One thing I always struggle with when eating vegan is lunch ideas. In the past, I’ll always have such simple lunches – a cheese and onion or ham and tomato sandwich with a packet of crisps and that was it really.

When eating vegan, I have to really get creative with my lunch ideas. I can still have a cheese and onion sandwich for example but vegan cheese isn’t that great for flavour when just in a sandwich, so this is usually a last resort for me.

Therefore I thought it would be nice to share some of my favourite vegan lunch ideas.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Food | Vegan | 6 easy go-to vegan lunch ideas

VEGAN BURRITO BOWL
I’m not a lover of burritos/burrito bowls or even black beans but I loved this burrito bowl (taken from one of Pound Fit’s meal plans). It’s another one that looks super impressive with minimal prep. All you need to do the night before is cook and drain the black beans, then pack an avocado, chopped tomatoes, rice and a slice of lime. You can cook the rice the night before and have it cold with your burrito bowl, or grab a microwavable pack to scoff it warm. It’s another idea great for summer.

TOMATO MEZZE
This is a massive favourite of mine taken from The Debrief back when it was still a thing (oh how I miss it!). It’s great because it’s cheap to make (all leftover ingredients are totally versatile to use in other dishes), it’s easy and it looks a lot more impressive than it actually is. All you need is hummus, rocket salad, a bread roll, tomatoes and smoked paprika – probably everything you already have anyway. Basically you make a smokey tomatoey sauce using the smoked paprika and tomatoes and a little water in the microwave, sprinkle some smoked paprika over the hummus and divide it onto your plate to pile onto your bread. It’s lightweight too but a great alternative for a warm-but-not-heavy meal in summer.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
This one needs some prep the night before (or the day before – I tend to cook it in the slow cooker throughout the day) but my god its tasty. Ingredients and recipes vary – I tend to just blend some butternut squash and an onion before seasoning it – but you can pile in as many vegetables as you like. Pick up some delicious bread rolls or sourdough bread with lashings of vegan butter, microwave the soup and you’ve got a stocky lunch to keep you full throughout the day.

AVOCADO ON TOAST
Super simple, super easy. Definitely a Friday lunch when you can’t be bothered. Still feeling hungry? Grab some plain Doritos (or nacho crisps) and use any remaining avo as an easy alternative to guac.

ITALIAN RED PEPPER HUMMUS SANDWICH
This sandwich is a firm favourite from Euphoric Vegan. It’s asbsolutely delicious as it is, but to save time and money, I usually swap the red pepper hummus for normal hummus (also used in the tomatoe mezze recipe)!

ON THE HIGH STREET
Can’t be bothered to prep or really running late and forget? There’s actually tons of vegan choices on the high street if you know where to look/what to look for. My favourites are the falafel and hummus wrap or the falafel red pepper and tabbouleh salad (which isn’t marked as vegan but is vegan as long as you remove the spiced yogurt dressing provided with it) as part of the Tesco meal deal (both Walkers ready salted crisps and squares are vegan). Tesco also stocks the WICKED range, most of which is microwaveable. Pret’s has tons of vegan options too – though a little pricey. You can see a full guide of vegan goodies to buy along the high street here, for those days when you’re caught out.

If you’re vegan, what do you normally eat at lunchtime? Let me know!

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I never thought I’d see the day where I’d be writing on my blog about cookbooks – let alone vegan ones! Although veganism is becoming wildly more accepted and popular, there’s still a lack of vegan cookbooks out there. However, the ones that are available are pretty damn great.

Here are some of my favourites.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Food | Vegan | 5 vegan cookbooks you need in your kitchen

THE VEGAN STONER COOKBOOK
This is one of my favourite books because not only is it quirky, it’s also derived from a blog! It’s perfect for a vegan beginner because a lot of the recipes are very simple. It’s also great for students or those on a budget too. Each recipe has it’s own little illustrations and there’s recipes for all sorts of occasions. Plus, shocker, you don’t have to be a stoner to enjoy this book…! For someone who is bad at cooking – like me – it’s perfect.

BOSH!
Anyone who’s anyone (and vegan) has heard about this book. I have to admit, I’ve yet to try it myself, but I’m putting an order in on Amazon as we speak. This book is another one filled with simple and easy to follow recipes such as a bhaji burger, a thai red curry (yummy) and, can you believe it, watermelon jägerbomb punch. If only I’d thought to order this book in time for my flat warming this weekend..!

VEGAN ON THE GO
One of my biggest struggles from being vegan has trying to brainstorm lunch ideas. When you’re trying to save money or don’t know what to buy from the high street for lunch, bringing a packed lunch is the only alternative. I get especially stuck on sandwich ideas, so this book which focuses on vegan lunch ideas is perfect. It also focuses on cheap and easy lunch ideas too which is even better. I am loving the sound of the squash soup (ideal for winter) and the chia and almond pizza (great for dinner with lunch leftovers).

THUG KITCHEN
Thug Kitchen is another popular vegan cookbook and is hailed as being ‘real af’. Just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you have to live off of kale and vegetables y’know! Even Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan. The recipes are actually super filling and tempting – in fact there’s such a variety of recipes that I doubt you’ll even realize half of them are vegan. There’s a lot of naughty language throughout – which is kinda cool if you ask me – and the book has been hailed in particular for its chickpea burritos! If you like this one, the author has also released a few others, such as party grub. Yum yum.

HEALTHY HAPPY VEGAN KITCHEN
With all that delicious party food it would be wise to have at least one healthy vegan cookbook, no? Practice being super green with this cookbook which also includes tips on how to cook vegan long term and and staying green. Even if you’ve been a vegan for years, the book is still helpful. The author finds a way to make eating green actually fun and tasty too, which is a bonus and something I struggle with personally.

Whether you’re curious about exploring veganism or you’ve been a vegan for years and need some ideas to shake up your recipe list; these books are just the trick.

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I have a confession to make. I’m what most people would call a ‘failed’ vegan. In January, I always pledge to try Veganuary and manage to go a full month of each year without any form of meat and dairy – but once 1st February hits, I begin to struggle.

The first time I messed up – back in January 2016 – I felt like a complete failure. I’d accidentally picked up something that wasn’t vegan and didn’t realize until much later on when I’d already scoffed it down. Then, in February, I pledged to try and be as vegan as possible still, but this still didn’t stop me feeling guilty when I gave into my cravings from then onwards.

It was meeting my ex boyfriend that made me try and go fully vegan again. As he was vegan – and I spent so much time at his place that I practically lived there – it was really easy – except for the days when I wasn’t with him. Now that we’re no longer together, it’s even harder.

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | Personal | The fundamentals of being a 'failed' vegan | Vegan | Food

I find it hard to commit to being vegan for a few different reasons. Firstly, it’s convenience. When I have money and go shopping for lots of vegan goodies in advance, eating green is like second nature to me. But when I’m skint and have nothing planned for lunch at work, it’s so much easier for me to run to Wilko’s and grab a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar than, well, fruit or otherwise.

My second reason is my cravings. I still get cravings for things like McDonalds, Chinese food or pizza on a regular basis. I think this is because I pencil being vegan in with being healthy – and when I’m on a health kick, working out and eating healthy, it’s only a matter of time before I think I deserve a treat like a burger or a pepperoni pizza. And of course, if I’m PMSing or I’ve had a bad day, it’s so tempting to go to the McDonalds drive through on the way home from work!

My final reason is that it’s hard to eat vegan when I’m at home, especially when my Dad is cooking one of his famous Sunday roast dinners or ordering our traditional Saturday night curry. I have learned to get better at this though – these days, I’ll swap chicken for a vegan pie and have pretty much the rest of a roast dinner, and often I say no to a curry altogether.

I think what stops me committing fully is that I’m not doing it for the animals. Well, I am in some ways, but I’m also mostly doing it for the health reasons. I know where meat and dairy comes from and I’ve read the facts, but perhaps I haven’t watched enough documentaries to put me off meat and dairy entirely. I’m still at the point where I’m ignorant to where it comes from – I know, but I don’t think about it – and so I don’t feel as guilty when I give into a craving.

However, I’m learning to take on a more healthy approach to being what some people would call a ‘failed’ vegan. I prefer to think of myself as a transitioning vegan and I’m a lot less harsh on myself now. You can never be 100% perfect, and even those who have been vegan for years may accidentally mess up from time to time.

Since joining some Facebook groups, I’ve learned that as well as cutting out meat and dairy and all non-vegan products from your life, essentially, being vegan means being as vegan as possible. It’s impossible to be 100% entirely vegan – simply because of things out of our control – but it’s also so much better to just try. It’s important to accept your mistakes and remember tomorrow is a new day. It doesn’t make you wrong or make you a failure. It makes you human.

Even if you eat vegan six days a week and have one day off, you’re still miles ahead than complete meat eaters. You’re still making a difference and you’re still doing something good.

I’ve also downloaded a habit tracker app, so I can see an overview of the days which I’ve eaten completely vegan and which days I’ve slipped up – seeing a calendar filled with green and red dots puts it all into perspective for me and makes me more and more determined to turn all those red dots into green ones.

But, mostly, I’ve come to accept that I try my hardest to be vegan and that even if I do mess up, it doesn’t mean I’m a failure or doesn’t mean I’m not a vegan. It just means I’m trying my best.

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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!
Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Food | Vegan Katsu Curry | Cooking | Vegan | Katsu
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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