My First Week As a Vegan
How do you go about adopting a vegan diet? Jenny Edwards talks about her experience committing to a vegan diet; how she made it through her first week as a vegan, tips on how to maintain a vegan diet (plus yummy recipes), and how you survive without cheese!
It’s been roughly three weeks since I made the decision to completely change my lifestyle to a cruelty free, plant based diet. It didn’t take much thinking for me to come to this conclusion. I had just decided that I didn’t want to contribute to, or encourage what was going on in factory farms. There are far too many YouTube clips, documentaries and articles circling around the internet for me to remain ignorant from it anymore.
Going vegan has no drawbacks; it benefits the environment, animal welfare and your own health. I’m aware that there’s a kind of ‘taboo’ status surrounding veganism – it seems to be a minority group that is somewhat unaccepted in society, but I believe over time people will begin to become accustomed to the lifestyle once they realise that it is super easy to adopt.
Before I made the decision to become vegan, I used to wonder how the diet is even possible to have when you’re at University. I assumed it was ‘so expensive’.
I have no idea where this assumption came from. My first shopping trip as a vegan was £19 (at Sainsbury’s) for a week’s food, for two people! It’s a great idea to buy stuff like whole meal pasta, brown rice, potatoes, pulses etc. in bulk so that you constantly have some in the cupboard, and then all you really need to buy is fresh fruit and veg (and snacks of course) every week.
Living without cheese!?
One of the first questions that people usually ask vegans is, “How do you live without cheese?”
The answer is, we don’t! First of all, once you watch some videos, or read up on the process of a dairy cows life and how they are mistreated, you might find that you don’t get cravings for dairy at all anymore… But if you do, there are so many dairy-free substitutes! There’s a shop in Canterbury called ‘Whole Foods’, and they sell the ‘Violife’ brand cheese substitute, which is amazing.
There’s a substitute for almost any food that contains animal products: mayonnaise, beef, butter, sausages, and they even have egg substitutes (Although I’m not too keen on that idea). However, if you do decide to indulge in these replacement foods, that’s when a vegan diet can get slightly more expensive. I admit I did go overboard on my first week as I visited ‘Planet Organic’ in London, which is a vegan heaven.
I’m not the greatest vegan role model, and I especially wasn’t during my first week – I basically lived off of chips whilst watching videos of other vegans cooking super healthy meals. However, YouTube is a huge help at any point of a vegan’s journey. There are hundreds of videos regarding other peoples’ advice on how to stick to it, delicious recipes, and it’s just overall a really friendly community.
It’s important not to feel isolated when you’re making the transition from meat eater to a plant based diet; it can sometimes get overwhelming and some people can feel as if they’re missing out because food is such a social thing for us.
The benefits really do outweigh the disadvantages though: you will find you quickly become very knowledgeable on everything to do with food and nutrition, your health will quickly improve in so many ways, you will feel better about yourself in general, you will be part of a friendly and welcoming community who are always there to help, etc. The greatest perk of this lifestyle for me is that I realised that you can consume so much food and not put on any weight! Before I was vegan, I used to get bloated easily and my metabolism was appalling – the reversal of these two things has been the paramount change I have seen since I made this I altered my lifestyle.
Jenny’s Sainsbury’s Shopping List for 1 Week (2 People):
Avocado x4 £1.75
Almond milk £1.60
Whole meal wraps x8 90p
Burger buns x6 55p
Canned chickpeas x2 80p
Can of chopped tomatoes x2 70p
Coconut milk 95p
Noodles x4 £1.50
Spring onions 45p
Red kidney beans 50p
TOTAL = £19
And what she cooked that week:
Monday – chickpea burgers
Tuesday – avocado and spinach pasta
Wednesday – garlic creamy pasta
Thursday – chickpea and spinach curry
Friday – lentil soup (http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1120680/spiced-red-lentil-soup)
Saturday – Stir-fry (Mushrooms, broccoli, noodles, spring onions, peppers and soysauce)
Sunday- rice and beans http://www.yummly.co.uk/recipe/external/Caribbean-Rice-And-Beans-1011774