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.