10 things we learned from our vegan challenge!

The Veganuary vegan challenge for January finished three weeks ago - at least on paper. We have decided to keep following a 'plant-based' diet during the week and allow ourselves some vegetarian treats during the weekend. Sounds fair?! It is weird, though, that as soon as we have finished our challenge we haven't felt the need to go back to our habits. Speaking for myself, I almost felt 'responsible' for following my new habit and I found myself thinking how weird it is to eat fish and cheese. But I do miss feta and halloumi. Especially during my weekend brunches: feta with avocado and eggs. After a month, this is what I learned about eating a plant-based diet: 

1. The first week it feels like you're going to go crazy and you don't know you're going to do this for A MONTH! HOW? Everything around you is telling you that you are just too weird. Sugar, dairy, meat are everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Even people around you seem to eat more meat than normal. But believe me when I say that it's just the first week. Food is a habit and if you stop eating something and replace it with something else you almost end up forgetting about your old diet. Tastes are just something that have become so important with the years. But really, what matters is actually getting the right energy and nutrients at the right time.

2. Finding plant-based dishes is not so difficult anymore. Plant-based diets are becoming quite trendy. In central London you may find different options in cafes, vegan restaurants and organic stores that offer buffet menu are expanding so fast. Prices are often slightly higher than a normal dish but quality is really good. 

3. Cooking becomes quite funny and a space for your creativity. You may discover for yourself that you enjoy cooking and mixing ingredients that you would have never mixed before. If you are lucky enough to share lunches with someone, well cooking becomes even funnier. You can share activities in the kitchen and inspire each other. Test new things every day. 

4. Vegetables are great! And online-ordered veggie boxes even better! Once again they help your creativity in the kitchen. You can choose to not know what's inside your weekly box and let yourself be inspired by what comes to your door. Every week will be an adventure. 

5. Following a plant-based diet is becoming trendy. This means it's becoming 'pop' and it is not so 'weird' as it used to be. People like embracing what seems to be 'healthy'. Blogs are exploding and cafes like the one from Deliciously Ella are becoming the next must-do during the weekends. 

6. The environmental cause is interesting people when you manage to share it with them. People get very interested in the reason why you are doing a challenge or following a diet like this. Sustainability is becoming one of the most important and hot topic especially amongst young people and creating awareness is extremely important to educate people around the real reason why people start to embrace these kind of diets. 

7. There are already plenty of dishes which are 'vegan' but no one really notices it. Risotto for example. Unless you cook it with butter, this is an Italian vegan plate that can be enjoyed by everyone! 

8. You become extremely good at reading labels! This means that you also spot things that you may not want to eat anyway. Additives, sugar, palm oil. You really become more aware of what you eat and eventually you feel like you're completely in control of what you put inside your body. 

9. Proteins are not a problem but an opportunity! There are proteins everywhere! Beans, lentils, soya, spirulina and you can get them in any time of the day. People think that they need a huge quantity of proteins to live. 56 grams per day for men and 46 grams for women: easily obtainable in a plant-based diet. 

10. If you have a big context that drives your choice you're going to do great! What really matters is to have a context that really inspires you so that eating differently doesn't become a sacrifice but an active and inspiring choice. This is what really made a difference in our case. Without the idea of contributing to the environment I don't think it would be so easy. Look for what really inspires you .That is the key.   


Plant-based warrior!

We started this vegan challenge not because it's fancy. Not because we want to be different. Underneath it all, it's really hard but if there is something that can be done to save the environment then we want to be active actors in this scene. 

I remember - when I was a kid - environmentalists speaking about the climate change. I remember long biology class at high school talking about the amazon forest and the impact of the animal agriculture. I also remember people at school thinking that environmentalist were 'hippies', crazy people who exaggerate, who don't really see reality for what it is. I lived my first part of my life believing that. Laughing at those in my life who were supporting some theories, getting emotional when watching documentaries about the climate change but really not taking any action. Not even recycling was a priority in those years. Or using less water or switching off the light. I would take the car for anything. As an ordinary human being I had been thinking that even if the climate changes it won't affect my generation. 

Then, years pass and the climate change is before my own eyes. When I was a kid, I remember we had snow every year outside my house - 1 metre sometimes. I grew up spending my time on the snow skiing where now the main ski station has been closed and nobody has seen snow for at least 4-5 years. 

I think about the people who will come after us and about the fact that they won't be able to really understand what snow is. You may say, well that's normal, ages ago nobody knew what the iPhone was. But it's not the same thing! 

What I don't understand and I address it to myself too is how have we became so numb. How come we are not involved in these discussions. How come we transformed this issue to something that doesn't really concern us. How come we don't deal with this issue, every day, as if it's our own issue, because, guess what? It is! 

So, when people sarcastically smile at me when I say that I have been trying to dramatically change my diet because of a 'mainstream' movie, I say yes, I have. It's tough and I have so many good reasons I would like to stop! First of all because I love the animal products like cheese! Second, because it's hard to cook every day 3 dishes and make sure that no animal product is there. But it's also extremely inspiring knowing that I am doing this for a much bigger picture than just my own life and taste. I don't know how it's going to be. I don't know if I will keep my word for the month and if so maybe I will stop forever. What I know is that my commitment to the environment issue is big and the more I learn about it and get interested in it I feel the need to do something and share my passion for it and inspire others to do the same. 

Starting our Vegan 30day challenge

Vegan diet jars

After watching the documentary Cowspiracy Wide Eyed Koalas have decided to subscribe to Veganuary and join 20,000 people who are taking on the Vegan challenge this January! It fits perfectly with our enquiring nature and we keep asking ourselves what works best for us - always bearing in mind that diversity is what makes this world interesting and rich. 
The Vegan challenge is nothing new but for us (especially for Quentin who is a meat lover) it’s quite hard to stick to the rules and not get distracted by dairies (cheeeeese we love you!). However we found the cause very inspiring and committed to follow the ‘rules’ in a playful way.  Doing something for the good of our planet is definitely something that makes us feel good. 
Since starting the challenge I’ve been cooking non-stop! I love cooking as I am exploring new recipes and new combinations; however it takes up a lot of time. 
First things first, I have organised all my grains and vegan essentials in lovely jars so that cooking and eating vegan become more interesting. 

My vegan essentials: 
-    Oat and almond milk (homemade) 
-    Green smoothies (every morning with spirulina as a must-have ingredient to bring proteins to our day)
-    Coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut yoghurt (amazing)
-    Hemp powder (again to support our diet with proteins) 
-    Buckwheat, coconut flour and rice flour (also gluten free which is perfect as I need to avoid gluten) 
-    Nuts
-    Turmeric
-    Chickpeas
-    Chia seeds: a wonderful superfood with extraordinary properties

I’ll be posting some recipes in the next few days that I have been creating day by day and are very easy to do. My aim is to cook great food but to not spend too much time in the kitchen as I like doing 10,000 other things! I hope you’ll be inspired by our adventure and follow us during this journey. You may want to take this challenge on too or maybe just follow the bits that resonate with you. You can also add any dairy you want and create your own non-vegan version. Enjoy!