Going Vegan 01: The First Few Weeks

I’m not especially religious, but I’ve always given something up for Lent. It’s just something I do: I enjoy the challenge and it’s become a habit. This year, I decided to try going vegan for Lent. Now it’s Easter Sunday (without an easter egg in sight in locked down Hanoi) and I thought I’d share my experience of going vegan.

Why?

I’d already been vegetarian for 4 years and am passionate about living sustainably, so veganism is something I’d been toying with for a couple of months before. I’ve watched lots of the Netflix documentaries, read books and have quite a few vegan friends. I know veganism won’t be for everyone, but I want to do my bit for the planet and this felt like a good start. 

As I say, I’ve been veggie for several years now. I also stopped eating eggs in 2019 (unless they were in a cake) and had cut down on my dairy intake, so there wasn’t that much for me to cut out to eat a completely plant-based diet. However, anyone who knows me will know I love a cheesy pizza more than anything and chocolate comes a close second. I’d always said, “I couldn’t go vegan because I’d have to give up cheese/pizza/chocolate!”, but 5 years ago I’d said “I couldn’t ever give up bacon,” and I’d done it no problem. All it takes is a bit of willpower.

Difficulties with Going Vegan

It hasn’t been plain sailing. It’s been 46 days since Lent began and it’s not been 46 days of vegan eating, that’s for sure. I did fall at a few hurdles.

Some were my ‘fault’. Just before the country was hit by covid, we escaped to Phu Quoc for some sunshine. Whilst there, we discovered the incredible Lagom vegan restaurant, but I also couldn’t resist a chocolate lava cake from Mango Bay. Phu Quoc isn’t the most vegan-friendly of places, so I did relax my eating a bit whilst there. 

Others were not my fault. Like the time I ordered a vegan pizza, waited 2 hours for it to arrive and when it finally did, it was covered in cheese. Or when I ordered a vegan chocolate cake and was later told the bowls of icing had got mixed up so they couldn’t be certain it was vegan.

Vegan cheese. I read somewhere that you shouldn’t eat it for the first few months because it’s not as good. Whoever wrote that, I feel ya. I had cheese-less pizza which was topped with caramelised onions, sun-dried tomatoes and peppers, and it was delicious. Another time, I had a pizza with vegan cheese and it just wasn’t great. I think I’ll stick to no cheese for now. 

Highlights since Going Vegan

Since becoming vegetarian four years ago, I’ve got far more into cooking. Possibly part of that came with just growing up, but I also think I started experimenting more in the kitchen when I couldn’t rely on meat for flavour.

The last few weeks, I’ve really enjoyed trying vegan foods and recipes. I’m going to post separately about my favourite vegan options in Hanoi, but I need to shout out to The Eastern & Oriental Tea House for their vegan mud cake which is honestly one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever tasted. Oli ordered it for my birthday and I was so impressed.

I’ve made plenty of pancakes during lockdown loosely based on this BBC recipe.

I baked some insane vegan banana bread, if I do say so myself. It’s a shame I didn’t really follow a recipe and just threw stuff in. I’ll have to try it again.

I’ve enjoyed several dishes from Zanna Van Dijks ‘Eat More Plants’ and Madeline Shaw’s Vegan Meal Plan.

Falafel and hummus, all day everyday. I think I’m about 90% chickpea at this point. 

Looking Forward

As I mentioned, going vegan hasn’t been as successful as it could have been. However, I’m proud that when I fell down, I got back up again and got stuck back in. I figured it’s okay, and as they say, ‘don’t let perfection get in the way of progress’. I’m not going to feel guilty about it.

Looking forward, I’m going to continue with a plant-based diet. There are bound to be some challenges, and there are bound to be some occasions where I can’t stop myself (BBQ’d halloumi, I’m talking ‘bout you).

On the whole, though, despite all my talk of pizza and cake in this post, I feel I’ve been eating more healthily. Most importantly (for me), I feel like I’m having a more positive impact on the planet too.

Are you vegan, or have you thought about transitioning towards a plant-based lifestyle? Let me know in the comments!

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