If you’ve chosen to try Veganuary this year then a massive well done to you. Not only is it a great step for both animals and the environment, but the health benefits of going vegan and cutting meat and dairy out of your body are insane.

For example, did you know that ‘studies show that cholesterol levels are lower in vegans than in the standard population’? [Source].

Despite this, many people see making such a huge change as daunting, even if it is just for a month. When I first pledged to try it, many family and friends told me I was crazy and that going from one extreme to another would be bad news – I was told I should have gone vegetarian first and then vegan.

Although it worked out great for me, there were many times I wanted to pack it in. It has got easier over the years, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing. I’d struggle with meal planning and giving into temptations and I didn’t do half as much research as I should have done.

I’d recommend visiting the official Veganuary website for professional advice, but for those of you who might be struggling mentally – wondering how the hell you’re going to get through it – I approached Nicki Kelly, the founder of Nicki’s Vegan Weight Loss Cafe on Facebook.

Nicki knows her stuff. She has achieved several nutrition related diplomas, ran her own large weight loss business in Australia for 25 years and now offers private coaching. She also launched Nicki’s Vegan Weight Loss Cafe where she supports women by showing them how to balance meals using vegan whole foods without oil or sugar and shares other top tips and advice on being vegan.

I asked her to share some tips with me when it comes to keeping a level head during Veganuary and here’s what she shared.

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!
I’ve also said this a million times before but Nicki cannot stress enough how important it is do research before switching switch to a vegan diet. She states that it’s not done simply by omitting animal based foods. It’s a bit more involved than that. Read up about why you want to do it and how you’re going to plan ahead. Research more into the meat and dairy industry to understand why people choose this way of life. Think about what this is going to do to your body. Which brings us to..

MAKE A LIST OF IMPORTANT ‘MUST HAVE’ VITAMINS
One of the most popular arguments meat-eaters give vegans is that they miss out on essential nutrients and vitamins by not eating meat. Well, yes. Which is why we refer to other sources to get these essentials! Nicki suggests adding easy to obtain supplements like B12 and vegan D3 vitamin supplementation to your list, then learn how much protein you should consume for your unique needs and what other nutrients to look out for. Not everyone is the same, but it’s definitely worth understanding what needs to be supplemented when not eating meat and dairy. My boyfriend and I take all round Holland & Barrett Vegan Multivitamin & Mineral tablets, which consist of vitamins A, D, E, C, B1, B2, B6 & B12, calcium, iron, zinc, folic acid and other minerals. It’s our go-to supplement and stops us worrying about anything we might be missing out on by not eating meat and dairy.

LOW STARCH VEGETABLES ARE YOUR FRIEND
Taking part in Veganuary is going to make you super healthy of course but if you really want to lose weight or tone up, Nicki recommends stocking up with low starch vegetables on your plate (think kale, spinach, courgettes, broccoli, rocket salad, cucumber etc) with all other plant foods being the supporting factor. This is great, as things like rocket salad go with most meals, whereas spinach always works well with rice, pasta and inside stuffed mushrooms. And why are they good for you? Low starch vegetables are low in calories, but are rich in vitamins, minerals and sometimes fiber too.

GET CREATIVE AND HAVE FUN
It’s super important to not be too hard on yourself this month. Going vegan is a huge change on your body, so it’s important to stay in a healthy place mentally too. You probably will slip and mess up – whether that’s giving into a meat craving or misreading ingredients and accidentally eating something with dairy in it. It happens. Write it off and move on. Being vegan isn’t just about strictly cutting out meat and dairy – it’s about trying your best, even if that means just starting with Meat Free Mondays! To make it more fun and less of a challenge, Nicki suggests enjoying vegetables and fruit with a variety of colours and textures – rainbow pizza, anyone?! Not only does this tip ensure you have a variety of plant based foods, but it also looks great on your instagram.

COMMUNITY IS KEY
Finally – if I had to add one tip, it would be that you don’t have to take on this challenge alone. There are plenty of online forums, websites and Facebook groups to check out, such as Nicki’s Vegan Weight Loss Cafe and Veganuary and they’re super helpful. Although they’re great for finding recipes and advice, it’s always nice to have someone to talk to (or a whole community to talk to!) when you’re feeling frustrated. Many people log onto these Facebook groups to vent about cravings or family members not supporting them – the amount of posts I’ve seen asking for proof to prove someone wrong that you can be vegan and still get necessary nutrients is crazy! – and each is all round really helpful.So there we have it. With it now being my third year of taking on Veganuary, I can safely say that going vegan isn’t just about cutting out meat and dairy. One of the most important factors of making this change is to stay healthy mentally and not put too much pressure on yourself – I hope this post has helped!If you’d like any further tips, recipes or advice, visit my Vegan tag here.

Are you trying Veganuary this year? Let me know!

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I’ve found that since going vegan, I’ve become a lot more creative with my food but one thing I don’t have much of anymore is a curry. So when I was asked if I wanted to try some Yutaka products to make a Katsu vegan curry, I was right on board!


Unfortunately it took me a while longer than I hoped to get this curry made. First of all our flatmates stole some of our ingredients (by accident, of course) and second of all I waited until a day I could make the curry early on in the day so I could take some decent photos in a natural light. Oh the woes of being a blogger.
I finally got around to making it today, although with the snow, the natural light wasn’t amazing. Still, what’s important was the curry.
Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Food | Vegan Katsu Curry | Cooking | Vegan | Katsu
I was sent Yutaka Panko (bread crumbs) and Yutaka Japanese-Style Curry Cube to create the dish. The recipe advised me to use either vegetables as the base (an aubergine and a sweet potato) or tofu, and I chose tofu simply because I’m trying to experiment more with it in cooking.
The recipe – which I’ll post below – was easy enough to follow, although the only issues I had was that not a lot of breadcrumbs stuck to the tofu – normally when you cover something in breadcrumbs, you use egg yolk to help them stick but obviously I couldn’t do that. My boyfriend advised me to use a little oil and this made a lot of difference, but overall it would have been better if it was more ‘breaded’. This didn’t defer from the taste though!
The second issue was – and I always struggle with this, so this is through no fault of the products – is that the sauce came out more like a watery sauce then a thick one. I didn’t mind one bit because it was still packed full of flavour but, next time if I want it thicker, I’ll remember to add some flour.
I quickly realized (after some research) that I was actually making a traditional katsu dish – which differs from what we know as a curry. It was delicious. The dish overall reminded me of food I used to always get from my local – breaded chicken with a thick curry sauce. This definitely rivaled it and the sauce itself had tons of flavour without being too spicy.
I added some vegetable samosas too!
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It was so delicious and we were actually left with lots of sauce left over which I think will go great with some vegan chicken nuggets and perhaps even pies at a later date. 
I’ll be honest though: when serving up with the less-than-thick sauce (due to me never being able to make a thick sauce) and slightly breaded tofu pieces instead of a curry, I wasn’t expecting much. 
But it was amazing. I’d somehow managed to re-create one of my favourite pre-vegan dishes and the whole thing was super filling and filled with flavour. My boyfriend absolutely loved it too and has already asked me if I can buy a few more products and make it again next week.
Which I definitely will. Because I’ve fallen into the trap lately of just shoving frozen food in the oven and not actually cooking, and making this has reminded me that proper cooking doesn’t have to be long or inconvenient. 
Here’s the original recipe:
INGREDIENTS
· 1 Large Onion
· 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
· Water 800ml
· Yutaka Japanese-Style Curry Cube 100g
· 1 large aubergine
· 1 large sweet potato
· Plain flour 100g
· Salt & Pepper
· 50g cornflour mixed with water
· Yutaka Panko 200g
· Olive oil
· Steamed White Rice
SAUCE
Chop onion into small pieces. Add a little oil to the pan and gently fry chopped onions on low heat until lightly browned. Add 800ml of cold water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium and simmer for 7 minutes. Then let the sauce cool down for a few minutes. Add 100G of Yutaka Curry into the sauce. Stir until fully dissolved. Simmer on low heat and stir until sauce thickens.
VEGAN KATSU
Cut the sweet potato and aubergine into half cm slices and season with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour then dip into the cornflour mixture and coat with Yutaka Panko. Add oil to pan and once hot, cook the slices on each side for a couple of minutes or until golden brown. Leave to drain on a paper towel. Serve with boiled rice and add the sauce.
The whole dish took around twenty minutes to make. My tofu was quite crumbly so I had to abandon some and there was a lot of sauce left over so this would have easily have served between 3-4 people. I will note that the sauce came in one big chunk divided into six, so next time I’ll ensure to only use what I need when just cooking for two.
Overall, my first vegan Katsu curry exceeded my expectations and even now I’m wishing I made enough to go back for seconds! It rivaled my favourite pre-vegan dish and will serve as the perfect week night dinner.
Have you ever tried any Katsu products? Would you try this curry/dish? Let me know!
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Becoming vegan is certainly a journey – and a tough one at that. 

Deciding to take the plunge to give up meat and dairy may feel like the hardest part – and in some ways, it is a big decision from the reasons to doing it to whether or not you feel like your body can handle it – but what comes after is tough too, no matter how much research you do.
At first it’s very daunting: learning how to read labels for what not to eat, bombarding yourself with recipes and studying other ways you can get the protein and nutrients you’ll no longer get from meat.
Then there’s the food part. It’s tough knowing you’ll be giving up some of your favourite foods. What I have found hardest is giving up McDonalds and things like a Saturday night curry or Sunday roast dinner with my family. This has been tough because things like a Sunday roast are less about the taste and more about being with family and sticking to the tradition of that certain meal on a weekend.
Luckily, there are so many alternatives out there for all sorts: milk, butter, meat and chocolate – but finding what alternatives are best for you/which taste you prefer takes a lot of time. It takes months of trial and error – in fact it was only when I met my boyfriend did I finally settle on an alternative milk that makes tea taste like tea!
I’m going to share my favourites for you all – although it’s worth noting that just because I like it, it doesn’t mean you will! Still, it’s always helpful to be faced with more options as there may be some alternatives you might not be aware of already.
Here are my favourite vegan products and vegan alternatives.
Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Food | Vegan | My favourite vegan products | Vegan alternatives
CHEESE
Cheese is a tough one for me: I was never a huge lover of cheese or never paid much attention to different types of cheese, but I love things like cheese toasties and a simple cheese and onion sandwich. My favourite vegan go-to cheese is definitely Violife’s original flavour block: it does the job for things like pizza bases, being grated on most meals and also is nice for in a sandwich. The only thing I would say is that it’s a tad rubbery when grating and doesn’t have a ton of flavour, so if having it in a sandwich, it definitely needs some onion or pickle too. Violife’s ‘halloumi’ Mediterranean block has mixed opinions: it’s great in my take of a grilled cheese and chorizo roll, but I wouldn’t say it tastes of halloumi. It’s definitely got tons of flavour and has the right consistency though. Also from Violife: cheese slices work well for basic recipes like burgers or rolls. Mozzarella is great for a pizza topping and in sandwiches, and I can also recommend Tesco’s Free From Original Style Spread for when you’re feeling posh and want a decent cream cheese.
MILK
Luckily, most coffee places like Starbucks and Costa now stock Soya milk and other milk alternatives but my favourite milk is hands down Oatly’s Oat Drink. It’s the closest thing to milk I’ve tasted and is perfect in a cuppa or with cereal. The Chocolate Oat Drink is lush too.
MEAT
I’ve actually found that most vegan alternative meat tastes just like meat when you put it together in a meal, which leads me to think the whole eating meat thing is more to do with sight and presentation. I had vegan hot dogs recently and because I presented them in an actual hot dog bun with onions and ketchup and such, I actually forgot they were meat free. Still, some of my favourite alternatives include Fry’s chicken style strips (great for stir fry’s and curries!), Fry’s chicken style burgers and Fry’s pepper pies and country mushroom pies. Pretty much anything Fry’s! I’m not a huge fan of Linda McCartney’s range but OH MY GOSH her Mini Pork & Apple Sausage Rolls are AMAZING. Seriously. If you love mini sausage rolls at Christmas like me, you’ll be pleased as punch. Just note – these are stated as vegetarian in the name, but are actually vegan too, despite being called vegetarian mini pork and apple sausage rolls.
But seriously though.You gotta try them. I was legit like this when I first tasted them:
TREATS
OREOS! Oreos, Oreos and nothing else. I joke. But seriously the fact that Oreo’s are vegan is the best news ever. Ben & Jerry’s vegan range is lush too, but some other treats I really enjoy are: Pot Noodle Beef & Tomato flavour, Asda’s Onion Rings (currently munching on these as I type), Chopstix, Walker’s French Fries Ready Salted, Original flavour Pringles, (can you tell I love my crisps?!), Original Hobnobs, Kettle Chips Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar flavour, Love Hearts, Nākd bars and many more to discover.
I’ll also say it’s worth checking both Tesco and ASDA for their dedicated Free From sections. Though not all products are vegan in these areas, a majority are and once you’re comfortable understanding labels, you’re bound to find tons of yummy items you didn’t realize are vegan. Luckily, Tesco’s Free From products are really easy to understand – just look out for the label that includes Free From Milk (but obviously check the back too in case it includes egg).

Also, Tesco do a very delicious hummus and falafel wrap as part of it’s lunchtime meal deal!

These are just some of my favourite products that I have discovered over the past few months; every time I shop however I come across new things to try and to add to my favourite shopping list. It’s amazing how easy being vegan can be once you’ve got a set list of products and vegan alternatives for basics like milk, meat etc.
Do you have any go-to vegan products you can recommend? Let me know with a comment!
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As mentioned in my previous post, during our visit to Brighton, my boyfriend and I made sure we stopped at Purezza for dinner.
I’d heard plenty of times that Brighton is great for vegan food (and it is!) and Purezza was one place I constantly heard great things about; in fact it was one of the places I was most excited to visit in Brighton.
Purezza was actually the UK’s first plant based Italian restaurant and offers raw food as well as pizzas in a pizza wood fire and other food. It was also the first vegan pizzeria in the UK when it was founded back in 2015. The restaurant is based just a short walk away from the seafront and is a quaint little place.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Food | Foodie Review | Purezza | Purezza Brighton | Vegan | Pizza

We were surprised at how small it was but this is by no means a bad thing. We were welcomed immediately upon arriving and found the place to offer a really relaxed atmosphere. Staff were friendly and easy to talk to, as well as more than helpful.
We ordered so much food; for starters we had garlic bread (with delicious melted cheese! It’s always a win in our books when we find somewhere that offers vegan cheese…), focaccia strips with a dip selection (hummus, pesto and caramelised beet/onion), and cheesy bites. It was all ever so delicious, and the caramelised beet/onion dip was surprisingly tasty.

For mains, we each went for a pizza. I chose the Portobello Road, which offered toppings such as mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, rocket salad and a mushroom sauce, whereas Vincent went for the ‘meaty’ Fumosa: chestnut mushrooms, smoked beet & fried tofu, topped with BBQ sauce. Yum yum.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the toppings such as smoked beet and sundried tomato looked like meat at first glance and with so much packed onto each pizza, we barely noticed any lack of meat. Much like when I eat my fake sausages, I find it’s all to do with the presentation; if it looks like meat then you rarely notice the difference.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Food | Foodie Review | Purezza | Purezza Brighton | Vegan | Pizza

I tried only a bit of my boyfriends pizza but mine was delicious. It was tasty and filling and had a whole lot of flavour. We often do mushroom pizza at home, but I’d never thought of topping it with sundried tomatoes. I can see us re-creating this pizza at home.

Also, I have to give a shout out to the menu. With pizza names like Cheesus, Popeye and Pesto Manifesto, it gave the establishment a quirky and fun twist which I loved. We kind of want to go back and try each pizza one by one…

We couldn’t finish our food so took some of our pizzas to go, as well as some dessert Tiramisu and a brownie. I actually never got round to trying these in the end but I was assured by my boyfriend that they were delicious.

Everything was super affordable and I can’t tell you how great it was to binge on delicious food that seemed unhealthy in thought but was actually really good for us.

If you’re ever in the Brighton area, I’d definitely recommend popping to Purezza for some delicious vegan food.

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It’s always a worry travelling somewhere new and wondering if you’re going to struggle sticking to a particular diet (as in vegan, allergies etc). But it was surprisingly easy to eat vegan in Romania, mainly due to the fact with how religious the country is.
My boyfriend explained to me that Lent is particularly important over there, so in supermarkets it’s really easy to find meat free/vegan products not just during Lent but all year round too – and products are labelled really clearly as well.
We travelled all around the country but luckily my boyfriend is really great at finding places and relies on apps like Happy Cow a lot. Before we set off on our travels, we also made sure to stock up on tons of vegan goodies and snacks for the long car journeys too.
Here’s some of our favourite vegan/vegan friendly finds just in case you ever find yourself in Romania.
Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Romania | Vegan | Vegan Eating | Mondrian Events & Gardens
MONDRIAN EVENTS & GARDENS
E85, Popești
This place was actually just off the road side and we stopped here for lunch during our first day. It was a really lovely place, very spacious, with a beautiful outdoor terrace and seating area. We chose to sit in one of the three wooden chalets things and there’s also unique swinging egg chairs dotted around too. The menu was varied with lots on offer. My boyfriend chose roasted aubergine with wedges whilst I went with a veggie option which was melted cheese in bread crumbs (with a side of garlic sauce). We also had a side of salad and bread and it was all absolutely delicious.
SARA GREEN
Caramfil 85, Bucharest
I wasn’t too impressed with this place but this was through no fault of the restaurants. First of all, what we didn’t realize was that it was actually just a food van as opposed to a restaurant – but we didn’t mind! It had a nice seating area outside and was pretty quirky, but this meant the menu was limited. As it goes, the menu changes daily and there wasn’t really anything on the menu that really stood out for me (plus I wasn’t very hungry). In the end I chose a wrap which was filled with vegetables, a sauce and gherkins and I don’t even know why I ordered it as I don’t even like gherkins. Vincent went for a filling burger which was nice when I tried a bite and he was really impressed with the food. He’s full on vegan, so his opinion is legit, and I would give the place another go myself.
RADHA CUISINE
Strada Emanoil Ungureanu 13, Timișoara
This is a cute little gem of a place which is definitely underrated. Unlike your traditional restaurant, it instead provides a set menu which is entirely vegan. We had a tomato soup and croutons for starter, a curry with rice, a samosa and a bread roll and a giant coconut brownie for desert…all for about £4 (when comparing it to pounds that is). Though the menu mostly consists of vegan food, it’s filling and delicious.
Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Romania | Vegan | Vegan Eating | Samsara Foodhouse
SAMSARA FOODHOUSE
Strada Ștefan, Cluj-Napoca
This was possibly one of our favourite restaurants as everything was veggie and 85% of the menu was vegan too. We were really gutted that we missed eating there on the evening we arrived in Cluj as we arrived so late, but we made sure to stop by for a filling lunch the following day. Not only was the place really beautiful and boutique with a stunning outdoor terrace, but there was so much to choose from on the menu. Like, we were actually spoilt for choice for once. My boyfriend went for a mushroom soup with a generous helping of croutons, whereas I choose sushi (vegan sushi!!!), which honestly tasted like the real thing. Vincent’s soup was creamy and with tons of flavour, and I honestly couldn’t fault the sushi (nor could I work out how they made it taste exactly like actual sushi but y’know, without any fish) Because we always order too much ‘to pick at/share’ and never correctly predict the size of portions, we also ordered bruschetta and a small pizza as sides. These also hit the spot; the restaurant also offered a lot of raw vegan products so the pizza was raw mushroom topped with large tomato slices, olives and herbs and was served on raw almond bread. Yum yum.
FESTIVAL 39
Strada Republicii 62, Brașov
I absolutely loved this place. Set in the heart of Brasov, Festival 39 is themed around the 1930’s with awesome decor, live music and a welcoming atmosphere. Despite being super glam, the food was actually affordable too and each menu was themed like a newspaper! I can’t for the life of me remember what Vincent chose for starters, but for main he had a vegan burrito, whereas I chose to wager my veganism for the evening (Vincent insisted I didn’t go fully vegan for this holiday so that I could try traditional Romanian foods and his mother’s cooking!) and settled for pate on toast for starters and breaded chicken for main. Although I’d say this place is worth a visit just for something light or for a few drinks as it was so unique.
There were a few other places we visited but overall it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I think the only issues we had were when we arrived to some cities quite late at night and struggled to find places open at that time; therefore from then on we researched places on the go (well Vincent searched while I drove) so that we were faced with a lot of choice.
Our final other issue was when we visited a cabin in the mountains one evening. Though the location was unique, it was pretty damn remote of course. But we thought ahead and stocked up on lots of vegan snacks from ALDI beforehand. As explained before, everything is labelled really obviously with big green labels. In fact, even though I haven’t travelled loads before, I’d say Romania is one of the easiest places to be vegan in my experience!
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