What I learned from being vegan for a month

Vegans are seen as odd by some people

Yahoo’s Mark Lawford decided to try being a vegan for a month to see what changes it had on his life. He charted his daily progress as he attempted to change more than half a century of eating and drinking habits. Read how his 28-day stint went…

DAY 28

That’s it. I did it. A whole month of being a vegan.

I cannot say it was hard as I do not spend my time thinking about food and drink but I will say that I found looking at labels for content rather tiresome.

That and missing out on Pancake Day…

But I have learned quite a few things, the most obvious being that I have far more willpower than I thought I had.

I’ll drink to that: 28 days a vegan (without alcohol as well)

I have eaten no chocolate or crisps this year and I can safely say that apart for a few hankerings for Raisin & Biscuit Yorkies I have not missed sweets.

And I might just have conquered my chocolate craving once and for all as well as proving to myself that I really do not need crisps, even if they are salt and vinegar.

I even cut out all alcohol – and although I am no Oliver Reed I did find that rather hard at times, especially when my good lady wife was quaffing a glass of wine to unwind.

All this healthy food and smaller portions, coupled with more regular gym sessions and exercise has also had a huge effect on my weight.

This month I have managed to shed 6kg – that’s the best part of a stone – which equates to two inches around the waistline.

I have shed some weight and now fit comfortably into medium clothes

This all started after a conversation with my son about how bad it is consuming the milk of other species, turning me towards almond milk after a brief dalliance with coconut and soya milks.

I promised I was not going to be a tub-thumping, judgmental vegan and I have kept that pledge. What you want to eat and drink is your business and nobody has the right to try and make you feel guilty about it.

For me, I cannot wait for a cortado from my coffee machine – that’s something I have really missed – but I will never eat any meat again and the amount of dairy produce I consume will be very restricted to the point of being negligible.

But it will be nice to have the choice once again without breaking my embargo…

To those of you who have followed my diary – thanks for the support. For those of you yet to read this diary from start to finish – you’re in for a treat.

DAY 27

Back to work after a week off rather than a wee cough.

People have stopped asking me how the vegan diet is going now as I have become tomorrow’s fish and chips paper as we used to call old news.

But this suits me as there are only so many ways you can say ‘it’s not making much difference’ or ‘read my blog and find out.’

I have not noticed any change in my frame of mind or behaviour but today I ate something that would genuinely shock those who know me.

I have never seen the attraction of avocados. They look ugly in their birthday suits and once unzipped and liberated the fruit looks like the result of a violent sneeze from a baboon with a long-standing chest infection.

Stone me: If I completely chop up, disguise and hide avocado in other foods, I can tolerate avocados

Not only that, it feels like plasticine that has been soaked in water for a week, breaks down in the mouth like an oyster with body hygiene issues that refuses to accept its fate and tastes marginally better than celery (see day 26). Marginally.

I don’t care what people say about them being good for you. They are straight from Old Nick’s nose.

But I quite literally consumed one of my arch enemies in the evening. Not neat or by itself. Zounds, no. I might be mad but I’m not insane.

It was diced into very small pieces and mixed with Quinoa, peppers, some sort of dressing and coriander. It became mixed up in the rest of the salad and pasta. Its flavour was camouflaged and its texture was masked by a thousand other mastications.

It was like trying to hide sprouts or cabbage in a child’s dinner and it worked.

Any nutrition I would have got went in but without the retches, heaves and gags that have accompanied my previous attempts at consuming the said fruit.

I feel I matured a bit today and who knows, I am still relatively young, I might even eat another hidden avocado one day.

Onward towards the final day of veganism.

Verdict: A nice pear.

Day 27 food and drink diary

Morning: Dried nuts and fruit, glass of orange juice, almond milk latte, peanut nakd bar.

Afternoon: Water, small black coffee, salad, cocoa and orange protein bar.

Evening: That avacado thing, squash, two fruit teas, two peanut butter wholemeal pitta breads.

DAY 26

Today while we were out shopping my wife picked up what looked like an old busted plastic football and pronounced: ‘Let’s try one of these.’

Turned out it was a celeriac.

Now as I have pointed out in earlier entries in this diary, celery is the food of Beelzebub, without merit or nutrition and a flavour straight from Satan’s sphincter. It is the height of bad taste.

In the vegetable garden of comedy, celery is James Corden.

Two of my least favourite things…

And celeriac not only sounds like celery it is also related.

So my response to Carol’s attempt to introduce me to an exciting new experience was a David Essex half smile (one for the teenagers there) and gratitude  that my compost bin is handily placed.

Neither of us knew how to cook this rat’s egg and have both detested celery with a Old Testament fervour since forever.

An odd purchase then…

A celeriac earlier

The first celeriac recipe online turned out to be a Jamie Oliver one where he said it could be mashed or smashed. He waxed lyrical about its wonderful taste.

So we cooked it and tried it. And although Carol did not like it (‘I can taste the celery’) I actually quite enjoyed it. More Horne than Corden if you will.

I am not sure if absorbing celeriac into my diet elevates me higher up the middle class bracket (see ‘edamame beans’ earlier in this diary) but it is something I will eat again and Carol-ify next time.

A pestle and mortar similar to but nothing like the one I bought myself

And so influenced was I by the Oliver video I watched that I bought a pestle and mortar – how hipster was that?

Verdict: You can stick your celery – I’m looking to grind out something to sex up celeriac.

Day 26 food and drink diary

Morning: Nuts and dried fruit, black coffee, cocoa and orange protein bar.

Afternoon: Lots of liquids, high protein peanut butter roll. Posh black coffee.

Evening: Multi veg dish including stuffed peppers and celeriac, also featuring swede and turnip.

DAYS 21-25

Being off work for a week brings a whole new set of problems when you are trying to keep to a new diet.

The normal routine goes as do normal meal/snack times and you have far more time on your hands.

More time to think about what you REALLY want to eat and drink and if this week has taught me anything it is that I am missing cortados more than any food.

I am suffering cortado cold turkey

I long for one and for the time being a black coffee or almond milk latte does not hit the mark at all.

It is too easy when decorating to simply sit down to a cake or packet of crisps when taking a break and this vegan month has certainly made me more aware of what is in the food I have been eating.

So this week’s ‘treat’ buys have been just about as middle class as they come: Fruit teas (loose), edamame beans, Whole Earth Peanut Butter and posh ground coffee.

One interesting point of note is that for the first time in many, many years I went shopping and filled a trolley with all manner of stuff. Because I did not buy any processed stuff, simply fruit and veg plus other bolt-one like pasta, rice etc, it only cost me around half of a normal full trolley.

The purchase of edamame beans has confirmed my elevation to middle class status

So healthy or vegan does not necessarily need to be expensive.

I have rediscovered monkey nuts (stop sniggering at the back) and been breakfasting on goji berries and raisins.

At the start of the week my younger son Callum told me had read a report suggesting a link between diabetes and dementia. His immediate action is to cut out out all sugar and carbs for a week to ‘purge’ his brain.

A pleasant treat – but NOT a sausage

So now there are four ‘odd’ diets in operation in the Lawford household, three by choice: Two vegans, one coeliac and one sugar/carb free.

Quite how Callum, who has the world’s sweetest tooth will survive remains to be seen but my edamame beans have already taken a battering.

I have not kept a food/drink diary this week as I have been too busy and each days has melded into the next – but the Linda McCartney vegan chorizo sausages in seeded batons have been another wonderful discovery.

High in everything – including milk and eggs sadly

But one thing bothers me: Why do vegan and vegetarian alternatives have to be labelled as ‘sausages’ or ‘bacon’ when they are clearly not?

And why does Quorn stuff all have milk or egg in it? Down with that sort of thing when I want a ‘bacon’ roll…

Verdict: I am being haunted by all the meat I have eaten

DAY 20

I am off work this week and something incredible hit me as I strolled past my son Callum’s lunch food stash: I have not eaten any crisps or chocolate since the start of 2017.

A half century of days of temptation hurdled with a million tastebuds deprived of their salt ‘n’ vinegar fix and around 1200 hours spent thinking about raisin and biscuit Yorkies.

50 days of grey…

Decided to flee my evil fantasies  with a trip to the seaside in the mild weather. The Lawfords hit Brighton (and Hove) for some serious seafront trudging while also looking for some nice vegan treats.

Guilty pleasures are off the menu for now

Oddly enough in a city as bohemian and with so many offbeat shops and cafes I could not find my dream lunch.Instead I turned my attention to vege shoes, reclaimed tarpaulins, native Indian rugs and cardigans.

But there’s no let-up from being a vegan and in every shop I went into I spent more time looking at labels on jars and packets than a normal healthy adult should.

The result was my buying some coffee (ground Turkish style) and devouring a cocoa and orange protein bar.

Add to that a very nice falafel and houmous wrap coupled with a huge fruit tea and it was a very nice day while walking around 10 miles.

Verdict: Will power still going at full blast.

Day 20 food and drink diary 

Morning: Very big bowl of porridge with almond milk, coffee.

Afternoon: Protein bar, falafel wrap, fruit tea, big black coffee.

Evening: Big jacket potato and beans, fruit tea, water, peanut butter wrap.

DAYS 18 and 19

I don’t mind aubergines but I am not an avid fan. However my good lady wife decided to try variation of a recipe of a meal she had in a restaurant recently – minus the mozzarella cheese.

And the result was delicious, another example of a lovely meal that did not need any meat to make it filling or nutritious.

We have used sliced aubergines as a alternative to pasta in gluten free lasagne in the past but cutting one in half and interspersing it sliced with onions, covering it in tomatoes and red pepper and garnishing with basil really hit the mark.

The aubergine is a very versatile vegetable

Another small luxury for a savoury snack was to have been some sunflower bread that I cunningly purchased – then opened and covered with cashew spread – only to discover that it ‘might contain milk’ according to the ingredients.

Wraps with peanut butter were fortunately on the bench as the sunflower seed bread was wrapped in plastic for a possible March 1 liberation.

When I wanted Santa, I got Satan…

Verdict: I am the egg plant, coo coo cachoo.

The devil is in the detail

Saturday food diary 

Drinks

Two big black coffees, water, big fruit smoothie, decaf espresso.

Food

Peanut butter wraps, sunflower bread with cashew butter, aubergine, onion, tomato, red pepper and basil bake with couscous and mixed vegetables.

Sunday food diary

Drinks

Two big black coffees, three cups of fruit tea, decaf espresso, pomegranate and cranberry juice, water.

Food

Big bowl of porridge made with almond milk, sunflower bread with cashew butter (cancelled), peanut butter wraps, handful of goji berries, big bowl of home made tomato/beetroot and leek soup.

DAY 17

When I was a teenager I used to love going to central London and watching the man with the placard.

He used to roam around Trafalgar Square selling booklets about the dangers of certain foods – especially proteins – and the effect such foods had on the sexual conduct of sedentary people.

He would sometimes wear sandwich boards but for the most part he would hoist his message high above the London crowds. The fact that I only took the trouble to speak to him twice and only ever bought one booklet (cost me 7p) is something I regret as I greatly admired him. He was fascinating.

Stanley Green was a great character and knew all about protein

I have never forgotten the message he preached: That foods rich in protein such as red meat, fish, eggs, beans and peas filled every lazy person with lust and passion.

I read his Eight Passion Proteins with Care time and time again, kept it for years then just lost it.

So, after a rather long-winded way of making my point, I wonder how Stanley Green (for ’twas his name) would have reacted to my new snack treats: Big packs of shelled peas.

Peas please me, as the Beatles nearly once said

These have replaced crisps in my new diet and given I have grown them for years it is odd that it had not occurred to me to eat them in such copious amounts before.

Again it was my wife’s idea but the fact I took no exercise after consuming a whole bag would have gotten old Stan tub thumping, regardless of my regular lunchtime gym sessions.

Filled to the brim with peas and teeming with protein- lock up your daughters…

Verdict: Pea-sy does it.

Day 17 food diary 

Morning: Walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, dried raisins, grapes, almond flakes, almond milk latte, banana, water.

Afternoon: Yet again I forgot to eat lunch. Bad form. Snacked on a 300g bag of peas. Cocoa and orange protein bar, large cup of black cofffee, water.

Evening: Couscous with mixed vegetables, fresh salad, jalapeño peppers, peanut butter wrap.

DAY 16

To be honest I always thought Omega 3 was a 70s BBC TV science fiction series set on board a spaceship (cardboard) patrolling the outer stratesphere to keep 2050 Britain safe from evil space conquerors.

Apparently it’s not. It’s some sort of oil or something that we all need and get from eating meat.

Found especially in fish it promotes heart health and lowers cholesterol. And my older son has been on my case about it.

No thanks to both of these

Now not having eaten any meat for a good while before becoming a vegan I must have been lacking this in my system and not until I looked it up did I realise how essential it is.

All the info says how great a Mediterranean diet is or that of an Inuit so how can I mimic their food intake without consuming oily fish?

Simple. I can either pop omega 3 pills – which sounds as appealing as listening to an Adele album – or be a bit creative.

So armed only with a search engine I checked the best substitutes.

And I have been on the right track with my hazelnut breakfast consumption but I need to lean more towards walnuts. Being a huge fan of walnut whips this might justify future post-vegan binges of such treats in the name of good health promotion but that’s for another day.

The ugly walnut will always be second best to…
… the handsome pecan

Apparently the simple walnut is a Super Food in the right hands and all the time I thought it was the pecan’s ugly brother who always hides in the kitchen at parties.

Turns out I was the nut for thinking that.

And there’s more: The Mediterranean diet emphasizes foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, garlic, and moderate wine consumption.

I wonder how ‘moderate’ that is? And maybe I wasn’t eating too much fruit.

So I am off to the walnut emporium to grab a sack along with some easily edible fruit (pomegranates need not apply) and a crate of vino reddo.

Forget the garlic though. I travel on packed commuter trains and know all about garlic worshippers…

Verdict: Oil’s well that ends well.

Day 16 food diary

Morning: Nuts, seeds, dried fruit, banana, almond milk latte, water.

Afternoon: Forgot to eat lunch (again), water, organic pomegranate and blueberry drink (x2), cocoa/orange protein bar.

Evening: Two large peanut butter wraps, two protein rolls with vegan spicy pate.

To be honest, I didn’t really feel hungry all day…

DAY 15

I am learning new things every day and today’s lesson involved bread.

We are always being told to steer clear of white bread and I discovered just why such slices of pleasure should be sidestepped.

In truth it was more a bap of bliss, ones my wife the good Mrs Vegan (true identity withheld) plopped on the side and said: “You can’t have these.”

Now she’s a coeliac (yes we have a salad of odd eating habits us Lawfords) so I knew they were not for her which meant that my younger son Callum was the obvious beneficiary. But I did wonder why such a forecful embargo had been placed on them.

Pukka vegan bread – different from the milky stuff currently on offer chez Lawford

Because, listed in the ingredients and marked out as a bold allergen was ‘milk’. Yes. Bread and milk. Straight out of a Charles Dickens novel. What sort of sadist does that?

It just goes to show the hidden dangers are everywhere and why I have been so Draconian in my pursuit of one month of complete animal product abstinence.

I must be eating the right things though as I managed a tough lunch hour row and run double and felt great afterwards and no fatigue set in later.

Verdict: Dough not take things at face value no matter how well bread you think you are.

Day 15 food diary

Morning: Nuts, seeds, small amount of dried fruit, grapes, glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice, water, almond milk latte.

Afternoon: Big fresh salad with added olives and chilli corn crunch snacks, Paleo orange and cocoa protein bar, water.

Evening: Big salad with two vegan piri-piri burgers, protein roll, decaf espresso, fruit tea.

DAY 14

So here I am. The 14th. Today is the halfway point of my vegan month so it should be all downhill from here.

Being February 14 also brings Valentines Day into play with its tempting array of chocolates and cakes. If I am honest the only thing I have been fantasising about is a raisin and biscuit Yorkie, the king of confectionary, but I have doing that since 1981 – contemplating the next one even before I have finished the one I am eating.

The great news was that some more Paleo cocoa and orange protein bars came in at work which are a suitable replacement. Little victories.

The thought of you on Valentine’s Day…
… is driving me nuts

Have decided to up my intake of nuts as they are supposed to be good for you. My nan is 99 this year and tells me she shovels in a handful of salted peanuts every night before bed so they must have some health benefits. Either that or she has very little hands.

I am opting for the unsalted variety with hazelnuts, walnuts and flaked almonds filling my podium and hunger hole.

For every extra nut there will be less dried fruit in a bid to reduce the sugar – albeit natural – intake.

I will also be referring to my son’s advice about what I should be eating when upping exercise levels as I am still hitting the gym and fatigue is creeping in around 8pm. Of course, that could be old age.

Verdict: I can see the finishing line from here.

Day 14 food diary

Morning: Nut, seeds, banana, grapes, almond milk latte, decaf espresso, water.

Afternoon: Vege snack pack comprising carrots, sugar snaps, tiny tomatoes, radishes and cucumber, water, pomegranate juice, Paleo cocoa and orange protein bar.

Evening: Two peanut butter protein rolls, jacket potato and beans, pomegranate juice, fruit tea.

DAY 13

I have been looking back over my food diary this month and have decided I am eating too much fruit.

In fact every time I snack I am eating something fruity and as good as this might seem, it’s not very balanced and all rather sugary.

So I have decided it’s time to start taking vegetable snack boxes to work to nibble on: Sugar snaps, little tomatoes, carrot sticks and the like. Even a radish.

Anything in fact to stop me feasting on protein bars, Nakd bars, bananas, etc. Sugar is the enemy.

I have taken the opportunity to trim ALL the rubbish from my diet and am now loath to eat anything that is not doing me good.

I will be taking the carrot and stick approach from now on

But this presents with me with another job to do – more preparation to go with all the soups and smoothies I am making.

Such a middle class problem, I know, but somehow I will get through. Somehow.

Nothing will make up for the fact the vegans don’t eat honey. I discovered that on Sunday. Because bees aren’t animals so I thought I would be OK – but it’s not apparently.

Misery on a grand scale – now even insects hate me.

Verdict: Bees-y does it – but this vegan lark can be hard at times.

Day 13 food and drink diary

Morning

Hazelnuts, almonds, dried sultanas, dried cranberries, dried raisins, sunflower seeds, pine nuts; two almond milk lattes, water.

Afternoon

Carrots, radishes, sugar snaps, tomatoes, water, small Primal Pantry bar.

Evening

Home made tomato soup, two protein rolls, decaf espresso, fruit tea.

DAYS 11 and 12

Second weekend was dominated by a working from home all-dayer on Saturday – during which I actually forgot to eat.

So preoccupied was I by running and updating Yahoo Sport UK, the fortunes of Millwall FC and England’s rugby match in Wales that food was relegated to the subs’ bench.

I did drink a bit though but I was too busy being a sports editor to concentrate on being a vegan – sorry.

The huge bowl of porridge was not too hot or too much – it was just right

Saturday verdict: Wins for Millwall and England provided adequate nourishment for one day.

Food diary: Protein bar, peanut butter protein roll, lots of home-made fruit smoothie, vegetable and lentil shepherd’s pie, water, various coffees.

On Sunday I had to get out so walked a few miles and browsed the fruit and veg of a cheap supermarket. Started the day with a biblical bowl of porridge made with almond milk. It was so big it lasted me until the early evening. Honestly, it did.

As befitting a day of relaxation I did very little except feed my fitbit the steps i deprived it of 24 hours earlier.

Sunday verdict: A Lidl goes a long way.

Food diary: Mammoth bowl of porridge, almond milk, three black coffees including a vat of the stuff round my mum’s, a huge jacket potato and baked beans, some toast.

DAY 10

This here vegan took his show on the road on a day off from work – namely Brighton.

If I thought I would have problems eating and drinking there I was wrong – in fact, I needn’t have taken my own lunch as this part of Sussex by the sea is, quite literally, full of eateries for those with ‘different tastes’.

When I asked for a decaf almond milk latte in one cafe, the nonplussed response was simply ‘cup or mug’?.

I necked a few hot drinks – it was rather bracing by the sea – but did not trouble the scorers with regards food. I still don’t trust these people who could be looking to slip milky or eggy bits into my nourishment. Paranoid.

There is moral support everywhere in Brighton

I spent some time browsing a vegetarian shoe shop which I found fascinating – the styles were very modern but I learned I am not willing to pay their prices.

All in all an enjoyable if chilly day spent – for some time – in the company of my brother, a vegetarian who runs a jerk chicken and caribbean food (mainly goat) takeaway shop. We are an odd bunch we Lawfords.

Too bad I had packed my own lunch…

Verdict: Brighton breezy.

Day 10 food and drink diary

Morning: Big bowl of cornflakes in oatmilk, protein bar, a banana. Two almond milk decaf lattes.

Afternoon: Peanut butter protein roll, bottle of pomegranate juice, Nakd bar (cashew), apple.

Evening: Big salad with two vegan burgers, two slices of toast, coffee, water.

DAY 9

One of the better things about being herded through Victoria station when Southern Rail trains do actually arrive/depart is that you get a lot of promotional items being given away. Food, drink, etc.

Today, however, was not so good as I was beckoned by a red-aproned young lady offering me a tray of crepes in the style of Nell Gwynne.

Now crepes… yes to this kind of thing but not when they are oozing with chocolate. Not this month anyway despite smelling like heaven dipped in Nutella.

When I said ‘no thanks’, she looked both hurt and astonished that she had missed the bullseye on such an obvious target.

The devil comes in many forms: Chocolate crepes

When I asked: ‘Do you have vegan ones?’ she looked both amused and astonished that the obvious target was a social mutant. That’s how I saw it anyway but maybe this veganism is making me more sensitive.

Decided not to celebrate national pizza day with a vegan pizza because I worry such binge might restore the weight I have lost. There was no almond milk in the office either so forget a big fat latte…

Verdict: I feel like crepe.

Day 9 food and drink diary

Morning: hazelnuts, walnuts, almond flakes, pine and sunflower seeds, dried raisins, sultanas and cranberries, pot of grapes, 750ml water, mixed berry protein bar.

Afternoon 

Bulgar wheat and edamame bean salad, Nakd bar, decaf espresso, 500ml water.

Evening

Big bowl of home made potato/leek soup with a wrap, peanut butter protein roll, 500ml home made fruit smoothie, fruit tea.

DAY 8

After ‘milk-gate’ on Day 7 better news on the non-dairy front. Given I have just about given up all hope of anything tasty and naughty this month, I was delighted to be sent details of Ben & Jerry’s new vegan ice-cream range.

This puts me in a quandary: I have eaten no rubbish at all this month should I weaken and try the almond milk treats? Or will this get me rehooked on the evil sugar monster I have tried for so long to conquer.


In truth I am starting to become a bit obsessed with this vegan thing now – a bit like when I was training to run marathons years ago.

Given another kg of weight has quite literally dropped off I would be a mug to allow myself to be lured back.

Oh no… what’s this? Vegan pizza…

Restaurants are catering for more vegans now – including pizza

There was me thinking I was doing something different while all along I was just part of the herd. According to a Yahoo lifestyle report ‘More people in the UK are following a vegan diet, with over 500,000 Brits choosing not to eat any animal products including meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs and honey.’

[CELEBRATE NATIONAL PIZZA DAY WITH A VEGAN PIZZA]

So it’s pizza followed by ice-cream then. Not what I have been consuming this month.

Verdict: Temptation growing by the hour

Day 8 food and drink diary

Morning

A mixed berry protein bar, lots of water, nuts and barries

Afternoon

Large black coffee, water, Nakd bar (carrot/orange).

Evening 

Vegan sausage sandwich, one espresso, one fruit tea.

DAY 7

Today I became a victim of the breakdown of law and order all too common in Brexit Britain.

While walking through the streets of Crawley an almost empty milk carton was lobbed at me from a speeding car in a 30mph zone.

A trail of milk – and not the oat, almond, coconut or soya variety – splashed up my arm. I had become a victim of a drive-by milking for the very first time – but assume having a sort of milk shower does not constitute a breaking of the vegan rules.

I don’t need a carton character to milk my suffering by laughing

But a warning to you all out there: Dairy products in the wrong hands can be dangerous.

The rest of the day was crime free as my non-animal product consumption experiment continued and I am now a quarter of the way through it.

Food highlight of the day was a rather superb huge jacket potato with baked beans. I am easy to please.

Verdict: Rich in irony, rich in full-fat cream. I was left shake-n not curd but there was no point crying over it even if things had turned sour temporarily.

Day 7 food and drink diary

Morning

Two almond lattes (one of which was made by Dimitri – see Day 6), a mixed berry protein bar, lots of water.

Afternoon

Large black coffee, water, Nakd bar (carrot/orange).

Evening 

Jacket potato/beans, small cup tomato and basil soup with three slices of Burgen bread, one espresso, one fruit tea.

DAY 6

I learned three things today. One is that having been a vegetarian for a little while, the step up to vegan is not so big. Another is that no matter how much almond milk is in the building, my work colleague Dimitri can never find it to make me a coffee when he offers.

I have been combining this new diet with regular lunchtime trips to the local gym and something has started happening that, to be honest, I had not really factored in –  the third thing I learned today: Weight loss.

In fact since I started ‘veganbruary’ I have shed around 3kg. Result.

Who knows? I might return to my ideal football weight if not my ideal football age

Maybe I am eating less or maybe I am just eating the right things: No crisps, chocolate or rubbish. I might not live to be 100 but it will certainly feel like it…

Verdict: Guilty as charged.

Day 6 food/drink diary

Morning

Hazelnuts, pine nuts, flaked almonds, pumpkin seeds, sultanas, cranberries, grapes; protein bar (Mixed berries), almond milk coffee, water

Afternoon 

Bulgar wheat and edamame bean salad, water, squashes, Nakd bar (carrot/orange)

Evening 

Gluten free vegetable lasagne, small jacket potato, three slices of Burgen bread, fruit tea, big quaff of oat milk

DAY 5

Oat milk. Tastes like porridge made at a ratio of one flake per 200 litres of milk. But apparently it contains a lot of that B12 stuff my son Ryan tells me I have to consume.

Bought a Burgen loaf too. But again, spent much of the day keeping busy so not really thinking about food.

Oat milk might be okay if I am honest but nothing hits the mark quite a Primal Pantry cocoa/orange protein bar.

Snack time treat

The good thing about not being at work is that I am not being asked ‘how I am’ as if I have a medical condition. The other good thing about not being at work is actually not having to make that Southern Rail commute to work.

Verdict: I might be getting my oats but almond milk is still king.

Day 5 food and drink diary

Morning

Burgen bread banana sandwich, protein bar, decaf espresso.

Afternoon 

Peppers stuffed with mushrooms, onions and tomatoes, roast potatoes, red cabbage, beetroot, orange squash, Nakd bar (carrot/orange).

Evening 

Too full so just had some Burgen bread toast. Fruit tea.

DAY 4

Wheeled out the home made soup today – tomato to be precise – as I began my first weekend of veganism.

Without work to distract me, I kept myself busy to take my mind off eating.

There are dairy products added to so many things I was eating and drinking before so this month is turning out to be all about cutting out snacks between meals.

There are very few convenient things I can reach for, so bananas have become vital. And Nakd bars.

Tomato and basil soup – made the Lawford way

Add to these the huge array of smoothies I have made myself that dominate the fridge, plus the ever-present protein roll and peanut butter combo, I am not going hungry.

Discovered the Jamaican crackers I love to eat with soup ‘may contain milk’ as does Worcester Sauce so my team favourite accompaniments were consigned to Room 101 until further notice.

Luckily for me, some of yesterday’s pasta was still knocking around but to be honest, I was not that hungry. Spent time making soups for the freezer – tomato/basil and potato/leek. Plus smoothies galore.

Day 4 food and drink diary

Morning

Banana, protein bar, peanut butter protein roll, 2x decaf espressos.

Afternoon/evening 

Protein roll with tomato soup, wholewheat pasta and baked beans, black coffee, lots of orange squash, fruit tea, handful of peanuts.

DAY 3

Almond milk. Today’s big revelation. Yes to this sort of thing, especially hot and with coffee. How had I not had tried this stuff before? I had been warned off soya milk by people who have to drink it due to their dairy allergy so had lumped all non-milk milks together.

However, I am now an almond milk owner.

The rest of the day contained no other epiphanies though and was rather humdrum.

Almond milk – today’s big discovery

I have to admit I am not a food addict and am not pre-occupied with eating so I am not really struggling with this vegan lark. But walking past the local pizza shop on the walk home from work was my first moment of weakness.

Thank the lord for a handy protein roll to take the edge off that temptation.

Verdict: I want a pizza the action…

Day 3 food and drink diary

Morning

Big banana, hazel nuts, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, sultanas and dried cranberries, Nakd bar (strawberry), almond milk latte, water (750ml).

Afternoon 

Bulgar wheat and edamame bean salad, protein bar, grapes

Evening 

Wholewheat pasta and baked beans, peanut butter protein roll, home-made pomegranate/banana and blueberry smoothie.

DAY 2

I am getting quite a bit of moral support, like I am walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats wearing diving boots or attempting to snatch food from polar bear cubs in front of their enraged mother.

People seem to be examining me closely, looking for the early signs of scurvy, simply because I have cut out yoghurt or am using coconut milk for lattes.

To be honest I did learn on day 2 that no matter how much I tried to convince myself that a coconut milk latte was just like a themed Costa treat, it wasn’t.

It was just an odd-coloured concoction that served only to burn my top lip.

Not ex-shell-ent for a latte: Coconut milk

I am not really noticing any significant change to my day. As I wrote at the start, the trick is in the preparation as there are dairy products hidden in so many things.

[THE VEGAN FOOTBALL TEAM ON THE VERGE OF THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE]

My son, the sports scientist, seems quite concerned that his creaking father gets enough vitamins and protein and has sent me a long list of things I need to eat which is very useful.

I shall be off to Holland & Barrett this weekend to stock up on soya, etc as a result.

Anyway, I am off to try a different ‘milk’ in an attempt to create a latte that does not appear on Satan’s drinks list.

Verdict: No problems so far.

Day 2 food and drink diary

Morning

Big banana, hazel nuts, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, sultanas and dried cranberries, Nakd bar (apricot), THAT latte, water (750ml).

Afternoon 

Forgot to eat… but did drink espresso and water.

Evening 

Protein roll with peanut butter, big salad with spicy bean burgers, decaf espresso.

DAY 1

Learned my first salutary lesson: when you make yourself something in advance and put it in the freezer, make sure you take it out in the morning.

As I stared despairingly at the rock-solid tomato and basil soup I had cunningly prepared for the ‘first supper’ I had to revert to plan B.

So the hardly innovative but always fulfilling jacket potato (giant) and baked beans acted as a surrogate soup.

If I am honest, day 1 was pretty much like any other day foodwise. The only exception was the cessation of latte-based fun, replaced as they were by espressos and Americanos.

Starving dog and rubber bone sprang to mind so I vowed to explore the vegan milks on offer as soon as possible.

It’s a complex world being a vegan

At least I upped my water intake considerably. I quaffed a good few bottles at my desk which probably helped fill me up.

There we have it – the marathon has begun with a gentle jog at it.

It’s going to be easy to cope while at work with things preoccupying my mind.

It’s when I am home in the evenings and weekends that the real pressure will be on and the fruit grain yoghurt or toasted cheese sandwich will be luring me into the kitchen like the sirens in Ancient Greek mythology, intent on bringing me down.

Looks like I will be getting a lot of those jobs done I have been putting off since 1997.

Verdict: ‘Soup-gate’ apart, an easy start to the month.

Day 1 food/drink diary

Morning

Banana, Nakd bar (carrot and orange), double espresso, black Americano, water.

Afternoon 

Whole grain salad, water, Nakd bar (strawberry crunch), more water.

Evening

Jacket potato and beans, protein bar, decaf espresso, remnants of son’s discarded plain pasta (penne), water, lemon and ginger tea.

PREVIOUS DAYS

When I was doing my degree someone used to sell ‘studenty’ badges one of which proclaimed ‘Vegans lead a full life’.

The ones I saw didn’t look as if they did if I am honest.

They roamed around the campus wrapped up in scarves regardless of the weather, sniffling and snuffling as another cold took hold and had the skin colour of congealing wallpaper paste.

Given my best friend Ian was a vegetarian I knew a bit about this ‘odd’ way of life but even he cowered in terror at going full vegan.

For my part I just did not fancy living on nuts, water, nettles and carrots especially as some of the more militant vegans campaigned against beer for possible animal content.

That was then but this is now…

Early problems to be tackled

My older son Ryan could previously have carnivored for team GB but returned from his second year at Uni where he is studying sports science as a fully-fledged vegan.

Believe me – this was like a 200-a-day smoker suddenly quitting for good. One chat with him later and he has sufficiently convinced me that we all take in far too much dairy and animal produce.

I have never been a red meat eater but like fish and chicken. The thought of going without milk and cheese seems ‘whey’ too far though but I have been cutting out eggs and all meat for the past month.

I do love a latte, so this could be a tricky month especially as I am going to have to study all the ingredients of things I take for granted.

But it’s hardly an onerous task, surely? There is a ‘full life’ out there even without full fat milk.

Inspired by my wife Carol who has to put up with being a coeliac since 1993 I am certain I can rise to the task (cream rises to the top – bad analogy), I hope to show that there are enough things to eat, drink and get merry with without having to rely on animal produce.

Home made soups and smoothies will be my staples with such things as rice, pasta and vegetables making up the rest in as interesting way as possible. I hope…

The theory is simple – but is the practice?

This is not going to be a rant about animal rights or some sort of political statement. I won’t be forgoing leather shoes or dressing for work in leaves and shrubs to be at one with nature.

I am just going to try it for a month to see:

  1. How easy/difficult it is.
  2. The difference it makes to my physical well being/health.
  3. What new foods and drinks I might discover.

The only thing I know is that I will have to be more prepared than normal as processed foods will have to be checked for content so I might as well make my own stuff. I do not want to be a constant label reader.

Who knows? I might even shatter a few myths. I certainly don’t envisage myself hallucinating about burgers or having work colleagues transform into milk shakes while I talk to them.

That’s it then. Off into the void…

I will be updating this at various points during the day – and definitely on a daily basis.