Veg Fest: My Big Fat Vegan Diary

In the build up to VegfestUK Samantha Harman finds out what it’s like to become vegan

Karin Ridgers challenged me to become vegan for two weeks leading up to VegfestUK, Europe’s largest vegan event. I was persuaded through a combination of my own guilt at how the meat and dairy industry operate and her positive attitude, which I hoped might rub off on me.

Before we begin, I feel it imperative to confess that for the entirety of my life I have been a staunch meat eater, often found face-down in a cheese board. Yesterday I cooked the mother of all Sunday Roasts, topped off with home-made apple pie and cream. The consequence of wanting to make the most of my last night of food freedom has resulted in being bloated and slightly windy. But we won’t dwell on that.


Here follows exerts from my two week blog, and you can read in full on my twitter page.

Day one. Monday 8th February
Am resigned to my vegan fate. The experiment is perfectly timed – my thus far appalling diet has resulted in weight gain and low energy. Breakfast consisted of Bran Flakes with raisins and almond milk.

At lunchtime perused my local supermarket, trying to decide what I could safely be eaten. Left with baby tomatoes, blueberries, grapes and a sour expression. First telephone conversation with Karin was immensely helpful, she advised me on how best to proceed. Returned to said super market to purchase oat cakes and hummus – feeling motivated!

Day two. Tuesday 9th February
Good news – my mood has vastly improved, also feeling more energetic and not as tired as usual.

Bad news – slipped up at dinner time (sorry Karin!). Visited a fantastic new burger bar with family, fear not, did not succumb to meat, just Haloumi – which yes, it’s dairy, but was starving! Didn’t fancy vegan option on offer – potato and vegetable patty inside a burger bun? Sounded like it would stick to the roof of my mouth, no thanks.

Note to self – research required prior to visiting eating establishments…

Day three. Wednesday 10th February
Back on vegan wagon, not a scrap of dairy or meat has passed these angelic lips today. Found solace in soup (Bona Foodie) and a rather wonderful chickpea bread from Purezza on St James Street at lunchtime. Throughly enjoyed roasted veg, hummus and oat cakes for dinner. The meals I am consuming feel cleaner and less heavy.

P.S – Vertese kindly sent me some vitamins tailored for vegans today too, so will be giving them a whirl.

Day five. Friday 12th February
Good news: A colleague who hasn’t seen me since Monday informed me I look thinner in the face, overjoyed to receive such an encouraging accolade – now if only the rest of me would catch up!

Bad news: Accidentally’ drank too much Prosecco this evening (I think you can guess where this is going) as a result of drunkenness, ‘accidentally’ ate three slices of salami and a mini pork pie, or maybe two. Feel incredibly guilty.

Day six. Saturday 13th February
Major breakthrough with hangover food – visited my new vegan buddy Ideya again and ordered Sweet potato and pesto pie, accompanied by shredded beetroot and broccoli with almonds. So much better than the usual guff I favour when fuzzy headed. What hangover?

Day seven. Valentine’s Day
My gorgeous fiance took me for a vegan valentines lunch at Wai Kika Moo Kau followed by an almond milk latte and beetroot cake. Was not too bloated for ‘romance’. Think fiance likes benefits of vegan diet.

Day eight. Monday 15th February
Spoke with Tim Barford, Director of Vegfest, who has been vegan for 30 years. He informed me that it takes 30 days to experience the full benefits of veganism. During this time you can experience lows and fatigue as the body adjusts and relapses are common – made me feel better about my slip- ups.

Day nine. Tuesday 16th February
Not missing meat. Missing cheese though. A lot. Luckily Vegusto, multi-award winning gourmet cheese and meat alternative company, sent me a host of vegan cheeses to try.

Day ten. Wednesday 17th February
As a major cheese groupie, let me tell you I’m a tough crowd. Happy to report that my first ever vegan cheese toastie was amazing, just as good as the real thing. Being vegan now seems a real possiblity!

I had no preconceptions prior to embarking on my vegan adventure, just felt it was time for a dietary overhaul. Have found it challenging at times, as with any life change. What this experiment has done is force me to consider what I eat and in particular the effects food has on my wellbeing. Going forward I know I can live without meat and will continue to do so, perhaps I will ease myself into veganism? Brighton is the city in which to do this thanks to the vast array of amazing restaurants, cafes and shops that support an alternative diet.

Really pleased that I did this and will defintely be attending VegfestUK to find out more.

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