Our Veganuary Experience

So that’s our last day of Veganuary done; we did it! 31 days of being vegan; no meat, dairy or animal produce. If I’d have asked any one of our family or friends if James would go vegan for a day, nevermind a whole month, I’m pretty sure they would have laughed and said “no”.

And we only slipped up twice.

My sister got us a voucher for Christmas for a Japanese Sushi restaurant with a set menu which included meat and fish in it. We decided that we weren’t going to waste it for the sake of one meal so planned it into the month.

The other time; who knew Quorn mince was made with egg?! We only found out after we’d eaten it and, thankfully, we’d only cooked one meal with it! Now we know!

Over the last month we’ve both lost weight, James 3kg and myself 2kg. We haven’t put it down to the vegan diet; we came into January wanting to lose weight so joined the gym and put ourselves on a calorie deficit. Yes, being on a vegan diet made it slightly easier to be in a calorie deficit because, let’s face it, vegetables have barely any calories in them! But we would have still lost the same amount of weight had we eaten all meat produce and maintained the same calorie deficit so veganuary can’t take all the credit.

One thing that surprised us a lot was that we didn’t really miss meat. Very surprising. Going from eating meat almost every meal to having none and not feeling like we needed it was a big shock. There were times when we were hungry, due to the calorie deficit, where we’d feel like we could really eat a pizza or a burger but it felt more like hunger cravings than actual meat cravings.

When we began Veganuary I really wanted to be plant-based and not eat ‘fake meat’. It’s something I’ve always questioned, if you don’t want to eat meat that’s fine but then why would you speand so much time eating something that was pretending to be meat? Now I understand! We found it really difficult to feel satiated on nothing but vegetables, grains and pulses so were really pleased when we found Linda McCartney’s range of vegan sausages, burgers and pies. Not only did they help us feel fuller, they were really high in protein and were delicious!

Protein was something we really struggled to get enough of whilst on the vegan diet. As we were on a calorie deficit, our aim was to reach 1.4g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day. Usually we would rely on chicken and eggs as our main source of protein however, even with protein shakes and these amazing chocolatey vegan protein balls we found, we were struggling to hit half of our protein target each day.

It was also really hard to eat out as we weren’t quite sure what ingredients were in certain foods when we weren’t cooking it ourselves. There was a lot of googling and looking on the back of packets. We generally like to cook our meals from fresh, rather than ready meals and jars, but even some curry pastes contained milk or cream. We managed to eat out twice (other than the sushi place). Once was to Nandos, which was tough. Have you ever tried going to Nandos and not ordering chicken? We had chips, pitta bread and hummus, which was tasty but not what we’d usually go for. We also found a small vegetarian/vegan Thai restaurant close to Darling Harbour called Peace Harmony. The food was delicious and we didn’t feel that it needed meat to be nice.

So the big question…will we remain vegan after January?

The short answer is no. I would like to cut down on the amount of meat I eat and ensure we buy free range and organic produce whenever possible and James is going to continue a diet which excludes dairy produce as Veganuary has shown him that his suspected intolerance to dairy is real. However, we are not going to cut out meat and animal produce completely. I am thinking about doing Veganuary again next year as I think it’s good to challenge yourself and, you never know, next year might the year I decide to stick with it for longer. We will still continue to have vegan meals and James has come up some excellent recipes, such as his Spicy Mexican Lentils, which is really tasty, full of vegetables and low calorie, and I’m sure we’ll come up with even more recipes to continue cutting down on meat and animal produce.

We want to say a massive thank you to all those who have been in touch with recipes and meal ideas or just to give us some encouragement, it really did help!

Did you try Veganuary this year? Would you try it in the future? Let us know your thoughts and opinions!

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