Luckily, I'd also set myself the same challenge from last year so I had a little experience. This time around, I understood what I was getting myself into, I knew to do a big shop in advance and I already had a bunch of fail safe vegan products and recipes I could use again in 2017.
But did this make it easier or not?
IT WAS ONLY A TINY BIT EASIER THIS TIME
Having already gone through it the once helped a bunch, but the four week stint wasn't without it's challenges. The first one was that I'm only working part time at the moment, whereas last year I was working full time, so I didn't have enough money to spare. I had to do my shops carefully, which meant having a few of the same meals multiple times. In hindsight, this was a good thing, because it helped me plan ahead a lot more again.
I didn't miss meat as much this time around, but some of last year's issues still affected me - there were days I just couldn't be bothered to cook at all and then, of course, around the halfway mark, I got sick and had to pack the whole thing in for a couple of days.
I ONLY VARIED MY FOOD A LITTLE BIT MORE
I introduced some new recipes into my diet and also relied on some from 2016, but I still didn't get round to experimenting with quorn or tofu. On the other hand, I ate/snacked less and instead focused on more filling dinners and this time around I also stocked up on potatoes and vegetables, which I did not do this year.
I found myself eating a lot less in January, but I think that's because I was filling up on the good stuff (potatoes, vegetables etc), so I can't complain.
MY WILL POWER STAYED STRONG
I did consider for a second giving up once or twice, especially when I got sick, but then I remembered that being a vegan isn't being harsh on yourself and instead it's about trying to be vegan as best as you can. So there were a couple of days where I had no energy to cook or go and buy vegan stuff in, but I still tried my best on these days by still avoiding meat (just not dairy). I could have very easily of given up after this but instead I decided to continue.
This had challenges too, because afterwards, I was often tempted to just have a small slip up here and there, thinking that as I'd messed it up for a couple of days already, an odd little treat here and there wouldn't make much difference.
I definitely waived within the third week, but by the fourth and final week I was back to my determined self.
MY THOUGHTS LOOKING BACK
Looking back, I'm super proud of myself for achieving Veganuary yet again, and I've come away feeling more confident in the kitchen again and more savvy about eating healthy on a budget. I've got a couple more go-to meals that I'll continue to eat and overall, I've felt so much better in myself. According to my sister, my skin and hair looks better and more vibrant, and overall I look like I've lost weight.
I admit, I did weigh myself this time around out of curiosity, and found that over the course of the month, I lost half a stone.
I have been taking on lots of fitness classes too, but I've no doubt that by eating more vegetables and generally just eating more green/healthy, it's made a big difference.
As always, I've treated myself to a couple of things I missed in January, but overall I have been trying to continue to eat healthy or at least more balanced meals ever since.
This time around, instead of attempting to stay 85% vegan for the foreseeable future, I've decided I'm going to try to be 'flexitarian' (yes, that's a thing). It means to be someone who is primarily vegetarian, but occasionally eats meat or fish and I think this is quite suited to me.
I'll still be eating vegan as much as I can - I find no problem whatsoever with using vegan alternatives for butter, or milk and cheese in cooking, and the rest of the time I'll be sticking to vegetarian. I will allow myself to eat meat occasionally, perhaps just on a weekend, or for example, if I've gone out for dinner during the week and eating a meat based meal is just the easier option.
I actually found it really easy to give up meat for two, three weeks at a time, so although I may allow the option of eating it once a week, it's more likely that it'll be once every few weeks. An occasional treat, if you will.
It's not a huge change, but it's still a step in the right direction and if I'm really honest, I'm doing this for me more than any other reason. Going vegan made me feel so much better in myself and I simply want to continue that feeling. But due to my living circumstances and working just part-time right now, it isn't always a viable option.
So I'll be trying, but labelling myself as a flexitarian. This works for me, and also see's me doing my little bit to help animals too. According to stats, each person that takes part in Veganuary saves up to 30 animals by doing so - and that makes me feel damn good!
Keep an eye out for a couple more Veganuary posts throughout February, such as my favourite recipes this time around.
Would you ever try Veganuary? Let me know!
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