My vegan journey so far, by Stewart Dodd, River Cottage Chief Executive
As a vegetarian for the last decade, my decision to take part in Veganuary felt like no big deal. I eat healthily, enjoy cooking and run a company renowned for its uncompromising approach to local, seasonal and sustainable produce, so how hard could it be?!
I have been vegan for just over a week which began with dinner at my parent’s house. Even after 10 years of not eating meat my mother still insists on cooking it when I am there. Presenting her with my temporary vegan status was a step too far so I just ate the overcooked vegetables and hoped nothing was coated in butter. My folks live in Newcastle and while I was there we went out for lunch, to a great restaurant http://paniscafe.co.uk which had fantastic vegan options, thank goodness. I felt included and properly fed.
Travelling back from Durham to London burst my vegan bubble. Out of interest on the way to the station I looked for Pret A Manger and Costa to see what they offered. The former had closed down and the latter had sold out of their vegan all day breakfast sandwich, which was probably a lucky escape as the description wasn’t encouraging. I survived the journey on nuts and a very old banana, whilst my daughter ate a cheese sandwich that looked strangely appetising.
It was a relief to be home in Dorset and able to cook for myself. I made soups for the freezer and tried out a few River Cottage recipes but forgot to take lunch on my first day back in the office. I realise I need to be better organised and a regular food shopper as a hungry vegan. After trying several sandwich shops, all closed for their winter break, I ended up at The Galley Café in Lyme Regis. They made me a hummus and roast vegetable sandwich that was completely delicious.
To date my best experience was the first curry night at the River Cottage Kitchen in Axminster. Our Head Chef Ben cooked a feast of vegan, vegetarian and carnivore curries. It has restored my faith in my Veganuary adventure for now. This is much harder than I thought it would be but I am determined to continue so watch this space…