OPRAH’S ONE-WEEK VEGAN CHALLENGE (AKA My Vegan Adventure)

Ah, yes… the inevitable thrills and spills of a glamorous day at home on maternity leave (ie, sporting a side ponytail, wearing tracksuit pants and breast feeding the baby on the couch whilst watching an Oprah re-run on the telly). This episode of Oprah, The One-Week Vegan Challenge, piqued my curiosity enough so that I too have decided to go vegan for a week.

As a teenager, I adopted vegetarianism (ovo-lacto), and I remained a ‘veggie’ for 7 years. My problem was that I was beyond lazy when it came to cooking and unfortunately, like many young people of that time, rather disinterested in nutrition (perhaps because my body let me get away with a great deal back then). Embarrassingly in retrospect, I was one of those unhealthy vegetarians that partially existed on french fries and takeaway falafel rolls. Fast forward a few years and, I was invited to a yoga and vegetarian cooking retreat at Villa Vilan, a charming oasis in the forests of Tidafors (Värmland, Sweden). The retreat, led by the extremely knowledgeable and equally adorable Maria Mo Ericsson (and aided by her lovely husband Frode), provided me with a stash of new recipes and a renewed inspiration for vegetarian food which saw both my husband and I continuing to eat a mostly veggie diet when at home.

Fast forward a little further and, during the first trimester of my pregnancy, the first thing I developed a serious aversion to (on account of morning sickness) was meat. I seriously couldn’t stand it… couldn’t even look at it on television without feeling ill. I had adopted the “listen when your body talks” philosophy when it came to eating during my pregnancy, and so I had a chance to rediscover my vegetarian roots yet again. I loved it! And it paid dividends health-wise too. My midwife was pleasantly surprised to find that, at a stage where most pregnant women’s iron levels drop noticeably, mine had actually increased since my first iron level test. Apparently this is unusual and, I suppose, it is also a glowing testament to a well-balanced vegetarian diet. Strict veganism is largely uncharted territory for me, however (during the last trimester of my pregnancy I was consuming vast amounts of organic dairy products). I am curious to know how I will cope with out the use of eggs and dairy in my kitchen experiments.

I printed this vegan shopping list from Oprah.com to serve as inspiration. The majority of branded products (of which there are many!) seem to be specific to the US market, but alternatives can be found on my doorstep of Stockholm, Sweden too. I will add a list of some of my favourite veggie products available in Stockholm soon…

I have also started surfing around for some yummy, basic vegan recipes. The cooking begins tomorrow!

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