Yesterday was the last day of our six-week 'vegan adventure'. Overall i would have to say it has been a success. We stuck to the diet with only one exception, when we were invited to friends' for lunch. I had said at the start to the husband that we would not let our dietary restrictions impact apon anyone else, so when we received the lunch invite i did not mention our self-imposed veganism to our friends. The meal was about as far from vegan as you could get - lashings of meat and dairy in the form of lasagne (with garlic bread and salad), followed by a delicious but egg and butter containing 'Canterbury Tart'. Other than that, and the husband's occasional consumption of fish (okay, that is a fairly major departure from veganism, but i assure you that i did not partake), i think we managed to be entirely vegan for the six weeks.
The item i missed the most was eggs.
This may have possibly been something to do with the constant stream of eggs coming in to the house, as our hard-working hens declined to use the opportunity to take a holiday. On the positive side, my 'egg jar' has more money than ever, as we were able to sell all the eggs produced. But i did miss Saturday morning pancakes, Sunday morning scrambled eggs and the occasional poached egg for week-day breakfast.
What else did i miss? Chocolate, until a week into my 'vegan adventure' my littlest sister kindly pointed out to me that Whittakers' dark chocolate (anything of 50% cocoa solids or more) contains no dairy and can be eaten by vegans. Since 'dark' is my preferred shade of chocolate, i was delighted. For some inexplicable reason i had assumed that milk was a key component of all chocolate, and i had found my week with no chocolate to be HARD work. You would think i might have checked on that before i embarked on the adventure.
I missed having yoghurt on my muesli in the mornings, although this lack was swiftly made up for with the slightly more expensive alternative of 'Tofu Whip' (see below) which is surprisingly creamy and delicious. I know i could have splashed out on coconut yoghurt, but that is getting a little beyond my price range.
I also missed being able to use Parmesan, feta and haloumi.
The husband missed fish, to the point he refused to give it up entirely. Other than that, i didn't miss anything too badly. I'm looking forward to a casserole some time soon, but if i had to go another six weeks or longer with no meat it would be no great hardship.
Did i notice any changes to my health? That is hard to say, as i also participated in 'Dry July', so any health changes may be entangled with being alcohol-free for the first 4 weeks of being vegan. I did lose a little weight, about a kilo and a half, no doubt due to making healthier choices and making (and eating) less baking (a friend did provide me with a vegan chocolate cake recipe, which i made on a couple of occasions, and helped me through my hours of 'need').
The husband thought perhaps he had a few less aches and pains, but he wasn't convinced that this outweighed the pleasure of a good casserole or fresh-fish dish.
In the interests of full disclosure, i will mention that i often felt more bloated, and we did both fart more, caused no doubt by our increased consumption of legumes. They weren't terribly smelly farts, but they were noticeably more frequent. As my middle sister pointed out once, the poos of carnivorous animals are infinitely more stinky than the poos of herbivores (think dog poo vs sheep poo), and it seems the same applies to farts.
During the course of the six weeks of veganism, the husband did inquire on several occasions as to how much longer this 'damn diet' was to continue, to which i pointed out that we were only doing it because he had said he wanted to. His reply was that he only said he wanted to because he thought I wanted to, at which stage i said "well its too late to back out now; i'm blogging about it!"
So i was greatly surprised when he said, about a week before it was over, that he thought the experience of being (nearly) vegan had been a good one. He enjoyed the simplicity of the meals, and does not want to return to our old style of eating. Which means what? We'll buy less cheese and dairy, and continue eating less meat-based meals - perhaps a couple of meat meals a week instead of our usual three or four a week. Maybe i'll continue to do less baking, although that doesn't seem likely. Eggs are definitely on the menu though. The husband is cooking dinner tonight, and he is making a fritata.
Melanie Walker in'The Amrita Cook Book'
300g silken tofu
1 dessertspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons neutral oil (N.B. NOT coconut oil - you need a liquid oil for this. I use rice bran oil).
Blend everything together thoroughly until smooth. Chill. Use in place of cream or yoghurt on desserts and cereal.