange tout (steamed), with a peanut sauce, followed by an Alpro soya dessert.

Water

Herbal Tea

Coffee soya milk

Saturday 16th February

Breakfast: granary toast with marmite and houmous, a kiwi fruit, tea with soya milk

Munched and nibbled during road trip:  a banana, an Alpro soya dessert, peanuts, raw mange tout peas, houmous

Mid-afternoon: a soya latte from a coffee shop

Dinner: Chinese takeaway: plain rice, tofu and vegetables in black bean sauce

Water

Herbal tea

Sunday 17th February

Breakfast: oatmeal with banana, kiwi, sunflower seeds, jam, milled linseed, a slice of granary toast with marmite, tea with soya milk

Mid-morning: black tea, 2 slices of Valerie’s homemade Lenten Cake (a scrumptious cake made with oil and orange juice)

Lunch: large plateful of oven roasted veg (butternut squash, potoatoes, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower) with beluga lentils and steamed spinach, followed by tinned fruit salad, lychees and an Alpro soya dessert – caramel flavour (have nearly worked through all the flavours now…. dark chocolate definitely the best in my opinion)

Snacks: rather too much ‘Oatly’ chocolate flavoured oat milk, 2 x ‘Nak’d’ raw cherry bars.  (Oh dear…  Got a bit carried away with the Vegan snacks after an impromptu trip to a large supermarket…)

I’d eaten so much today and was feeling really full so I didn’t have any dinner in the evening.

What an abundance!

 

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