In case you’re not already aware, I’m taking part in Veganuary for the third (or is it fourth?) year running. Having done it so many times before – and going full vegan for the entirety of my last relationship – I’m definitely finding it a lot easier this time around. That doesn’t mean it’s not without a few challenges but, overall, I’m so much more confident with what I’m doing now.

Here’s how my second week has gone. Catch up with my first week here.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Veganuary 2019 | Week One

DAY EIGHT – TUESDAY
I’m not going to lie – I can’t even remember exactly what I had for lunch or breakfast today but I’m pretty sure I had a cheese and onion sandwich. Man, I really need to mix up my lunch ideas. Dinner was horrible tonight. I planned to have stir-fry, but didn’t have the noodles in (I thought I’d ordered them with my online shop but obviously not!). So I put together a pre-made curry kit (all vegan might I add), but it didn’t taste very nice at all and I somehow got hot sauce in my eye when opening the packet; so not a huge success I must admit!

DAY NINE – WEDNESDAY
On Wednesday, I actually had time have breakfast at home for once, so this was avocado on toast! I can make it at work too, of course, but I rarely ever get up early enough to eat at home. Lunchtime was exciting though as I finally got a chance to try the Gregg’s vegan sausage roll! It was delicious and I was very impressed. Three different people were waiting for them to be cooked whilst I was there and loads of people we’re talking about it in the queue. I love that it’s got people talking. After work, I headed over to see the guy I’m seeing and he made me a vegan stir fry! It was delicious and I was really pleased; he wouldn’t even let me help and made the entire thing by himself. He’s a full-on meat lover and back before Christmas even offered to eat vegan with me every time he saw me in January which I thought was lovely. I told him he didn’t have to do that, but it’s nice that he still made a bit of effort. I think my veganism has rubbed off on him however as since then he’s told me his New Year’s resolution is to cut down on meat and dairy! So that made me really happy – every little helps 😉

DAY TEN – THURSDAY
Today I had a smoothie for breakfast but lunch was pretty disappointing. We had a big meeting at work so my boss got in a platter of sandwiches from M&S…none of which were vegan, of course. I knew this would be the case, so I still made sure to make a sandwich for work (cheese and onion), and had some of the crisps she bought. Not very exciting or varied at all! For dinner tonight I really didn’t have much patience so just grabbed random bits of what was in the freezer – breaded mushrooms, a vegetable pattie, a falafel burger, chips and some vegetables. So random and uninspiring, but it did fill me up and made a bit more space in the freezer.

DAY ELEVEN – FRIDAY
By Friday, I was running out of quick and easy vegan snacks at home, so I literally just packed the most random bits for lunch again. I had a pear, some Chipstix crisps and a Nakd bar – so not much at all! On the way home though, I popped into Sainsbury’s to pick up the vegan katsu curry that everyone has been raving about and ended up buying so many different things from their new vegan range – I was very impressed! Friday night is curry night in the Joy household so I had my vegan katsu curry and just ordered some onion bahjis – a successful evening of yummy food, I would say.

DAY TWELVE – SATURDAY
Saturday – as always – was a bit of a lazy morning for me. I grabbed a quick bowl of cereal before running out to get some basics from ASDA – but I wasn’t too impressed. I struggled to find where everything was kept and they didn’t even have my favourite chocolate bar! I managed to pick up a similar one however. When I got home, I spent most of my afternoon and evening Marie Kondo’ing my room so I just shoved some veggie and mozzarella balls in the oven quickly. I’d picked these up from the new range from Sainsbury’s and had been craving them all day…but when they were ready, it became very clear to me that it was actual mozzarella inside and they weren’t vegan. I contemplated throwing them away and making something else, but I just didn’t have the motivation. I also knew throwing them away and letting them go to waste would be the worst thing, so I sucked it up and chalked it down to an honest mistake: these things happen.

DAY THIRTEEN – SUNDAY
Today I had cereal for breakfast before heading over to my sister’s for Sunday lunch. She did a roast, but I substituted meat for a Linda McCartney pie and still got to have all the veggies. It was nice being able to sit down and have food with everyone else, with just a few subtle swaps to make it vegan. I was worried that following my mistake yesterday, I would easily slip out of veganism like in previous years (it’s a slippery slope after that first mistake!), but I did well!

I also got in some bits and took the time to make a vegan food plan for next week today.

DAY FOURTEEN – MONDAY
For the halfway mark, I had another struggling day as I was out all day in London for work. Although we went to a lovely restaurant, there was only one vegan option available which I did not like and since my boss doesn’t understand veganism, kicking up a fuss or not even eating wasn’t an option. Still, I chose the healthiest options I could and vowed to add another day onto my month of Veganuary to make up for it.

This week I didn’t use a food plan and it didn’t make things too hard at all, I’d say the only thing I struggled with without a food plan was meal prep for work lunches and updating this blog post! So I’ve decided to try again for next week. I am aware that it takes a lot of time and effort – and is likely to change – but hopefully having it there to refer back to will ensure I make healthier and more fulfilling lunch choices.

Have you tried Veganuary? Are you eating less meat this January? Let me know!

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As you all know, I take on the challenge of Veganuary every year. I’ve been an on and off vegan for the last three or so years – but Veganuary is the one time I take it most seriously. I do it for many different reasons – of course for the animals and the environment – but I mainly do it because it makes me feel really healthy and good about myself, which is a great thing to see in the new year!

I have varied content coming up about eating vegan, but here is the first of week being an account/food diary of my first week.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Veganuary 2019 | Week One

DAY ONE – TUESDAY
209 calories over budget.
I’d picked up a few basic vegan bits in advance so my first day of being vegan was stress-free for once! I had avocado on toast for breakfast (of course!) and for dinner I’d grabbed the BBQ Butternut Mac from Tesco’s Wicked range. I can’t say I particularly liked this as the flavour just seemed a bit off to me. It’s a shame because I really love the range from Wicked, I think it’s a great way to grab vegan stuff on the go, if a little pricey. Luckily, I had some garlic ciabatta alongside it, which filled me up. Then for supper, avocado on toast again.

I also decided to try and list my food in my Fitbit app as much as possible this year – not just to help with putting together these posts, but also to get a better grip on what is and isn’t right with what type of foods I’m eating. Today, I was 209 calories over budget but didn’t beat myself up about it too much as I was still easing into the new year and suffering from a cold.

DAY TWO – WEDNESDAY
341 calories under budget.
Today was my first day back at work so I used what was left of my vegan basics and just made myself a cheese and onion sandwich. I was unable to sleep much the night before (due to my cold and having slept in so much over Christmas), so made a stop on the way to work to grab some energy drinks and apple puff pastries from Co-op for breakfast/a treat for the office. Despite this treat for breakfast, I still somehow ended up under budget!

I’d put in a Tesco online shop over the weekend so picked my shopping up this evening – I ended up with tons of vegan goodies and had put together a comprehensive meal plan. For dinner, I had the rest of yesterday’s garlic ciabatta, some roasted vegetables and my infamous vegan pizza – pesto, mushroom and cheese. It was delicious and an old familiar favourite.

DAY THREE – THURSDAY
On Thursday, my cold returned at full menace, just as I thought I was getting over it. I think I’d probably gone back to work too soon and I felt so horrid. I think I probably ate a total of five biscuits in work and that’s about it! I went out for my friend’s leaving do in the evening and though we went to Aqua in Milton Keynes who had tons of vegan stuff. I had focaccia bread for starters and risotto for main – both were really tasty and inexpensive too. Because I wasn’t feeling well and knew my eating habits would be off, I temporarily stopped logging food to my Fitbit today.

DAY FOUR – FRIDAY
Friday saw me having a busy day in the office so paired with my cold, this was another day where I didn’t eat much at all. My boss treated us all to fish and chips for lunch so I just had chips – however, she did bring me back a vegetable and ‘probably vegan’ spring roll. I had to eat it – I couldn’t say no – but for the most part, it seemed vegan. This perhaps counts as a small mishap, but not one I’m being myself up over as it wasn’t intentional.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Veganuary 2019 | Week One

DAY FIVE – SATURDAY
On Saturday, I still felt horrid. I stayed in bed all day, watching TV and playing video games – and I’m ashamed to say all I had to eat was a full pack of Oreos! Later on, I managed a small bowl of mushroom pasta. I just didn’t have any appetite and couldn’t taste anything so could barely manage anything other than that. In hindsight, I should have forced myself to eat something to have more energy because I felt weak for the entire weekend, but when you feel so unwell, you just don’t think about these things.

DAY SIX – SUNDAY
On Sunday, I still felt rough, but not as bad as the day before. My nose was still blocked but overall, I mostly had a stuffy head. I spent most of the morning and afternoon relaxing in bed then at dinner, Dad made a mini roast. I had what I could – roast potatoes and vegetables – then made a mushroom tart to have instead of meat. It was delicious and turned out a lot better than my previous one.

DAY SEVEN – MONDAY
I was still feeling a little rough from the previous night so didn’t overly plan or prep lunch for Monday, even though it was my longest day of the week and I knew I wouldn’t be arriving home till almost 10pm. For lunch, I had the leftover mushroom tart and some chipsticks – not a lot, but I still didn’t have an appetite. I also had a pear (trying to be healthy here!). Despite getting home late, I thought ahead to lunch the following day and decided to make a proper dinner that would allow me leftovers. I made Asian Garlic Tofu with green beans and rice – and it was so good, despite the kitchen being an entire mess after!

To conclude my first week of Veganuary, I have found everything so easy this time around. I have had so much experience doing this now that a lot of things I don’t think twice about – I have a set collection of failsafe recipes I always fall back on (and I haven’t even had stirfry this week!), and I’m much more confident about what products I can and can’t use. I’ve even been telling people how easy it all is!

The only things I’ve struggled with this time around is meal prep really; being unwell or having late nights have left me struggling to find something quick and easy to make when I’m not in the mood to cook. This means I’ve had more (vegan) junk food than I should have, whereas normally I’d be eating a lot more vegetables by now! However, now that I’m feeling better, I’m hoping next week will be different.

Would you ever try Veganuary? Let me know!

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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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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.

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?
Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Veganuary 2017 Conclusion | Vegan | Food Challenge | Veganuary
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.
WHAT NOW?
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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Well, I’ve done it! I’m happy to say I proudly completed Veganuary for the second year in a row, but before I go into how I felt about it overall, here’s my fourth week in review.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Veganuary 2017 | Week Four | Vegan | Food Challenge | Veganuary

SUNDAY 22ND
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.
MONDAY 23RD
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. 
TUESDAY 24TH
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 25TH
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.
THURSDAY 26TH
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 27TH
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.
SATURDAY 28TH
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.
SUNDAY 19TH
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.
MONDAY 30TH
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!
TUESDAY 31ST
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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