This is the second time I have done veganuary. For me, it’s a great way to start the year with careful thought and discipline when it comes to food (after a month of Christmas feasting). As someone who cares deeply about the environment and tries to tread lightly on the planet, spending the first month of the year as a vegan helps me to re-focus on tackling injustice and being kind to the planet.
In 2019, I made it to the end of January, reasonably unscathed, with cravings for cheese only kicking in during the final week. I learnt a lot about myself, not least that I could in fact (shock) survive without eating dairy. However, being new to the vegan lifestyle last year I found that I shopped for convenience (I mean, who doesn’t) buying expensive meat and dairy substitutes to the detriment of my bank balance. My food bill pretty much doubled, which not only makes January quite a squeeze, but also creates bigger implications for the accessibility of veganism. It left me wondering whether eating ethically and sustainably is a privilege only afforded to those who are more affluent.
Lifestyle change on a budget
This year I’m on a mission to try veganism on a budget. I want to see if it’s a diet available to all and not just those with bigger paychecks. For me, this means less convenience food and more time spent cooking at home, meal planning and thinking ahead. Something that’s certainly a challenge for anyone with a hectic lifestyle. But so far so good – normal life hasn’t quite kicked off yet and at the time of writing, things are only just starting to crawl back into action after the Christmas break. In this small window of time I’ve tried out a few recipes and eaten some Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice cream (delicious – but it will cost you your right arm). Looking ahead, I’m feeling positive at the precipice of week two (and particularly about trying out the new Greggs vegan steak bake).
Every week of January, I am also going to share my favourite vegan recipe, so if you’re doing veganuary, or fancy going vegan for just for one meal, you can get involved too.
Recipe of the week:
Red Lentil Bolognese (from A Girl Called Jack)
- 1 onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 carrot
- 1 tablespoon oil
- a fistful of fresh thyme
- a fistful of fresh parsley
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 50ml red wine
- 1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
- 100g dried brown or red lentils, rinsed
- optional: 2 tablespoons tomato purée or tomato ketchup, to thicken the sauce
Peel and slice the onion, peel and crush the garlic, and put both into a large sauté or non-stick frying pan. Wash the carrot then grate into the pan and add the oil. Put on a low heat and fry gently, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
Chop the herbs then add to the carrot, onion and garlic in the pan.
When the onions are softened, crumble in the stock cube and add the wine, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée or ketchup, if using, and lentils. Stir in and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are al dente (I like them to have a bit of a bite). You may need to add a small teacup of water if the sauce looks too dry, but use your judgement.
Once the lentils are done, it’s ready to serve.