We’re almost halfway through Veganuary and, although I’m not taking part this year, I’m still a supporter of the campaign which, with 50,000 people taking part this year, is more popular than ever. In case you’re wondering why I’m not taking part this time when I loved doing it last year, I’ve had a change in circumstances and, frankly, I can’t be arsed (I know, crap excuse – it’s not like I can’t be arsed to be vegetarian anymore). Still, it’s not too late for you to join in and I’ve posted below an infographic containing some information about veganism in general (ignore the bit about you’re not vegan if you use the new five pound note. Yes, they contain bits of animals but so do smartphones and computers and you’re not going to go back to using smoke signals and abacuses, are you? But if you really don’t want to use the new five pound notes, just send them to me and I will dispose of them for you in the pub.)
Since Veganuary finished, friends have asked me if I’m still vegan. My answers usually began with, ‘Um…’ and finished with, ‘Well, no, not exactly. Well, no.’ It’s a ‘no’ because – before the vegan police shout at me – I’m aware there’s no such thing as being ‘mostly vegan’, just as there’s no such thing as being ‘a bit pregnant’ – you either are or you aren’t. And although I haven’t eaten much dairy since January, I have eaten some, so no, I haven’t stayed vegan.
I’m also aware being vegan means more than just eating a plant-based diet: It’s also about not wearing wool, silk or leather. It’s about not using lip balm containing beeswax and avoiding shoes that have glue. It’s also about animal rights, the environment and living compassionately. And it’s also – going by what I’ve seen on various vegan Facebook groups – about wearing t-shirts with vegan slogans on, getting the word ‘vegan’ tattooed on to your arm (with vegan ink, obvs) and telling people to watch Earthlings. Oh, and arguing amongst yourselves about who’s the best at being vegan (if you eat anything containing palm oil, then it’s not you).
Why I took part in Veganuary
If you know me in real life or are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I have strong vegan/plant-based diet leanings (I really can’t be arsed to keep typing ‘plant-based diet’ so I’m going to write ‘vegan’ in this post from now on) so it probably wasn’t much of a surprise that I wanted to take part in Veganuary.
I’ve been vegetarian for twenty-four years and that’s not your willy-nilly fish-is-a-vegetable/parmesan-is-cheese-and-therefore-must-be-vegetarian-innit vegetarian – I know what I’m doing. I know Parmesan and Gorgonzola are never vegetarian. I know to ask in a restaurant or cafe if the stock in a seemingly vegetarian soup is vegetarian because just because it’s a vegetable soup, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been made out of chicken bones.
But – and I shouldn’t generalise but I’m going to anyway – most long-term vegetarians know vegetarianism is a half-hearted attempt at doing the right thing for animals. We know veganism is the only way to show you’re serious about animal cruelty. Yes, we don’t eat meat, but the dairy and egg industry is just as cruel, if not crueller. There’s no such thing as humane slaughter and there’s definitely nothing humane about stealing cows’ milk and taking their babies away from them or chucking live male chicks into grinders.
Most vegetarians don’t bang on about being vegetarian because, secretly, we’re embarrassed about not being vegan.
I’m sitting here trying to think of a good reason why I haven’t changed my diet from vegetarian to vegan before (except for one month in 2008) but there are no good reasons. My only excuses are a) lack of choice when eating out; and b) living with an anti-vegan. But I could live with a) for a month and, happily, b) didn’t make any fuss when I said I wanted to take part in Veganuary and so I took the vegan pledge and signed up.
What did I think would be difficult during Veganuary?
Given that my diet is mostly plant-based anyway, I didn’t think I’d have too much difficulty during Veganuary, other than finding a month’s worth of main meals the Meat Eater would like. I’d happily have omelettes made from chickpeas and cashews made into cheese but I knew the Meat Eater wouldn’t be impressed. So, I made a list of meals that were vegan, simply by being vegetarian meals that didn’t contain eggs or dairy anyway, e.g. stew, curry, stir-fry, etc., and if I made something that traditionally (but doesn’t have to) contains cheese, e.g. pizza, tacos, jacket potatoes, then I could make two of them – one for me and one for him.
So that was the main meals sorted and I was happy that the only problem I might have was finding enough variety and not ending up having curry three times a week, but a bit of meal-planning (which I do anyway) took care of that.
My main concern was hot chocolate. I drink about three mugs of it a day and before Veganuary I used the instant low-calorie stuff that contains milk, so that had to be swapped for a tub of drinking chocolate and soya milk and whenever I’ve done that in the past, I’ve burnt the saucepan while heating the milk.
But Veganuary doesn’t care about burnt saucepans so I decided to experiment by heating drinking chocolate and soya milk in the microwave and, do you know what? It works fine! All those burnt saucepans were for nothing, dammit. Now I’m a convert and have a couple of cups (not massive mugs – yes, sometimes I can do moderation) of Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate and soya milk, heated in the microwave a day. Yay.
Cheese is obviously the big ‘BUT I CAN’T GIVE THAT UP’ thing when it comes to veganism. I knew I’d be fine indoors and would be happy to put Violife on my pizza, jacket potatoes and tacos while the Meat Eater had dairy cheese on his but eating out would be a problem, even in a cafè. In fact, especially in a cafè, as I love me a toasted cheese panini. As it turned out, Billy-no-mates here didn’t have any dinner engagements during Veganuary (probably because I’m a ponce who calls ‘eating out’ a ‘dinner engagement’) and the only time I ate out, I had a houmous and falafel wrap in Caffè Nero to go with my soya milk hot chocolate, and very nice it was too.
I didn’t have to go without garlic bread with my Violife-covered pizza, as I made my own vegan garlic bread (along with a non-vegan one) and it’s better than any garlic bread you can buy in the shop.
Friday night is chippy night in this house and pre-Veganuary, my usual order was battered halloumi, onion rings and chips (and curry sauce in a jar, heated up at home as I don’t think curry sauce in the chippy is vegetarian). Obviously battered halloumi was off the menu during Veganuary so I had the brainwave of making tofush and what a fucking brilliant brainwave that was, even if I do say so myself.
I made this vegan tofush (tofu and nori covered in batter) and had it with chips from the chippy every chippy night during Veganuary. It’s fantastic and you can find my recipe for tofush here.
Everyday vegan food/snacks that are easily available in the supermarket
A lot of food is vegan. Or, ‘accidentally vegan’, as the vegans like to call it when talking about food that doesn’t scream VEGAN quite like, say, a lettuce or a bag of lentils does.
I’ve already mentioned above it’s easy to find vegan hot chocolate. Most of the tubs of drinking chocolate are vegan – just avoid the instant ones, as they usually contain milk. I started off Veganuary by treating myself to a tub of Green & Black’s cocoa but I didn’t like it much, so I ditched that and bought a tub of Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate instead. I liked that so much, when it was half price in Tesco last week, I bought another four tubs of it.
I’m not going to lie and say supermarkets all carry a vegan range of Snickers, Twix, Dairy Milk, etc. (DAMN YOU, SUPERMARKETS) but if you like dark chocolate, a lot of that is vegan (just check the label for milk) and most supermarkets sell their own ‘free from’ range and/or Mini Moo dairy-free chocolate, so you don’t have to go without your chocolate fix.
It’s not all ready salted and salt and vinegar crisps when you’re vegan. Bacon Wheat Crunchies, Skips and BILLIONS of other flavours are vegan. Unfortunately though, while manufacturers will happily create artificial pig flavours for their crisps, there aren’t any artificial cheese flavours in the supermarkets. Sob. If you’re lucky though, you might find some Ten Acre vegan cheese and onion flavour crisps in your local TK Maxx.
I don’t eat many biscuits but I ate Oreos during Veganuary purely because they’re vegan and everyone goes on about them in vegan Facebook groups (please note, not all the Oreo range is vegan, so check the label).
There are many, many ‘accidentally vegan’ snacks you can buy. For a list far better than mine (let’s face it – it’s a shit list), Vegan Womble’s your man (or woman – I have no idea if it’s a boy or a girl womble)
Side effects during Veganuary
I had no side effects. Nothing. No hunger, no tiredness, no urge to get a tattoo, no nothing. I didn’t at any time feel any different. I was expecting to feel something; at least a little bit of ‘holier-than-thouness’ but nope.
One side effect I thought I might have, especially as it was coupled – nay, tripled – with not drinking during January (except for a couple of days) as well as doing Janathon, was a bit of weight loss but I was disappointed there as, although I did lose weight, it was only two pounds during the whole of January. Still, that list above of crisps, chocolate and biscuits might give me a bit of a clue why not much weight loss happened. Just because something’s vegan, doesn’t mean it contains no calories.
February and the future
At no point during Veganuary did I announce to anyone – either in real life or online – that I’d stay plant-based after January but I think most people, including myself, thought I probably would.
But, here’s the ‘but…’
I’ve already admitted that, although I haven’t instantly gone back to instant hot chocolate and cheese and onion crisps, I have eaten dairy. In fact, I know I said I’d only eaten some, now I’m thinking about it, it’s actually quite a lot and I was talking bollocks.
I ate a cheese and tomato toastie on the plane back from Tenerife, along with a slice of pizza when I got home from the airport. Since then, I’ve been out for a friend’s birthday where I – with only a slight pang of guilt – ordered a cheese-laden pizza in Strada. In my hungover state the next day, with it being Friday, I – again with only a slight pang of guilt – ordered battered halloumi from the chippy.
On Saturday, I decided we should use up the Papa John’s leftover pizza that had been in the freezer since December and when the Meat Eater made some garlic bread, I didn’t insist that my half be vegan (or make any myself).
This week, I’ve had a bad cold, thought ‘sod it’ and had a couple of bags of crisps that contained milk (WHY DO ONION RINGS HAVE MILK IN THEM YOU FUCKERS?) I’ve also cooked meals that contained honey and cheese (admittedly only a tiny bit that I could easily have left out) from a Riverford recipe box that I’d already agreed to review.
My only excuse was ‘I couldn’t be bothered because I was on a plane/tired/ill’ but when I thought about it, I thought, ‘not being bothered’ wouldn’t make me not be vegetarian so why should it be any different now? Even if I couldn’t be bothered to make my own tofush last Friday, I didn’t have to order the battered halloumi – I could have just had chips. Using up leftovers is fair enough but I didn’t have to have garlic bread with it.
I haven’t totally fallen off the wagon though. I purposefully checked the labels in Tesco last week on their chilled soups to find vegan ones to have for lunch this week (their Mexican Chilli Bean one and their Minestrone ones are vegan, cheap and delicious) and yesterday, I fancied some biscuits and spent about half an hour studying labels before settling for a packet of Oaties. I’m still drinking my Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate and soya milk and haven’t gone back to my lazy but quick instant stuff that contains milk. Tonight is chippy night and I’m going back to making tofush.
So, now I haven’t just got off a plane or have recipes containing dairy to review and my cold is clearing, next week will be a new start and I’m going to resume my plant-based diet. I just need to find onion rings that don’t contain milk. I think Asda do them and although Asda is a two mile bike ride away, I will cycle for crisps.
I’m not saying I’m never going to eat a pizza with cheese again and I’m not going to call myself a vegan, but I’m going to do my best to stick to a plant-based diet.
I think that’ll do for now.
‘I can’t think of any way this would be improved by adding meat to it’, The Meat Eater said as he ate this gobi (cauliflower) masala. I’d been tasting it as it was cooking and knew I wasn’t going to get any comments about it being thin, as this dish is tasty, thick and substantial.
The original recipe came from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The main difference is that Isa’s recipe contains okra (therefore making it a bhindi masala), while I used cauliflower instead (therefore making it a gobi masala). The Meat Eater doesn’t like okra and while I don’t eat much cauliflower, I’m happy to have it in a curry. I’m definitely happy to have it a curry as wonderful as this one. If you like neither okra or cauliflower, you could use any other chunky vegetable, for example aubergine – which would make it a brinjal masala.
Vegan Gobi (Cauliflower) Masala Recipe
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- ⅓ cup chickpea (gram) flour
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp mild curry powder
- 300ml vegetable stock
- 1 small cauliflower, broken into florets
- 1 can black-eyed beans, drained and rinsed
- Heat 1 tbsp of the coconut oil and toast the cumins seeds for 1 minute
- Add the remaining 2 tsbp coconut oil and sprinkle in the chickpea flour and stir consistently for 3 to 4 minutes
- Add the onion and salt and stir to coat the onion in the flour mixture and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Add the garlic and ginger and stir for 1 more minute
- Add the chopped tomatoes and curry powder and stir for a few minutes
- Add the stock, cauliflower and black-eyed beans and bring to the boil
- Simmer for about 30-45 minutes until the cauliflower is tender
Bread Machine Onion Bhaji Bread
I hadn’t planned for today’s blog to have an Indian theme to it but I wanted to share with you the bread machine onion bhaji bread I made the other day from The Complete Bread Machine Book by Sonia Allison (there are currently loads of copies on Amazon for 1p if you want to snap one up). Unfortunately, it doesn’t taste like onion bhajis but it’s tasty all the same, and was nice toasted and spread with Vitalite, and also as the bread for my chickpea ‘tuna’ salad sandwich (that I had today, so I’ll post a photo of it tomorrow).
The recipe below is almost exactly the same as in the book but I used those dried crispy onion things you find in the salad dressing bit of the supermarket. I had thought about drying onions myself in my dehydrator but on reading up about it, I decided against it as apparently it stinks the whole house out and all the articles I read said it can be dangerous to pets and advise having all the doors and windows open while you’re doing it, which may be okay if you’re living in Hawaii or something but it’s not okay in January in the UK.
- 400g strong white bread flour
- 50g gram (chickpea) flour
- 6 tbsp dried onions
- 275ml water
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 3 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp powdered ginger
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1½ tsp fast-acting dried yeast
- Thoroughly mix together the two flours
- Pour the water into your bread machine bucket, the add the oil and half the mixed flours
- Sprinkle with the salt, sugar, garam masala, ginger, cumin and dried onions
- Cover with the remaining flour mixture and mound the yeast into the centre
- Fit the bucket into the bread machine and set to a medium size, basic loaf
- When ready, cool on a wire cooling rack
While flicking through my Easy Vegan cookbook, I came across a recipe for Smoky Hotpot of Great Northern Beans. It looked tasty in the photo and the ingredients were all easily available so I thought I’d give it a go and make it as a change to the stew I usually make. Although this hotpot was nice enough, I’ve got to admit I prefer my usual one.
I’d never heard of great northern beans, so I used butter beans instead. There was also a stick of celery in the original recipe, which I left out because I’m not keen on cooked celery. Scooped into hummus, yes – cooked, no.
I served the hotpot with dumplings and crusty rolls.
Vegan Smoky Bean Hotpot Recipe
- 1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 medium potatoes, diced
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 500ml vegan stock
- salt and pepper
- Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened
- Add the garlic and paprika and fry for 2 minutes
- Add the carrot, potatoes and red pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to coat the vegetables in the oil
- Add the stock and beans and bring to the boil
- Reduce the heat and partially cover with a lid
- Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked
- Season with salt and pepper
Veganuary Day 25
Lunch – Vegan chickpea ‘tuna’ mayo wrap with salad
For lunch, I made some vegan chickpea ‘tuna’ mayo and had it in a wrap with salad. Chickpea tuna is simple to make – just mash up a tin of chickpeas with a potato masher or fork, mix in some vegan mayonnaise, along with some torn up bits of nori (dried seaweed) and season with salt and pepper. How much mayo and nori you add is down to how unhealthy (mayo) and how fishy (nori) you like it.
Don’t worry, I haven’t fallen off the Veganuary wagon, I just didn’t get round to posting on Saturday because I got excited about a friend inviting me to Tenerife this coming Saturday and then on Sunday I was too hungover after celebrating being invited to go to Tenerife this coming Saturday (yes, I fell off *that* particular wagon again).
So, here’s a quick catch-up of Veganuary Days 22, 23 and 24.
Veganuary Day 22
Leftover smoothie from Day 21.
Spinach, olives, cucumber, tomatoes, sundried tomato paste and harissa paste wrap, and an Ainsley Harriot Szechuan Hot & Sour Cup Soup (which, as far as I could tell, is vegan).
Home made tofush and chips from the chippy. Go here for the tofush recipe.
Hot chocolate (Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate and soya milk) and rice crackers.
Veganuary Day 23
Potato cakes and Vitalite. I love potato cakes.
I fried up some of the leftover smoky mushroom burger from last Saturday.
I keep reading about how most of the Betty Crocker mixes are vegan and you can add a can of fizzy drink instead of egg to keep them vegan and I’ve wanted to test this on the packet of Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix I’ve had in the cupboard for ages (so ages it was out of date).
I’d read that you should use a bit less than a can’s worth, so I used 300ml of Coke but this was too much and although the brownies taste divine, they’re a bit gooey. But, who cares about a bit of goo when you can have a vegan brownie, eh?
Veganuary Day 24
Nothing, as was too hungover.
Nothing as I’d gone back to bed at lunchtime because I was hungover.
The Meat Eater made a tortilla pizza and even made some vegan garlic bread (it wasn’t as good as mine though). The photo above is from a couple of weeks ago.
I thought I’d give these vegan Free From chocolate desserts from Tesco a go and I wasn’t disappointed. Yum.
So. Just a week left of Veganuary, although if I can’t find anything vegan to eat in Tenerife my Veganuary’s going to end before February. The friend I’m going with though is also a vegetarian (in fact, she’s practically vegan as she’s intolerant to dairy) and I’ve got a list of vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Tenerife so hopefully we can find something to eat that’s not pizza (which is what I usually eat when I go abroad) although I suppose I could ask for pizza without cheese.
I made something healthy, hurrah! Okay, so I served it with a most definitely unhealthy homemade vegan garlic bread but the thought was there. This vegan aubergine and chickpea penne is a dish I’ve made before but I’m going to post it again because it’s Veganuary and, as you might have noticed, I’m posting each – or at least almost each – day to show you what I’ve eaten and if I don’t post what I ate last night, all you’ll have to look at is this photo of the kiwi, frozen summer fruit, cashews and dates Nutriblast I had at lunchtime.
Vegan Aubergine and Chickpea Penne
This aubergine and chickpea penne recipe was another from the Vegan – 100 Everyday Recipes cookbook that I’ve been getting a bit of use out of so far during Veganuary. This is the third dish I’ve made from it – the others being Vegan Smoky Mushroom Burgers and Vegan Thai Red Curry (as I’m typing this, I’m flicking through the book and have seen a recipe for a sparkling wine sorbet. Oh my).
The original aubergine and chickpea penne recipe calls for cinnamon and coriander, both of which I left out of my version.
- large pinch of saffron threads
- 450ml vegan stock
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 350g aubergine, diced
- 1 red or yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 300g dried penne
- salt and pepper
- Toast the saffron threads in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for 20-30 seconds. Place in a small bowl/ramekin and crumble with your fingers. Add 2 tbsp of the stock and set aside.
- Heat the oil in the frying pan, add the onion and garlic and fry for about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and fry for another 20-30 seconds, then add the aubergine, yellow or red pepper, chopped tomatoes, saffron liquid and the remaining stock. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the chickpeas to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Uncover and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
- Serve with pasta.
And now it’s Friday again, which means I get another excuse to make my tofush to go with my chippy chips. Yay.
Veganuary Day 19
I’ve been slacking off my breakfast Nutriblasts recently and the 19th of Veganuary was no exception. A side effect of slacking off breakfast means hunger kicks in mid-morning and today when the munchies kicked in, my healthy choices got pushed aside in favour of the vegan cake that’s on the kitchen worktop.
Even I don’t have cake for lunch though, which was a Warburtons Thin filled with spinach, cucumber, olives, tomatoes and sundried tomato paste.
Vegan Haggis Stuffed Pepper Recipe
For dinner, I made a vegan haggis stuffed red pepper. I’ve made these a couple of times before, although I can’t find any blog posts about them so the photos must have been bad – even for me.
I mixed the vegan haggis up with mushrooms and spinach but you can use whatever you fancy, e.g. leeks, tomatoes, onions, etc. I don’t add any spices or seasonings to Macsween’s haggis, as it’s tasty enough on its own.
I’ve seen on various vegan and vegetarian Facebook groups people saying they’ve bought Macsween vegetarian haggis in Sainsbury’s and Tesco. I haven’t seen it in either of those two supermarkets but I did find some before Christmas in Waitrose (it was by the cheese for some reason). My Facebook friend Cath tried making her own from this recipe in the Guardian but she said it was ‘horrible’, ‘impossible to eat’ and ‘cost me more in ingredients than if I’d just bought a Macsween veg haggis’.
- Olive oil spray
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 250g Macsween vegetarian haggis, chopped
- 50g mushrooms, chopped
- 2 red peppers, destalked and deseeded
- 2 large handfuls of spinach
- Lightly spray the peppers with the olive oil spray and put in an ovenproof dish and bake for about 20 minutes at 180C
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms for about 2 minutes
- Add the vegetarian haggis and fry for another 3 minutes
- Add the spinach and stir until wilted
- Stuff the peppers with the haggis/mushroom/spinach mixture and return to the oven, covered, for 20 minutes, uncovering for the last 10
Veganuary Day 20
As I was off on a walk this morning and there are rarely toilets at the start of the walks I go on, I didn’t want to fill myself full of liquid, so I didn’t have any breakfast (yes, I know there are other things than smoothies/Nutriblasts to have for breakfast but I can’t face solid food first thing). As it turned out, there were toilets at the start of the walk so I could have had a Nutriblast before leaving the house but I’d brought two Tribe Bars with me and had one of those on my arrival (I’d cycled 4.5 miles and been in a car for 35 minutes by then, so I was up to eating something).
After the 6.5 mile walk round Shorne Wood Country Park, a friend and I went into the cafe for a drink and something to eat. I studied the menu and wondered if the veggie sausages were vegan, before deciding I wasn’t hungry enough for a sausage sandwich anyway and diverting my attention to the flapjacky type things on the counter. As I picked up each one and studied the labels for dairy and eggs, I had an insight to how vegans must feel each time they go out to eat. I settled for an apple crumble slice type thing which stated clearly it was dairy-free and I couldn’t see eggs on the label (unlike on the other products they sold) and couldn’t think of anything else I should be looking out for and asked the girl at the counter if she had any soya milk. She didn’t, so I had to go without hot chocolate and have a fruit tea instead. What do hot chocolate drinking vegans do? Take a flask of vegan hot chocolate with them everywhere they go? I don’t drink tea or coffee. I drink hot chocolate. The cranberry and raspberry tea I had was very nice but I WANT HOT CHOCOLATE, DAMMIT.
Still, I never run out of hot chocolate at home (although since doing Veganuary, I’m buying about ten times the amount of soya milk I used to as the instant hot chocolate powder I usually use contains milk) and that’s what I had when I got in, along with the last of my vegan cake (Jacqui, if you’re reading this – thank you again for sending me the gorgeous vegan cake).
Fry’s Meat Free Crispy Prawns
I had planned to make a vegan aubergine and chickpea pasta dish for dinner but I was feeling lazy after the walk so I heated up the Fry’s Vegan Prawns I’d bought from Holland & Barrett a couple of weeks ago.
Part of me had wanted to try these meat free crispy prawns for ages, especially since Linda McCartney stopped making their fish-free prawns and scampi (sob) but, because 99% of the times I’d seen them mentioned on Facebook groups, people had said they’re more like chicken and nothing like prawns, the other part of me didn’t want to try them a) because they’re not cheap (they’re £3.99 in Holland & Barrett) and b) that’s a lot of money to pay just to be disappointed.
Now I’ve tried them I can tell you that no, they’re nothing like prawns and are definitely more chicken-like in texture but there is a slight prawn-like taste so, to put it succinctly – they’re like a prawny-tasting chicken. I’m not disappointed with them and if they were cheaper, I’d buy them. I certainly wouldn’t pay £3.99 for them but if you’ve got a money-off voucher for them like I did, they’re worth trying.
If you haven’t got a Holland & Barrett loyalty card, they’re worth getting. I thought I didn’t go into H&B very often but I keep getting discount vouchers sent to me, so I must spend more in there than I thought I did.
Did you see all the fuss Gourmet Burger Kitchen caused over the last few days with their latest campaign? Thousands of vegetarians and vegans got the hump over GBK’s adverts which they took to be mocking them. The adverts didn’t bother me, and certainly not to the extent that I felt the need to go on to Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s Facebook page to have a go at them but then again, I’m secure in my food/lifestyle choices and, after 24 years of being vegetarian, I’ve heard it all before. The above advert is just another play on the old ‘don’t you miss bacon?’ chestnut, which is far more tedious than offensive.
After getting back to the office on Monday morning and seeing the outrage the adverts caused over the weekend, Gourmet Burger Kitchen apologised and promised to take down some of the adverts. That wasn’t enough for some vegans though who chose to stay offended. But from what I’ve seen in vegan Facebook groups, a lot of vegans LOVE to be offended. It seems to be how they fill in the time they used to spend eating cheese.
Anyway, that’s my little view on it – now let’s go back to the important stuff like what did I eat yesterday?
Veganuary Day 18 – Breakfast
I’m only calling this ‘breakfast’ because the cake and hot chocolate I had at about 11:30 was the first thing I ate.
I’d bought a jar of spicy sundried tomato paste from TK Maxx and added some to my spinach, olives, tomato, cucumber and hummus wrap. I’d only gone to TK Maxx to see if they had any of the vegan Ten Acre Cheese and Onion Crisps which I’d seen someone say they’d got in there. They didn’t have any (only sweet and sour flavour) but if you’re not a regular in TK Maxx, you should go and have a look at their food bit – there’s some interesting stuff there. I also got some multi-coloured pasta.
A nice and easy get-some-leftovers-out-of-the-freezer-and-heat-up Thai Red Curry for dinner, served with vegan spring rolls and wontons from Tesco.
‘Snacks’ is far too lame a term for the full-on munchie attack I had yesterday evening. After dinner I had a Tesco Mint Thin, the rest of a bar of dark chocolate I had, a packet of bacon Wheat Crunchies and a Perkier quinoa bar. The only way I could stop wanting more to eat was by going to bed.
And speaking about eating before going to bed – forget cheese giving you weird dreams – last night I dreamt I snogged Phil Mitchell from Eastenders. It’ll be a long time before I forgive my brain for that one.
My resolve weakened at the weekend. Don’t panic, not my Veganuary pledge – not eating cheese is a breeze. No, it was my ‘I’m not going to drink alcohol in January until the 30th when I go on a pub crawl’ resolve. But I fancied a drink on Saturday, so I had one. One bottle of wine, that is. Well, make that a bottle and a half. I should also probably confess that, according to Barnivore, it wasn’t even vegan wine (Hardys, if you’re interested) but as I don’t take too much notice of whether wine is vegetarian or not at the best of times (and certainly not if I’m drinking it in a pub), I’m not going to feel too guilty about that and, in my defence, it was a bottle I’d bought before Veganuary, anyway (although that doesn’t defend it’s non-vegetarianness).
Veganuary Day 16
Saturday’s breakfast had been a superfood smoothie containing spinach, apple, clementine, raspberry, wheat grass powder, acai powder and chia seeds. I said in Friday’s post that wheat grass is great for an energy boost and it certainly powered me through Saturday morning’s spin class.
I’ve made a few burgers from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way before, such as:
- sweet potato burgers with lentils and spinach
- easy bean burgers
- cashew and leek burgers with bulgur and lentils
- spinach and chickpea burgers
and although I’ve enjoyed them all, making burgers can be a bit of a time-consuming faff, as well as creating a lot of washing up. These vegan smoky mushroom burgers from Vegan – 100 Everyday Recipes, while not whipped up in an instant, aren’t too much of a chore and the results are worth it. I made the whole amount, cooked enough for two burgers, then froze the rest of the mixture to use another time.
The way I made these burgers is pretty much as it is in the book but I added garlic as cooking onion without garlic seemed wrong. I also left out the 30g coriander the original recipe has as I’m not keen on coriander.
- 425g can red kidney beans, drained
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 115g mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, coarsely grated
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 70g porridge oats
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- plain flour
- salt and pepper
- Place the kidney beans in a bowl and mash thoroughly with a potato masher.
- Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes.
- Add the mushroom, carrot and paprika and fry for a further 4 minutes.
- Add the vegetables to the beans with the oats, soy sauce and tomato puree. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
- Divide into 6 portions and shape into burgers, then lightly coat in the flour.
- Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan and cook the burgers for a few minutes each side, until lightly browned.
Veganuary Day 17
I didn’t have any breakfast on Sunday and for lunch I had some of the cake my friend had sent me (which you can see on last Thursday’s post) and a mug of hot chocolate. Not the most healthiest of lunches but hey ho.
Dinner was a jacket potato with chilli, Violife and sour cream. Again. That’s the third time this month I’ve had it so I’ll spare you looking at the photo of it for the third time.
As I write this (on the 18th), there’s two weeks left of Veganuary. I still don’t feel any different. Maybe I should get a tattoo or a t-shirt or something (just kidding).
Two weeks of no dairy or eggs. Two weeks of no alcohol. Two weeks of exercising every day. And have I lost weight? NO, NOT A FUCKING OUNCE. Surely my diet hasn’t been that bad? Okay, so I’ve had a few Oreos over the last couple of weeks and a mug of hot chocolate every day but what about the four thousand calories I haven’t drunk in wine and the four thousand calories I’ve burnt off at the gym, huh? DON’T THEY COUNT FOR ANYTHING?
Oh well, maybe this is my body’s way of telling me I’m perfect as I am and don’t need to lose any weight.
I’ll just keep telling myself that.
Veganuary Day 15
Anyway, back to my Veganuary food diary. Yesterday I had wheat grass for the first time. Have you tried it? If you have, you feel my pain. If not, I can tell you it’s not quite as bad as spirulina and doesn’t taste as grim as it smells but the taste lingers afterwards and is as difficult to get rid of as LinkedIn notifications. If you can get over the taste though, it does give an instant energy boost.
On Thursday, I told you I’d planned to go to Caffè Nero and get a hot chocolate with soya milk and hopefully one of their vegan houmous and falafel wraps. My luck was in – there was a houmous and falafel wrap left, I didn’t get a funny look when I asked for hot chocolate with soya milk and there was even an empty table in the corner in which I could go and hide and read my Kindle. Result.
After last week’s success in making tofush to go with my chips from the chippy, I made it again last night. For some reason, the nori didn’t want to stay on the tofu this time and fell off while I was dredging the tofu in batter but that didn’t ruin it. Here’s the photo from last week and if you want the recipe, it’s here in last week’s post.
So, that’s two weeks of Veganuary done. I’m not tempted to eat cheese but I’ve got to admit my resolve when it comes to wine is weakening. And it is Saturday now, after all…