I recently took part in Veganuary, a months trial of becoming Vegan. I initially decided to get involved in Veganuary as I have a fond love for animals, and I wished to alternate my diet for personal health reasons. I’d heard from numerous people that becoming vegan would improve my gut, so I was willing to try. I challenged myself and I can say with pride, I succeeded to my best abilities. It’s no walk in the park, and I certainly managed to run into mistakes along the way. I recently took to Instagram to ask if you had questions about my experience. Below, I have answered some of the most popular asked questions.
Was it expensive, did you need to budget?
YES. When I initially began Veganuary, I was in awe at the supermarket prices. 3 meals a day could cost me €20 if I wasn’t careful. I was astonished by the immediate prices, so actively spoke to friends who were familiar with being a vegan, who guided me to some of the cheapest bargains there were to offer. Supermarkets such as Tesco, Lidl & Aldi had some of the best offers, but I wasn’t always prepared to grab ready meals and go. If you’re meal planning, there’s probably a greater chance you’ll spend less. Buy fresh vegetables instead of readily chopped bags of vegetables. Not only are you spending less, but you are reducing your intake of plastic and being incredibly sustainable.
Did you cook much or eat out? If you ate out, did it cost a lot more than average?
As I’m a massive foodie, half of my time was spent eating out. I wanted to cut back as much as possible though, so wherever possible, I’d avoid going to restaurants. As this was on a trial basis, I was interested in discovering some of the best places to eat out. On this basis, I did eat out more so than I ate in. Some of the best local restaurants with vegan based dishes were as follows; Dough Bro’s, Handsome Burger, Café Temple, The Lighthouse Café & Mocha Beans. I must say, Galway lacks in the variety of vegan dishes available to people. A lot of my days out were repetitively spent in the same restaurants over and over again, due to the lack of choice. When possible, I ate at home or meal prepped. I became rather fond of Quorn’s vegan dishes and Tofu based meals. I certainly noticed a change in my energy levels as home cooked meals became more of a frequency. Eating out certainly cost a lot more than average. Some of the vegan based dishes had less on the plate for what you were receiving. In some cases, portion sizes were minute, yet the cost of eating would cost me on average, €10-12. The most cost efficient restaurants were both Café Temple and Mocha Beans. These restaurants both had the most variety in Vegan dishes too!
Did you lack energy when you first began Veganuary?
Yes I did. Completely. On the second day of Veganuary, I woke up completely exhausted. My energy seized to exist, and I was fearful I was going to faint. I remember I immediately took to Instagram to express my feelings, and a lot of vegan’s responded saying that this was completely normal. Your body is trying to alternate, it is looking to adapt to a major change. My best advice to anyone thinking of becoming a vegan is to ween yourself in. Slowly reduce your intake of animal based proteins and start taking plant based proteins, such as tofu in the morning (tofu scramble is delicious!). Allow your body to adapt to the sudden change and take required supplements and vitamins. When you become a vegan, you lose some of your vital vitamins, such as B12. This can be replaced in store through recommended vitamin tablets.
Did you find you were always tired when you initially became a vegan?
This question ties in with the previous, but the answer is yes, initially. When I first started Veganuary, I noticed that I wasn’t eating as much as I normally would. Portion sizes felt smaller which tied in majorly with my energy levels. I took Revive Active Supplements throughout the month which definitely improved my energy levels, but I was notably a lot more tired in the evenings. Again, this was just a trial basis, these things take time. Had I progressed as a vegan, I would have taken iron and B12 supplements to replenish missing vitamins.
Did you break “Veganuary” at all?
In all sheer honesty, yes. This was in no means deliberate, but yes there were days where I caught myself eating things that were in no means vegan. There were 2 occasions where I truly did kick myself. On one occasion, I was eating out with a friend, and I was craving pancakes. Everything was vegan based, except for the Nutella on top. I was so hungry that I didn’t think, and it wasn’t until halfway through, she reminded me of my little mishap. I never actively sat down for a meal and thought “okay I’ll order a steak”, though. I was incredibly mindful and aware of my surroundings. But to be a vegan, you have to be extremely diligent. You have to be watchful of every single ingredient that enters your mouth. I personally found this task extremely overwhelming. I truly admire anyone who can safely say they are a whole vegan and have never slipped up.
Will you continue to be a vegan?
I’d like to say that I will become more inclusive at the thought of being a full time vegan. I can’t say that I will go out of my way to check every ingredient, but I will become more mindful. I’m not majorly into meat, so I will replace meat for tofu and quorn where possible. I have reduced my intake of dairy, only drinking oat and almond milk, and only eating lactose free yoghurts. When eating out, I’m more inclined to scour the menu for vegan and vegetarian options (with a desperate fear of getting food poisoning from under cooked meat). I have become more sustainable and mindful of the planet we live in. Before trialling Veganuary, I was oblivious to the issues central to our planet. I simply thought people who preached Veganism simply adored animals. But it is so much more than that. Becoming a vegan can reduce your carbon footprint by 73%. Becoming a vegan can save up to 100 animals a year. From now on, I wish to be mindful and reduce my intake of meat and dairy. If it means saving the world we live in, then why not.
Going forward, I’d like to suggest that at some point or another, you trial Veganism. You needn’t wait until next January. Why not start now? Improve the planet step by step by reducing your meat intake. Reuse your clothing and decrease your levels of fast fashion where you possibly can. Replace cow’s milk with oat milk. Enjoy a chickpea curry instead of a chicken curry every now and then. I promise you’ll find health benefits along the way, and you will feel so much better about yourself, knowing you are improving and saving the planet.