In 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 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! ;)
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!