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Dear Reader, I think I might have made a mistake.
This time last week, BK, Mr Chilled and I decided to watch a documentary on Netflix. I think it was called What The Health and it’s made by the same guy who made Cowspiracy. After watching it, BK and Mr Chilled decided to be vegetarian for the month of August. TFTF didn’t decide to do anything. To be honest, both BK and Mr Chilled looked pretty bummed about it. No Sunday night braai. No bolognaise. No lasagne. In solidarity with them I decided that August would be my Vegan Before 6 month.
You might ask where I got this crazy idea from. Well, I heard it on a TED Radio Hour podcast (podcasts, by the way, are my new crack). Anyway, this guy Mark Bittman has written a book called VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health for Good… (his ellipses not mine. For a change). I have to point out that when you listen to the podcast, he just says “Vegan before six” and doesn’t mention that while losing weight, you might also lose your mind. Or your sense of humour.
A few days into this new eating regimen, I suddenly questioned my understanding of Bittman’s phrase “vegan before 6”. Could he have meant that we should eat vegan before we’re 6 years old? If that was the case, I would be home-free as I’m slightly past 6 years of age. Or, I pondered, was he suggesting that we should eat vegan before 6am? This, I felt, would be quite easy because I’m very vegan when I sleep. But nope, that wasn’t it. After doing some research I found out that what he actually meant, was that we should eat vegan throughout the day UNTIL 6pm.
Just a bit of background here. Throughout my life I’ve periodically decided (normally after watching a documentary or reading a magzine article titled something like The Crime of Being a Carb) to give up some or other food stuff. Giving up carbs is particularly torturous, simply because the minute you give it up, you start dreaming of all manner of carbs that you don’t even normally eat and that maybe haven’t even been invented yet. Like donuts spliced with chocolate eclairs or bread infused with bread. It really is the weirdest thing. I’ve even caught myself doing scratch-and-sniff with pictures of cakes in recipe books – just trying to get the aroma of carbs, you understand.
And so it went with me eating vegan. Every single meal I thought of making somehow included an animal product. To be specific, either cheese, butter or milk (apparently they’re in EVERYTHING!) Oh, I’d think, I’ll make a baked potato and have cottage cheee.. Ah, shitballs. Nope, I won’t be having that. What about a delicious broccoli and cauliflower bake with cheese sau…. Oh flaming shrimps! I can’t have that either. Or my all time dinner–saviour: I’ll have a feta and mushroom omel…. Oh for fucksakes, I can’t have that either!
And so it went. And so goes.
When I decided to go VB6, I suffered three critical oversights. Firstly, my day simply cannot begin without a cup of tea. It must be Ceylon and it must contain milk. It’s just the way it has to be. A law, almost. The way around this was to buy milk alternatives but when I saw that almond milk costs nearly as much as a villa in Spain, I had to opt for PnP’s house brand of soya milk. I figured that since my hormones are in such a dreadful state, drinking soya milk couldn’t possibly disrupt them any further, and therefore drinking it would be OK for my health. I’m currently drinking my body weight in soya milk so if next time you see me I look slightly on edge and am in the shape of a soya bean, you’ll know why.
Secondly, and this is truly a tragic and critical oversight, I didn’t factor in that I’d have to give up chocolate and rusks. Both of these are my go-to foods for problem solving. It’s a universal truth that if you have some chocolate – no matter how small or big – you can solve the problems of the world. Not only that, but both chocolate and rusks are well-documented “harmony foods”. It’s a scientific fact. After all, have you ever seen two people eating chocolate or a rusk and having a fight?
The final oversight is that the VB6 plan is inherently flawed. That is, of course, if you take my whiskey drinking tendencies into account. It’s all very well saying you can eat animal products after 6pm, but then how, dear Lord, do you stop? It’s impossible. It’s Sweeney Todd’s pies all over again, or that mayor in Chocolat who OD’s on confectionary: once you get the taste of something, you simply can’t stop yourself coming back for more. Consequently, I decided screw it, I’m going VA24, Vegan All 24 hours. I cannot begin to explain how very boring I am (BK concurs) and how very boring I feel.
You might ask yourself, as I regularly do, what can vegans actually eat? The short answer is: vegetables. The long answer is: there is a lot of toast with avo and cocktail tomatoes going down. Broccoli soup with coconut milk is a big thing. Hummus is being consumed by the tuckload. Breakfast consists of oats with water and soy milk and a teaspoon of pea protein powder and a teaspoon of chia seeds (oh, the crazy hedonism of vegan breakfasts!) I went all out and made a stir fry with vegan chicken strips, which was rather OK. I added pineapple pieces - just to be fun.
It’s not that I don’t want to do it, truly. It’s just the lack of food variety brings me closer and closer to my 6… erm, 5pm whiskey. And to think, for one crazy moment I considered giving up alcohol at the same time as animal products. (And she laughed and she laughed).
On a very exciting note, which I’m sure is totally not the point, #veganslikeme can eat hot chips and… wait for it… jelly tots! I only know this because I was craving something sweet (not #naturescandy a.k.a fruit), something rudely sweet, so I bought a bag of Liquorice Allsorts. I was really cheerful until I read the label: they contain gelatine. Fuck. Mr Chilled had to scoff the whole bag to get it out of my sight.
So, instead, I hunted me down some jelly tots (which I last ate in the 90’s), ate an entire bag, and then got heart palpitations from all the E-colourants.
And that, dear reader, is a cautionary tale about why, when you go vegan, you should employ a chef and stock up on booze.