I generally follow a vegetarian diet and never buy meat or fish to cook at home, but I do occasionally eat meat at restaurants. Generally cutting out meat and fish from my diet around a year and a half ago did however result in me eating a lot more cheese (I think I could survive mainly on cheese). So when I watched this doco, I got slightly concerned about the amount of dairy that I eat. The vegan week challenge was born and I did it with my flatmates for a week. This is a round up of vegan week and most of the meals we ate.
I don’t think I could have coped with vegan week without the internet and the many amazing recipes I found there, as I had pretty much zero ideas for vegan meals and found the concept initially depressing (but I love challenges so had to persevere).
Breakfasts were mostly peanut butter on toast or straight up jam on toast, mixed up with the occasional avocado on toast. In the week I just eat and go anyway so this wasn’t a big deal.
- Bread lasagne was our packed lunch for most of the week. My tip is to wash your spinach so you don’t get dirt in your mouth. Lesson learnt. Without the mud this would have been delicious, but unfortunately the mud made me resent it big time. I will make this again sometime and wash the spinach, or be lazy and buy a pre-washed kind. Whoops.
- Weird beetroot, parsley, lemon and quinoa salad which basically used everything in my fridge was another lunch – this was okay but not amazing.
- I also had one slightly depressing lunch of straight up lettuce, carrots, cucumber and tomatoes.
- I went out for a work pub lunch and had to have chips, and a salad with no dressing. Although, actually, just having the chips was great compared to the other lunches.
- Lunches were definitely the low point of the day but the dinners made up for it.
- We kicked off with this recipe for black bean tacos with zucchini avocado salsa and it was delicious.
- Sweet and sour aubergine with soba noodles. I also had this with brown rice recently.
- Pineapple fried rice was great too.
- Tropical night – It was my turn to cook our weekly flat dinner, and I think it was one of the best meals I’ve ever made. I had to be quite creative (read: scour the internet for amazing recipes) with the vegan theme and the results were great. The starter was Vietnamese inspired summer rolls adapted from this recipe – lush. These were followed by pineapple coconut quinoa burgers, these burgers were out of this world, especially with the fresh pineapple and will be made again and again. Perfect summer food. We had them with sweet potato fries as suggested in the original recipe. They were awesome and I honestly don’t think a slice of cheese would have made them better. Dessert was banana bread with homemade cashew nut cream (really easy to make, and delicious). Having any kind of cake after days without sweet things was awesome. This was all served with peach & raspberry bellinis. Mega feast.
- I also brought another batch of the quinoa burgers to a barbeque a couple of days later and they were a hit there too – I blended a left over beetroot into the mix and they looked incredibly like actual raw beef burgers.
- New potato salad with spring onions, broadbeans, mustard and parsley.
- Vegan macaroni and cheese – we had this after vegan week and it actually tasted really good, we did sprinkle a tiny bit of actual cheese on top – just because we could – but it would have been fine without it too.
- Spicy peanut noodle salad with cucumber and red pepper – Another post vegan week recipe which I loved. I was initially dubious because I’d never experienced a cold noodle salad before but this is delicious, really refreshing and nicely spicy. Also makes a good pack lunch.
- Lots of fruit.
- I also ate a lot of nakd bars, my favourite is the banana bread kind and I generally really like all their varieties.
- Something I didn’t have this week but which I used to be obsessed with are these sweets, the sour ones are all vegan and the rest are vegetarian. They’re delish and lack the ick factor of gelatine.
- After the week was over I did some vegan baking: Banana and coconut cupcakes from this book were a bit of a revelation. I usually shy away from cupcakes because I see them as quite fiddly and as requiring finesse, but these rose like a dream with minimum effort. Also the lemon icing is great and looks good even if you have no decorating skills. Will definitely make again.
- I made sea salt caramel bars from the same book, and these led to a major kitchen injury. I think the bars were good but my memories are sadly tainted with bitterness and pain.
- The biggest change here was probably switching to soy milk in coffee. We tried soy, rice and hazelnut milk and I liked them all.
- I may have drunk some non vegan wine but I simply didn’t care – initially we really needed wine to cope with the trials of vegan week…
An outcome that I didn’t expect was that this really challenged my cooking ability and made me creative in the kitchen. I realised I just made all the same meals all the time, and I couldn’t make most of them under the vegan challenge, so this was a great opportunity to come up with some new ideas.
I will definitely be making more vegan recipes in the future and will be reducing my dairy intake in general. I have switched over to non dairy milks now because I just like them more.
The beginning of the week really was difficult but it got easier and it would be interesting to do for a month or so (although I don’t think I’d be too bothered about checking alcohol etc) to see if there were any noticeable health benefits. I think it’s definitely something I will do more of at home, simply because most restaurants etc don’t offer vegan food (or at least, good vegan food) and it’s an extremely awkward request for a dinner party.
I also bet I could host another tropical night dinner party and nobody would bemoan or even notice the lack of dairy etc…
We had some pizza after vegan week ended and it was incredible – I think because we hadn’t had cheese for so long. I’m glad I did it because I had got into the habit of having cheese two – three meals a day (whoops). Although, I have been to a cheese and wine night post vegan week and also visited a cheese shop and got lots of samples. Amazing.
I definitely recommend the vegan week challenge despite my deep rooted love of cheese and may do it again at some point to mix things up.