Our very own Food and Drinks Editor Emily reviews her experiences after successfully completing Veganuary. Emily discusses the challenges she faced throughout January and what she’s learnt to take her forward after completing a month plant-based.
I went into Veganuary 2019 pretty unprepared for a month’s worth of plant-based eating. Whilst I had been researching recipes and reading information about the challenge, my fussy eater habits made this difficult to put into practice.
As you can see from my previous round-ups, the first two weeks were relatively smooth sailing. I was trying new foods, being more adventurous with my cooking, and was building up the confidence to ask for the vegan menu in restaurants. It’s clear to pinpoint the exact time the vegan diet began to become difficult; the day I moved back to uni for the Spring Term. On this day I had an entire tube of pringles for lunch because I couldn’t find anything worth eating in the meal deal section of the supermarket. This is where my plant-based diet stopped being healthy and exciting, and started to become a chore, and detrimental to my health.
The last two weeks have been tough, particularly the last few days of the challenge when my cravings for cheese and meat started to return. Balancing uni life with a diet which is very restrictive as a fussy eater, led to unhealthy habits such as only eating one meal a day and snacking on lots of unhealthy vegan cakes. I was so disappointed in myself when I found every day tiring and was tempted by meat and dairy. The convenience of a Greggs on my campus at uni is normally a life saver in the middle of a busy day, but the news that the vegan sausage rolls had sold out for most of January disrupted the potential life-saver.
The excitement of trying new veg quickly wore off as 3 weeks down the line I was tired of putting red peppers and courgettes into every meal. Cooking for myself stopped being exciting and I was dissatisfied with the time I was spending in the kitchen cooking up new recipes, just to wish I was eating something else.
Whilst I found the challenge really difficult, I’m still very proud of myself for going through with it without breaking. I pushed myself every single day to ensure I stuck to my Veganuary promise as the reasons behind it are still very important to me. Whilst I struggled towards the end of the month, it has massively impacted my decisions for animal product consumption. For example, choosing oat milk in my coffee, or using a soya-meat replacement in my regular meals such as a bolognese or chilli. I believe that choosing to make small changes to your diet is very impactful, and also personally makes me feel better and like I am consciously making an effort to change my eating habits. My experience with Veganuary was mostly positive, however the lows at the end of the last week seem to dominate my attitude in reflection.
I’d love to have been able to end this challenge as a full time vegan, proving to as many people as possible that fussy eaters can do it too. But unfortunately it has not worked out that way, as concern for my own health and wellbeing took priority. I encourage anyone who is considering a vegan diet, or wants to do something to help improve their impact on the environment, to give Veganuary a go, or even just a vegan week! Perhaps one day a week following a ‘no animal products’ policy is the right thing for you, and personally is what I’m going to try and maintain now that Veganuary is over. It’s not about waiting for the first month of the new year to set yourselves goals or resolutions, but to think about how you can make small changes, regardless of the time of year, month, or week.
Missed out on Emily’s previous round-ups? Catch up on her experiences from week one, two and three. Interested in trying veganism yourself? Check out our Food and Drinks section for helpful tips and recipes.
About the Author: Emily Ellerby-Hunt is our Food and Drink Editor. She currently studies BA Theatre and Film Studies at the University of York.