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Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, the day after Shrove Tuesday, more famously known in the UK as Pancake Day, or in the US, Fat Tuesday, or for some Mardi Gras. The idea is that Christians use up all their more luxurious foodstuffs that have a fat content (which provides the ingredients for rich foods) on Shrove Tuesday, and live on basic rations on the run up to Easter. It is a 40 day period, but as Saturdays are not counted in the 40 days, it amounts to 46. Christians would then use this period of fasting as a time of contemplation and reflection on how much we have in our home country, compared with some other parts of the globe where food is scarce. Some Christians may also reflect on what Jesus gave up, but dying on the cross.
I am not particularly Christian, and tend to think of myself as Agnostic. I was brought up with the strong moral compass of a Christian, so some habits do die hard. However, I do like to set myself challenges, and had been considering Veganism as a lifestyle choice for a couple of years. Lent offered itself as a good time to give it a try, while having the support of others who were also going through a 'fast' of their own.
It is widely accepted by the medics that we all eat too much of animal products, and vegetarians (as in a UK vegetarian, formerly known as LactoOvo Vegetarian, who eats eggs and dairy) are generally just transferring from eating flesh to just animal products. It is still a diet dependent on farming and cruelty.
Where Veganism differs from Vegetarianism, is regarding dairy and eggs. Also, a vegan is generally far more concerned about the use of leather, silk, wool, lanolin, soap, where multivitamins are sourced from, and animal testing. The reasoning behind Veganism, is that the dairy trade supports the veal trade, as there is no other use for the young male calves delivered from the dairy cow. Sad.
This period of Lent has seen me changing my shower gel and soap, and scrutinising everything I am using. My brother in law, was trying to 'catch me out' by saying that my shoes, purse and handbag were made of leather. There was no evidence to the contrary, but actually, they are made of very good PVC!
Liz Earle based on the Isle of Wight, produces an exceptionally good range of toiletries at decent cost, which have no animal extracts in them.
So with all of this in mind, I started this food diary with other thoughts, collected along the way. Now reader, you might find this diary section a tad boring, so I won't judge you if you skim through it!
Tea with Alpro Soya milk and Porridge. This is chilled Alpro off the milkman (Ironic) and not a long life version. It tastes slightly sweetened and with a tinge of vanilla. Not sure I will always want this, as it might get a bit sickly after a while. Tea with some Oatly milk in it - tea tasted a bit strong, but ok. Prefer the Oatly milk as a drink on its own. It made coffee taste quite nice though, so will try that again. Lunch was banana, marmite sandwich, and soya yogurt. Munched some grapes through the day; evening meal, spaghetti in a tomato sauce and spicy bean burger. today has gone well.
Day two: Started well, and very early as childminding Freya and Taylor. Early morning cuppa with Oatly milk (have emailed them as no Vegan sign on the box) Toast and jam. Lunch time a very garlicky cous cous (won't buy that one again!). Dinner, home made veggie curry and rice. Tea with oatly or soya milk all day.
Porridge with water, and tea with soya milk. Grapes through the morning at work and black tea. Marmite sandwiches, soya yogurt for lunch. Afternoon snack of banana. I got really hungry and was craving a biscuit, as I would normally have a biscuit mid morning and mid afternoon to give a sugar rush, and the fruit just doesn't do it for me. Had a couple of bread sticks, then dinner tonight of a rice noodle black bean meal, with tin of mixed beans and tofu. Yummy!
Starting to really miss my dairy products. Want to have proper milk in my tea and to eat Alpen with milk. Still, onwards I go. Today I started with porridge again made with hot water, and tea with soya milk. Set a rice pudding going in the slow cooker with oatly millk. For lunch I have had half an avocado with tomato in whole meal bread. Tasty! Early evening, I got the munchies, so had a water biscuit and some hummous. I popped out to Tescos in the afternoon, also, and stocked up with some more food for snacks and lunch, as I find fruit a bit much.
I was pleased that the Free From range,which I had assumed was just for a gluten free diet, had several items for Vegans also. Two packets of Vegan shortbread,and a pack of Vegan ginger nuts were purchased and popped into my work bag for my work snacks. I also got a couple of bags of nuts and raisins for snack treats (although, as I am on a calorie controlled diet, also, I need to be quite strict with how much I eat at a serving!). The evening was finished off with Vinnie wanting an Indian takeaway. Indian food is usually ok, as several of the Asian cultures depend on a Vegan or vegetarian diet anyway, so the only problem here was that I ate far more calories than I should have. Sigh.... all my good work down the drain. Biriani with the accompanying veg curry (far too many potatoes for my liking) and some Peshwari naan. Vinnie ate most of the side dishes, and I couldn't get through my Biriani anyway, as my stomach has shrunk for too much dieting. Lager though! sigh... again.......
Cuppa in bed with Soya milk. I have decided that I really am fed up with the soya milk that I have, as it is slightly sweetened and has vanilla. Fine in coffee, but too sweet for tea. I have reordered the milk man to deliver the light unsweetened version, which will be preferable now that I have got more used to the change of milk. I had the sweetened version on my weetabix, and it tasted ok, but again, I have sickened myself of it, so will try alternatives.
I am eating the second half of my Peshwari Naan for lunch - so tasty - but highly calorific. Will have to do some exercising today, methinks!
The slow cooked rice pudding (made with Oatly milk) looks a bit odd. It has gone a very striking beige colour, lol! It will probably taste ok. I have put it in the fridge to chill down ready for pud tonight. Vinnie has been to town and bought Vegideli Gourmet Meat Free Fish Style Fingers - we both used to love Fish Finger sandwiches when young, so he thought these might fit the bill! They were realy nice (but expensive) and we sloshed Vegan Worcestershire style sauce on them (was more like a soy sauce). The new Light Soya milk is much nicer for my tea, so have changed my milkman order now to deliver that.
Fruit compote in the slow cooker to go with the vegan rice pud later on. And a glass of Japanese Plum Wine.
Day Six: Weetabix with soya milk - quite nice. Cuppa with soya. Off to work, and forgot to take my milk! So every cup of tea today during work hours was a black one. Not too bad. Had to drive to Putney to visit a hospital, and one of the clients said shops own soya milk was better than Alpro, so I might try that next time. The light version is much nicer, though. Mid morning snack was a Free From biscuit. Lunch was half an avocado mashed for my sandwich and sqirted with lemon to keep it green. Banana; Alpro yoghurt. Dinner was a few oven chips, and meat free fish fingers, and mushy peas (lazy night!). I also finished off the spiced fruit compote from the slow cooker. Two cups of tea with soya.
Day seven: Started with a hot cross bun iwth a little bit of soya marg. Cuppa with soya milk. Diet then went out of the window! Two Free From biscuits; Marmite sandwich and soya yogurt for lunch. Banana mid afternoon. Several cups of tea with soya milk. Then, late working forced our hand in abandoning the kitchen and having veggie burger (in a bap, doh!) and greasy old chips. Bad bad day for my calorie controlled diet.
Day eight Weetabix and soya milk. Long drive to Surrey, review meeting, and drive home meant a packed lunch enroute. I had a mashed avocado in wholemeal bread sandwich; soya yogurt, and a ginger nut biscuit from Free From range. Biscuit was so solid, I couldn't get my teeth through it, so was discarded for the birds to have a go! Black tea at the review meeting; then off to sign language evening class with some orange juice in my bag. At 9.30, finally home, and Vinnie had cooked mashed potatoes (used soya milk and marg) cabbage, carrots, and a nut burger. I made some veggie gravy. Yum yum!!
Day nine Started with weetabix again with soya (and sugar, natch!). black tea; then yogurt mid morning as still hungry. Off out to daughter's and had marmite on toast, and a biscuit. Home to a veggie curry and naan. Tea with soya throughout the day. Accidentally had a bit of a freefrom chocolate muffin (dairy free) before realising there was egg in it, doh!!
Day ten. Weetabix for breakfast with soya light milk. Then a freefrom shortbread biscuit. Lunch on the run - marmite sandwiches. Evening, and had the slow cooked veggie stew with soya mince (Tesco meat free) that I cooked in the slow cooker yesterday (but hadn't told Vinnie, who then bought the curry). cuppas all through the day, and some hot tropical squash, too.
Day 11. Weetabix again. Kitchen needed emptying as friend coming to tile it. Lunch was marmite sarny and a banana. Evening was at Shirley's and I had jacket spud with baked beans; salad; Fallofel balls (had competition as the boys thought they tasted of bharjies) and glass of wine. Rich tea biscuits to fill the sweet breach, and they are vegan too!
Day 12 Weetabix (must find something else to eat!); Foccacia bread with avocado and salad for lunch. Banana on toast for evening snack, and then jam on toast at Hatfield when dropping Amy back. Black tea.
Weetabix and soya (yawn) tea with soya. Went to work, and horror of horrors, forgot to take my soya milk. Had black tea all day, which got a tad boring. Friend at work had brough in a home baked cream coated sponge cake. Had to resist despite it being in my eye line for the whole day. Went down with a cold from the little grandchildren, but might have fought it off better if I had my usual diet, or maybe not. Who knows?! Anyway, mashed avocado in brown bread sarnie; soya yogurt; banana. Then home and Vinnie cooked a few oven chips,a butternut and nut burger, and some baked beans. Then gave me another yogurt - couldn't resist eating it. Had a few fruit and nuts from a bag, and a lemsip. Bed time now.
Not feeling too well today as have picked up a cold and sore throat with accompanying head ache. Started with the usual Weetabix and soya milk. Had a lemsip. Had a banana mid morning. lunch was marmite and grilled tomato on toast. Hot cross bun mid afternoon as I got hungry. Dinner was Gnochi with courgettes, leeks, and tomato sauce. Vinnie had some vegetarian sausages, too. ( I didn't as they weren't vegan).
Day 15. Weetabix and soya milk. Lemsip. Lunch was marmite sandwiches, with a soya yogurt, and a banana. Mid afternoon was a freefrom shortbread (made with soya marge and soya flour); evening meal was cooked by Vinne and consisted of waffles (I gave one away) sweet corn, and vegan sausage rolls.
Had to childmind little ones all day so food on the go. Weetabix and soya milk, and cuppa tea. Banana mid morning; marmite sandwiches for lunch. some grapes in the afternoon; then, more veggie sausage rolls, chips and purple sprouting broccolli for dinner. yummy! Cups of tea all day with soya milk.
Day 17. Weetabix and soya milk. Marmite sandwiches (gotta get that B12) banana, then a Alpro vanilla desert. A couple of freefrom biscuits, then evening meal of Foccacia bread, veggie spring rolls and salad. Drinks of squash all day, as well as cuppas with soya milk.
Day 18 - Day of marching in London, so bit strange! Started the day with two crumpets and soya marge and a cuppa tea. Then grazed on mini bags of fresh fruit from Tesco; bag of Walkers crisps - ready salted, and ok. Then had my homemade sarnie of avocado on brown (there was no vegan sarnie in Tesco). Also, at points through the day, I was munching freefrom shortbread biscuits. In the evening, we found ourselves in Pret A Manger, and I was able to order a soya milk Latte. Once we got back to Maidstone, we were starving, so stopped in the chippy and go a large bag of chips each, with a wally gherkin!
Day 19. Started well, with one crumpet and soya marge (Pure). But.... failed when went out to lunch. Had a starter as a main (corn fingers with guacomole and salsa) but when it came to desert, I had a waffle and ice cream. I asked if there was anything dairy free at all, but there wasn't. So black mark against today. Finished off this evening with banana on toast, and some fruit and nuts from a bag.
Weetabix and soya milk, cuppa. Shortbread freefrom biscuit mid morning; Marmite sandwiches and a soya yogurt; Plum. dinner of mashed pots, green beans, leeks, and a butternut squash burger. Black tea all day as forgot to take milk to work.
Weetabix with soya milk and a cuppa. Mid morning freefrom biscuit again. Marmite sandwiches - again, and Alpro yogurt - agan. This afternoon I ate some grapes and had a plum. Homeward from work and when I got in, I heated up the Weight Watcher spicy curry and rice that had no remnants of animals in it. Quite a hot curry, and very tasty, plus low calories, so a winner for me!
Weetabix, soya milk, cuppa tea. Few grapes mid morning; Marmite sandwiches for lunch; Soya Creme Caramel - yummy! Plum; two slices of toast and jam (no marge), then Vinnie cooked a stodgy dinner for after evening class - Ready-made chips'n'curry sauce and served with spring rolls. *fail* accidentally had milk in tea.
Wholemeal toast, wth sunflower Pure marge (made a change from Pure soya marge) with Cherry jam. Cuppa with soya milk. Went out for lunch with a friend and had a soya latte; a carrot and corrianda soup (was vegan) a bread roll, and then a fresh fruit salad. Yum. Then for evening meal, cous cous, nut burger, and sweet corn. All very yummy!
Made some homemade hummous, but decided it was too garlicky to eat at lunchtime as in a car with a colleague for most of the day. So, breakfast was toast and jam; lunch was marmite sandwiches again, and a soya yogurt. plus cups of tea with soya milk. Freefrom biscuits in the afternoon, then home for a dinner which was a stodge fest again, with oven chips, nut burger, and frozen peas. Had a glass of Mead that I bought Vinnie for his birthday - doh!! Fail - it is made with honey!
Fed up with diet today - got family round tonight, and having difficulty thinking what I can eat which won't be too different from the rest. And, I will miss out on the birthday cake - not happy!! So started the day with weetabix with Hemp milk. Tasty. Then, had the homemade hummous on pitta bread for lunch. Cooked a mammoth 'indoor' bbq full of dead animals, for the family; Quorn versions for the lacto vegetarians; vegan burgers in baps for me. Salad, baked beans, chips and grilled tomatoes on the side. Then...... I just couldn't not eat the birthday cake when it came to it. Fail again!!
Trying to be better today. Started with toast, dairy free marge, and raspberry jam (homemade I think by my sister in France). Lunch was some leftovers, so bread rolls, salad, baked beans and grilled tomatoes. Strange concoction, but was tasty. Visited mum in care home, and took some chocolates. Had to pretend to be on a diet when she offered me some as she would not understand about a vegan diet, as she has never understood the vegetarian diet and why I don't eat animals. Evening meal was not a meal. It was beans on toast.
Thirteen more days! Toast and jam for breakfast with cuppa. Mid morning, had the freefrom shortbread biscuit; marmite sandwich, plum, some grapes and a soya fruit yogurt. Evening meal was a Spaghetti Bolognese made with tinned mushrooms, tomatoes, tinned fried onions and Tesco meat free mince with a hefty burst of black pepper, basil and salt. I also found some Parmezano which is vegan parmesan cheese which tasted ok!
Day started again with Weetabix and Hemp millk. Cuppa with soya milk. Mid morning with soya biscuit. Lunch, marmite sandwiches, soya fruit yogurt, pear, and a plum. Mid afternoon, had to have some sugar in some lemon and ginger tea. Evening meal, I made a tofu in black bean sauce with noodles. Very filling.
Weetablix with Rice milk. Long day today, and didn't want the gripes at work, so made white bread marmite sandwiches, and took in some Rich Tea biscuits (vegan friendly!!); rest of lunch was a babies fruit pot, rather than a soya yogurt, and a plum. Came home at 9.30pm and Vincent had made a large slow cooked lentil stew. Very tasty and filling (because there was so much!).
Day 30. Had an exam in British Sign Language. Didn't eat breakfast as too nervous. Had Jenny, Freya and Taylor over for lunch, and made myself an avocado baguette with lettuce and tomato in it. Folllowed by some gingerbread men from Tesco (vegan friendly) and some strawberries and blueberries. For evening meal, had a nut burger, oven chips and peas - boring. lots of cuppas with rice milk.
Day 31 Weetabix with soya milk and cuppa. Work today, so Rich Tea biscuits mid morning; Lunch Avocado in brown bread, with sunflower vegan marge. Alpro fruit yoghurt. Plum; two gingerbread men biscuits from Tesco. Then... Vinnie bought a large Indian takeaway. So, Veg curry, rice, naan, poppadom, onion bhaji and garlic mushrooms. I couldnt check the ingredients, so hope that they were vegan. Blueberries in the evening too.
Day 32 (the end is in sight!)
Started with.... yes, you guessed it... Weetabix and rice milk. Cuppa with soya milk. Went into town, and so for lunch, had an apple pie (yes, I know, I forgot about the pastry!) and a soya milk latte. Walked all over Maidstone collecting stuff and queuing in the bank (dodgy £20 note). Then home, and ate a couple of Gingerbread men and some blueberries while doing housework. Evening meal was reheated leftover Indian from last night. I think I prefer leftovers - always more tasty from marinading in the fridge for so long. And a glass of white wine to finish off. Yummy.
Weetabix and rice milk. Cuppa with soya milk. Couple of gingerbread men,too, lol. Then for lunch, a plate of salad with kidney beans and new potatoes, so very healthy.
Oh yes, I had an email back from the Oatly people to say that Oatly milk, along with their other products, are Vegan. Great.
Also, had an email from Riverford Organic Farm to say that their calves are sold on to be read as cattle herd and not sold on for veal. Good news, to a point.
Evening meal, not so healthy, but needed the carbs, so have a few oven chips in whole meal bread sandwich. Then a plum for pud.
Toast and jam; then we went to lunch in Rochester High Street, to Peggatie's Parlour. Very nice but limited in Vegan options. while watching Vinnie tucking into allsorts, I have mushrooms on toast (no butter on toast) and a diet coke. I then nabbed some of Vinnie's salad to pad out my plate. He then had bread pud and custard (yum, but not for me) while I abstained from pud and had a lemon and ginger tea.
Back home and I had a plate of salad and some oven chips.
Weetabix and soya milk. Then to work. So had the left over salad with a slice of wholemeal bread for lunch; some rich tea biscuits with my cuppas (with soya milk). Came home late and Vinnie cooked dinner - Polenta cubed with cubed aubergine, and tomatoes with seasoning, stir fried with a nut burger. Soya caramel desert for pud.
Day 36 (thought it was going to stop at day 40, but no, it goes on till day 46 - sorry to bore you all!)
Started with toast, Vitalite marg, and home made blackberry jam. Cuppa tea with soya milk. At work, had two rich tea biccies mid morning before going out on visits (have to keep my blood sugar up or I faint!). Lunch, and marmite on white bread sarnies; a pear (very juicy) and a pot of vanilla soya dessert. Evening meal of stir fried pepper and veg; rice noodles, caudron tofu (yummy) and a sweet and sour source. Very nicely washed down with 2 glasses of white wine. Mmmm.
Hot cross bun with Vitalite marg. A rich tea biscuit at morning break. Lunch was avocado sandwich and a pear. Evening was some Indian ready meal items with a Cauldron Lentil Dahl and a half a peshwari naan.
Hot cross bun and vitalite. Rich tea biscuit. Then avocado sandwich again for lunch. An apple. Then Vinnie cooked a pasta, sweetcorn, and purple sprouting broccolli mixture with a Linda McCartney sausage roll (which he assured me he had checked for no animal products). Yummy.
Sigh.... hot cross bun and marge. Avocado sandwich. another hot cross bun. I have a sore throat and feel a bit yuk. Waffles, bean burger and some tinned peas tonight. Yum?!
Day40. Had to go to Herts to day. so a bit random. Had weetabix for breakfast, then a hot cross bun with a smidgeon of dairy free marge. Then onto Nandos at The Galleria,and had fries, and a medium Veggie burger in a pitta, and also, finished off Amy's green salad, as her tum was too sore. Diet coke. Back home, and had a slice of toast and marmite in the evening, and a soya yogurt.
Weetabix and soya milk, cuppa. Rich tea biscuit mid morning. Then there was a work party, so had some hummous and wholemeal bread with DF marge, a plum; some strawberries; some pineapple. And some peanuts. Dinner was oven chips, with a vegetable burger (minced vegetables, not soya) and more cuppas in the evening.
Weetabix with soya milk. Work still had so many goodies on display, and a big birthday cake, but none for me. Had a few peanuts and some Japanese peanuts, before going on a long drive to Putney. Then a bagel with marmite and DF marge. An apple; Then baked Portobello Mushroom with a splodge of hummous and topped with tomato in the oven, with soem baked onions, and a pile of Falofels, all served on a toasted bagel.
Toasted bagel with smidgeon of jam; cuppa. Rich tea biscuits, Marmite wholemeal sarnie for lunch with an apple and drink of juice; Then, work had some lunch items, so had some hummous on wholemeal rolls mid afternoon. Came home and Vinnie cooked spaghetti in a tomato base , and served with a nut cutlet. Finished off with a fruit soya yoghurt. All very nice, but have exceeded my 1500 calories today, I am sure!
Weetabix and soya milk; cuppa tea. Had a busy day looking after toddlers, so not easy. some cuppas during the morning with Rich Tea biscuits. Went to Tiny Town, and had pitta with hummous. I accidentally bought a soya hot pot in Tesco, that turned out to have milk in it, so had to think of something easy to get myself as everyone else had pizza and salad. So... twice in a day, I had hummous in a whole meal roll and some salad.
Day 45 (one more to go!)
Hot cross buns as it is Good Friday. Warmed slowly in the over, and spread with DF marge. I have really liked having the Pure marge made with sunflower oil. There is the soya version, but my digestion can't cope. Lunch, and my diet continued to go to pot as Vinnie went to the chippy and came back to make us chip sarnies with lashings of vinegar and salt, and ketchup. Yum yum. For evening meal, I made a salad with balsamic vinegar and large mushrooms baked again with hummous and tomatoes. Finished of with a bottle of Becks - I am so classy!
Day 46 - Last day!!
I started with a phone call from Vinnie asking me if I wanted Brunch at Wetherspoons in Maidstone. Bit random as they won't have much by way of Vegan, but I agreed to meet him there at 11am. So starved myself until I go there. Had a diet coke, and a cup of tea with two slices of toast. I took my own DF marge in a container. And the soya milk in a container, too. Then when the plate arrived, I gave Vinnie the fried egg and the sausage (was a cheesey based sausage). That left me with three hash browns, some baked beans, a mushroom, and a fried tomato. With the toast that was yummy. I had the second slice of toast with my marge and the jam provided.
No lunch (as had brunch) and for evening meal, nut cutlets (ASDA) and oven chips. Yummy.