The Full Year's Resolution
It's the beginning of 2015, a time for making empty promises to ourselves and our bloated, addled bodies, that we invariably keep for a couple of weeks, tops. Not this year. Not me. I have pledged to undertake a year long challenge - a full year's resolution - attempting a new test for the duration of each month in a bid to achieve my ultimate, underlying resolution: to be more creative, to write more and be more vocal. So every month I will make sacrifices, adjustments to my fairly run-of-the-mill, oft hedonistic, twenty-something advertising creative lifestyle. Some changes may even become permanent if the benefits outweigh the desire to relapse. What will I become? I will document my experiences each week for your information and viewing pleasure, and may even invite suggestions...
Month 1: Veganuary
As some of you may know, January became the designated slot for the latest addition in a tiring list of month-movement portmanteaux: Veganuary. It doesn't really work in my humble opinion, the name I mean. Too many undulating vowels, but it seems to have gained traction and I'm not here to chat nomenclature.
I didn't bother with Stoptober (October birthday - same excuse, works every year), failed Movember (too fair-haired) and if you repeat 'December' enough times in your head, after a while it starts to sound like "Consume everything. Regret nothing", so I did just that and decided instead to bow out of the death industry for the first 31 days of 2015.
The cause is, unquestionably, a worthy one, and more than a hollow New Year's resolution this would be a real challenge - one that might produce benefits I couldn't foresee, both in terms of my wellbeing and vis-a-vis the expansion of my limited culinary repertoire. Science and my family tell me that giving up alcohol will be good for my weight, liver and overall performance. I know that the 4pm chocolate pick-me-up or evening slab of Dairy Milk comes at a price, namely, obesity, spots and - only very occasionally - guilt. But what changes would I notice in myself were I to give up meat, dairy, honey and every other comestible that uses our baying, bleating and buzzing brethren in its production?
I was tired. So tired in fact that on the second day back at work I was 45 minutes late having slept through three alarms. I've also been falling asleep on the sofa at around 8:30pm each night and waking up again at any time between 2 and 5am. Maybe this has something to do with the excitement of being back in the office. Perhaps I'm still catching up on sleep after NYE. For now, I'm putting it down to not being able to satisfy my rampant appetite for black pudding and Haribo. Each time I crave, I quietly sing "kids and grown ups love it so, the terrified screams of Peppa Pig and her chums being systematically destroyed and milked for their gelatine" and I'm fine again.
The others got fish and chips.
I got spots. Not just one lone offender, but a cluster under the corners of my mouth, where my fangs would rest, were I a carnivore, and more bacne than a pasty creature like myself would normally produce. Disgusting. This, I was told, was my body adjusting - pushing the final remnants of animal cruelty out via my sinful dermis.
I was (and still am) learning some surprising things: lots of beer and wine is not vegan (tasty fish swimbladder anyone?); Pombear, according to the website, is not vegan (big fucking sad face); vegan 'cheese' tastes beyond revolting (picture the Laughing Cow's ugly, depressed cousin that stays indoors, sobbing); Quorn is not vegan (eggs innit); there are hundreds of seemingly innocuous everyday products out there that contain things like crushed insects, bones and even sheep's wool (ewe) to add colour, texture or nutritional 'value'. And what's more valuable, that my orange juice contains Omega 3, or the life, dreams and aspirations of the hapless soul that died and was squeezed into my morning glass?
So the weekly food shop does actually does take about a week with all the reading packaging I have to do before Googling suspicious-sounding ingredients that may or may not once have had a mother.
How do I feel now the first week is over? Shockingly normal, given the fairly drastic changes I've made. As is expected of a higher fibre and lower protein diet, I'm hungrier more quickly after eating. I miss certain foods a lot, but cravings are easy to overcome. Most of all I know I've achieved something and have, as I'd hoped, been cooking more and with - perhaps paradoxically - more diverse ingredients. So this weekend, to congratulate myself, I'm going to make an enormous Hannah Banana Bakery tofu vegan snickers cake and demolish the whole fucking thing, with no hands.