Reluctant Veganuary

At the end of last year, my eldest asked me if I wanted to do Veganuary with him. I didn’t.

I’ve been vegetarian since I was 17. We initially raised our eldest without red meat, and he’d rejected chicken and fish by the time he was about 5. So he has been vegetarian for most of his life.

I am very happy being a vegetarian. You can tell me that it’s healthier and better for the environment for me to be vegan. I’m not going to argue about that. But I have no plans to give up cheese any time soon. I am satisfied with what I’m doing for both my own health and for the planet.

But I knew that, as the only other vegetarian in the house, I was going to end up being nearly vegan for most of January.

I actually have very little dairy, so I’m not a million miles off vegan anyway. I don’t drink milk or eat butter or ice cream. I eat soya yogurts and I rarely even eat milk chocolate.

But I do love cheese.

My son went into Veganuary feeling very positive. There are so many vegan products out there now. And the vegan cheese would DEFINITELY be better than it used to be.

It wasn’t.

It is made of coconut and, according to him, smells really strongly of coconut. I didn’t even dare try it. We checked some different varieties of cheese in the supermarket. All of them were made of coconut.

So he was going to live without cheese for a month.

My son is a very big milk drinker. He drinks three things – coffee, milk and water. And he doesn’t really like water. So he drinks a lot of milk.

He tried a couple of alternatives to milk and didn’t like them. Some of them are also scarily high in calories. Now I know we are all enlightened about calories etc these days, but when you change your diet, you do need some idea of how much you are actually consuming.

The least offensive milk alternative for him turned out to be simple Alpro Soya. It comes in 1 litre cartons, costing in the range of £1 to £1.60 per carton, depending on where you buy it and whether it is on offer. We usually pay just over £1 for 4 pints of milk.

My son, like most teenage boys, is a big snacker. He discovered that most of the things he snacks on have some egg or dairy in them. So he was mainly snacking on toast with Flora (he would much rather have butter!). He didn’t want to eat dark chocolate, he wanted chocolate that tasted like milk chocolate, but didn’t actually contain milk.

We usually eat a lot of Quorn. Remarkably, Quorn isn’t vegan (although they do a small vegan range which is almost never available in the supermarket) as it contains egg. But there are a number of ranges of vegan meat alternatives available these days, which all taste very nice. And cost about twice as much as Quorn.

Within the first few days of Veganuary, we’d discovered we had a lot to learn about being vegan. And it was very clear to us that being vegan isn’t a cheap option. As my son is earning money and living at home rent-free, I’m not inclined to subsidise his expensive eating habits. It is also tempting to tell him to cook his own food, as we are already doing a meat version and a vegetarian version of most meals. But the reality is that will just mean additional mess in the kitchen that we really don’t want or need.

I’m going with the flow and letting him try things out, but my husband is adamant he doesn’t want him to stay vegan after January. It would certainly make my life easier if he didn’t. There is a big part of me that hopes he will miss milk, cheese and eggs too much and we can go back to an easier life.

If he wants to go vegan permanently, he can wait until he moves out!

Veganuary, Vegan, Burger

Photo by Deryn Macey on Unsplash

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. How interesting. I think a lot of people are put off going vegan because of their love for cheese. I was allergic to cheese for most of my teen years, it gave me migraines so it wouldn’t be a big miss for me but I do drink a lot of milk.
    I always thought Quorn was vegan too.
    Being vegan does sound like an expensive choice. Eek x

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    • You definitely wouldn’t miss cheese in that case. I hate milk and don’t think I could drink it for anything! I suppose vegan isn’t expensive compared to eating meat, but we are used to buying cheaper food for the vegetarians. The milk alternatives are much more expensive than milk too.

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  2. Sarah,

    What a lot of complication and cost, from an apparently small simple change!
    I don’t think I’ve ever tried vegan cheese. If it’s made of coconut I probably shan’t bother.
    Sometimes I keep soya milk (rating: 4 out of 10) or oat milk (rating: 2 out of 10) in stock, but only in case I run out of proper milk.
    Years ago at an ethnic restaurant I ate quorn masquerading as chicken. Very naughty of the proprietors!

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    • That’s very naughty to serve Quorn if you tell customers it’s actually chicken! I’m glad my son is drinking the soya milk as it is the cheapest of the dairy alternatives, but still a lot more expensive than milk. The vegan meat alternatives probably cost a similar amount to meat, but we are used to buying Quorn, which is considerably cheaper.

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  3. I’m like you, I hardly have dairy or eggs but I like the option of having them if I want to. I do find that I prefer just to leave out meat alternatives, I’m never overly keen on them. I like to use things like lentils, beans and different grains instead. We do use veggie / vegan meat alternatives though because my husband buys them. I quite like the burgers. Interestingly, Iceland do a good range of vegan stuff, morrison’s aren’t bad either. Have you and your son had a gregg’s vegan sausage roll during veganuary? I’m not even sure if greggs is open during lockdown but I do quite like them!

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    • It’s nice to hear that you are similar to me with your food – it’s easier just to have the option to eat things with milk and eggs in them.
      We all love Gregg’s vegan sausage rolls! Even the meat eaters prefer them. We’ve always used a lot of Quorn – for bolognese, curry, chilli etc. It just makes cooking easy as we always have some in the freezer. I need to learn about using things like lentils as it’s not something I’ve ever used.

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  4. I have tried to go vegan a few times and now have coconut milk in my Costa . It is expensive and complicated – not knowing that some things aren’t vegan that I would expect to be.

    Admirable that your son has given it a go.

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    • Thanks very much. It must be hard doing it as a meat eater. I would definitely recommend being vegetarian first.
      We’re gradually getting the hang of it, but it is more expensive than I was expecting. I’m very reliant on Quorn and we always have plenty in the freezer. It means I can always make a variety of meals very easily. Without that, things get a bit more complicated!
      My son is now saying he’s going to stay vegan, which I’m not that pleased about to be honest.

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