I decided to try being vegan for August, mainly out of curiosity. Ten days or so in I decided it was too difficult (and not really compatible with festival cooking), so I quit. Here are some insights:
The first 3 days were noticeably unhealthier. When I forgot to pack a lunch I relied on chip shop chips as a non-dairy option instead of some variation of a cheese salad sandwich I’d usually go for. I also ate a whole share-sized bag of crisps and a whole jar of olives for dinner one night. I’m not proud.
After that though, when I stopped being lazy and started investigating vegan recipes, it got healthier. One day the only ingredients I ate were sweet potato, sweetcorn, lettuce, nuts (unsalted), a plum, a nectarine, and a lot of water.
And here is what I learned:
- A few recipes: polenta burgers and a couple of good salads being the main ones.
- Adding oil to cous cous really improves the flavour, and also prevents the grains from sticking to each other when cooked. This was discovered by accident and has nothing to do with non-dairy. Just fits here nicely.
- Lactate and lactic indicate dairy, lactose doesn’t. The former are from milk, the latter from some kind of bacterial reaction.
- Loads of things are ‘produced in a factory that uses milk’, others ‘may contain milk’. What’s the threshold here? Do vegans take the risk?
- Veganism is only potentially compatible with half of the Space Raiders flavours: 2 contain milk, 2 may contain milk. If you’re interested, red or orange do, purple and green (clearly the superior flavour) might.
- Cheese wasn’t as difficult a loss as expected in terms of flavour. There was cheddar, halloumi, blue cheese and cream cheese in our fridge and I didn’t feel tempted to snap and gorge myself on them.
- The difficulty came with most places and brands only offering cheese-based vegetarian options, meaning there was a lot of hunting for vegan-friendly sandwiches and such.
- Most chilli sauces are compatible, which is a good sign. Meat I can live without, cheese I probably could too. No chilli sauce? Impossible.
The most interesting lesson: while it’s not much cheaper in terms of bought ingredients, the restrictions in choosing restaurants and snacks means I tended to avoid the expensive options.
So, an interesting diversion, but I’m not particularly bothered about doing it full time.
Important note: I maintain blissful ignorance when it comes to beer and whether they’re veg(etari)an or not.Read More