Food

Vegan Week: Christina and Aleyna’s Experience

A green mug with the words 'In case I haven't told you today I am vegan'
Aleyna Adamson and Christina Giallombardo

The lifestyle team took part in the Vegan Society’s ‘Plate Up for the Planet’ where you go vegan for a week. Here is how Chris and Aleyna found the week, their favourite meal and their thoughts on the future of veganism.

Christina’s Experience

A photo of Christina: She has brown eyes and brown hair that has been dip dyed blonde. She is wearing blue trousers, a white t-shirt with a white shirt over it. She has sunglasses hooked on her t-shirt and a hairband on. In her right hand there is a red drink.

I rarely eat meat for environmental reasons, and I’m lactose intolerant so dairy wasn’t a big part of my diet in the first place, so my diet didn’t change much during my week of being vegan.

Homemade butternut squash curry has to be my favourite. Keeping it simple as I needed to do a food shop, so it only had butternut squash, onions and garlic, kidney beans, a tin of chopped tomatoes and some spices, it tasted great! I often make meals like this; not only do they taste fantastic but they’re easy on your wallet and great for when your fridge is running low.

Meals were fairly easy. All I had to do was make a plant-based swap for my lactose-free yoghurt and butter for breakfast. I hadn’t realised that most of the lunches and dinners I eat every day were already vegan until I paid attention to the ingredients. The only exception was swapping meat sausages which I eat on rare occasions for Richmond’s meat-free sausages, which I would definitely eat again!

Although it might seem silly I live off of snacks

What I found to be the most difficult aspect was my snacks. Although it might seem silly I live off of snacks. Not being able to have milk and eggs really limited what I could eat. At one point I found I couldn’t find any vegan snacks to keep me going in between library sessions and lectures. Of course, I should have planned a bit better and brought my own, but at those moments I realised I took being able to eat whatever, intolerance allowing (though perhaps often ignored) I wanted for granted.

Veganism isn’t always friendly to people with a smaller budget too. You can eat main meals, but vegan alternatives for sweets and chocolate and other snacks tended to cost a lot more. Vegan alternatives for meat products too such as tofu are more expensive, so trying to get the right amounts of proteins, vitamins etc. in your diet becomes tougher on your wallet.

So, would I do it again? The answer is no. Currently, I don’t think I can become a full-fledged, full-time vegan. After vegan week had ended, I found that the foods I rarely ate before the week I began to crave. It was the fact that I had to deny myself of the small pleasures that caused me to want to consume them when I could eat them again.

Vegetarianism already cutting your carbon footprint from food in half

Personally, I would cut out products in my diet for environmental reasons instead of ethical reasons. The environmental impact of veganism and vegetarianism are very similar, with vegetarianism already cutting your carbon footprint from food in half. For me, rarely eating meat which I already do is enough.

The week wasn’t all a complete waste though. I found some great vegan alternatives such as the Alpro yoghurt, and I’ll definitely make more of an effort to choose the vegan options. I also gained a new appreciation for veganism that I didn’t have before.

Aleyna’s Experience 

A photo of Aleyna Adamson: She has brown hair and brown eyes and her hair is in space buns. She is wearing dungarees and has glasses on.

Vegan Week wasn’t as challenging as I had expected it to be it was just inconvenient. I would say that I eat a mostly vegetarian diet with one meat meal per week if that, eating this way for environmental reasons rather than ethical reasons.

I try not to consume red meats and I only use plant milks and I don’t expect people to cook specific veggie meals only for me or if I were to be accidently served meat, I would still eat it since it would be wasteful to throw it away. I think this creates unnecessary food waste (one of the largest climate issues we are facing!).

Day to day meals looked pretty much the same. Apart from breakfast, where I would usually eat eggs, I would eat stir frys and curry and pasta during the days just without adding any animal products. Vegan snacks were a bit more difficult to find.

My favourite meal of the week was a pasta dish that I made. I used cashews to make a creamy tomato sauce and cooked some vegan meatballs from Aldi (great price and source of protein!). I will be buying these meatballs again.

Quorn products aren’t vegan! I assumed I would be sorted with my Quorn mince and chicken pieces but unfortunately, I was not

On the day to day, I eat quite a variety of Quorn products however, I didn’t realise most Quorn products aren’t vegan! I assumed I would be sorted with my Quorn mince and chicken pieces but unfortunately, I was not. I was lucky that I had a few Clubcard vouchers saved so I bought some Linda McCartney shredded duck (a must have to add into fried rice and noodle dishes) and some vegan Richmond’s sausages.

Overall, I took issue with the shear price of vegan products. I love chocolate, sweets, and crisps, and I enjoy the taste of meat and cheese. The price difference between vegan snacks and non-vegan snacks was unbelievable with most vegan options costing more that double!

Even with the meat substitutes the price was ridiculous. Not only do many of these vegan meat alternatives lack protein they cost way more than the meat equivalent so you may as well just not eat it or eat meat instead.

With price being an issue, I could have cooked everything from scratch and used various beans and lentils etc but this is massively inconvenient since I am a student and not to mention I would find these meals very boring.

Whilst some people may be able to afford such luxuries such as a £3 bar of vegan Galaxy chocolate I can’t and I assume that many students and lower income people would not be able to either

Whilst some people may be able to afford such luxuries such as a £3 bar of vegan Galaxy chocolate I can’t and I assume that many students and lower income people would not be able to either. If you can afford all the extras it would be easy to eat vegan however, in my opinion it is still inaccessible for most.

Instead of jumping straight into the deep end I think it is more realistic to slowly cut out animal products from you diet if you want to be vegan. I would definitely try something similar to this again but I would slowly remove animal products from my diet. Perhaps in the future when I have disposable income I would be vegan since I would be able to afford all the bits and bobs.

For now, I am happy with my plant based vegetarian lifestyle. I think that before we focus all our energy on the ethical issues surrounding animals we should take a look at the issues within our own species such as children working in sweatshops and people starving.

Aleyna Adamson and Christina Giallombardo


Featured image courtesy of Charl Folscher via Unsplash. Image license here.

Article images courtesy of Aleyna Adamson and Christina Giallombardo. Permission for use granted to Impact. No changes made to these images.

This article is part of Impact Nottingham’s COP26 series. For more articles on the conference check out the link here.

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