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Logo Veggie ChallengeIn June and July this year, the Dutch youth foundation Viva Las Vega’s organized the Veggie Challenge: a dare to eat less animal produce for at least once a week during a whole month. Depending on their diet, participants would set their own goals, e.g. 1 day vegetarian for omnis, a day vegan for vegetarians, an extra day veggie for flexitarians et cetera. 2000+ people gave it a go! Among them were three people I know — and no, I had nothing to do with that ;) Curious about their experiences, I decided to interview them for VeganMoFo.

We’ve heard from YvonneP and Uniflame and today the spotlights are aimed at JannyAn! Again, Janny is someone I met on-line first at the Boekgrrls mailinglist; I’m not sure how long ago exactly. Soon we saw each other in real life on book swaps and Wandelgrrls hikes. Now we’ve even started a film club together: the Cinephyles! It’s obvious we’ve got lots in common, except maybe that JannyAn is a real globetrotter, and I’m a bit of a homebody. ;)
A jar of Cremisso sandwich spread paprika-chili (Tartex)
Janny discovered Tartex cremisso paprika-chili sandwich spread – she thinks it’s the best alternative to cheese! I agree it’s absolutely yummy. :)

How would you describe yourself before starting the VeggieChallenge?
I was a flexitarian. By the way, there are certain things I really refuse to eat. Those are tuna, lobster, veal, frogs legs. And of course only farm-laid eggs.

Why did you decide to join the challenge?
Because I think it’s better to eat less meat. For my own health, environmental issues and, equally important, because of animal welfare.

What goals did you set and did you achieve them? Was that hard?
My goals were to eat 4 days vegetarian and 1 day vegan. The vegetarian days weren’t that hard to achieve. The vegan days were the real problem. Mostly because I do like cheese a lot. And so many products I usually eat contain butter or eggs.

What was you biggest discovery?
That’s a difficult one. Maybe that I really don’t miss eating meat. O, and I discovered that whole-meal bread with peanut butter and banana is delicious :-)

What was the most difficult or disappointing?
Eating vegan one day in a week. So many products that contain butter, eggs, gelatin, etc. It was even difficult to do shopping, find something that you like to eat on a sandwich instead of cheese, or, how can I replace eggs in a recipe.

What was the best thing you ate or drank during the VeggieChallenge?
Well I really like this pasta with spinach beet, raisins and pine seed

If you’re in a relationship: did your partner join you in the challenge and how did he/she experience it?
No, he didn’t. Sometimes I make a dish without meat and he’ll eat it. And if it tastes good he won’t mind eating vegetarian. But he likes meat too much to become vegetarian. Not to mention eating vegan.

Has anything from the challenge lasted?
I still am a flexitarian, but I now eat less meat/fish and more often vegan.

Would you recommend the VeggieChallenge to nothers ext time? Why (not)?
Yes, I would. It’s good to think about what you’re eating.

The VeganMoFo theme on Graasland is ‘vegan en route’. Do you have a suitable tip to share with us?
Always bring your own peanut butter ;-)

Do you know I’ve never tried banana on peanut butter? I guess I should! Thanks JannyAn, it’s fascinating to read about your experiences in the Veggie Challenge as a flexitarian. I recognize your frustration about how many products contain dairy, eggs or gelatin. As a vegetarian I never paid that much attention to labels, especially E-numbers,and now I’m shocked to find that some of them are not even veggie! So as a vegetarian I have probably been eating ground scale insects (E120), bones (e.g. E542, E640) animal fat (e.g. E470-479) and horse’s, cow’s, pork’s and even human hair (E920). Eew!

Anyway Janny, I hope you know that you can always ask me questions about substituting ingredients?! That goes for anyone, really. :)

Over viewing this series I’m so glad to see that all three participants look back positively! Imagine you’d join the Veggie Challenge next year, what goals would you like to set?

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Join us with a food related post in Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking!

Logo Veggie ChallengeIn June and July this year, the Dutch youth foundation Viva Las Vega’s organized the Veggie Challenge: a dare to eat less animal produce for at least once a week during a whole month. Depending on their diet, participants would set their own goals, e.g. 1 day vegetarian for omnis, a day vegan for vegetarians, an extra day veggie for flexitarians et cetera. 2000+ people gave it a go! Among them were three people I know — and no, I had nothing to do with that ;) Curious about their experiences, I decided to interview them for VeganMoFo.

First to go was YvonneP. Today I’m interviewing Uniflame from She Likes Bento. I think I met her two, three years ago on Twitter — my radar picked her up as a fellow Dutch bentoïst blogging in English about her vegetarian bento lunches. Since then we’ve discovered other similar interests, like reading books and doing challenges. She’s also a loyal participant of WeekendCooking.

Here’s Uniflame’s most recent vegan bento.

Uniflame's vegan Inarizushi Bento (#126)

Uniflame’s Inarizushi Bento

Uniflame wants to be represented by an avocado, though she can’t say why. Well, I know. Avocados are so delicious you just can’t stop thinking about them! ;)

Avocado drawing

How would you describe your diet before starting the Veggie Challenge?
Officially I am a pescetarian because I still eat fish sometimes. However I eat mostly vegetarian.

Why did you decide to join the Veggie Challenge?
I like to experiment with vegan recipes, but some aspects were scary to me. Like vegan baking, for example. Committing to eat vegan for 2 days a week, forced me to step out of my comfort zone so I could experiment.

What goals did you set and did you achieve them? Was that hard?
I chose to eat vegan for 2 days a week and I did archieve that. Other than that I set some mini goals, like try vegan baking and make vegan snacks. I also wanted to eat outdoors as a vegan one time, but the latter goal I failed to do.

What was you biggest discovery?
That vegan baking doesn’t have to be hard at all, if you pick the easy recipes that don’t require to hunt down all kind of special ingredients.

What was the most difficult or disappointing?
The most difficult was to not give in to cheese cravings. It can be difficult staying committed if your house still is full of non vegan stuff. Also: I hate the fact that a lot of stuff isn’t available in the supermarket, and that I have to hunt stuff down in a lot of different stores. Like vegan bread for example. You have to make most things yourself and with my poor health, I just don’t have enough energy to keep doing that.

What was the best thing you ate or drank during the Veggie Challenge?
I can’t choose between the lemon poppyseed muffins and the cashew and bell pepper spread that I used to make vegan sushi with. So I will just mention both ;)

If you’re in a relationship: did your partner join you in the challenge and how did he/she experience it?
He did join partially. He isn’t a vegetarian but we just cook the same main dish for dinner. So on my vegan days, he ate vegan together with me. And because I made more vegan snacks, like the muffins mentioned above, he also had those. But if he wanted a grilled cheese sandwich, he just ate one.

Has anything from the challenge lasted?
Yes, I try to make more vegan recipes now than I did before. And I also made my blog more vegan friendly, like listing in my recipe index which recipes on my blog are vegan. My stack of vegan cooking books has grown and I love requesting vegan titles from NetGalley as well to review on my blog.

Would you recommend the Veggie Challenge to others next time? Why (not)?
Yes, I would. It is fun to have a reason to think out of the box. And even if you only go vegetarian or vegan for just one day a week, it makes a huge difference.

The VeganMoFo theme on Graasland is ‘vegan en route‘. Do you have a suitable tip to share with us?
Always be prepared. If you want to stop at a certain lunch room, call ahead to see if they have options or are willing to create something. If not, make sure to have something delicious with you. To me nothing is as frustrating as to not be able to have a good meal while I see my omni friends eating away and all I have is a mediocre tasting salad. Then I rather make my own. ;)

Thanks Uniflame! I’m glad it all went well and I love how you set yourself some extra mini challenges — very creative! It doesn’t matter that you didn’t accomplish them all. I had expected you to share an avocado recipe with us though… But there’s plenty of those on your blog and with the vegan-friendly makeover they’ll be easy to find!

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Join us with a food related post in Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking!

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Logo Veggie ChallengeIn June and July this year, the Dutch youth foundation Viva Las Vega’s organized the Veggie Challenge: a dare to eat less animal produce for at least one day a week during a whole month. Depending on their diet, participants would set their own goals, i.e. 1 day vegetarian for omnis, a day vegan for vegetarians, an extra day veggie for flexitarians et cetera. 2000+ people gave it a go! Among them were three people I know — and no, I had nothing to do with that ;) Curious about their experiences, I decided to interview them for VeganMoFo.

First up is YvonneP from Loisirs et Plaisirs. I met her on-line 14 years ago (!) when I joined the Dutch Boekgrrls, a virtual book club by mailinglist, exclusively for women. :) Later I got to know her in real life on book-related outings (swaps!).

YvonneP’s asked to be represented by this colourful picture of red, blue and purple fruit. That doesn’t surprise me, as she once initiated a summer theme on the Kookgrrls’ blog for which she made a pink blackberry-yoghurt pudding/blob. I wonder if it can be veganized..?

fruit and berries

Before the Veggie Challenge (VC) I was maybe a flexitarian. I ate very little meat (don’t like most meat), sometimes fish, some cheese, but I love eggs, yoghurt and soft cheese (kwark). So that could be the hard part of the vegan thing.

When I read about the VC I thought it was the best I could do, because of all the alarming news about food. I am really worried about the way food is produced and the way we are not told the truth about production mistakes, etc. Though I am not the sentimental type about animals I do not think it is right the way they are treated to serve as food.

So I decided to eat 2 days vegetarian and 2 days vegan. The other 3 days I would try to slow down eating ‘wrong’ things. Well, I ended up by doing the challenge for 2 months and now, we still eat vegetarian, very, very little fish, eggs and cheese. Even our way of shopping has changed. No supermarkets anymore, no ‘grootgrutter‘, but we buy our food at EkoPlaza. So, in fact, everything from the challenge lasts. I am still refining… :-)

In the beginning I did not know what to eat my bread with on the vegan days. But then I discovered all kinds of spreads and now, long time after the challenge we never buy anything else. Those spreads were my biggest discovery! And because it was sometimes very hot I made loads of strawberry (!!) basil ice and melon mint ice! Just blend the fruits and put them in the freezer. Love fruits, love strawberries, love blueberries, love myrtilles (don’t know the English word for it).

I can not decide what was the best we ate. I ate one recipe from the Provamel publication 20 Winnaars met smaak (shared below) with tofu and oranges that was extremely tasteful, but then again: so much was so tasteful.

My partner joined me in the challenge and he is now addicted to lentil curry spread. Does not want anything else on his bread. I do not know what he eats when he is traveling for business, but at home he eats what I make and he likes it…

I have told enthusiastically about the VC to others, but everyone has to decide for themselves whether they do it or not. I liked it very much, but maybe because the time was right for me…

Wow. I’m very impressed how YvonneP (and her partner!) went way beyond her goals while she’d expected it to be difficult. It’s had a huge impact on their lives; a real success story! That’s several animal lives saved a year — yay YvonneP!

Tofu Curry with Orange

Serves: 4
Estimated time: 45 minutes
Recipe by Great Baten
Source: Provamel publication 20 Winnaars met smaak p.20-21

Ingredients

  • 225 g tofu
  • 250 g apple-green tea flavoured soygurt (Provamel)
  • 1 organic orange
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbs raisins
  • 2 tbs almond flakes
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs 100% vegetable margarine
  • 1 tbs curry powder or curry paste of choice
  • a bunch of fresh cilantro
  • salt ‘n pepper

Preparation

  1. Wash the orange and grate some of the skin until you’ve got half a tablespoon of orange zest.
  2. Squeeze the juice from the orange, add the raisins and et them soak until needed.
  3. Shortly toast the almond flakes in a non-stick pan. Don’t take your eyes of them! ;)
  4. Chop the cilantro and onion (keep them separate).
  5. Cut the tofu into small blocks.
  6. Heat the oil and margarine together in a pan. Add the curry (powder or paste) and stir for 1 minute.
  7. Add the tofu and onion. Stirfry on high heat.
  8. Add orange juice & raisins, orange zest, apple-tea yofu, plus salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Garnish with almonds and cilantro and serve with rice.

Sounds like an easy recipe that I must try sometime! Personally I would insert a step #0 to drain the tofu first (how to do this is described in steps 1&2 of the Faux Feta recipe on Graasland). And maybe add some cinnamon which, to me, seems to go perfect with this dish. What do you think?

Next week:Uniflame from She Likes Bento.

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Join us with a food related post in Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking!

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