Veganuary and Food Intolerances

Me and my family decided to do Veganuary. We didn’t think January was a long enough month, so why not make it feel longer by doing Dry January AND eating a plant based diet! ??. Hence to say Dry January lasted for 2 weeks! ?
Before we started on our plant based journey I was a little daunted by it and asked for advice from anyone who had tried it and was surprised that quite a few people were either already eating plant based or had given it a go,and their advice was really useful.
I have to say i expected it to be a challenge, although being us, I knew we wouldn’t give up on it (we had already done Dry Jan last year so that didn’t feel like a new challenge) but I was very surprised by how much easier it was to do than I expected.
We have had some amazing food, mostly food that I’ve prepared from scratch, due to my husband being intolerant to Soya and the majority of processed vegan foods do contain it. It also means you don’t spend your life looking at Food labels!?
Things we have discovered:

* We like Oat milk (Oatly is amazing, if a little expensive so we have had a combination of this and supermarkets own brand.
*We’ve discovered Jackfruit – I had never heard of it before but it is easily available in a tin and you shred it, so it’s texture is like pulled pork or shredded chicken and although it has little taste, it absorbs the flavours that you cook with.
* Dairy free butter tastes the same as dairy.
*Vegan cheese is not as bad as people say. It’s fine if you like a mild cheese and really easy to grate, less crumbly than normal.
*Nutritional yeast makes an excellent ‘cheese’ sauce.
* Nothing replaces an Egg – We used a Vegan egg replacement made from chickpea flour which was quite batter like, and we made an omelette with it which was quite similar and scrambled ‘eggs’ which were a little different and my son called them rubbery ? but we do like Eggs, and eggs on toast is a regular breakfast in our house, so Eggs were missed, and Yorkshire puddings! ?
*Some everyday things you wouldn’t even realise are plant based,: Crumpets, Popcorn, Digestive biscuits, Peanut butter on toast!

Do we feel any better for it? It’s difficult to say, as we have all spent the last week or two with coughs/colds, which we rarely suffer from, but then it is winter. I think generally I have had more energy, but the most important thing is that since giving up dairy, My sons eczema, which he has had on his hand since he was little, has Completely DISAPPEARED! So if anyone in your family suffers, I would definitely recommend giving it a try, there are so many dairy replacements (Even Magnum ice cream!) available it that it’s not such an onerous task.
My son has actually been brilliant with this challenge, he embraced it and was so self regulating with it, he amazed me, he would avoid certain school meals because he ‘didn’t want to risk it’ his words and we had said to him it didn’t matter if he slipped up. He actually gave his classmates school birthday sweets away because he knew they had gelatine in. So proud of him. This has been an enlightening experience for us all but especially educational for the kids.
What we are taking from this experience is that you don’t need meat to have a great meal. We have had Chilli, Curry, Lasagne, Stew, Enchiladas, Quesadillas, pizzas, pasties and much more ??? All home made and very delicious.
We did miss our Sunday roast but never missed meat at any other time so we plan to each much less now, although I probably need to get a veg chopper as I’ve already lost many hours in the kitchen doing that! ?
A lot of people were surprised when we started this and probably thought we wouldn’t manage the month but I’m glad that we jumped down the rabbit hole and were open to experiencing something different, both for the sake of the environment and our health. If you are thinking about trying a plant based diet, I would say give it a try, it’s easier than you think,and it’s not all rabbit food down the rabbit hole! ?

Just a note about Food intolerance. Many of us have them to a greater or lesser degree and they can affect us in various ways. My husband is intolerant to Soya but he could never have found this out himself. Soya is in many things so when he suffered with bloating, excess gas and fatigue, it was difficult to know where it came from. So he did an online intolerance test, the one where you have to send your hair sample off. i know people can be sceptical about these but I think they are useful for giving you a starting point for your intolerances and then you can scrutinise individual foods and how you feel after eating them. Since then all of my family have tried them and my son who has had eczema on his hands since he was a baby has managed to eradicate this since we removed dairy from his diet after it was listed.

©2021 Claire Burchnall

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