Veganuary

Sometime in December, I came across a charitable organization called Veganuary.

Veganuary works to inspire people to try going vegan for the month of January. They provides ample information on reasons to go vegan, citing animal welfare, personal and environmental health, and nutritional benefits.

Lately, I have been listening to different podcasts about the benefits of a plant-based diet. One such podcast was from UK foodie Ella Mills of Deliciously Ella. The episode “Why a vegan diet is the single biggest positive change you can make for the planet, with Joseph Poore at Oxford University"” discussed exactly that, citing science and current world health trends as evidence, instead of only discussing animal welfare. Experts published a report in Oct of 2018 cautioning everyone that a “drastic drop in meat consumption is absolutely necessary if we expect to prevent the worst effects of global warming.”

After getting some facts, going vegan for a month seemed like a pretty cool thing to do, not only for myself but for the planet.

Pasta with butternut squash, peppers, avocado, spinach, sriracha, and crunchy peas. Baby foods on the left!

Pasta with butternut squash, peppers, avocado, spinach, sriracha, and crunchy peas. Baby foods on the left!

Last week marked the the completion of my personal Veganuary. I learned that eating a vegan diet is easy; however, I had to have the right foods available. I found myself returning to the grocery store every third day to replenish my fresh fruit and vegetable supply. Here is a list of some of my favorite fruit and veg I ate in January:

  • kale (precut and washed)

  • broccoli slaw (premade)

  • carrots (whole)

  • celery (whole)

  • onions

  • sweet potatoes

  • avocado

  • banana

  • watermelon (precut)

  • apples

  • frozen peas, corn, and spinach

  • non-dairy milk ( I used most any, except almond since I am allergic)

  • non-dairy creamer (Ripple is my favorite! No clumps!)

Pumpkin coconut pasta with walnuts

Pumpkin coconut pasta with walnuts

I also needed certain non-perishables, such as beans, nuts, seeds, oats, and specialty things like cacao powder and peanut powder (I am obsessed). I have always eaten ground flax seeds, so I still incorporated these into my diet, along with psyllium.

Since I am nursing, I made sure to have protein powder on hand: I heard somewhere that nursing mothers are supposed to have at least 60 grams of protein per day. Anyway, it’s good practice for all of us to focus on protein when perusing a vegan diet.

For other sources of protein, I made my own nut/seed-butter out of cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. I ate beans every day. And, if there was a sale on plant-based burgers, I bought those, along with vegan cheese. I even attempted to make my own vegan cheese out of lentils, pinto beans, nutritional yeast, spices, oil, and psyllium. It looked quite disgusting, but the taste wasn’t too bad!

In general, I stocked my fridge and pantry with:

  • pumpkin seeds

  • walnuts

  • ground flaxseed

  • sunflower seeds

  • cashews

  • granola

  • oats

  • nutritional yeast

  • protein powder

  • cacao powder

  • peanut butter powder

  • various canned beans

  • coconut milk (canned)

Spinach buckwheat pancakes with bananas, chia jam, and nutseed butter

Spinach buckwheat pancakes with bananas, chia jam, and nutseed butter

For me, Veganuary became even more than a fun experiment. I am proud that I was able to incorporate plant-based food into my diet in a lot of different ways. It helped that my carnivorous husband was out of town for the first half of the month, so I could pretty much go all the way vegan, and I didn’t have to consider cooking for two.

At the same time I was vegan-ing, I was also trying out “Baby Led Weaning” with my son. I served him plant-based BLW appropriate food that I was eating, and I think he had a good time too - you can see him and his little vegan food morsels in the background of my photos below.

I have to admit, there were a few hiccups in my perfect vegan month. One Friday while my husband was away, I was invited over to a neighbors house for dinner, and I completely forgot to mention my Veganuary mission beforehand, so I politely ate whatever would be served. Also, when my husband got back from his trip, he unloaded all his “plane snacks” onto the kitchen table, one of which was a packet of turkey jerky. Without even thinking about it, I ate a piece of jerky. Woops!

I learned a few things about my eating habits. I tend to eat a lot of fiber and fat. Additionally, I am a huge sucker for desserts, and I was happy to learn that lots of commercially made sweets are vegan. Oreo’s are vegan. Dark chocolate can be vegan. Many supermarkets sell vegan baked goods. If I see an adorable vegan chocolate cupcake, I will buy it. I apparently have a huge vegan sweet tooth!

By going vegan for a month, I thought I might lose weight. I didn’t, which is a bummer, because I still have a few pounds to spare from my pregnancy weight. I also learned that I needed to more protein than I once thought in order to feel satisfied. If I felt hungry after a large meal, I drank protein powder mixed into warmed oat milk. Weird but it worked. I learned that I eat 6 times a day! And I need to eat more dark berries and fruits in general. I also found out that I really dislike cashew yogurt.

I think I will continue being mostly vegan, and I can safely say I prefer a plant-based diet. I urge you to try some vegan food, even for one meal. There are so many resources out there to help you make nutritious choices that are both healthy for you and the planet.

If you want to learn more about any of the meals below, shoot me an email at ali@themediaacorn.com. I’d love to share a recipe or two!