Vegan Challenge wrap up: It’s easy being green!

Green Apples

Well, time sure flies when you’re having fun! I have now officially been a vegan for 31 days. They say it takes around 3 weeks to form a habit and judging by how normal it feels to be eating this way now, I would have to agree. The thought of eating eggs and dairy is now quite strange and I have done so well without these foods that re-introducing them seems somewhat pointless.

It’s been a very rewarding month in many ways including

  • starting this blog and seeing the number of visitors grow on a daily basis, so I’m not just talking to myself anymore 😉
  • making new ethically minded friends online from all parts of the world while discovering a whole community of individuals on the same path and sharing the journey via blogs and online forums, in particular the VeganEasy forum. I am looking forward to meeting some of these lovely people face to face in the future
  • Realising that a lot’s changed in the past 15 years since I was last a vegetarian – there are so many more options in terms of good quality natural products to supplement my diet and a wide range of vegetarian options at regular restaurants, as well as a growing number dedicated to a vegetarian menu; gone are the days of being served up a bowl of steamed veggies with a cheese sauce on top!
  • Learning to be more inquisitive about exactly what is in that can of soup I pick up at the supermarket or in that “vegetarian” pasta at a restaurant.
  • Feeling less bloated and having more energy in general despite having a few minor ailments this month. I even managed to drop a couple of unwanted kilos along the way. Bonus!

I am looking forward to the journey of discovery ahead. Whilst I am sure that I will remain a vegetarian for the rest of my days  I cannot expect everyone else to follow the same path, although I am happy to give a gentle nudge in that direction whenever possible. I am also a realist and understand that not everyone sees things the same way. My best option moving forward is to research and present the most ethical options for meaties and veggies alike. It’s been a steep learning curve and I feel that I have only just scratched the surface so far, so I hope you’ll stay with me for the ride 🙂

Day 27: Vegan Brownies

Brownies

A while ago I was given a recipe for Vegan Brownies and since we were off visiting friends in the afternoon I thought it was time to road test it. Now just to let you know, I haven’t baked a lot in the past – I’m quite good at cooking dinners and savoury things in general but since neither myself nor Jayson have particularly sweet tooths (teeth?) I haven’t baked often enough to become accomplished at it. Oh well, never too late to start I say:) I do LOVE a good brownie though, so I was keen to give this a whirl. The recipe called for semi-sweet dark chocolate but sadly I could only get a really dark dairy free chocolate when I went shopping for the ingredients – and I realised just now that I only added 1/4 cup of sugar instead of half (oops).  On the up side, the brownies were lovely and moist (yay I didn’t over cook them) and had a good overall  texture to them. So here’s the recipe:

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 and ¼ cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips (pref. fairtrade)
1 large banana mashed
2 tablespoons of cocoa
1/4 cup soy milk
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 and ¼ cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup slivered almonds (plus extra to scatter on top)

1. Preheat the oven to 170 deg Celsius
2. Microwave the chocolate then stir the oil into the melted chocolate. Pour chocolate mixture into a mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients.
3. Spoon the brownie mix into a greased pan and top with almonds (I used a fairly small square cake tin for this).
4. Bake them for 15 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted into cake.  Be careful not to over-bake them because they’ll be dry and flaky.
5. Allow to cool before removing from tin, slicing up and serving.

Brownies

Brownies

Ready to go!

All in all, almost a success – next time I will put in the right amount of sugar! Thanks Diana, for the recipe 🙂

Day 23: A quick bite in St Kilda

Roast Vegetable Paella

Roast Vegetable Paella

With the vegan challenge into it’s fourth week it’s interesting to discover what the options may be in an unknown restaurant. On Wednesday night, we had about 45 minutes to eat a quick dinner before going to see a concert at the Palais. After a quick scour of a few menus we settled on Amigos in Acland Street; Mexican is usually a safe bet for vegetarian food.

After a chat to the waitress and a visit to the kitchen on her part to consult with the chef on which menu items didn’t contain dairy, I settled on the Roast Vegetable Paella. It arrived on a sizzling plate, had an inviting aroma and did not disappoint in terms of flavour. The Paella contained a rainbow of different veggies and was quite nicely seasoned. In fact it was so filling I only managed to get through just over a third of the plate. Jayson also enjoyed his chicken burrito and was pleasantly surprised at the overall standard. The service was good too – staff were attentive and the meals arrived fairly quickly. Not bad for a fairly random pick.

Amigos on Urbanspoon

Day 4: Lunch by Salsa’s

yummy

Even though I had another La Zuppa soup sitting on my desk at work, it just wasn’t inspiring me. My stomach was roaring away and I wanted something more filling (and tasty). On a Friday it’s always nice to have a bit of a treat so I stopped into my local Salsa’s. Well surprise, surprise the range wasn’t big for the veggo’s but at least there were choices… take the meaty/cheesiness out of one of their Burritos and add something beany or go for a Burrito Bowl which has it’s own veggie version, albeit with the somewhat humdrum name of Veggie Packed Bowl. Priced at $12.95 I had high expectations…

The bowl usually comes with the following ingredients: frijoles (refried beans), capsicum, onion, broccoli, zucchini, ranch sauce, cheese, mild salsa, salsa fresco, guacamole, coriander & lime rice with side of a tiny packet of corn chips. For the purpose of the vegan challenge, I asked them to hold the cheese and the ranch sauce.

The result: a pretty tasty bowl of veggie goodness – nicely spiced and seasoned, half the bowl is filled with the coriander & lemon rice and then topped with a whole lot of the good stuff. I ate all of the veggie/bean concoction and ate about a third of the rice and it was enough to keep me going till I got home after work.

The verdict: I would definitely have this again.

Day 2:Lunch at the foodcourt = challenge

Today I thought I would take a gamble and not bring lunch in to work…big mistake! After wandering around for a while finding nothing vegetarian without egg or dairy I had a light bulb moment and thought “Rice paper rolls!”, only to find my usual vendor had closed down so that left a choice of cucumber/avocado sushi rolls (OK some days but not what I had in mind for a chilly Melbourne day). Luckily I have a Coles close by so I ducked into the supermarket and purchased a La Zuppa Sweet Corn soup – not bad at all. It contained all natural ingredients and no preservatives or weird numbers to decipher. On the down side, a hell of a lot of salt is used to make it taste half-way decent. But when you’re desparate it will do. I’ve scoffed mine with a crusty bread roll. Other options I’ve turned to in the past include:

  1. Dolmades from the Deli – buy a lemon as well to squeeze over the top
  2. Moroccan chickpea salad from the Deli also
  3. Falafel wrap minus the yogurt sauce and check if the humus contains dairy
  4. 4 bean salad (as long as the dressing isn’t dairy based)

I’m not very organised this week sadly so will need to do a major shop and get some supplies.

Cheerio

Day 1 of the 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Well aside from being decidedly under the weather today with a sore jaw/headache from a recent wisdom tooth removal, Day 1 went pretty well. Here’s a snapshot of my diet today:

Breakfast: 2 slices of grainy toast with peanut butter & jam (normally this would have been honey), coffee with soy – nothing new there

Lunch: bowl of zucchini & fennel soup with bread and a few potato wedges with sweet chilli sauce, orange juice

Snack: handful of mixed raw nuts/dried fruits

Dinner: large mixed salad which included tomato, spinach leaves, mushrooms, capsicum, grated carrot, 4 bean mix, corn kernels and a djon dressing made with olive oil/red wine vinegar/djon mustard & maple syrup

+ a grainy breadroll spread with avocado

Snack: 4 squares of organic dark orange vegan chocolate, handful of fresh cherries

Looking forward to experimenting with lots of new recipes – will post the results here. Any ideas are most welcome!

Bye for now 🙂

30 Day Vegan Challenge starts tomorrow!

Well the countdown is on for Animal Liberation Victoria’s 30 Day Vegan challenge

This starts up on March 1st and finishes March 31st with the aim being to eat no animal derived products for the duration. This means no meat, fish, dairy, eggs or honey (insect in this case). There are some great prizes to be won for submitting an account of your personal experiences with the challenge. I’m going to have a go!

I’ve been eating a vegetarian diet for the past three weeks already with minimal amounts of cheese and eggs and have to say I’ve been feeling a lot “lighter” if that makes sense. I have managed to lose a little weight also but I just feel like my body is working more efficiently these days. What I am finding a mental challenge is the cooking side of things. After the last 15 years of hard core meat eating and being a bit of a foodie, I am looking forward to finding equally delicious veggie/vegan options and I will report my findings here as the challenge progresses.

Wish me luck!