So basically, my skin cleared up around last month and I was finally mostly acne-free. Then I rather stupidly started using whey protein shakes after the gym nearly five times a week and BAM. This huge cystic acne accompanied by under the surface pimples all over my face. Grim.
Now, as whey protein comes from milk, I figured it’s probably dairy that triggers my acne, and thus (yeah. I used the word “thus”) I decided to try going dairy free for a week. However, as I already don’t eat meat, this turned into eating vegan for a week.
I know, I know, “Shut up! Stop telling people you’re a vegan! No one cares, stop telling us every five seconds!” Fear not, this isn’t going to turn all animal rights and preachy. (Although, I’m sure if you follow me on social media you’ll see enough of that) This was purely for vanity reasons. (Obviously. *Paris Hiltonesque hair-flip*)
I’m not going to lie, I honestly didn’t really miss much. In fact, it was probably the best I’ve eaten since going to university. I also feel like I had a culinary learning curve, and ventured to a whole new section of the supermarket so, overall a positive experience.
I was a big fan of Alpro’s Oat Milk. It’s found with all the long life milk, usually in the tea and coffee aisle and honestly, it was the closest I’ve tasted to actual cow’s milk. I’ve experimented with Almond milk and soya milk too but soy milk tastes gross on its own so cereal was a bit of a no-go, and almond milk is rancid in a cup of tea. I’m sorry, but you can take my cheese and chocolate, but you’re not taking my cups of tea. So yeah, oat milk was a great dairy free diet staple, it’s environmentally more sustainable and it actually tastes pretty good in both cereal and tea, so it’s a 10/0 from me. I hear it’s also usable in mash potatoes and baking if you’re into actual kitchen activity.
Speaking of which, I’m a TERRIBLE cook, like awful. 8 times out of 10 I can’t even get toast right so I needed food that was simple. Since I could no longer live off cheese toasties and chocolate cookies I felt pretty screwed initially, but it turns out supermarkets are actually getting pretty stocked up on their vegan/dairy-free stuff. Linda McCartney does AMAZING vegan steak pies and suspiciously meaty sausages. They can be cooked straight from frozen and are extremely satisfying with some dairy-free mash and veggies. I also found a really simple pesto pasta dish (using vegan pesto from the Tesco “Free From” section) to which you can add tofu or, as I chose to, Quorn’s vegan chicken-style burgers cut up, and the Tesco stir fry deal with the Singapore noodles are vegan friendly with the right sauce.
The biggest thing I really feared was a lack of chocolate. Anyone that knows me knows I inhale the stuff and usually pair it with a Starbucks skinny-latte. However, the problem was quickly solved. Starbucks stock soy milk and almond milk and possibly more dairy-free milks, you just have to ask, and Alpro once again saved the day with their Devilishly Dark Chocolate pots. They were also found in the Free From range in Tesco and honestly omg they’re SO satisfying for a chocolate craver like myself. It was the same consistency as a Dairy Milk buttons dessert pot thingy and just as filling. I also found out Oreos and Tesco’s Oaties biscuits are vegan, and any other snacking can be done with nuts, Kettle Chips and obviously fruit, veg and hummus.
If you want a little help in the kitchen, Lucy Watson and Ella Woodward have AMAZING vegan cook books out, as well as the book Vegan Goodness, which I’ve seen in Waterstones and Urban Outfitters. If you’re more a dining out kinda-guy/gal then Ask Italian, Zizzi’s and Pizza express do suspiciously good vegan pizzas and garlic breads, and a quick google can find any other dietary requirement-fulfilling places near you.
Unsurprisingly my skin cleared up after a week of dairy-free , but mostly, I just felt generally better. Vegan/dairy-free food doesn’t have to just be salads and hummus sprinkled in quinoa. There’s so many choices out there and amazing substitutes, and it wasn’t actually any more expensive than my usual weekly shop as I wasn’t buying yoghurts, biscuits, chocolate and cheese.
Just make sure you’re always checking the labels and doing what’s right for you. Not every dietary quirk suits everyone, so go slowly introducing or removing things from your diet before you go all out and keep it balanced.
Make sure you’re still treating yourself!