Published: 29/01/2020 By Michelle TompsonJanuary is usually the time when you try and make positive, healthy changes to your lifestyle …whether it be to diet or exercise regime. This year I decided not to put myself through the ordeal of failing at impossible-to-keep new year resolutions, as I know from experience that it leads to feeling deflated after 2 weeks when you have missed a gym session or a walk. Everything about grey and damp January days scream “stay indoors, keep warm and eat casserole covered in carbs” but with a beach holiday booked for February I thought that I might dabble with the Vegan-uary challenge to see if it could break the comfort food cycle that I usually fall into following the end of the magic of Christmas-time.
The Veganuary challenge is basically an internationally recognized challenge with a mission to inspire people to try a vegan lifestyle that encourages consumer changes, compassionate food choices with the aim of ending animal farming, protecting the planet and improving health (see uk.veganuary.com for more information).
(Disclaimer: I have to admit that my motivation to try the challenge was purely diet-based, as my personal belief is that with careful, sustainable and ethical farming practices, meat produce does not have to be the enemy).
Initially, I signed up for a juice cleanse to get my year kick started. I won’t lie, the juice cleanse was not the most delicious or enjoyable week of my life. The brightly coloured nutritious juices were beautiful to look at and it has great psychological benefits as you know that you are consuming goodness-in-a-bottle, but they are not the most palatable option.
With the juice cleanse over, I was encouraged by a friend to buy a soup-maker, and it was a total gamechanger! For about £40 this magic little machine will blend and cook your veggies into a chunky or smooth soup in about 15 minutes – perfect for a busy working mum! I’ve even joined a Facebook group that share soup making tips and recipes (sad but true!).
I have found that there are so many vegan options at my local stores – vegan goujons, meatless meatballs, vegan burgers, which I have been making my way through; and I have genuinely enjoyed them all without feeling sorry for myself or that I am missing out.
Healthwise, I have still been eating normal cheese and milk (I don’t mind soya and tried almond milk but prefer dairy cheeses which has always been a staple in my diet), so I guess I failed the challenge, but I am a big believer in the concept of everything in moderation, and with a calcium deficiency I didn’t want to totally deprive myself of nutrients that my body needs.
I have found that I have more energy, am less bloated and have had fewer headaches, so I am definitely feeling the benefits of less meat/dairy.
Here is my favourite soup maker recipe if you feel inspired to try it:
1 butternut squash, peeled and de-seeded
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, diced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 mild red chillies, thinly sliced and de-seeded
850ml hot vegetable stock