Mid-Veganuary Updates

Spoon Guru’s CEO, Markus, has been participating in Veganuary this year. We’re nearly at the end of the month now, and here’s what he had to say about his experience:

I have been a vegetarian for more than 20 years now. I initially had no particular interest in participating in Veganuary, but three things happened that changed my mind.
  1. I attended a press event organised by the Veganuary organisation last December, which brought home some key messages. The main one for me was that even a meat free vegetarian diet still has considerable environmental impact, for example it takes 1,000 litres of water to produce just one litre of milk.
  2. They served a ton of vegan food at the event, which was absolutely delicious.
  3. Our Community Manager and Chief Vegan, Sarah, gave a pep talk to everyone in the Spoon Guru office before Christmas and put together a great Vegan survival pack to get us all started.

    image: Veganary

So how hard could it be to go vegan for a month?

Well, here are 9 findings of my experience so far:
  1. I thought giving up cheese would be the hard bit – that it was actually quite easy. And I was a self confessed cheese addict. I now either use vegan cheese where cheese is essential (pizza, obviously), or simply eat something else. The cheese craving almost disappeared immediately.
  2. I am worried about travelling a little. Being a vegan in London is pretty easy. But how much hassle will it be to maintain the diet in other countries or to visit my parents for a few days? My mum’s idea of a vegetarian dish is to remove the chicken from the soup…
  3. The hardest thing has been given up chocolate, and cakes. There I said it. I love sweet things, so finding suitable supplies when out and about has been difficult.
  4. The limitation has actually made home cooking more fun – you need to be more selective, but the quality of the meals I am cooking is so much better, and it’s actually delicious. I am a crap cook, just ask my wife, but my vegan Spanish omelette, quite frankly, is a sensation.

  5. Eating out is only a tiny bit more difficult, but all the restaurants so far have been incredibly accommodating.
  6. There is a high ‘get it’ factor amongst the people in the catering industry. There is no raised eyebrow or “attitude” when I explain my dietary requirements. Again, how will this differ from city to city, or country to country I do not know.
  7. I feel great! I was worried about a lack of energy or other “side effects”, but I feel actually more energised and healthy since adopting the vegan diet.
  8. I love being part of the community – the facts, infos, tips and tricks that are being shared across social are incredible valuable and I very much enjoy being part of a movement that seems to be gathering great momentum around the world.
  9. There is a ton of aspirational products and meals available already, and clearly a lot more are coming into the market at a surprising speed. Even Aldi is getting in on the action!

Image: Tesco

I have now decided to stay vegan beyond Veganuary, and I am really looking forward to discovering how the food industry will responds to this rapidly increasing demand for vegan foods.

– Markus, CEO

Louise is one of our Nutritionists participating in Veganuary this year. We’re half way through now, and here’s what she has to say:

I, along with a number of my fellow  Gurus, have taken on the challenge that is Veganuary. 64% of the world’s population follow some kind of exclusion diet, whether it’s a lifestyle choice, or for medical or religious reasons. At Spoon Guru we aim to make it easier for consumers to find products and recipes based on their dietary needs, and as a Nutritionist I need to have a lot of knowledge around a variety of dietary requirements. Veganuary was a great opportunity for me to put myself in the shoes of our users to understand the difficulties that those following this particular diet face on a daily basis. As I tend to eat animal products with most meals, I was also looking forward to exploring foods that I wouldn’t usually try and increasing my culinary repertoire.

Now that I’m half way through, I wanted to share the four main things I’ve learned from my experience so far.

  1. Preparation is key
    As my regular weekly meals usually include meat, dairy or eggs, I thought it would be easy enough to replace the chicken in my burrito with extra beans, or opt for tofu in my stir fry instead of meat. However, this is easier said than done, and on some occasions I was worried that I wasn’t getting a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet. I soon realised that more imagination was needed.  It’s important to have a number of different recipes to try that are tasty, satisfying, and nutritious.

  2. New Ingredients
    With new recipes to try came new ingredients to buy! Although there were many products that I was surprised I could eat, there were a number of pantry staples that I couldn’t. Unfortunately this meant my first shop was pretty expensive. It also wasn’t something I could quickly go and do on my lunch break, as I needed much more time to check the ingredients lists. Allergens like milk and eggs can be easy enough to spot, but ingredients like Vitamin D can be missed. I found the Spoon Guru app made shopping a lot quicker and easier as I could just scan barcodes to see whether or not a product was suitable. Now that I am halfway through, with a couple of vegan shops under my belt and well equipped with recipes, shopping is much more enjoyable!

  3. Accessibility
    Another thing I have found is that where you live can determine the ease at which you are able to live this lifestyle. London, for example, is well catered for vegans. There’s an abundance of vegan friendly restaurants, so eating out with friends or family is an enjoyable experience. The supermarket shelves are also well stacked with different ingredients, plant based substitutes, and other vegan convenience food.Although I spend the majority of my time living and working in central London, I go back to Birmingham most weekends, and this I found more difficult. The couple of times I’ve eaten out there, the vegan dishes were either uninspiring or non-existent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I could ask places to adapt a dish for me, but this felt too difficult and is something I might consider further into the month. On the other hand, supermarkets are getting there, particularly the larger ones, but i think there’s still a long way to go.

  4. Other people are not doing Veganuary!
    Other challenges I found this month were all around the smaller moments in everyday life. Things like cooking separately with my boyfriend, forgetting to bring non-dairy milk with me when visiting my nan for a cuppa, and my flatmate bringing home Krispy Kreme doughnuts which, no matter how much I wished they were, simply were not vegan.

I have to be honest, these first two weeks haven’t been easy for me. However, having now reached the halfway point I’m more confident shopping for vegan food (thanks Spoon Guru!), and I’ve been introduced to a whole range of foods that I hadn’t tried before. The next step now is gaining the confidence when eating out to request vegetarian dishes without the non-vegan ingredients! Oh, and remembering to take my own milk with me when visiting my nan.

-Louise, Spoon Guru Nutritionist

Most people, at some point, have made a New Year’s resolution. This year a number of Spoon Guru’s non-vegan team members have resolved to take up the Veganuary challenge and give up all animal products for the first month of the year. And they’re a little nervous about it.

The reasons for this decision are varied, from concerns around the environment and animal welfare, to simply wanting the personal challenge. As with any major lifestyle change it may not be an easy transition, and we anticipate that the three biggest hurdles will be existing dietary limitations, convenience foods, and of course cheese.

Lucky for us there’s an app that can help!

Keep an eye on our blog to see how we go, and if you’re doing Veganuary as well we’d love to hear how you’re getting on!

If you haven’t signed up to Veganuary yet, sign up here.