It’s now been more than a week since I returned to my normal diet, and in doing so I would like to share with you my experience of refusing to eat meat, eggs, fish, and (sometimes) dairy products for 7 weeks.
My ambition to try veganism was birthed quite spontaneously from my decision to fast during the Great Lent (which is quite popular in Cypriot culture). My experience with fasting taught me great lessons in discipline and willpower, which excited me to try out being vegan.
So, was it hard going (almost) vegan as a super busy freelancer with diabetes?
For the first week, it most definitely was. During the first few days, I had a large freelance project that was consuming a lot of my time, so I wasn’t entirely keen on spending several hours in the kitchen preparing a nice vegan meal. After several days of eating simple meals like vegan toast with jam and plain vegetable salads, I was ready to give up and go back to my previous ways of eating. By adding a bit of cheese to our diet, the situation was saved, but I still faced a couple other challenges…
Challenge #1: Breakfast
My greatest challenge throughout all of this was trying to find a low-fat, vegan breakfast that also contained about 40 grams of carbohydrates- before trying this diet, I would make pies from 0% fat cottage cheese (and eggs), or granola with milk to satisfy this need. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a good alternative to these low-carb/low-fat breakfasts, so most days we would just eat vegan oatmeal cookies and vegan galette with bananas for breakfast. Even more, unfortunately, we eventually gave up and started cooking up some good ol’ fatty fried bread with cheese. I know, shame on me!
However, the cookies and galette were quite tasty, here is how I made them:
Oatmeal Vegan Cookies:
- 500 g of oatmeal
- 5 small bananas
- Raisins to taste
- Cinnamon to taste
- Preheat oven to 180 C.
- Peel bananas and mash them with a fork.
- Mix mashed bananas with oatmeal, add raisins and cinnamon.
- Grease cooking sheet with olive oil and place walnut-sized balls of ‘dough’ on it.
- Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- 325 g of flour
- 125 ml of olive oil
- 125 ml of boiling water
- 5 g of vanilla sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Thin-sliced fruits (I use bananas and sometimes mangos)
- Cinnamon to taste
- Brown sugar to taste
- Preheat oven to 180 C.
- Prepare dough by mixing all the ingredients, and let sit for about 20-30 minutes.
- Roll the dough out into a circle, about 2-3 mm thick. I do this right on a cooking sheet.
- Put the filling on the dough, starting from the center and leaving a 5 cm border on the edges.
- Sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar over the filling.
- Gently cover about ⅓ of the filling by folding the edges of the dough over the filling.
- Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes.
Challenge #2: No-Carb Lunch-Dinner
The second challenge I faced was cooking lunch-dinner. Generally, for this meal, I eat meat/fish with a salad, or just pasta/risotto on days when I am busier. So, here you can probably see where my routine was challenged and where it changed; we ended up eating all possible and creative kinds of pasta (hopefully we won’t be traveling to Italy anytime soon…).
However, after awhile, we did have more than just pasta; during my 7 week journey I discovered two non-pasta dishes that I absolutely love: Melanzane Parmigiana and Salad with Strawberries (or Mango) and Blue Cheese. The former can be fairly time-consuming, but, to compensate, the latter one is a great meal for when you only have about 15 minutes to prepare something.
Salad with Strawberries (or Mango) and Cheese:
- 6 big leaves of lettuce
- 1 medium mango or 8-10 medium strawberries
- Blue or goat cheese to taste
- Nuts (for salad with mango) to taste
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce (for salad with mango, optional) or 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (for salad with strawberries)
- Tear lettuce into small pieces.
- Cut the mango into cubes or the strawberries into slices, then add to lettuce.
- Prepare the dressing by mixing all the dressing ingredients together.
- Add dressing to the salad.
- Season salad with crumbles of cheese (and nuts for the salad with mango).
Well, I am back to my normal diet. However, from being vegan for a short time, I have experienced amazing change. I have been a meat-lover for a very long time, and with this experiment I have realized just how heavy meat can make my body feel. For this, I have learned to limit my consumption of red meat and to try and eat more fish instead (which is not the cheapest option when living in Cyprus, but most definitely the healthiest one!).
Will I continue my ‘eating vegan’ experiments anytime soon? Most likely, yes. This time, however, I will prepare a list of healthy and easy-to-cook recipes in advance, because without doing so, it can be rather difficult prepare both diabetes and vegan-friendly dishes while still having free time outside of work.