I love a challenge. If anyone is looking for someone to trek from Land’s End to John ‘O Groats on a skateboard, or fly around the world by carrier pigeon, I’m your girl.
So it was in this spirit of adventure that I decided it was time I took on a new challenge, one that I could do from the comfort of my own home.
I decided to attempt being vegan.
I know, I know, it’s been the buzzword du jour since Beyonce and Jay-Z went vegan for a couple of weeks a few years ago. Apparently they were even papped coming out of a vegan restaurant. Well Bey-Z, surely I can do better than you. I’ve been vegetarian for fifteen years already, goddammit, how hard can it be? I had recently visited a vegetarian and vegan cafe and had a lovely vegan breakfast in which some kind of fried tofu thing played the part of scrambled eggs very effectively, and noted that a few years had now passed since the last time I drank soy milk and hated it, so perhaps now it might be worth giving it another go?
Within hours, I was feeling like I was in a Channel 4 documentary with a title like “FAT VS. SUGAR: WHICH ONE WILL MAKE YOU DIE FIRST?” where two hapless individuals have to subsist on a diet consisting solely of fat or sugar for a month and at the end of it some doctors come along and put them through some machines which decide which of them is the most unhealthy, and then project their life expectancy onto a big screen. “Mark, congratulations. You have aged THIRTY YEARS in JUST ONE MONTH! You can now expect to die at the age of fifty-seven! This is surely proof that our sugar-laden diets are literally KILLING US ALL! Now let’s take a look at the camera we placed in your stomach and see a close-up of your rotting insides.”
For a start, I couldn’t drink my regular cup of tea. Now, I had obviously considered this, and had some thoughts about alternatives. Never let it be said that I am not prepared. I remembered a trip to China many years ago, where I had no access to the lovely milky tea so beloved of us Brits, and had to drink Chinese leaf tea for an entire week, with no milk. I remembered how the tea in China was so good that not only did it not need milk, but I didn’t even miss my regular brew.
Such a shame I don’t live in China.
I had a rummage in the cupboards, and all I could come up with was this poor excuse for a beverage.
It may be a natural source of antioxidants, but I was pretty convinced I would no longer be requiring any oxygen if I had to drink this every day for the rest of my life.
The next step was breakfast, and this was beans on toast. With NO BUTTER ON THE TOAST. Lord have mercy, this was going to be harder than I thought.
Piglet and I went out to a museum for the day, and I was pleased to find that there were two vegan-approved salads in the cafe, and they even did soy milk for my latte. SOY MILK! Joy of joys! I would not have to give up coffee for eternity. All was not lost.
However, it was soy milk that ultimately proved to be my downfall.
The last time I drank soy milk was many years ago, and I know it was years ago because I had a raging hangover, the like of which is never seen now that I am old and sensible. For reasons which baffle me to this day, I decided to cope with my hangover by downing a pint of soy milk, since there was some in the fridge and presumably, as a drink, it had vaguely hydrating qualities. It was the singularly worst thing I have ever had the misfortune to drink whilst hungover. Frankly, I feel fairly confident in saying that I would have felt less ill if I’d chosen to treat the unfortunate malady with a bottle of whisky.
At the time, I put this down to the effects of the hangover, but yesterday, after two soy lattes and a cup of tea with soy milk, I went to bed feeling as though the contents of my stomach were being churned like the butter I was no longer permitted to eat. After waking up this morning feeling just as awful, and suffering through a breakfast of Weetabix with soy milk and a joyless cous cous salad which contained actual fruit, I was craving something to take the edge off. Something like cake. I ventured into a cafe, and ordered another soy latte, and a flapjack which I read the ingredients on carefully and of which the only possibly banned ingredient was something called “natural butter flavouring.”
I then sat down to enjoy my vomit-inducing soy milk with accompanying snack of mass-produced factory flapjack which may or may not have contained real butter and made a decision, one that I would have doubtless made earlier if I had sat down and seriously thought about all the varieties of cheese in the world, there for the taking; being vegan was not for me.