Veganuary 2017 is well and truly over and after treating myself to one small Happy Meal, a Chinese and a Thai Curry (but no Pizza Hut god dammit!) since being able to eat meat again, I find it’s time to reflect on my experiences of eating vegan for the entire month of January.
Food is the way to a girl’s heart and one of the favourite things my boyfriend and I like to do is discover hidden gems of restaurants and cafes. Being that he is entirely vegan, we often have to think out of the box when it comes to visiting a new place. Of course, we know of a lot of restaurants that offer vegan options, but it’s always a rarity to find an actual vegan restaurant.
Therefore, we were super happy to stumble across Faringo’s restaurant during our time in Blackpool recently. It was one of those ones where we weren’t quite sure to begin with – it’s not a chain, so we weren’t 100% sure it was still open, and it was right next to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and looked like it was tucked away down an alley on the map.
Still, I know that sometimes the best places are found in the most weird and oddball locations, so we persevered and were ecstatic when we stepped inside the warm and inviting restaurant. The menu really was entirely vegan and it was extremely varied too, with vegan pizza, pasta and curry on offer – and even a vegan roast dinner!
We were spoilt for choice but as we tried to decide, we took time to speak to the owner. He explained that Faringo’s was the first entirely vegan restaurant in Blackpool and had only converted to fully vegan a week prior. The idea came to him when he was asked to put together vegan options for breakfast in the hotel and, despite not being vegan himself, he decided to venture into going entirely vegan.
The result was Faringo’s and what a result. The thing is, being that he wasn’t vegan himself and that it was the only vegan restaurant in Blackpool, we weren’t sure what we expected. Of course we expected the food to be nice, but a lot of places don’t know a lot about vegan food so cook with the wrong oils or offer real basic food = this wasn’t the issue here.
The owner knew exactly what he was doing and we spent much of our conversation sharing tips. The food was beyond delicious too and full of flavour – let’s just say there was no avocado on toast on the menu; only delicious filling food.
The first night, we gorged on cheesy garlic bread and garlic mushrooms for starters, whereas for a main Vincent went for a pizza and I opted for pasta. I loved the unique take on garlic mushrooms and the owner explained that people are always surprised to see their meal served up, having become used to mushrooms covered in breadcrumbs. Instead, the mushroom arrived in a tasty garlic sauce.
I couldn’t say much about my boyfriend’s pizza as it was a little too spicy for me, but the pasta was delicious and filling.
As usual, my photos suck so I just have the one. It was kind of dark inside the restaurant but in a lovely way, with lots of pretty fairy lights. It gave it a real homely and romantic feel.
The food was so delicious that we returned for a second night, this time having garlic bread and pate for starters and both choosing a pizza for main. Much like the previous night, it was all delicious.
All in all, it’s clear to see that Faringo’s is going to do well. Not just because it’s the first vegan restaurant in Blackpool but because the food is actually amazing and the staff are ever so lovely. Eating in the restaurant sold the whole place to us and now we’re set on staying there upon our next return to Blackpool.
I’m so glad we found this hidden gem and would definitely recommend a visit to Faringo’s if you’re ever in Blackpool.
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On Sunday, my boyfriend and I headed into London for a day out where we dined at Pesky’s Brunch Club, spent a few hours wandering around Camden and experienced some fun cocktail creativity with ABQ London.
I’d booked the tickets a while back as a surprise for my boyfriend, for no particular reason other than the fact that I like to do that sort of thing. I love going on adventures in London so wanted to take him along on one, and I’m also a firm believer that if you want romance in a relationship, you should know that it’s not always up to your other half to provide that.
Not that my boyfriend isn’t romantic, just I like to bring the romance too. So a fun surprise day out in London seemed like a good choice. Both recommendations I actually got from Joanne from Love Pop Ups – London, although I’d read about the Breaking Bad themed bar, ABQ London before. It was her recommendation that helped me decide whether it was worth the price or not however (spoiler alert: it was!).
So we headed down to London bright and early yesterday and went in search of Pesky’s (which I think has now been renamed OMNI) which was found at The Yard in Hackney Wick. As always, the pop up was in a really unexpected area, but turned out to be pretty cool. The dimly lit area had a really inviting feel and the staff were super friendly.
Tickets for the vegan brunch club included a three course meal/brunch, as well as two alcoholic drinks. I couldn’t tell you what we had exactly but it was delicious – if I remember rightly, we were served warm mango sprinkled with some delicious spices, followed by three super tasty and filling falafel wraps. For dessert, we had what tasted like mini versions of McDonald’s apple pie, but instead with a raspberry sauce.
Whilst Vincent went for a Bloody Mary, I stuck to Margarita’s for my choice of drink, which went down well with the food. The food and drink was delicious overall and the only thing I would say was that the service was a little slow for such a small place – however, this didn’t bother us because it was such a nice atmosphere that we enjoyed the time we spent there and glad we weren’t rushed. On top of that, the wait was worth it for such high quality food, especially in regards to how the wraps were presented.
Therefore, this was not an issue for us and I don’t feel many other people minded either, as a brunch is the type of thing you attend to gorge on food and drink slowly and relax – it’s not an expensive meal where you expect fine dining and super fast service.
The food filled us up for our busy day in London and we were pleased to find that the sun had come out once we left. We had a good few hours before our time slot at ABQ London so we headed off to Camden. Unfortunately, Camden was really busy, which I should have expected.
Vincent had never been before though, so it was nice to show him quickly and we enjoyed mooching around a second hand book store and a couple of shops along the street. When we arrived at Camden station, it was closed to people coming into the station due to overcrowding, so we took this opportunity to take a slow stroll to the next station, stopping along the way to enjoy the sunshine and watch some canal boats pass.
We made a pit stop at The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town too for a couple of cocktails, then made our way over to Shoreditch for ABQ London, which is essentially a cocktail making experience based around the hit TV show, Breaking Bad.
We both love BB, but despite seeing the trailer outside and me dropping repeated hints and quotes from the show, it took a good five minutes before my boyfriend clocked on to what we were doing! But once it was time for us to step on, we were both excited. We dragged on our bright yellow hazmat suits, climbed into the RV and got ready to cook.
The ticket included a welcome cocktail and two cocktails to make each, which saw us using measuring cylinders, dry ice and more to create the yummy concoctions. My favourite to make was definitely the Walter Jr Breakfast, which included cereal and involved the use of dry ice.
We both found the whole experience to be super fun and well worth the money. First of all, the attention to detail put into the experience was amazing, from the references from the show throughout the RV bus, the way the members of staff stayed completely in character and even the music.
I found it baffling that in such a popular bar in London, people were continually shouting out ‘Yo, bitch!’ (from the show) or the member of staff helping us proclaiming that she’d spent the morning getting high. She hadn’t, obviously, but it was hilarious and reflected the spot on general feel of the show. It wasn’t PC – but I loved that factor and would have hated if it wasn’t so relaxed or didn’t include as many references.
The cocktails were actually really nice too! For an experience like that, you expect them to be okay but really you pay for the experience – not the quality of the cocktails. However, I was surprised to find they were genuinely really delicious which was of course a bonus.
Our two hours were up fairly quickly but we had so much fun and felt that the price was more than worth it – in fact, due to how much fun it was, I’d have expected to pay more. The great thing was that it was really fun even just as a couple – you sit in such close proximity to everyone that it’s easy to make friends and joke along with everyone else. Then again, we’ve already agreed to come back as a group.
It certainly helped that we’d both seen the show as we were able to pick up on all the references but I wouldn’t say this was necessary to enjoy the experience.
Finally, afterwards, we stumbled outside and grabbed some food from the ALL VEGAN bus which was also in the cute little courtyard. I had no idea there would be a vegan food bus there, which of course earned me even more brownie points from my boyfriend as he is vegan.
The food from Just F.a.B was delicious as well as affordable – for £18 each, we could get a meal deal which included a burger, chips, Vegamisù and a beer – which was all vegan of course. We ate it upstairs on the bus to conclude our evening before heading home.
All in all it was such a fun-packed day in London and my boyfriend enjoyed every minute of it. I love how many quirky things there are to do in the capital, but of course the must-do list just keeps on growing. In the meantime, I’d without a doubt recommend both Pesky’s Vegan Brunch Club and ABQ London if you’re looking for something new to try anytime soon.
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Luckily, I’d also set myself the same challenge from last year so I had a little experience. This time around, I understood what I was getting myself into, I knew to do a big shop in advance and I already had a bunch of fail safe vegan products and recipes I could use again in 2017.
But did this make it easier or not?
IT WAS ONLY A TINY BIT EASIER THIS TIME
Having already gone through it the once helped a bunch, but the four week stint wasn’t without it’s challenges. The first one was that I’m only working part time at the moment, whereas last year I was working full time, so I didn’t have enough money to spare. I had to do my shops carefully, which meant having a few of the same meals multiple times. In hindsight, this was a good thing, because it helped me plan ahead a lot more again.
I didn’t miss meat as much this time around, but some of last year’s issues still affected me – there were days I just couldn’t be bothered to cook at all and then, of course, around the halfway mark, I got sick and had to pack the whole thing in for a couple of days.
I ONLY VARIED MY FOOD A LITTLE BIT MORE
I introduced some new recipes into my diet and also relied on some from 2016, but I still didn’t get round to experimenting with quorn or tofu. On the other hand, I ate/snacked less and instead focused on more filling dinners and this time around I also stocked up on potatoes and vegetables, which I did not do this year.
I found myself eating a lot less in January, but I think that’s because I was filling up on the good stuff (potatoes, vegetables etc), so I can’t complain.
MY WILL POWER STAYED STRONG
I did consider for a second giving up once or twice, especially when I got sick, but then I remembered that being a vegan isn’t being harsh on yourself and instead it’s about trying to be vegan as best as you can. So there were a couple of days where I had no energy to cook or go and buy vegan stuff in, but I still tried my best on these days by still avoiding meat (just not dairy). I could have very easily of given up after this but instead I decided to continue.
This had challenges too, because afterwards, I was often tempted to just have a small slip up here and there, thinking that as I’d messed it up for a couple of days already, an odd little treat here and there wouldn’t make much difference.
I definitely waived within the third week, but by the fourth and final week I was back to my determined self.
MY THOUGHTS LOOKING BACK
Looking back, I’m super proud of myself for achieving Veganuary yet again, and I’ve come away feeling more confident in the kitchen again and more savvy about eating healthy on a budget. I’ve got a couple more go-to meals that I’ll continue to eat and overall, I’ve felt so much better in myself. According to my sister, my skin and hair looks better and more vibrant, and overall I look like I’ve lost weight.
I admit, I did weigh myself this time around out of curiosity, and found that over the course of the month, I lost half a stone.
I have been taking on lots of fitness classes too, but I’ve no doubt that by eating more vegetables and generally just eating more green/healthy, it’s made a big difference.
As always, I’ve treated myself to a couple of things I missed in January, but overall I have been trying to continue to eat healthy or at least more balanced meals ever since.
This time around, instead of attempting to stay 85% vegan for the foreseeable future, I’ve decided I’m going to try to be ‘flexitarian’ (yes, that’s a thing). It means to be someone who is primarily vegetarian, but occasionally eats meat or fish and I think this is quite suited to me.
I’ll still be eating vegan as much as I can – I find no problem whatsoever with using vegan alternatives for butter, or milk and cheese in cooking, and the rest of the time I’ll be sticking to vegetarian. I will allow myself to eat meat occasionally, perhaps just on a weekend, or for example, if I’ve gone out for dinner during the week and eating a meat based meal is just the easier option.
I actually found it really easy to give up meat for two, three weeks at a time, so although I may allow the option of eating it once a week, it’s more likely that it’ll be once every few weeks. An occasional treat, if you will.
It’s not a huge change, but it’s still a step in the right direction and if I’m really honest, I’m doing this for me more than any other reason. Going vegan made me feel so much better in myself and I simply want to continue that feeling. But due to my living circumstances and working just part-time right now, it isn’t always a viable option.
So I’ll be trying, but labelling myself as a flexitarian. This works for me, and also see’s me doing my little bit to help animals too. According to stats, each person that takes part in Veganuary saves up to 30 animals by doing so – and that makes me feel damn good!
Keep an eye out for a couple more Veganuary posts throughout February, such as my favourite recipes this time around.
Would you ever try Veganuary? Let me know!
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Today I had vegan pancakes for breakfast (a new firm favourite of mine) and, for dinner, spicy Mexican three-bean burgers from Tesco. These were a mistake. It wasn’t that they weren’t tasty…they were just way too spicy for me. I had them in a bun with some rocket salad on the side, and then after realizing I couldn’t eat them that spicy, I added some hummus into the bun to cool them down. This just tasted wrong though, and in the end, I chalked the dinner up to a fail. I had a Nakd bar later on, then went to bed hungry.
Today I had mushrooms on toast for lunch (so delicious), followed by golden breaded mushrooms, bite sized roast potatoes and roasted vegetables. I’m really getting stuck into the rut of having roast potatoes and vegetables with nearly every meal, but I can’t complain, because it’s really balancing out my food and seems to be working.
On Tuesday, I had a big lunch: hummus and tomato mezze, which is a firm favourite of mine. This was really filling, so dinner was light (a couple of vegetable grills from Tesco), and later, I snacked on some carrot sticks and hummus. Yummy.
Wednesday I actually went round my Dad’s for dinner and he bought stuffed mushrooms and made fajitas. They were definitely veggie, but I’m not sure how vegan they were. Still, he tried, which I appreciate, and there was no harm done. I think it was one of those things where the mushrooms didn’t have anything in them that was dairy, but there might have been a small bit of milk in the ingredients or something. I don’t worry about this too much (in this case, anyway), because he still went out of his way to choose something that didn’t contain dairy. I also read somewhere that a lot of products have to list that there may be a tiny percentage of milk/butter etc because of where the product was made, and though it’s unlikely to, their backs are covered if, for example, it has come into contamination with butter and someone has an allergic reaction to it – if that makes sense…I also had avocado on toast for breakfast today, and a light snack of a Nakd Bakewell tart bar.
I had tomato mezze again today just to use up the ingredients – it’s a firm favourite of mine, but because I can never find smaller tubs of hummus, a lot of it goes to waste. I also had my standard vegetable grills with mixed vegetables and bite sized roast potatoes, and, for supper, some oreos 😉
Friday I had no appetite whatsoever and had little in the house, so I had avocado on toast for breakfast…and again for dinner. Super boring, but sometimes these days just happen.
I also had little to no appetite on Saturday (maybe it was cause I was PMSing) so instead I stuck to vegetable grills with vegetables/potatoes etc for dinner and then, later on, some amazing soya ice cream. This vegan ice cream is so delicious, especially with a few oreos thrown in.
Today I had stuffed jacket potato (finally mixing it up a bit here!) with vegetables/potatoes and again, vegan ice cream in the evening. I knew by now I was getting boring, but with only a few days left, I was just using up what was left in the cupboard.
I pretty much had the same again but swapped my jacket potato for…yep, you guessed it, vegetable grills. Hey, it’s a tasty meal!
Finally, for my last day, I had a few Nakd bars as snacks and decided to make an old favourite of mine; stuffed mushrooms with kale. Only we didn’t have any kale, so instead it was spinach.
And then….I was done! Another year under my belt! Even though I struggled a little bit towards the end, I still managed it! I’ll be blogging soon about the overall conclusion of Veganuary 2017 but in the meantime, I succeeded!
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So, it’s safe to say I’ve struggled a lot this week.
I’ve found that in between feeling sick (nearly everything I’ve been eating I’ve been puking back up again) and being so busy, I haven’t had much chance to meal plan or buy vegan specific food.
In my last post, I actually left off at Monday, so this post for this week will be a bit shorter.
Today I started off well with some vegan pancakes which did not go well and, later, some plain toast, which luckily I managed to keep down. So far, so vegan…until around 1am when I was starving and had to give in and have a Mars bar, with nothing else light and/or vegan in the house. What a fail.
Wednesday was avocado on toast and I met my dad for dinner. I don’t know what was going through my mind, but well aware that nachos are vegan as long as I don’t have the cheese, for some stupid reason I associated the fact that tacos are very similar to nachos and would be the same. I got to the pub and was so hungry and hyped up for tacos that despite the fact they come with cheese and lots of meat, I ordered it anyway. I only had a small bit of meat, but I felt horrible afterwards because at the very least I could have gone for something veggie. Still, this made me feel unwell nonetheless, but I was at least able to keep it down. I blamed feeling unwell for my mistake.
Thursday I was determined to get back on it and had (vegan) pancakes for breakfast and, for dinner, vegetable grills with mixed vegetables and garlic breaded mushrooms. I had a late supper of avocado on toast too.
Friday was another bad day for me as I had such a busy day, I skipped breakfast. I went out to visit my sister and we went for a long, long walk to the foresty centre, and for lunch I had a cheese and onion toastie with salad and crisps. The crisps were vegan, as was the salad obviously, but the cheese and onion toastie = not so much. Still, at least it was still veggie.
Finally on Saturday I managed to get a proper shop in and get my head back in the game. I was sure to pick up lots of vegan treats and light food, like oreos, Chipstix and Nakd bars, but I couldn’t find any courgettes for my beloved stuffed courgettes! I filled myself up with a mushroom and garlic pasta though and had some packets of Chipstix as a snack.
I think I’ve been terrible this week, but with having such a volatile stomach, I could have done a lot worse. I must admit, I’ve been trying to choose some food to settle my stomach, regardless of whether or not it’s vegan and I finally seem to be feeling a bit better.
I have taken solace in the fact that I haven’t given up completely and where I have had non-vegan meals, it’s not been on purpose. For example, when I was out with my sister, I’d skipped breakfast and there were no vegan options on the menu, so I chose the nearest thing to vegan. So there have been a few slip ups here and there, but none intentionally.
There have of course been many points I’ve been tempted to pack it all in and drive to McDonalds since, y’know, I’ve already slipped up, but I persevered!
Saying that, my sister commented on how well I looked which made me feel good! I hadn’t seen her in a couple of weeks and she pointed out that apparently my skin was glowing, my hair looked good and I’d lost weight – so that was nice!
Now that I’ve got my final big shop in I should be okay. I have plenty of supplies so if I’m absolutely starving at night and it’s too late to cook, I have snacks that are vegan luckily.
There’s not long to go now – only ten or so days – and I’m determined to be 100% vegan this last week! Wish me luck!
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