I’ll start with the negatives to get them out of the way.
Number one: the bloating. It has finally settled now (the last two days at least) however for the majority of the past two weeks I have felt like a pot-bellied washed up whale. Sexy. A quick google search informed me this was due to increased fibre which confused me slightly as i’m not going from a diet of chips to increased veggies; I was eating a lot before. I can only assume that it is my body’s adjustment (and a pretty big one as I wasn’t even vegetarian before) to the lack of animal products and more beans and pulses. It could also be a slight reaction to soy products which have increased vastly in my diet. I think for the next few weeks i’ll stop trying to get in meat replacements as I feel like my brain is wired to base an entire meal around a meat or protein source when in reality, a plateful of veggies and hummus and rice is a perfectly balanced meal. Protein is not the be-all-and-end-all and I think the biggest challenge of this will be shaking myself free from that mindset. For example, did you know that broccoli and spinach have more protein per calorie than beef? I mean you’d have to eat A LOT but it’s interesting to know.
Number two: E Numbers? So after posting a picture of my veggie Percy Pigs feeling smug AF I was warned that they contain E901 which is actually beeswax. So now not only do I have to check my labels for the bold milk and eggs but now I have to do a quick research of the E numbers it contains too. I’m sure after a while it would become second nature but i’m exhausted just thinking about it. Yet i’m doing this challenge to become more aware of exactly this kind of thing and being a vegan isn’t a case of black and white (although I know there are many people that would disagree). It is a gradient of where you stand and feel and in all honesty? I don’t want to sweat too much if I accidentally eat some honey or beeswax. I mean if I find myself stuffing myself full of an entire wheel of brie then I will take full responsibility, but finding out my favourite sweets are glazed with the stuff bees leave behind anyway? I’m not going to lose any sleep.
Number three: cravings. It’s actually not what I expected. It’s not meat, something I haven’t felt like AT ALL since starting this challenge (I may do another blog post on this but I want to wait until the month is up before I make any bold statements). It hasn’t even been cheese. But twice this week I have dreamed of buttery scrambled eggs on a thick piece of toast. Eggs are perhaps the hardest thing to substitute and no, I don’t really fancy forking out £7 on those vegan eggs I found in Planet Organic. I also found myself in the wine aisle of the co-op the other day contemplating an evening tipple with a friend before I remembered not all wine is vegan. Google, my normal knight in shining armour, was no use at all so in the end I stuck with my trusty gin. A friend forever.
Now for the good stuff: The bloating has gone (for the time at least) and I finally feel a bit lighter in myself and I can truly appreciate how much more energy I have. I’d noticed it on and off for the past week in the sense that I could still manage to finish off some uni work past 8pm (my usual brain-can’t-function-anymore cut off point) and I didn’t feel the need to go get a coffee on my breaks in work or between lectures. I currently have a cold so i’m blaming my stuffed up hazy head on that – don’t walk across London with no coat on in January, because you will get ill as it turns out. Who knew? I’m hoping once that has cleared my concentration as improved to co-incide with the energy. But that is a blank space for now.
Also, my skin. I don’t really suffer from spots that often but my skin has honestly not been this good in ages. It’s clear and i’ve lost that dullness that I always get from winter weather. I’d read that dairy products could wreck havoc with skin but i’d not really understood that until now.
There’s also loads of little things, such as the fact that I’m truly getting to know what goes in my food by reading the labels whenever I can. Yes, the E-numbers thing is a ball-ache but i’m finding it interesting and I hope that i’ll continue to take this into practise long after the month is over. My digestion is better in the sense that as someone who used to have a lot of erm, toilet trouble shall we say, I now feel like i’m on an intense course of Bootea (sorry if that’s TMI) and all natural, baby. Hey, I said i’d be honest. I’m genuinely discovering new foods that I know i’ll carry on once the month is up; Fry’s vegan foods are delicious, I don’t think i’ll go back to whey protein now as taking a break has made me realise that it didn’t react well with me. I’m currently exploring The Protein Works vegan proteins and so far so good, i’ll probably update more of those on my instagram, @whatelladid. I also think a negative from the beginning could also become a positive in terms of not focusing every meal on a protein source and/or meat substitute. Carbs are not the enemy. If I want a plateful of sweet potato fries and homemade quacamole for dinner then that is what dinner shall be (which, as it turns out, has probably been the best meal i’ve had so far. Go figure).
So, there you go. I’m halfway through. I haven’t caved and built a mini cheddar fort to hide in, and I didn’t even risk a bite of a friend’s pizza. I’m learning something new every day. My skin looks boss. Perhaps it will be all downhill from here but i’m proud i’ve even gotten this far. This was a complete cold turkey, excuse the pun, experience. Plus I worked out by the end I will have saved 30 animals and 900 square feet of forest. Pretty cool, huh?