By Emma Wall
As November is World Vegan Month, I decided to give veganism a go for a week. Having had a vegan housemate last year, I was somewhat wary of what I could make of vegan diet, but being quite a keen cook I thought I would be able to cope well. However, the difficulties of cutting out such a substantial proportion of what constituted my normal diet came as quite a shock.
Early on, my first troubles arrived in the supermarket. My usual ten-minute shop degenerated into a painstaking process: with me picking up a routine purchase off the shelf only to realise that it had some sort of dairy extract in it. After almost an hour I emerged with a bag filled mostly with vegetables and legumes, at the exchange of what felt like most of my sanity.
My first vegan meals were a challenge as it was difficult to keep it interesting; it seemed you needed a good imagination and plenty of time on your hands. Time constraints and hunger soon pushed me to settle on making spicy bean wraps: a flavourless veggie standard recollected from my time living in college. I added as many herbs and spices as I could find in my cupboards to make them tasty.
The result? Sure they were nice, but I couldn’t imagine eating them more than once a fortnight.
The next few days were manageable. I settled on salads and pasta, though without dairy, pasta was especially repetitive: consisting mostly of tomatoes outside of the two times where I made dairy-free pesto and dairy-free gnocchi on my afternoon off.
However, things quickly began to deteriorate. Despite trying to eat as many protein-based foods as I could: beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc. I wasn’t feeling completely full after meals, and soon ran out of inspiration for interesting meals to cook. Lunch proved particularly confusing: what can you put in a sandwich when neither meat nor cheese nor butter are allowed? At this point, just give me a good slab of cheddar and let me die in peace. And the yogurt sitting in my fridge was taunting me more by the minute.
It’s been a long week, and I have discovered that veganism is exceptionally hard. There’s no point trying it unless you genuinely believe it makes a difference, and have the willpower to have either repetitive food or spend an awful lot of time trying out new things. But I have gained serious respect for those who can pull it off and eat well.
And from now on I will never take yoghurt for granted again.
Photographs: Emma Wall