I love that every January – and this year more than ever – vegan food is everywhere. In the news, in the shops, in our tummies. We did a very unplanned family veganuary and well, it didn’t go quite to plan but then that was because there was no plan. But it did do a few very good things:
Remind me that becoming vegan isn’t easy
I forget sometimes that I’ve not always been vegan and at one point it was a real effort to find meals I wanted to eat. Trying to feed the family all the same meal is always a challenge but coming at it unprepared just set us up for failure. At the same time it served as a big reminder that being vegan isn’t simply just not putting meat and dairy in our mouths. It is a lifestyle change. Now, I roll my eyes at every diet fad that sells itself as ‘it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle’ because it is not, it is a diet. But becoming vegan IS a lifestyle (unless of course you are using it as a diet, in which case – good luck! I hope it sticks). Therefore the journey into it cannot be done in a month alone but over a long period of time to change habitual behaviours.
More plants in the house
As a family, our diets as a whole have become more plant-based over January and that is going to stick. The kids have tried – and liked – a whole bunch of food that we’ve pretty much given up and trying to get them to eat. Shame on us there. But they embraced it and loved it. That’s got to be a good thing.
Becoming more thoughtful about what we feed the kids
It is too easy to chuck some veggie burgers in the oven or rely on the free school meal. Veganuary forced us to address our meal times and look at new ways to feed the family. The biggest one of all was the packed lunch. There are only so many times you can send your kid to school with a hummus sandwich and hope they don’t get bored of it. Internet searches proved almost unhelpful but we put together a plan and I want to share that plan with you.
Anatomy of a Lunchbox
We agreed that the lunchbox needed five parts: savoury main, savoury snack, pudding replacement, fruit and a drink. Leaving aside the drink and fruit, which are always in the house, I sat down with my son and we thought of 7 things he would like for the other three sections so that his lunchbox was different every day.
We came up with this snazzy table:
What was great about this is that my son was involved and each evening he picked one thing from each column for the next day. (Disclaimer: I did not have a nicely typed up spreadsheet – it was a crayon-scribbled list on the back of a flyer, stuck to the fridge).
His favourite, to replace chippy-Friday at school, was Rainbow wrap. He LOVES this and asks for it most days when he is heading out for school. I love that this happens thanks to Veganuary.
The great thing about a rainbow wrap is that is uses up whatever veg and salad you may have left in the fridge.
1 wholemeal wrap
Handful of spinach (or steamed kale)
Half a grated carrot
Red cabbage shredded
3-4 cherry tomatoes
1/4 red bell pepper
1 tbsp hummus
Heat the wrap on a dry frying pan for 20-30 seconds on each side. Smother with the hummus in a long line down the centre of the wrap and layer on the ingredients, keeping colours together. Season to taste. Fold in the sides at the top and bottom of your filling, roll one side over and tuck under filling if you can, keep rolling to the end of the wrap and cut in half.