First things first, if you’ve been doing Veganuary and have made it this far – I applaud you. It’s not an easy feat, especially during this cold, grey month. This time last year, I wanted to maintain some of the habits that I formed in January. But by approximately February 2nd, I fell straight back into old patterns.
This week I’ve been contemplating how I can get some of my vegan habits to stick. In particular, I’ve felt convicted by the fact that dairy production has a larger carbon footprint than some of the lower impact meat we eat (poultry, fish etc). It’s got me wondering whether as an ‘all year round’ vegetarian, I should be giving up dairy too?
I am by no means a self-help guru, or a habit forming expert, but if you’re in the same boat as me, and hoping to make some longer term changes to what you eat, here are some thoughts about ways to make these changes stick:
Doing anything on your own is harder. Ask someone you trust to check in with you to see how it’s going. Maybe even see if any of your friends want to team up with you.
Remember why you’re doing it
A great way to stay motivated is to keep focussed on the driving force behind your choices, why you’re doing what you’re doing. This is a great boost when will-power gets low.
Ask God for help
God really cares about our day to day life. He gives us passions and a desire to see change. If you’re on a justice journey, God is on it with you too.
Small steps are great too
There’s no trophy or league table for how ethically we eat. Any step is a positive step, and small changes certainly shouldn’t be looked down upon.
Be kind to yourself
There are many reasons why it may not be possible, or healthy for someone to restrict their diet to a vegan, or vegetarian one. There’s also days where you might give in, or make exceptions to ‘ethical eating’. I can’t stress enough how important it is to move away from any feelings of guilt you might feel. All journeys take twists and turns.
Some final contemplations
One of my goals for veganuary this year was to see if it’s possible to eat good vegan food on a budget. This meant not going for the pricey meat and cheese substitutes and cooking more from scratch at home. I’ve not been perfect and during more hectic times I’ve caved and got convenience food (although tesco now have a vegan sandwich range ‘plant chef’ included in their £3 meal deal, which has certainly helped). My verdict is that there is certainly a way to ‘vegan’ on the cheap(er), and more and more stores are bringing reasonably priced vegan food into the mainstream. But sadly fresh produce is still noticeably pricier than lots of sugary food and frozen meat, which highlights a big inequality in our society.
Overall vegunary has been positive, and I’d go as far as saying an enjoyable journey for me. I’ve discovered more about myself, living well and caring for others. If you haven’t had a chance to give it a go and have been inspired by people doing vegaunary around you, there’s always February (or any month of the year… or meat free Mondays for that matter). Whether you’re giving up meat or animal products for the environment, animal welfare or another reason, remember that everyone’s journey looks different, and that’s okay. Finally, if it’s not for you at all, that’s okay too. But just to tempt you, here is the last recipe of the week.
Recipe of the week:
Malaysian lentil and squash curry (from: The Art of Eating Well)
(Note: If you don’t already have a flourishing spice rack, you’ll need to buy a few to get you started for this recipe. But they last ages, and once you’ve made this dish, you’ll want to make it again and again).
For the lentil and squash curry:
- 1 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
- 2 tins of coconut milk
- 3 medium onions, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, diced
- 3 thumb sized pieces of fresh root ginger (grated or chopped)
- 1 squash, peeled and diced into 2.5cm chunks
- 700ml vegetable stock
- 500g red lentils
- 400g spinach
- Juice of 1 small lime or lemon
- 75g of fresh coriander, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
For the Malaysian spice mix:
- 2 green cardamom pods or ¼ tsp of ground green cardamom
- ½ tsp of yellow mustard seeds
- 2 tbsp of ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp of fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp of ground coriander
- ½ tsp of ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp of chilli flakes (or more or less to taste)
- ¼ tsp ground clove
First make the Malaysian spice mix. If using whole cardamoms, remove the shells and crush along with the mustard seeds with the back of your knife or with a pestle and mortar. Add all the spices to a large saucepan and gently toast for a minute or so until fragrant, stirring to prevent the spices burning.
Add the coconut oil/ vegetable oil and fry the onions for 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a few more minutes.
Add the coconut milk, squash and vegetable stock. Put the lid on and bring to a medium simmer.
After 10 minutes, add the red lentils and simmer over a medium heat for a further 20 minutes until the lentils are soft and the squash is tender. You might need to add some vegetable stock during cooking depending on how thick you like your curry.
Turn off the heat, add spinach and stir till it wilts. Add some salt and pepper, the juice of the lemon or lime and check for seasoning and consistency.
Stir through the roughly chopped coriander and ladle into bowls to serve.
Eat with rice or naan (not listed in ingredients)