Monday, 9 March 2015

I fell off the vegan wagon and went on a cheese bender during dinner with Nick Clegg

And what a cheese bender it was: three courses - grilled halloumi to start, risotto with a big slice of goats cheese for main, and a selection of Cornish cheeses for desert.

I made it from Sunday (1st March) to 8.30pm on Thursday (5th March) without any meat, fish or diary before I succumbed to an excess of cheese.

I'd been invited to a Lib Dem dinner in St Ives on Thursday by Julia Goldsworthy (Camborne and Redruth Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) with Nick Clegg as the special guest.

The Deputy PM had spent St Piran's Day on a tour of Cornwall, and the dinner was too good an opportunity to miss.

The restaurant was able to provide a vegan option, but at the point in time I sat down at the table to check the menu, I was absolutely loathing this particular #40before40 challenge.

And, I didn't really care that I had broken the plan - the cheese was so good. 

My fellow dinners seemed to revel in my delight at being a rogue vegetarian for the evening. 

Falling off the vegan wagon in style - grilled halloumi
Mmm goats cheese risotto
Cornish cheese with frozen grapes....

So, how was the challenge for me?

Well, during the week it felt bad. I went into it feeling unwell anyway, but spent the first five days being ill and feeling nauseous.

I had to take time off work, I struggled to concentrate and I didn't want to eat what I was meant, or had to, in order to get enough energy on board. 

I also started to feel resentful at the cost of vegan-friendly food.

Cutting meat and fish was never the issue for me.

It was eggs and cheese that I missed the most, especially as I've attempted to eat more protein and less carbs over the last year.

Mrs P provided brilliant support, did the research, produced a meal plan and cooked up some amazing vegan food (she actually faired a lot better than me).

My snacks during the day were fine for a vegan diet, so I carried on with those (although I seemed to enjoy them less than normal), but I just couldn't get enough energy from my breakfast or lunch.

It got even harder when the girls both wanted scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Bryher enjoying scrambled egg for breakfast
Olivia enjoying scrambled egg for breakfast
While the girls were eating scrambled egg, I was eating scrambled tofu

During the week there was a lot of debate and comments on Facebook and Twitter with vegan friends, as well as people we'd been recommended to follow.

And while I totally understand the ethical and sustainable reasons for being vegan, it was never the driving factor for me with this challenge.

It was to see if I could do it, as well as see if there were any health benefits.

It's difficult to tell if there were any health benefits. I did lose weight in the first couple of days, but that was probably from being ill, and it was back on by the third day.

I didn't have the energy to get out to do any training during the week, but I found I ran out of steam playing football on Saturday and when I went for a run on Sunday.

And I didn't enjoy having to go back to eating more carbs and sugar, and think that left me feeling drained.

I was also a bit unsure about the processed nature of a lot of vegan foods, and was slightly baffled by a recipe I found that called for vegan chorizo.

To me, it seems to defeat the object to eat vegan chorizo or Quorn chicken pieces.

I also felt annoyed by the cost of vegan-friendly food - this small piece of vegan flapjack (below) was priced at £2.50.

Okay, so it was homemade and did taste good, but it is possible to buy a piece of homemade flapjack from the Saturday farmers' market in Truro that is double the size for half the price (I know it probably has butter in it).

An expensive piece of vegan-friendly flapjack

One of my friends, who is vegan, commented that a minor suffering in my wallet or diet is nothing compared to the suffering of the animals used in food production.

And while I applaud his commitment and understand where he is coming from, I actually think that the high cost of vegan / natural food is a big issue, and one that potentially puts people off, especially those with families.

And while I've generally grumped about this challenges, there were some great food moments (as you will see from the pics below).


Farrinata
Vegan chocolate torte

Homemade dairy free pizza with beetroot, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, olives, rocket and pine nuts
Some of my homemade vegan flapjack
However, the flat white with soya milk was slightly unusual.....

I wasn't sure about the flat white with soya milk
What next?

This was probably the toughest, and least enjoyable, #40before40 challenges that I've undertaken in the last year. Running through mud and diving into a skip filled with iced water during the Rock Solid Race was more favourable!

But despite that, I've actually had a vegan lunch and dinner today (Monday 9th March).

It was good to have eggs for breakfast this morning, and I felt so much better for having the protein. My energy and concentration levels were much better and back to normal.

We're also considering some of our buying habits - we already get the bulk load of our eggs and meat from the Cornish Food Box - but we will now look into getting locally sourced milk from there as well.

On top of this we're also going to try and eat more vegan / vegetarian food.

So, we didn't make two weeks, but there is a good chance that some of the changes we made will continue for the foreseeable future.



5 comments:

  1. Great blog Mark. Well done for giving it a go. Love the pictures. It's interesting how your mindset determines your experience. Next challenge...Mindfulness Training 8 week course Truro yoga centre! :o) I bet you would be able to do your challenge after this training!

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    1. Thanks Ruth.

      It actually seems better in hindsight than when I was in the middle of it.

      What's Mindfulness Training?

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  2. It's really good. Almost finished the 8 week programme. Mindfulness training is about coming out of the 'doing/thinking mode' and being in the present moment. It's taken from the buddist tradition but the religious part is taken out (not that it's a religion but you know what I mean). so you're left with a training programme of exactly how to meditate and the scientific reasons as to how it benefits our lives. I highly recommend it as your next challenge :o)

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    1. Thanks Ruth, I'll check that out :-D

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  3. It's really good. Almost finished the 8 week programme. Mindfulness training is about coming out of the 'doing/thinking mode' and being in the present moment. It's taken from the buddist tradition but the religious part is taken out (not that it's a religion but you know what I mean). so you're left with a training programme of exactly how to meditate and the scientific reasons as to how it benefits our lives. I highly recommend it as your next challenge :o)

    ReplyDelete