Now, obviously I’m no expert, but going from a bonafide meat eater who loves bacon to a complete vegan for a whole month, I think there are some tips I can share.
Mainly, some advice I wish I’d known before going cold turkey because it was tough and changing a diet so drastically shouldn’t be done overnight without preparing first.
Aka, don’t get horribly drunk the night before and forget to go shopping beforehand and spend your first day being vegan eating ice and rice. Like me.

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So here are my top tips on preparing to go veggie/vegan.

  • First of all, if you’re going vegan, consider going vegetarian first to ease the transition – if only just for a week or two. Although essentially you’ll be cutting out all the crap, you still want to give your body time to adjust. And it will likely make it a lot easier too, giving up just meat as opposed to meat and dairy in one go.
  • Do your research. Do all the research! Veganuary was a big help, as was PETA (and that list of accidentally vegan snacks, oh yes) but it’s not just about discovering what food you can and can’t have. It’s definitely worth researching what to avoid in food labels (and maybe how to understand food labels), what vegan products supermarkets offer (Tesco do an extensive list, I’m not sure about other supermarkets though) and even why you’re doing it. I didn’t watch any documentaries because like I said, I’ve always been quite ignorant to that stuff, but I do still plan to at some point. Earthlings and Cowspiracy are popular ones.
  • Shop online. This may take a while, in fact I’d set aside an afternoon two to three days before your ‘vegan start date’ to do this. It’s so much easier to shop online, if even just for your first big shop. You can patiently double check what is and isn’t vegan, research recipes (really helpful if you like to stick to a meal plan) and just take your time – you’re also likely to save money this way too. Don’t do what I did and wait till the second day of being vegan to run around Tesco like a headless chicken.
    Also – I say 2 to 3 days beforehand because if you’re shopping online, you’ll want to get it delivered or picked up. Usually all the slots go if you leave it as late as a day before, and you don’t want to be stuck starving with nothing vegan to eat.
  • Do meal plans. Grown up and boring? Yes. But SO helpful.
  • …but stock up on alternatives too. As mentioned before, Fry’s Family Foods are super great for this. I’d recommend the traditional sausages and the schnitzels.
  • Don’t be afraid to treat yourself. Sure, some crisps and chocolate that are vegan may not be the healthiest thing, but it’s still healthier then most. Stock up on vegan/veggie snacks for when you’re hungry, else you’ll resort back to grabbing whatever is in your fridge – vegan or not.
  • Look into where you’ll be getting your protein instead, too. I wasn’t very good at this, but it’s definitely something you should do to make up what you’re losing by not eating meat.
  • Finally, be proud of yourself. You’ve made a decision to make a great change to both your body and the earth – and you’re saving animals too.

And I think that’s about it! The main important things to remember are to research and prepare beforehand, and enjoy yourself while doing so. It’s a really positive change you’ll be making and it’ll better yourself too – I’m still really happy that the challenged pushed me to cook more and actually gave me a genuine interest in cooking. And this is coming from a girl who can mess up scrambled eggs on toast. That’s a skill that will stay with me for life (learning to cook more, not failing to make scrambled eggs) – which, on top of everything, makes the decision I made more than worth it.

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So, after taking part in Veganuary this year, you might be wondering what’s next for me following this challenge – aka will I be/have I stayed vegan. 
Well, the short answer is no.
Sort of.

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No, I haven’t stayed vegan. As anyone would (except for maybe those who had gone veggie first and transitioned into it), I found going vegan hard and did miss meat. Not as much as I thought I would, but I think what I missed most was the home comforts.
I missed Friday night curries with my dad and my brother (and sometimes other family members) – a tradition that had been in our family for years. I missed my dad’s roast dinners – trust me, you haven’t had a proper roast dinner till you’ve had one made by my dad. His roast potatoes are to die for. And, finally, I missed pizza.
Not really a home comfort, but I do love a pepperoni pizza every now and then as a treat to myself or when I’m feeling down.
What did I not miss? Pretty much everything else!
I mean I missed proper cheese and that, but I found with my vegan cheese I wasn’t really missing out on much. My dad bought a KFC the other day and I’ve discovered I’ve gone off KFC completely. McDonalds I’m in too minds about – I did miss it, but not as much as I thought I would and it’s not as nice as I remembered.
And how has it affected me, eating ‘normally’ again?
Well physically I don’t feel much different, but I’ve noticed I am bloated more again and I do feel more groggy after eating lots. As in, when I had a big hearty vegan meal, even if I felt stuffed, I felt…ok. But when I pigged out after Maccy D’s the other day, I’d eaten way too much and felt sick. Maybe it’s just that I’d eaten more, but the general gist of it is that I definitely felt better in myself eating vegan foods.
So what now?
Well, the general plan was always to take a month off to stuff my face with all my favourite foods to congratulate myself for lasting that long. I’m so proud of myself.
But, the easier being vegan got and the better I began to feel in myself, the more I was tempted to carry on.
So, I’ve decided to kind of be a half vegan. 
Yes, that’s a thing.

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I haven’t quite worked out the complete plan yet but generally I’m leaning towards maybe just eating meat at weekends, or now and again. The only thing I’m worried about is wanting to eat a bit of meat during lunchtimes at work – a ham and tomato sandwich for example, or some salami in a wrap. I struggled a lot with thinking of different lunchtime ideas that were vegan, so this is something I’ll have to look into more.
I do feel that by incorporating a vegan diet into my lifestyle as much as possible, I’m still doing good.
Before all this, I thought vegans were really strict. They’re not. To be vegan is to try but to be accepting if you accidentally eat a bit of chicken in what you think is vegetable spring rolls (*raises hand slowly* that will teach me not to read packaging properly). It’s about trying to incorporate a healthy and vegan diet into your lifestyle as much as possible, but not being so strict that, if you’re finding it hard and end up giving in for a chicken nugget or whatever, it doesn’t automatically mean you have FAILED and you’re a bad human being.

Basically, if your intentions are good, your still doing a hell of a lot better than most.

I read this fab post explaining it and found myself agreeing completely – and feeling less bad about my decision.


So, in conclusion, Veganuary has taught me a lot by myself and a lot of it will stay with me. I’ll be incorporating a mostly vegan diet still (perhaps 85%), but, long term, looking to introduce being vegan back into my life completely.

And I’ll without a doubt be doing Veganuary again next year.

What do you think? Would you ever consider being a ‘part time’ vegan? Let me know!

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Now that Veganuary is complete, I still find myself craving some of my favourite vegan friendly meals I relied on religiously throughout the thirty-one days I was vegan. 
As it goes, despite the fact that I am eating meat again (for the meantime, anyway – more on that later…), there are a few favourites I’ll still be eating despite no longer being vegan right now.
I thought I’d share with you some of these delicious concoctions…

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KALE STUFFED MUSHROOMS
These are my absolute favourite. They take about twenty minutes to make, but with the variety of different tastes and flavours, you’d be forgiven for forgetting they’re simply just stuffed mushrooms and not something a lot more complicated to make.
Here’s my quick go-to guide on how to make them.
Price: £7.19 / £1.79 per mushroom
(Vegan friendly ingredients from Tesco, taking into account all ingredients I purchased to make these mushrooms the first time – some of which I reused each time and some of which you’ll likely already have in your cupboard such as breadcrumbs, shallots/onions, milk and garlic.
Ingredients:
Large Flat Mushrooms | Organic Curly Kale | Unsweetened Almond Milk (any milk will do though, this one is specifically vegan friendly) | Cheese | 2 X Shallots (or one normal onion) | 1 tbs flour | 2 X Garlic Cloves | Panko Breadcrumbs (again, any will do, you could even grate your own)
Method:
– Cover the bottom of the mushrooms in some olive oil and then place them bottom side up on a tray covered in baking paper, before placing them in a pre-heated oven.
– Heat some oil or butter in a large skillet over heat before adding the crushed garlic and finely chopped shallots.
– Once garlic and shallots are softened (two-three minutes later), add three or four handfuls of kale (about a handful per mushroom) and mix together for a further two-three minutes).
– Add a tablespoon of flour and a small cup full of milk, mixing all ingredients together until it resembles a thick sauce with the ingredients. Beware, it won’t look yummy at this point!
– Divide the mixture into the mushrooms, grate some cheese on top of them and place them back into the oven for three to four minutes.
– Mix some breadcrumbs with a couple of tea spoons of oil, then add these to the top of the mushrooms. 
– Return the mushrooms to the oven once more for around five to eight minutes or until the breadcrumbs have turned a golden brown and the mushrooms are tender.
– Serve!
I love these because they’re so easy to make but make me feel like I’m a really good cook because they look complicated. You can be quite experimental with the ingredients too and because the mushrooms are a fair size, you can either have one as a starter before a main meal, or have two or three as a late supper. They’re super filling and filled with tons of flavour and as a bonus, the kale is really healthy too.

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STIR FRY
Stir fry is super easy and I’m quite surprised I’d never made it before going vegan because it literally is just a method of throwing everything into a pan and adding a sauce. It’s super quick and really filling too, especially if you can find some vegetable spring rolls to add to it. For non-vegans, Tesco also do mixtures of little sides you normally get with a Chinese such as spring rolls, prawn crackers and that prawn bread thing (ha, good description there…) which goes lovely.

Price: £5.49 (although you get two ‘sets’ of noodles in each pack)

Ingredients:
Tesco Chef’s Vegetable Melody | Ken Hom’s Vegetable Spring Rolls | Amoy Straight to Wok Thread Fine Noodles | Blue Dragon Sweet Chili and Garlic Stir fry sauce 

Method:
– Add any ‘sides’ into a pre-heated oven, I often just had spring rolls which took ten/fifteen minutes to make, so I usually put these in first so they cooked a little longer.
– Chop the vegetables and fry them in a pan until they soften. If you’re using mushrooms, these are really helpful to tell when the vegetables are ready or not because they look so different once cooked so, if adding mushrooms to your ensemble, keep your eyes on these.
– Add the noodles and sauce (I usually add the noodles first).
– Mix it altogether and serve.

The great thing about stir fry is that it’s yummy with or without meat and, if you do want to add some chicken, the method is exactly the same and you’d just throw it in with the rest of the vegetables. Stir fry is a cheap and quick alternative to your Saturday night takeaway and whilst my dad and brother were getting their usual curry at the weekend, I’d usually stick to this which stopped me being so jealous!

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AVOCADO ON TOAST
This ones pretty self explanatory, toast the bread, chop up the avocado and sprinkle either some lemon juice or chili flakes on top for flavour. Two avocados cost 89p in Tesco and bread you’ll already have in your house anyway.

These are just three of my favourite quick and easy go-to recipes I’ve taken from Veganuary 2016, but there’s plenty more I tried and would love to get better at, and also many I didn’t get around to trying. These three are ideal for people who don’t have much experience with cooking and/or being vegan, and just want to broaden their palette just a tad.

Enjoy! And do let me know what you think if you attempt any of these…

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Can you believe I’m in my final week?!

No, me either…

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DAY TWENTY-ONE – THURSDAY 21ST
Today for dinner I had my fail safe stuffed mushrooms with a side of crispy sweet potato fries..only they weren’t so crispy and had little flavour in them. I do feel a little unadventurous going back to stuffed mushrooms again, but as a whole, it’s a tad more complicated then just something random on toast and it has tons of flavour. Hey, if it ain’t broke, right?!

DAY TWENTY-TWO – FRIDAY 22ND
Another fail safe was stir fry, but since my dad and my brother had curry, it was almost necessary to have something filling and overly delicious.
DAY TWENTY-THREE – SATURDAY 23RD
Saturday I lazed about for the most part, getting up around noon for a simple lunch of mushrooms on toast. They were yummy, but I soon found out that eating JUST mushrooms on toast today was a bad idea..

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DAY TWENTY-FOUR – SUNDAY 24TH  
..which led to a terrible hangover today. Like, bad enough that it (almost) put me off drink for life. I put off eating for as long as I could, but eventually gave in and had some avocado on toast for a late dinner/supper.

Now. HOLD THE DAMN PHONE.

I know everyone raves about avocado on toast but really? I thought it would be rank. I’m not a lover of avocado at the best of times, I mean it’s okay in a salad or something the weird slimy texture when peeled is enough alone to put me off.

But I was wrong. It turns out that something as simple as avocado on toast is so damn nice.

DAY TWENTY-FIVE – MONDAY 25TH
In fact, it’s so damn nice but I had it again for dinner today. Lunch was a cheese and onion sandwich with crisps, and again I found myself feeling super healthy again today. All I’ve been drinking at work is pretty much water non-stop, as I’ve ran out of green tea, so it could be that…

DAY TWENTY-SIX – TUESDAY 26THToday for lunch I had a super filling cheese, onion, cucumber, carrot and tomato roll which filled me up to no end. I simply chopped up anything healthy in my fridge and threw it in. Dinner was simply chips and curry sauce as I went out for a drink at my local and couldn’t help but gorge on something not-so-healthy but still vegan according to the pubs website.

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DAY TWENTY-SEVEN – WEDNESDAY 27TH
Getting back late the night before, I found myself way too tired to make a proper lunch, so today I simply had olives and Oreos. So very basic, but still rather yummy! For dinner I braved another one of Linda McCartney’s frozen range of vegan & veggie food and was pleasantly surprised. Despite the fact that it burned my mouth to fuck, the cheese plait, along with roasted vegetables and crispy sweet potatoes again was delicious and something I’d definitely have again.

DAY TWENTY-EIGHT – THURSDAY 28TH
For lunch, I recreated Tuesday’s lunch and had a giant roll with many a healthy fillings. I actually had a date tonight, so another night arriving home late meant I just fixed myself a quick sandwich for dinner/supper, but having such a big lunch anyway I didn’t want much.

DAY TWENTY-NINE – FRIDAY 29TH
Today was admittedly a bit of a struggle for me as I had plans to head into London again. I planned ahead and found a lovely looking vegan restaurant, only upon arrival, found it was closed. We didn’t have much time to look elsewhere before we headed straight over to ASOS’s DigiDating event (super fun, by the way) but despite the fact I hadn’t eaten since dinnertime the previous day, I didn’t worry too much as I had plans to meet some friends later for another vegan friendly restaurant. Only on the way home, we got the wrong train and didn’t make dinner.

I think this made me realize how tough it is being vegan when you’re out and about and just want something on the go. I did get some oreos, but it made me realize it’s not like you can just grab much from a vending machine or grab something to takeaway from the many foodie bars in a train station.

Friday I threw together a quick salad for lunch and, as I had plans to go out that evening, quickly had some avocado on toast for dinner. Heading into the uber cool Vaults in London was tough when they were serving delicious pizza, but I persevered…!

DAY THIRTY – SATURDAY 30TH
Today was a tough day, I’ll admit, when many of my vegan friendly food plans fell through. Firstly, as I was heading to London again, I sourced a vegan friendly restaurant myself and my friend could go to for lunch before our event. Only, it was closed. So off we headed to ASOS’s DigiDating event (which was super fun by the way) and I didn’t worry about it too much – I had plans with other friends that evening to go for a meal at another vegan friendly restaurant so figured even though I hadn’t eaten since dinner the previous evening, it would just make me eager for our meal.

Only we got the wrong train meaning I missed the meal. Do’h. I eventually grabbed some Oreos from a vending machine, but it made me realize how hard it is for vegans to grab vegan food on the go. It’s not like any of the food stands in train stations sold anything vegan, and even when popping into a mini M&S I couldn’t find anything.

Trying vegan has reminded me how important it is to plan ahead and know what you can buy that is vegan, but it still made me realize there’s little to no option for spontaneous eating out and about or on the go…

DAY THIRTY-ONE – SUNDAY 31ST 
And so we make it to my last day! My last dinner is in actual fact another stir fry, something nice and filling, as I take time to reflect on the past month.

It’s been tough, but I did it. I didn’t give in, despite wanting to at many points, even when giving in would be the easier option like on Saturday. But I persevered and I’m so damn glad I did.

So, I’ll soon be posting a conclusion post about how I feel, my next steps and some of my favourite recipes. However, in the meantime, that’s me. That’s my meal diary over and out and this is me saying I BLOODY WELL DID IT.

I want to throw myself a party, but more importantly I want you to know despite being tough at times it’s also been REALLY FUN. I’d totally recommend it, even if it’s just for a month.

Veganuary is definitely one of the best ideas I’ve ever had (as in terms of participating, I didn’t make it up, ha!) and I’d challenge you all to give it a go next year.In the meantime, I think I owe myself a drink for completing it all!

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*This exciting challenge is in collaboration with Veganuary 2016 at Veganuary.com
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For this week, I didn’t really feel like I needed to do a weekly shop, as some of my meal plans from last week I’d skipped out on and I still had a lot in the cupboards. So my food diary is kind of bland and varied this week I’m afraid!

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DAY FIFTEEN – FRIDAY 15TH

Today for lunch I just threw together a light salad, as I knew I’d be having a somewhat filling dinner that night. I decided to make dinner for my friends and although the kitchen was a tip afterwards, it just about managed to be a success. For starters we had stuffed mushrooms, and for main, homemade vegan pizza, homemade onion rings (which didn’t have much flavour) and pizza express doughballs with my own vegan substituted butter. Afters was vegan ice cream bought by a friend!

Now, looking back afterwards, I’ve noticed that doughballs (in the restaurant, anyway) list milk/dairy as an ingredient, but the ones from Tesco do not. I think had I checked this before hand, I wouldn’t have risked it. I’d checked the ingredients for the ones I bought from Tesco, but never thought to check with Pizza Express directly. I mean, essentially it’s the same doughballs by the same company, right?

But I went by the ingredients of the ones I used so hopefully I should be okay.

Dinner was nice overall. It was lovely to cook for friends, an actual challenge for me, and definitely nice doing something different to going out and getting drunk.

DAY SIXTEEN – SATURDAY 16TH

Today, after a lovely lie in, I attempted mushrooms on toast again, this time using the actual toaster for the bread. Success! It was really nice!

For dinner, I headed into town with a friend for dinner and a few drinks, and had a vegetable curry at The Whitehouse. This was lovely, bar a bit spicy, and it was definitely nice to go back to a comfort food.

DAY SEVENTEEN – SUNDAY 17TH
TODAY I WAS SO HUNGOVER. It was horrible. Somehow, a couple of glasses of wine the previous night turned into, er, well, more like a few bottles. I’m really not liking the whole drinking thing so much lately. It’s really lovely when it’s sociable, but I hate drinking too much, making a fool of myself and spending all day hungover. I’m getting too old for this.

When I finally found my stomach settled enough to eat, I made a delicious creamy, mushroomy kind of pasta thing, but by the time I’d had two bites I was full up. NO FAIR. I’ll definitely try making it again though…

DAY EIGHTEEN – MONDAY 18TH
I’d thrown some fresh tomato and basil pasta together the previous night for lunch today but found myself too tired to make the sauce. Alas, lunch was filling but rather bland.

On Sunday, my nan had come round to make a vegetable curry with me so this was my dinner tonight, with plain rice and a plain naan too. This was super filling and yummy and I must remember to grab the recipe from her so that I can make it again.   

DAY NINETEEN – TUESDAY 19TH
I went back to a boring lunch today, a cheese and onion sandwich and a packet of crisps.  But for dinner I made mushroom risotto which was super yummy and again, a new recipe for me! And…that’s about it for Tuesday!

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DAY TWENTY – WEDNESDAY 20TH
Today for lunch I had risotto left over from yesterday, which was a nice, filling and warm lunch. Lately, I’ve becoming a bit more forward planning with my food, thinking about what things can be made easily or perhaps other recipes that are less basic but that I can make enough of to last me for lunch the next day.

Is this what being an adult is?!

The past few days I’ve skipped breakfast because I just haven’t had the energy to try something new (not that I had anything in the cupboards anyway) and jam on toast was getting a bit repetitive.

I think again, the hardest part has been breakfast. Personally, I haven’t found much variety for breakfasts and none that can be put together anyway – I never leave myself enough time in the morning for anything but a quick bite of toast. However, I think this is a lesson I’ll be taking with me once this month is over – having more of a variety of breakfast and making sure I get up early enough to sit down and eat it properly to start my day off right.

Health wise, I haven’t felt a massive improvement other then the sense that some days I look in the mirror and think my tummy is a tad more flat/my waist a bit more defined. This didn’t happen a lot beforehand but likewise there’s been a couple of days when I’ve felt I looked a bit thinner the day before and less so the following day.

It might be my imagination but I do think perhaps it’s been where I’ve been having energy drinks or packets of crisps – my best friend had commented that since started this all, I looked less bloated (as opposed to losing weight). I didn’t even think I got bloated, but that would mean a lot in all honesty.

It makes sense that the fatty foods that aren’t so bad for me didn’t necessarily make me put on a lot of weight, but the bloating may be the answer to why I used to notice a subtle difference on a day to day basis.

Hmm. Food for thought – and definitely motivation to stick at it all.

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