Pea and bean risotto with rocket salad.
Steamed vegetable dumplings with cucumber and home-grown mint salad.
Today is my thirtieth day as a vegan and tomorrow I could potentially wake up and eat one of my favourite breakfasts - scrambled eggs on toast with bacon. 

But will I?

Probably not. You see, the scary thing is, I might be a vegan convert.
It was with skepticism that I initially took on this challenge. I thought it might be fun for a while but presumed I'd quickly grow tired of a restricted diet. More specifically, a life without custard, chocolate and cream.
But instead of feeling frustrated and limited, I've found quite the opposite. All my pre vegan meals had a meaty focus and vegetables were an unexciting accompaniment, included only out of guilt. I dismissed the '5-a-day' goal as ideal but unviable, with just a minor nagging element of guilt. Since the vegan challenge, vegetables and other weird and wonderful items have been promoted to have starring roles and my repertoire of ingredients has increased exponentially. 5-a-day is no longer a challenge and, incredibly, five servings now seems ridiculously insufficient. I feel healthier (though the scientist in me wonders if this is a placebo effect) and I seem to have broken my once insatiable desire for chocolate.

I have had the luxury of holiday time to prepare food, so it could be more troublesome when I'm back at work. However, I'm going to give it a go. 

The only real draw back that I found was the experience of eating out with friends. Where vegetarians probably feel limited with one or two choices on the menu, vegans will in all likelihood have no alternative. There are a couple of vegan friendly venues around town but they are few and far between. I've found establishments to be terribly helpful if you call ahead, but this does reduce spontaneity in life and many meals out are unplanned. And enjoyment of said meals really is reduced if you have to give the waiter the third degree about all the ingredients of every dish.

Given that I primarily took up this challenge to see if it would improve my health, I've decided that I'll continue to be vegan on a day-to-day basis but, if I'm invited to dinner or out for a meal, I'll take a vegetarian option. This way, chocolat and cheese will be occasional treats as they really are meant to be. Mmmm... bannoffee pie. So - who's going to invite me out for dinner?!
The unthinkable has happened. I have proven myself a 'naïve-gan'! An entire packet of pretzels was consumed based on an assumption of mine that it would be vegan, before I inspected the ingredients list to find milk protein. Dag nammit. Perhaps, if I make myself go back a day to V9, I will be forgiven this indiscretion by my Vegan Challenge sponsors?

This disaster aside, all is going very well. More disciplined reading of ingredients since the incident has opened my eyes to the endless lists of ingredients hidden away in what I would consider fairly basic foods.

I've been vegetarian in the past, but that's fairy easy to do without being too creative. This challenge is making me experiment with more interesting foods. The downside is that I'm going to have to take over Keith's kitchen cupboard space. The plus side is that I've discovered that the Real Foods shop is not nearly as scary as I thought it would be. I've not yet encountered anyone with smelly dreadlocks, nor have I had anyone wearing sarouel trousers try to explain their spirituality to me.
Some new foods of late, I tried my hand at making a mushroom and chestnut pie with vegan pastry, recipe from the Vegan Society. It was not too bad, but a little bland. It could have done with more seasoning or herbs.

Steamed vegetable dumplings and some green tea buns with mung bean paste. Yum.
Recipe for 'Minnesotan Vegan Chile' from Scott Jurek's autobiography. Tastes great, but the recipe made so much I've been eating it for days.
I've been taste testing alternative 'chocolate', taking one for the team, for all the vegans out there. This has to be the best so far. It is very unlikely that the V30 challenge will result in weight loss.
YUM. But very expensive. These will be an irregular treat.
Thanks to Claire, this amazing vegan chocolate cake recipe. I expect to add a few kg of body weight by day 30.
Lunch. Mmmm.
Whereas I once sauntered home from the pub via a pizza place, I now find myself coming home to steam chinese vegetable dumplings.
Novel foods for Monday included organic spinach pasta spirals with 'Zest' vegan basil pesto. The pesto was tasty, but a little to vinegary for my liking so i'm going to try another brand.

Tuesday saw Jordan's berry muesli with almond milk for breakfast (berry overload). Homemade rosemary, sweet potato and Cheezly scones for lunch. The vegan cheese is far less scary than I thought it was going to be. I wouldn't eat it on its own, but it certainly did the job in the scones.

For dinner, a gorgeous array of vegan foods cooked by a friend. Tofu salad, sweet and sour aubergine, cauliflower curry with rice, fruit and caramel for dessert. I felt thoroughly spoilt! Find of the night was a jar of fermented tofu. It's similar to blue cheese and not for the faint hearted. I might get myself a jar and experiment with it for some new sauces.

Day two and everything is going surprisingly swimmingly. There have been no cravings yet and I'm liking the experimentation with new ingredients. 

Breakfast: Quinoa 'porridge' with flax, cinnamon and brown sugar. It wasn't overwhelming, but I'd happily eat it now and again.

Lunch: Vegan flapjack whilst on the go.

Dinner: Lentil and brown rice burgers with sweet potato chips. A definite winner.

Breakfast: Seeded toast with almond butter. Thumbs up.

Lunch (Peter's Yard): Grilled asparagus on bread with asparagus pesto, sun-dried tomato and rocket, followed by vegan pecan pie. Double thumbs up. I've never grilled asparagus before but definitely will be from now on.

Snacks: 9 Bar Flax Seed Bar. A little too sweet for my liking, but i've got 3 boxes of the things to use up now. Home-popped popcorn in vegetable and coconut oil, yum.

Dinner: Home-made falafel with added chia seeds in a tortilla wrap, followed by cherries and a bowl of Booja-Booja Hunky Punky Chocolate and Feisty Winjin Ginger 'icecream'. 

I recently read Rich Roll's autobiography, 'Finding Ultra'. The story was interesting and inspiring enough, but I had no idea that it would lead to this. In the last chapter, he challenged me to try his plant based diet for 30 days. How could I ignore a perfectly reasonable suggestion for July?

Eep. Goodbye chocolate. Goodbye scones with jam and cream.
Hello lentils.


    July 2012
    June 2012