The highs and lows of Veganuary challenge

Ginny with a vegan sausage roll SUS-190130-161303001
Ginny with a vegan sausage roll SUS-190130-161303001

By the time you read this I will be wallowing in mozzarella, Brie, and goat’s cheese.

I am to be finally reunited with the loves of my life after a month’s drought while I took on Veganuary. That is, Vegan January: a month of plant-based food. No meat, no eggs, no milk, and no cheese.

A selection from the M&S Plant Kitchen collection SUS-190131-144340001

A selection from the M&S Plant Kitchen collection SUS-190131-144340001

Hundreds enjoy Eastbourne’s first ever vegan festival with Heather Mills

I should say at this point I’m normally a vegetarian anyway, but let me tell you, it is quite a leap to go from just avoiding meat to avoiding animal products altogether.

It makes you realise how many random things have some remnant of an animal squeezed into them. Countless times I’ve found myself stood in a supermarket isle staring at a product’s ingredients list, spotting ‘milk’ and internally screaming.

Why? You don’t need milk –what did it bring to the party? Can I also ask what benefit there is in adding fish guts to wine?

A vegan omelette from Nelson Coffee in Terminus Road SUS-190131-144329001

A vegan omelette from Nelson Coffee in Terminus Road SUS-190131-144329001

But trying a vegan diet also makes you realise how many incredible things are naturally vegan. Chips. Hash browns, baked beans, a lot of pasta and noodles, Oreos, many chicken flavour crisps, bread, dough balls, houmous, ginger nuts and bourbons, and of course unlimited fruit and veg.

This year was the easiest yet to try a plant-based diet. Brands woke up to the fact the vegan market could make them a lot of money.

So, strictly for experimental purposes, I tried a lot of the goods suddenly on offer this Veganuary.

There were high moments – Greggs’ vegan sausage roll, which was worth a trip to Cambridge to get my paws on; and the M&S Plant Kitchen and Waitrose vegan collections – but there were also stupendously low ones – The McDonald’s veggie wrap deteriorating into a metallic mush, and an infinitely sad tin of vegan burgers with baked beans.

The sad burgers in baked beans SUS-190131-144259001

The sad burgers in baked beans SUS-190131-144259001

But it is worth remembering a lot of independent businesses have been doing this stuff for years.

In Eastbourne, you have Oh My Goodness in the Enterprise Centre, which knocks up a mean rainbow-coloured lunch worth probably 12 of your five a day.

And then there’s The Green Almond, which you all but have to gnaw off your arm to get a table for but my goodness it’s worth it. £22 for three incredibly inventive and dynamic courses? Take my money.

Also worth a mention is The Art House, which makes catering for a vegan food seem effortless and always has something on offer, from vegan doughnuts to sausage rolls.

The vegan wrap from McDonald's - not a hit SUS-190131-144319001

The vegan wrap from McDonald's - not a hit SUS-190131-144319001

Then there was Eastbourne Vegan Festival. This was a hallelujah-moment, angels singing as I walked into East Sussex College and was whacked with an illustrious selection of delicious goodies. Let’s hope it’s back next year.

Taking to a more serious level, in my weak moments I was told by a lifelong vegan to focus on my reason for doing this.

When I was offered cake, or saw the Lindt reindeer leftover from Christmas staring at me forlornly from across the room, it helped to think of what the point of this all was.

Like it or not, it truly does help the planet and reduce animal suffering when people cut down on animal products.

Despite my proclamations about cheese, it actually has been a breeze. To the people who look baffled when I told them I’m doing this – don’t worry about me, it’s been great.

A vegan doughnut from The Art House in Grove Road, Eastbourne SUS-190131-144249001

A vegan doughnut from The Art House in Grove Road, Eastbourne SUS-190131-144249001