Satisfying without meat: How did I become vegan?

nutrition and sports vegan

You know, I'm not going to start with arguments about why veganism is good. I believe that you have already heard enough of these. Well, okay, not a little bit - those vegans are really obnoxious…

So I will tell MY story.

What happened to eating my mum's meatballs all my life (my mum is not vegan), but now I'm eating more varied meatballs? And how did I get even my mother to believe in veganism?

By the way, if you think I'm not fully vegan - it's true. I still drink cappuccinos with cow's milk, because I'm not used to plant-based cappuccinos yet. But I am a 99.69% vegan.

(The 0.69%, because I'm very sexy. At least to myself.)

How did it all start?

It happened in November 2014, when I met a girl.


I didn't try to hang it.

(Because when I went to the profile I saw "in relationship", so it wouldn't have been worth it.)

So we were just talking about writing, because we were both in the same writing competition. Fast forward 3 years and we are relatively familiar friends. She wrote several articles for my blogand I have already criticised drafts of her book. Over the years, I have met her N times at various vegan picnics and events. Who invited you to those events? Obviously, this girl.

As I understand it now, inviting people to such events is one of the best ideas. Because who can refuse pizza and free food? Not students like me!

So, 3 years later, I met another girl.

...Tinder. After a few one-night adventures, I got into it and said to myself (and, of course, to her, because she's vegan): "I'm going vegan from 1 November!".

I became.

And then I was very hungry because I didn't know what to eat.

In that sense, people. WHAT DO VEGANS EAT?

...And it turns out they eat a lot!

I spent 22 years of my life living with my mother. So I didn't worry about food - and all I knew how to do was to make sassy sausages, fry potatoes, make a sandwich with doctor's sausage and make dumplings from a packet, which my dad was always buying more of than the freezer compartment could hold, so I had to eat faster. Mom did the rest.

Then I moved out to live separately. Where I ate... Well, exactly the same. Only without my mother's food.

(There were weeks when I ate only dumplings and sandwiches from Statoil. Eh.)

So what do you do when you've set yourself the challenge to be vegan for a month and you don't know what to eat? I contacted the same vegan friend and the other vegan friend I had fallen in love with.

Of course, you probably don't know these girls, so let me not go ahead and give them away right away:

  1. After hashtag #kavalgoveganai on instagram there's a lot of vegan (Lithuanian) inspiration, and recipes you could look up on the internet.
  2. And the internet, it turns out, is bloody full of vegan recipes!

...And you don't even have to look it up in English.

That's it!

Nothing more is needed. If you have a brain in your head, not a vegan cabbage, find a way to put that vegan cabbage in your stomach!

Of course, I'm not telling you the most logical way to go vegan. I am telling you how I did it. And it's not the most straightforward way... Because, you see, I didn't believe in veganism in the early days - I joined up because I fancied a girl, as I said.

These two girls have written me mountains of advice. Which I didn't listen to because I didn't know how to cook for myself. So I thought...

...While I'm trying to live on a cabbage diet, what if I tried FUN and really QUALITY vegan food?

Where can you find this kind of food if you're not married to a vegan?

I recommend: AuGality project.

This is such Map, which brings together restaurants, eateries and cafes in Lithuania that prepare really good and healthy (and not just any) vegan food. Now they have a second project, "On a vegetal Monday", where they share recipes and vegan ideas. But it didn't exist back then, so maybe you don't need it.

I set myself a simple challenge. For one week, every day, go for a daily lunch to one of these places in Kaunas.

The AuGalybės locations have another special feature - only those with normal food prices have been selected. So if you thought eating vegan was very expensive, it turns out that, no, it's not. Point.

(Preparing vegan food for yourself at home is the least 3x cheaper. AuGalybės has the same prices in selected restaurants and cafés. No discrimination.)

So, you go to Ridika (whose rolls I quickly fell in love with), pay 3 and a half euros, wait for 10 minutes and then eat and think what to do, because somehow you've gotten so full that now it's hard to walk!

A week later, in various holes in Kaunas (I repeat, but look on the map - maybe there are places in your city too?), I realised a few things:

  1. Vegan food... Delicious!
  2. Vegan food... Different!
  3. And, Lord, that I might be satiated in this way... I used to feel so full only after eating my mother's roast meatballs, but here, no matter how vegan the dish is, I feel full! Even desserts and salads!

It must sound like a Top Shop ad now, doesn't it?

But wait, there's more!

If you call our number today, we'll add three more magical Cloud Wipes that will not only wipe the table tops, but also the fat droplets off your belly!

...Eee... Hmm... Out.

Yes, there's more. My vegan journey continued.

Then I set myself another 7-day challenge. I must have a challenge addiction, because during the vegan challenge it was the second challenge inside... I joined the project 7 day vegan.

It's the kind of page-project that hasn't been updated in recent years, but was created by an author I've followed for a long time. Leo Babauta, who inspired me to write the blog. That 38-year-old dudewith 6 children and a mountain of habits, including going vegan himself.

The essence of the project?

  1. Log in.
  2. You get recipes for things you could make. Some are more complicated, some are simpler, some require an oven (and I don't have one in my kitchen - just a hob!), others a hob, a pan and a saucepan will do.
  3. And eat! Whatever you want and whatever tastes good.

I could find exactly the same recipes elsewhere. In fact, I've already shared links to good Lithuanian vegan sites. But I liked it because Leo created this project, so I felt like his soul was behind me, helping me cook.

I started going to Rimi and Lidl more often, because they have a wider variety of vegetables and vegan products. I still don't go to markets (because I don't feel like going), but I hear they're a cool place too, especially in high season.

It turns out that the variety of vegan products is... staggering!

Can you believe I haven't eaten a pumpkin in 25.4 years? I have only eaten aubergine once. I have not tasted most of the beans, cereals...

...It turns out that even my mother's food was not that varied.

I started buying all sorts of vegetables and thinking, "What to do with XYZ?". Mostly in English, but there is no shortage of answers in Lithuanian either. I ate a mouthful of some of them and never tasted them again. Maybe I just didn't know how to cook yet. Others - like pumpkins - I got more excited than the girl I started this vegan challenge for! (Well, okay, a little less.)

But you know what was the funniest?

At the beginning of the month, my mother threatened me that I wouldn't last long, I wouldn't like it. Then, around the third week, I got an invitation to Sunday lunch. She prepared a vegan stuffed pumpkin!!!

My mother's experiments with vegan food continue to this day. She doesn't eat much herself, says she doesn't want to, but she prepares for me. And she continues to be interested. Now she is not so scared of the vegan idea anymore. She jokes that I'll cook more, but judging by the scale, I'm not bothered. Slowly, I'm getting used to the idea.

By the way, do you know what else a semi-prep maniac who wants to become more vegan can do?

I only realised in the fourth week that there are all sorts of frozen vegetables in the freezers! Unmixed (cheaper) and mixes (also cheap)! Or the recent Lithuanian vegan miracle: Beans.

(One problem with Pupuliai, though, is that people buy them up very quickly... But once you taste them, you'll understand why. I'm sometimes glad they're not available everywhere, because I'd spend all my euros...)

So here it is...

...That's how I became vegan.

And I decided that a month was not enough - I want to continue!

Living a vegan life has been crazy fun! Oh, and in case you're wondering if I continued my vegan lifestyle because I got involved with a crazy girl... Well, it didn't work out with her. Turns out she wasn't expecting a longer relationship. Eh.

...But the change was fun! And I want to continue!


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