Following the feast with a famine provides food for thought

By Pete Hemingway, SRA Project Assistant

Dry January, Veganuary, Decaffanuary, as many trendy “anuary’s” as you can shake a stick at.

It’s that time of the year when I take a long hard look at myself and struggle to see my feet, the turkey, stuffing and roast parsnips of Christmas Day transforming me in no small way into St Nicholas himself – and that’s not to mention the chocolate for breakfast, prosecco for elevenses or the ‘I’ll never eat another bite’ three-layer turkey sandwich at 7 o’clock.

So, like any self-respecting millennial keen to do something trendy and downright individual I coerced my girlfriend into the perhaps ill-fated decision to say ta-ra to meat, dairy and eggs for January – or Veganuary as it shall now be known.

Four short weeks of cauliflower steaks, vegetable chilli and curry galore, topped off with baba ghanoush, hummus and flatbreads. With little nutritional academia behind us we’re ill placed to claim veganism as the healthiest diet, the excess of carbohydrates consumed in the first few days are testament to that, but still, the idea of fresh veg over processed meat still seems to tip the balance.

Only once we’d scratched milk off the shopping list did we trip and fall into the conundrum in front of us, to which we stood up scratching our heads asking ‘what the bloody hell are we going to put in our tea?’

With palettes unsuited to almond, soy or oat based alternatives we saw an opportunity to push the boat out on our one month experiment, so with gritted teeth we cast out caffeine – and with no option for a cup of tea on a hangover, alcohol had to go too.

I could go on and on about the environmental and health benefits of reducing red meat consumption, avoiding alcohol, not relying on caffeine to wake me up in the morning or even the cost savings associated with not doing anything fun, but in all honesty, that’s never what I had in mind. Exasperated with new health food trends and unable to beat them, we’ve gone all in and joined them.

It seems to me that the key to a healthy life is everything in moderation, from meat to caffeine, alcohol and eggs and you’ll probably be alright if you don’t binge on anything too regularly. Our grandparents survived the war without superfood smoothies and their parents before them. But who am I to judge, when it has been less than a week and I’m already clawing at my collar for a cuppa.

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