My trial month of being vegan is over - I committed to one month in June because it sounded like a do-able time scale and I honestly didn't know if at the end of it I'd be reaching for the cheesy scrambled egg with extra mayo.
The fact that I'm not and have no desire to three days after the official end of the 'trial', even though I could if I wanted and justify it to myself, says something.
What has been fascinating is focusing on food and realising how distant our normal relationship with it is. I was surprised on my first vegan trip round the supermarket to realise, after an unfeasible amount of time label gazing, how much seemingly unnecessary stuff goes into what we eat. Even usual things I'd buy as a vegetarian mostly contained some kind of dairy product added in some guise. Veggie sausages, falafel, quorn, pesto - all out. It's also been a revelation just how much diary as a vegetarian I must have been eating, it does become not only a meat substitute but often the only thing people can think of to offer you.
Making meals at home hasn't changed much - much of what I'd make anyway would be relatively vegan, or easily made into vegan by say leaving the parmesan out. I can actually say I haven't missed cheese which is surprising (until my brother turned up and his partner hadn't known and had brought me a bag full of gorgeous looking cheeses as a present... I sulked and son scoffed them!) The only think I do think about occasionally is scrambled eggs on a weekend for brunch - I haven't tried the tofu version of them yet, I know it won't be the same. Meals round friends houses have been great, they've wanted to try new recipes and it's been fab hearing other non vegans exhort how delicious (and easy) vegan food can be.
Eating out however is a whole different experience. Restaurants have to be picked carefully or given a pre-warning phone call - it's like the olden days where you wore a bell around your neck that signalled you were 'unclean'. Eating out on a lunchtime is the trickiest thing - the usual grab something in a cafe like a normal person means at best I am lucky to get some fruit or a salad and a packet of (plain) crisps. Of all the things this has been the most difficult. Apart from train travel - which was a similar barren experience and actually meant I was hungrier longer as had a long journey.
It means that you have to be a little more organised and prepared ,which quite frankly I'm not - yet.
I decided to try vegan because of the potential health benefits - so have I noticed any? It's hard to say given I had an operation 12 days in which meant hardly eating for a few days after, then a week later suffered from a stomach infection which meant surviving a few more days on soup and bread. But, given that I am at the end of quite a stressful few months (April - trekking in Peru and suffering altitude sickness, May - having a hysterectomy, June - having plastic surgery done) I am feeling surprisingly well and what I do know is the days when I have eaten well and slept well I've felt very well. And it has 'cured' me of picking and snacking (one of the downsides of working at home) and of my sweet tooth - no longer can I just have a couple of biscuits or piece of cake with a cuppa.
So, partly because I have had the blip in the middle which blighted the experience a bit, partly because it is starting to feel like the 'norm' and partly because I'm still fascinated as I have only just scratched the surface and have loads more to try and to look into, I am not going to end my vegan experience with the end of June. Oh no, I am carrying on being that awkward one, that one who has to explain what they can and can't eat, that one who just says 'it's fine I'll just have the salad then - no dressing' for at least a while longer yet...
And if you want to follow my vegan ups and downs, recipes, good (and bad) places to go you can like my Vegan Virgin FaceBook page