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A veganuary experience


Fazeela Ratnani, Sales Controller in Nestlé Food & Dairy, shares her experience of taking part in Veganuary, where people follow a vegan diet for the 31 days of January.

Growing up consuming meat was a luxury as my parents could only afford the humble vegetables available in the local market. This meant that three times a week our staple meal was daal with chappati (hand rolled flatbreads on hot iron pan). It was only every Sunday that we had a chicken biryani or a curry and we looked forward to that with much anticipation. But now, since becoming an adult and cooking for myself and my family, meat has become much more part of my everyday diet.

Every new year brings new beginnings as well as challenges. Every year, one common theme, for me personally, is how to become a better person physically as well as mentally. This year, I have promised myself to contribute in my small way to a better future for our planet. For this reason, I have embarked on a mission to know more about how to become a vegan for as long as I can.

Meal Planning

This January, I've stuck to a weekly meal plan for dinners taking inspiration from my mum as well as my Greek Mother-in-Law's family recipes which included:

  • Monday: Black Lentil boiled with onions, garlic, oregano and olive oil.
  • Tuesday: Chickpea curry with potatoes
  • Wednesday: Spinach with Rice (Spanakoriso - Greek recipe)
  • Thursday: Garden Gourmet Burgers with raw baby leaf salad complimented with a mustard, vinegar and olive oil dressing
  • Friday: Stuffed red peppers with rice, tomatoes and herbs
  • Saturday: Simple pasta with tomatoes sauce cooked with sautéed onions and garlic
  • Sunday: Vegan Garden Gourmet Chicken Wraps with a spicy sizzle and fresh salad

For lunch, I'm always in a hurry, so I usually have leftovers from the evening meal or a quick spinach, carrot, ginger and lime juice - three times a week. I add a bowl of cherry tomatoes on a mixed leaves salad - all raw without a dressing.

GG Chicken Wrap (1)

Week One

First week in, I've not missed any dairy or meat from our family meals. Garden Gourmet Burgers are so good that even my fussy husband couldn't really tell the difference! Discovering great colourful vegetables and herbs has been a welcome change.

Breakfast is a cup of black coffee (always Nespresso) and a large apple. I always do take vitamins to supplement any nutrient deficiency primarily B12 and D3. I am not a nutritionist nor have I ever been Vegan for any duration of my life so far. I can only comment on how I will feel at the end of this experiment and what benefits it will offer to my mental and physical well-being. So far, I feel connected to my roots and enjoy my foodie conversations with my mum.

Lentil Soup

Week Three

With three weeks completed, I am experiencing visible benefits in my physical appearance and the way I feel. My skin is clearer and firmer, which may be because of all the raw salads and vegetables that I am consuming. I certainly feel more energetic with greater focus and concentration on tasks as well.

There is a kaleidoscope of dishes that I am discovering and my family are more engaged than ever in the weekly meal plans and my six-year-old son, Ioannis, asks me tons of questions like 'is Ketchup Vegan?' which makes me smile.

Final Week

Overall, I have been having fun discovering my nutritional balance as well as connecting with my family near and far.

Looking forward into 2022, I will try my best to keep my meat consumption to once or twice per week. I will evolve the meal plan that I have followed this month as the plant-based meat alternatives fulfil the desire to have something meaty to eat without eating animal products.

My next challenge is to replicate my mum's chicken biryani but made vegan!