Our very own food and drink editor Emily, gives us the deets and ‘beets’ about her first week as a fully fledged vegan in her Veganuary Round Up series. Don’t miss her recipe of the week and Gregg’s ‘twitter-versial’ vegan sausage roll review!
How I’m Feeling This Week
Week one has been so much fun. I’ve felt so good finally eating a lot healthier after an overindulgent Christmas. The most surprising thing for me has been how easy it is to get your 5 a day in! Before, vegetables were the added extra that you just pop on the side of your plate because you know you have to (I’d usually just have peas and carrots and call it a satisfactorily balanced meal). Whereas now, the vegetables ARE the meal, and it’s caused me to enjoy them and appreciate them a lot more! I’d never even TRIED aubergine or butternut squash before this week, but now it’s going in most meals!
I’ve been really enjoying cooking for myself more, and not relying on food from the freezer to make up most of my meals. Eating and enjoying fresh food has been such a positive experience for me. Additionally, most of my meals have been fresh vegetables and carbohydrate, and therefore realistically cheaper than my meals of sausages and pork steaks that I used to have. I have some vegan cheese and frozen pizzas to try next week which were a little more pricey, but it’s definitely not as expensive as some people make it out to be (unless you’re buying loads of fake meat and eating out every single day).
My Experiences Eating Out
Eating out was my biggest concern for Veganuary, as I’m a fussy eater at the best of times, and so restricting the menu even further for myself felt like an impossible task. The first place I went was ASK Italian; as I knew they had a tomato pasta on the vegan menu, and that felt like a good safe option to start with. Whilst I knew exactly what I was going to order before walking through the door (it feels more important now than ever to have already done my research on menus before entering the restaurant…!)
I still felt slightly awkward asking for the vegan menu. The waitress sat us down at our table very swiftly, and then as I awkwardly raised my hand to ask for the vegan menu, I felt like I was really inconveniencing her and causing her far too much trouble. I was disappointed by this reaction as I was uncomfortable enough just having to ask for ‘special treatment’, however as ‘Veganuary’ was emblazoned across their website when I had researched it earlier, I thought it may have been a little better accepted. The tomato pasta was great. It’s a pretty simple place to start with eating out as a fussy eater; the next day, however, was more of a challenge.
The next day I went to Wagamama. I’ve never been before as I don’t really like Asian food (give me a plain beef burger or a margherita pizza and I’m happy, I don’t like ordering things with lots of ingredients and flavours!). As we entered the restaurant the waitress met us with ‘do any of you need the vegetarian menu today?’. This made it SO much easier for me to just simply say ‘yes’ and not feel like I was forcing the waitress to go out of her way to cater for me. I had looked at the menu online beforehand so I knew there was some elements of the dishes that I would like, but I still feel uncomfortable ordering new things, just in case I don’t like it. I feel like it’s rude to leave lots of food on your plate at a restaurant, and if I don’t like something, I will definitely not finish it!
I ordered the Yasai Katsu Curry (with the curry sauce on the side). My logic here was that if I didn’t like the vegetables fried in breadcrumbs, I could still finish the rice, and therefore it wouldn’t look like I was leaving too much food on my plate. As I’m writing this I realise how much I was overthinking every little thing that could possibly go wrong, but my anxieties about eating out and not enjoying my meal felt like they’d been multiplied by a million now that I was ordering from the vegan menu.
New Food Reviews
This week we had the release of Gregg’s vegan sausage roll, and as it was the topic of a lot of twitter spats throughout the week, I had to get my hands on one the day they were out. I was honestly so surprised by it. I could not believe how good it was. I’d read reviews earlier on in the day that said ‘it tastes just like a sausage roll’ and I rolled my eyes and thought ‘nothing vegan can EVER taste just like the real thing’. But oh how wrong I was.
The vegan sausage roll uses exactly the same herbs and spices as the its meaty cousin, but is 100% vegan! The pastry is just as flaky and the ‘sausage’ filling is just as delicious. I will be recommending it to everyone I possibly can, because I was just so taken back by how good it was. This is such a fantastic breakthrough for veganism, as we are seeing big chains acknowledge the demand for more accessible, convenient vegan food on the go, because so many of us are asking for it! It’s definitely going to make my life at uni so much easier (or arguably harder, as I will be rushing to the on-campus Greggs between lectures for a cheeky snack. Every. Day).
Recipe of the week!
Whilst I’ve been documenting my meals and recipes at @wild_magazine_uk on Instagram’s highlights, I thought I would bring you one recipe a week on here too, so you can refer back to it and try it for yourself! Here’s a quick and easy 5 ingredient risotto. I’ve used peas in mine, but you can replace and add vegetables as you please to suit you.
- Onion (half)
- Celery (one stick)
- Risotto rice (60-70g per person)
- Vegetable stock cube (mixed with one jug of boiling water)
- Frozen peas (as many as you like)
- Sweat the onion and celery in a saucepan on a medium heat until soft
- Add the risotto rice and stir through
- Gradually add little amounts of the vegetable stock, stirring the pan each time
- Make sure you wait for all the water to be absorbed before you add more, otherwise the rice won’t cook all the way through!
- Continue to add the stock to the rice, stirring constantly, until the rice is soft
- Add one last splash of stock and stir in some frozen peas
- Put a lid on and leave for 2-3 minutes
- Serve and enjoy!
About the Author: Emily Ellerby-Hunt is our Food and Drink Editor. She also studies BA Theatre and Film Studies at the University of York.