Woeful as I am that Christmas is over, finished, done with, hundreds of days away once more, I’m actually kind of jazzed at the prospect of January this year. The reason for my out of character enthusiasm for the new year? Veganuary.
I’m determined this year to make Veganuary count. I want it to be a major learning process for me, in which I pick up new tips and cooking techniques, learn to approach meals differently and finally get to the bottom of vegan cheese. I also want this to be informative (and, hopefully, entertaining) for you lot.
I should say at this point that I’m not in any way affiliated with Veganuary, I’m just along for the ride and writing about it. If you do want to find out more about it and how you can get involved though, you can do that here.
image: Gemma Billings
Wait, what’s Veganuary?
In case you don’t already know, what I’m telling you right now is that from the 1st to the 31st January I will be adopting a totally vegan diet. More and more people across the country take part each year for a huge variety of reasons – health, ethics and curiosity being among them.
So.. why am I doing it?
I’m doing it because it gives the beginning of the year a feeling of new-ness, a real restart. It makes me work hard and pay lots of attention to my food, and it encourages me towards ways of eating that I might not have otherwise discovered. In short, it’s a really great way to kick off 2016.
image: See-ming Lee
What am I most nervous about?
The lack of eggs and cheese, of course. As many of you know, I don’t eat a whole lot of meat anyway, but I’ll eat eggs and cheese pretty much every day. I love them.
I’m going to work really hard this year to find or make good vegan cheeses to try and make sure that I don’t slip. I found this list from PETA really useful and I’ll definitely be checking out the pizza cheese.
I’m also a little apprehensive of eating with other people. Controlling my own diet in my own house is easy enough, but a month of veganism will probably mean eating with friends out and about or at their houses a lot less. If I answer the question “hey, wanna come over for dinner?” with “sure, can we have tofu scramble?” I feel like I won’t be invited back.
I should mention also that my job may require me to step out of the veganism a few times, it’s kind of unavoidable. I develop recipes for a few brands, and not all of them are feeling the plant-based vibe. This makes me nervous because it’ll make me feel like I’m cheating.. but there’s nothing to be done about that one.
On a more optimistic note, what am I looking forward to?
A surprising amount! Lets bullet point this one, shall we..
- Eating more lentils. I really miss the huge amount of lentils I consumed during my short stint on the slow carb diet, and I’m genuinely really looking forward to upping my consumption of them. My favourite way to get them, although a little 0n the expensive side, is the pre-cooked packages of puy and beluga lentils from Merchant Gourmet.. I’ll be trying lentil fajitas first I think, I’ll let you know how it tastes.
- Exploring tofu territory. I tried tofu once, it was soft and wobbly and I never ever experimented with it again. I’ve since learned that firm tofu exists, and that you can do all sorts with it. Marinating and frying and baking, I’ll be trying the lot this year.
- Working my way through the Food52 vegan cookbook. I got really excited when the release of the new Food52 book pretty much coincided with my Veganuary plans this year, and it made it straight to the top of my Christmas list. It’s written and shot beautifully, and I hope to try a big old handful of recipes from it.
- Tempeh. What the hell is it? How does it work? What does it taste like? I literally cannot wait to find out.
- Creamy, healthy wraps. I’m talking avocado, I’m talking hummus, I’m talking tahini, I’m talking sprouted seeds and grated carrot and raw beets. I bloody love those things, they’ll be a lunchtime staple for sure.
- Eating accidentally vegan junk food. Here’s to you, Oreos and prawn cocktail crisps.
So there we go, that’s what’s happening in January! I’m excited, are you excited? We can totally do this.
By the way, if you feel like you want to play along with me but don’t want to commit to 31 straight days of cheese-free pain, why not just try vegan on Mondays? Just a thought..