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Vegan, more than a diet but a thought.

Vegetarianism and Veganism along with other plant based and alternative diets, such as sugar free and fat free diets have become increasingly popular over the last few years. The obesity crisis, the increased headlines in the media and celebrities getting on board are all influencing our decision be it consciously or subconsciously.

So what diet do you follow if any?

For me it is a Vegetarian diet and has been for over 10 years now. I made the conscious decision to ditch meat and fish for good and to be honest I wouldn't look back now.

I always get asked, "but why?" And what do you respond as it is different for each person.

For me, apart from the obvious fact of animal cruelty, I grew up around animals and always had pets such us my rabbit, and would never consider eating it, so why any other rabbit or animal? As a child I was also a very fussy eater, I did not enjoy red meat and only ate chicken, so for me it wasn't very hard to give up. I didn't like the taste of most fish and barely ate it, so would I notice cutting it completely? Obviously not, over ten years later and I still follow the same diet. In fact, it has improved my eating habits. I have become more creative with foods, I will try anything put in front of me (as long as it is not meat or fish of course!) and have tried a lot more foods than I ever did before. Finding out that I do actually like them!!

When having to think about your meals, what you can or cannot eat (be it vegetarian or another intolerance such as a gluten free diet) you become more hands on. You put the time and effort into what you eat, therefore enjoying it more.

When I heard about "Veganuary" I decided it would be a good challenge, 95% of my diet is plant based, I enjoy eggs and cheese on occasions- normally just whipping up an omelette for convenience, so I thought why not GIVE IT A GO!

Whether I stay 100% committed to Veganism or not I know I would have made a positive difference, not only to my health but to spreading the word about animal cruelty. Just like meat it is important to know where our produce comes from and how it is achieved. By choosing to eat cheese I would not want an animal to have suffered for me to enjoy a luxury. I would want to source cheese from reputable establishments that look after their animals.

Going Vegan is not just a diet change, but a change in our thought process. Understanding how food arrives to our plate, whether we are happy with how the result has been achieved and thinking about alternative options that can keep us satisfied.

So eggs, I do a lot of baking and therefore use eggs on a regular basis. I am happy to use eggs from my chickens (as I have said before, I know how they are kept and what they are fed) but also want to develop my recipes so they can work with or without egg.

A product that is a go to alternative is "egg replacer" easy to find and relatively cheap. I have used it before as well as "banana" another alternative to egg. But what else? In fact, there are many things you can use! I have included a few below, tried and tested. I decided to take the simple recipe favourites and replace the dairy in various ways to see what does and what doesn't work.

Here are my results:

The first recipe was chocolate and peanut butter brownies. I really was going full out with vegan experiments as I didn't have egg replacer or vegan spread.

I used Chia seeds for the egg replacer and an oil mix for the butter. Perfectly formed and tasty, the chocolate a favourite of mine and having peanut butter helps when you do not have vegan spread. Chia seeds for me work okay in brownies, however the texture of the seeds remains so I would not recommend it for a cake.

Next up was scones. I love making scones and have made vegan ones before but this time I tried them with different ingredients... as I am still trying to create the perfect recipe. First were banana scones. Banana is a good replacement for dairy so handy for me! The flavour of banana I think works well in a scone, the texture remains and a subtle banana flavour- one’s worth giving a go.

The second lot of scones were savoury, black olive and herb. I went full out with dairy replacers here... Vitalite spread and Aquafaba (chickpea brine- cheap and accessible). My general GF scone recipe adapted to use the vegan alternatives. I was very happy with the texture and taste of these. Light, fluffy and full of taste- you wouldn't guess they were vegan!

Now on to the cake... I made a chocolate and strawberry fudge cake. Accidentally vegan dark chocolate, Vitalite spread and Aquafaba making this beauty. It was a birthday cake for my sister so had to be good and not too wacky otherwise the non-vegan eaters would moan!

I adapted my GF chocolate fudge cake recipe to incorporate the vegan subsistues. The buttercream filling was also vegan and the chocolate too, so a decadent cake to say the least. Rich and indulgent, need I say more? It worked and was a winner.

I am happy I managed to survive January as a Vegan, learning that I didn’t miss DAIRY! I often drink soya milk, so this was not a problem and at work drinking black coffee to make it easier. Cheese something I thought I could not live without, but was not even thought about... even chocolate. I had a few cravings but with Hotel Chocolat local to me I was spoilt if I felt I needed a sugar rush ;-)

The most important thing for me was the thought process, reading labels and spreading the word about animal cruelty. Eating meat is a conscious thought, but dairy products also need to be a conscious thought. HOW ARE THE ANIMALS KEPT AND TREATED EVEN IF NOT BEING KILLED FOR THEIR MEAT? Factors we should consider when choosing what we put in our mouth as sometimes the suffering of these animals is worse than the actual killing process. I found it very easy to substitute dairy so will change products where I can, and when I do choose to eat dairy I will be more considerate to how the product is achieved for me to have a moment of luxury.

So how did you get on? Was Veganuary a success? Will you go 100% Vegan?

If like me, you are still a novice vegan these sites will help you on your path to becoming a fully pledged vegan.

Veganuary Baking tips:

Vegan Wiki- all those accidentally vegan products we love to eat:

I posted daily on social media, simple ideas for weekday meals- breakfast, lunches and dinners to enjoy. Check out my Facebook and Instagram pages for all the foods I enjoyed, recipes for dinner the main feature, alongside all the vegan baking.

Share with me too any recipes or tips you have for being a successful Vegan!

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