To be honest, I’ve been eating a largely plant based diet for the past few months but I hadn’t committed to it 100%. I had already been eating vegan for the week prior to taking the vegan pledge. I decided against backdating the start of my pledge and didn’t include the previous week as part of the 30 days. That means that when I finish the 30 day pledge I will actually have completed 37 days vegan ???? This is far more than the seven or eight consecutive days I would’ve ever managed before!
Day one of my vegan pledge officially started on 6/7/17 ????
Week One: Vegan Food Diary
Vegan Food Diary: Breakfast
Porridge was an easy go to breakfast. I soaked my Merry Mill oats the night before in dairy free milk. I topped my oats with fruit – banana and frozen berry as well as adding flax and goji berry mix (from Aldi) and chia seeds. This is a great filling breakfast.
Pancakes were another breakfast option this week! These ones were made with quinoa and flax and smothered in coconut yoghurt, maple syrup and berries!
Smoothies were also on the menu. Filled with fruit, nut milk, veggies, linseed and chia with a scoop of plant based protein powder.
Vegan Food Diary: Midweek Dinners
The first dinner I made was a coconut chana masala. I love this meal! Served with brown basmati.
I also made two sweet potato and puy lentil bakes. One went to the freezer!
I made a vegan cider and samphire chowder as shown below.
Below you can see my pesto pasta with olive and sun-dried tomato and sprinkled with nutritional yeast flakes. This was a quick and easy dinner to throw together and exceptionally tasty!
Another super easy dinner was this loaded baked sweet potato filled with black bean chilli, guacamole, chillies and vegan cheese.
Vegan Food Diary: Weekend Food
This pasta dish is similar to the previous one but with the addition of plenty of fresh basil. Such a yummy comfort food! I used Dove’s Farm brown rice pasta.
I marinated some tempeh as shown above (uncooked). Tempeh is one of my new favourite foods and this was my first time having it! I fried it and served it with some black bean burger bites, avocado salsa and home made potato wedges. One of my favourite meals this week!
I also ate out three times this week and I’m going to add those to a separate post on eating out as a vegan!
I definitely ate abundantly this week and enjoyed a balanced diet which included various sources of carbohydrate, protein and fat. There were so many varieties of flavour to enjoy in each dish.
I definitely feel like I bought far too much food in my first vegan shop! I didn’t realise how full I would feel eating this way, that has probably been the biggest surprise. The good thing is that a lot of what I purchased are pantry staples that I thought would last me the thirty days – they’ll actually more likely last me two or three months!
Hope you enjoyed this vegan food diary! Lots more to come as I continue on the 30 day vegan pledge ????
Upon deciding to make the commitment to go vegan for thirty days, I knew I needed to stock up on some plant-based staples. Most of what I’ve included in this vegan grocery shop was purchased in Sainsbury’s. I’ll talk you through what I picked up and how I intend to use it!
Vegan Grocery Shop Essentials
Possibly the most obvious thing to get when doing a vegan grocery shop! I stocked up on lots of vegetables for the week including carrots, onions, leeks, parsnip and turnip for a vegan chowder I was planning to make. Spinach for salads and smoothies. Mushrooms for pastas, soups and my portobello pizzas. Beetroot, spring onion and broccoli for salads. Potato and sweet potato for mash and potato salad. Of course lots of the basics like carrot and onion would be used in a number of recipes over the course of the week.
I don’t tend to eat tonnes of fruit. I stocked up on frozen berries (not pictured) including blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, as well as a mixed summer berry frozen selection. I usually use these on top of porridge or chia pudding and in smoothies. Bananas are so nice in smoothies or with nut butter on toast as a quick and satisfying snack. I also got up a box of cherries to snack on. Avocado will be used in salads and to make guacamole ??. Lemons and limes with be used for gin and tonic flavouring various salsas, salad dressings and recipes. I picked up the bramley apples to make my own apple sauce as it is often used as a substitute in healthier vegan baking. I’ll freeze the sauce in one-cup portions.
I bought a selection of herbs for cooking with. Fresh herbs make such a difference to the flavour of any dish. My most used are probably basil and corriander. I also picked up samphire for the chowder I was making, parsley, thyme, tarragon and chives. I have a selection of dried herbs and spices too which are also brilliant for adding flavour.
4. Beans and Lentils
Of course no vegan shopping list would be complete without a selection of beans and lentils. Buying them dry and in bulk from the likes of an Asian supermarket is by far the cheapest but for now I just picked up a variety of types. I got some dried chickpeas and black beans also (not pictured) that I will soak, cook and freeze in one can equivalent portions.
5. Nuts and Seeds
Another plant-based staple. I will use these in baking, salads and various other recipes. Seseme seeds are high in calcium so are good to include on a vegan diet. I also have a bag of brazil nuts (not pictured) which are high in selenium – just two brazil nuts a day will help you reach your recommended daily allowance of selenium. Also not pictured are my chia seeds and linseed/flax which I use daily in either smoothies, porridge or chia pudding. I love them!
I stocked up on quinoa, brown basmati, buckwheat and polenta. I also got some brown rice pasta and want to get some quinoa and buckwheat pasta from the health food shop. I love the Ogran wholegrain buckwheat pasta. I will use quinoa to make tabouleh style dishes as well as using it as a side for various dishes. Rice will also serve as a side for the likes of curries and dahl.
Quinoa and buckwheat can also be used as a substitute for porridge to change things up a bit. I’ve never used polenta before! But I’ve noticed it in a few vegan recipes so I picked up a bag to give it a go. I’ve also got some porridge oats from The Merry Mill which I got at Bloom this year. I soak them the night before and they are the best oats I’ve ever had! So porridge will also be on the menu.
Tofu is fairly new to me. I’ve never really used it before. I picked up a selection when doing my vegan grocery shop. I thought I’d try out a few types over the next thirty days. Tofu is high in plant-based protein so will help me to increase my protein intake on this diet. Its very inexpensive, particularly compared to meat! But can be used in a similar way in recipes.
8. Vegan Milk Substitutes
I have been using unsweetened almond milk for quite some time. The Aldi and Tesco versions are great because they are so much cheaper. I decided to branch out and try a variety of different vegan milk substitutes over the next thirty days as there are so many types to choose from now. I go through plenty of these milk substitutes making smoothies, porridge and chia pudding as well as using them in tea.
9. Vegan Cheese !!!
Vegan cheese has become so much more readily available. Sainsbury’s have their own Free From range of cheese which is completely vegan. I picked up a selection as shown below. They also have a plain cream cheese, a Wensleydale and cranberry vegan cheese and a caramelised onion vegan cheddar. I haven’t tried them yet but perhaps I will next time.
10. Pantry Essentials and Flavourful Additions
I picked up vinegars, oils, tinned tomato, tomato purée, passata, coconut cream, vegan stock and, of course, hot sauce ?. These will be used in a wide variety of recipes.
I also got some jars of chillies, capers and roasted red peppers. I love olives so I picked up some garlic stuffed ones as well as some sun soaked tomatoes to throw into salads and pasta dishes. The Good 4U lentil sprout mix is really high in protein and I’ve used them before in salads. I also got some fresh chillies to use in various recipes. I couldn’t resist a jar of cashew butter too!
I was delighted to come across this vegan pesto too! So handy for pasta and pizza dishes.
I picked up some mustard for making salad dressings. Ketchup and a few herbs and spices that I had run out of. I already have a fairly well stocked spice/herb rack so cumin and kaffir lime leaves were the only two I was out of this week.
I got some oat cakes for snacking. I love topping them with hummus or the aforementioned vegan cream cheese ?
And of course no vegan grocery shop would be complete without tea!
These are the basics of my shop this week. I stocked up on a lot of pantry staples so I shouldn’t need to repurchase them over the next thirty days. Hopefully I will just need to do top up shops for fresh fruit and veg over the next few weeks. I will let you know! I already have vegan protein powder which I’ve been using for quite a while now and nutritional yeast which is another vegan staple. I’ll do weekly vegan grocery shop updates to let you know what else I come across. I am planning a separate post on vegan snacks and treats. It will also be interesting to see how much this vegan diet costs in comparison to a meat/dairy/egg/honey consuming one. Stay tuned!
Over the last few months I have spent some time learning more about the values of veganism. It is something I want to explore again, having already completed a vegan challenge back in August 2015. In fact, that initial vegan series was the very first I published when I started The Clean Coconut!
Back then, despite how much I wanted to be, I wasn’t completely sold on veganism. I didn’t feel entirely sustained on the diet and whilst I certainly reduced my consumption of animal products from then on, I didn’t completely eliminate them.
Over the last few months I have been eating a more plant based diet than ever. I have found that eating this way really suits me and fits well with my values. I have also realised that when I initially undertook the vegan challenge I probably wasn’t eating enough calories. I was following the Beyoncé diet and even though I never felt hungry during that initial vegan week, I don’t think my body was getting the energy I needed on what was an 80% carbohydrate, 10% protein and 10% fat calorie split. The plan was quite low calorie, and even though I often doubled portion sizes and added in extra snacks, I still lost weight over the course of the week. Clearly I can afford to fill up even more on a plant based diet in order to feel truly energised and sustained!
At the time I blamed a lack of supplementation for the weakness I felt by the end of that initial vegan week, however I now realise it was also due to the low calorie diet. I have completed many more vegan weeks since then, particularly in recent months, and I have not experienced those same feelings. I have eaten abundantly, without following any particular “plan”. I have learned that veganism can make for a nourishing and satisfying diet.
When I look back on what I dubbed the “improvable” aspects of the vegan diet I followed in 2015, I can see how many of them have in fact now been improved upon. When I first took on that week long vegan challenge I was living in Belfast. There were absolutely no vegan restaurants there at the time. Now, in 2017, I can name at least four restaurants which cater specifically (and three exclusively) for a vegan diet. I can also name countless other restaurants which have extensive vegan menus available. Thankfully there has been a huge upsurge in people seeking to follow a plant-based diet and the market has finally begun to cater for them.
In 2015 I also felt that there weren’t many vegan alternatives to convenience foods but this is certainly not the case now. I can think of plenty of brands offering vegan alternatives! There are also tonnes of “accidentally” vegan foods ranging from the clean eating variety to the not-so-clean-eating types (hello Oreos, Skittles and Jelly Tots!) . When I first tried a vegan diet I had to go to specialised health food shops to get alternatives like vegan cheese but these are now readily available in the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s. I can even think of three local Belfast pizzerias that offer a vegan cheese alternative on their restaurant and take away menus. These vegan options are only going to continue to grow as demand increases.
Until now, I don’t think I’ve ever spent longer than seven consecutive days on a vegan diet at any one time. Currently I’ve been eating a vegan diet for 14 days and have committed to sticking to it throughout the thirty day pledge I’ve made with the Vegan Society (and hopefully beyond that!). I took the pledge seven days ago. I hope to share my experience with you through various blogs, reviews, and food diaries over the next thirty days.
Of course veganism is about much more than just a plant-based diet. It is about living a life that does not contribute to animal cruelty or exploitation in any way – including via the products we use, the entertainment we choose and the clothes we wear. It can seem overwhelming but even small changes can help to create a more sustainable planet and healthier environment for ourselves and for future generations. Revisiting veganism for the next thirty days certainly can’t do any harm!
Its been a while and its safe to say that for me, the last few months have been quite a whirlwind! If you follow my social media accounts you will know that at the end of March I was involved in a car crash which essentially stopped me in my tracks and left me with injuries that I am still dealing with. While I focused on recovery, my blog and my training definitely took a back seat! Now that summer is in full swing, I am hoping to have time to write and share new blog posts with you more frequently ?
But it certainly hasn’t all been bad news! Many of you will also know that in June 2017 myself and my now fiancé Ciarán got engaged ?? So it has been an exciting month of catching up with friends and family and enjoying this very special time in our lives ?
Finally, I have spent a lot of time over the past few months taking the time to reevaluate my priorities. When life suddenly stops you in your tracks and turns your plans upside down it gives you reason to think twice about what is truly important, and that has been a blessing. I am so grateful for the wonderful friends and family, near and far, who have shared in our joyous times and been so supportive in the more difficult times over the last few months.
Here’s to a deeper layer of understanding being unveiled in this journey called life.