I did Dry Veganuary living in my parents’ house and it wasn’t as bad as you’d think
Sober vegan student locked out of Lancaster? Never heard of herbivore
‘What’s one thing that could make this situation just a little less bearable?’ I asked myself on the eve of lockdown no3. I hadn’t yet gone back to uni after the Christmas holidays, which made it even more upsetting to be sat in my parents’ living room listening to Boris prophesying the next few months of lockdown gloom. I had to accept the reality of my penultimate term of uni being spent in my family home, and I had to accept it quickly. Gone were the days of eating Lidl caterpillar cake out of a mug because I had no clean plates. Vanished were the evenings spent passionately debating tinder politics with my housemates. Elapsed were the blurry hungover mornings which melted into afternoons and migraines. As though a slogan for a catchy infomercial, the saying “stay at home, control the virus, save lives” had infiltrated my mind like an earworm. There was no way I was going back to uni.
They say before you die, you relive your whole life in seven seconds. It seems that before your social life dies, you decide to get rid of everything that brings you joy in seven seconds. So, in that moment of mental crisis, where Bojo, once again, stripped me of almost everything that brought me joy, I decided to finish the job for him. “I’m going vegan!” I declared out loud. “I don’t care what you say; I’m doing it. I should have done it ages ago. It’s time. I’ve decided it’s time!” No one was in the room, of course. That’s the thing about living with your parents; they don’t tend to always be near me and shuffling around in a slanket drinking pint glasses of milk like my housemates. I stared around the empty room. “Alright fine, you’ve convinced me. I’ll do dry January too.”
I read an article once, which said that cheese affects the brain like heroin. It does. I’ve gone through the withdrawal symptoms. Halloumi was responsible for at least fifty-five per cent of the dopamine I’ve felt since March. It’s been almost four weeks since my last hit, approx 28 days clean now. Jokes aside, not having a cascading pile of mozzarella on my pasta was tough at first, but knowing the health benefits of cutting it down pushed me onwards. Now, I really don’t miss it. And it didn’t take me long to get out of the habit. Two weeks in and I didn’t even feel like I was missing much as I chowed down on my vegan spag bol.
My energy increased
This one really surprised me. I had never been a huge meat eater, so I didn’t feel going vegan would affect my mood. But after about a week and a half of cutting out animal products, my dissertation induced brain fog cleared. I had more energy; I was naturally finding myself waking up before six am (which is crazy I know, who am I?) Thousands more words were getting written, I was managing to go on a two-hour lockdown dog walk every day, I was even consistently working out for an hour every evening. My 5k time increased, and I was running so much faster, feeling so much less tired. This was insane. Before this month, I had really convinced myself that feeling exhausted was just part of my personality, and something I would have to live with forever. But hey ho, turns out plant power is real. Who knew? (cheeky disclaimer: this was just my experience! I am fully aware that this is a response to eating nutritiously, which could be done by keeping animal products in my diet. If you want to go vegan, make sure to do your own research to find out what works best for you.)
BEANS BEANS BEANS
Okay, so when I couldn’t lean on meat to bulk up a meal, I had to turn to an alternative. And I found that alternative in the plant protein-filled majesty of legumes. I piled my plate full of beans of all kinds, taking the concept of volume eating probably a bit far. Kidney bean curries, chilli con lentils, chickpea stir-fry, black bean salads. And lowkey, it was fun. Like I’m not even joking. My inner child was cringing at me piling kidney beans into my wok because “ewwwww kidney beans are grosssss!” But it turns out they’re not. And they’re amazing for you. Win-win.
Protein shakes became part of my daily routine
Pea protein shakes became part of my daily routine. That strangely dull and bitter taste of synthetic vanilla took a long time to get used to, but at least I didn’t lack protein in my new diet void of chicken and eggs (aka the foods made out to be the absolute pinnacle of protein). To make it more palatable, I started to mix the protein into pancakes or oatmeal for my breakfast before a workout, and it wasn’t too shabby. Properly recommend. It turns out you really don’t need to cut out your fave meals when you go vegan.
My parents don’t drink much anyway, so Saturday nights were never gonna be spent playing Ring of Fire on the living room floor and downing a king’s cup of Echo Falls, cheap vodka, and Dark Fruits. But something about not even being able to have a nice cold refreshing pint if I fancied one was a bit tragic. Drinking culture has pretty much died since Covid began, so luckily I never had to experience a pub or club sober, but I’m definitely up for giving it a try in the future. Besides, tonic tastes nice without the gin, and I haven’t traded a whole day for a hangover in what feels like forever.
Dry Veganuary, during a pandemic, sounds like hell. I thought I was getting myself into some of the most difficult weeks of lockdown so far. But it was actually an excellent way for me to focus on something other than the dystopia that is going on outside my window. Eating good foods, avoiding alcohol and keeping active has proved one of the best ways to deal with covid as a student locked down away from my uni mates. I wish I’d started sooner to be honest.