"Veganuary" 2022 Day 31: "Best of" Veganuary, gyros and my conclusion

How does it feel to be vegan? I'm trying it out and taking on the Veganuary Challenge - you can follow how I'm doing as a complete beginner here.

Day 31: "Best of" Veganuary, Gyros and my conclusion

Crazy - today is already the last day of the Veganuary! That went a lot quicker than I thought. To celebrate the day, the team goes to a Greek place during the lunch break, where I order a vegan gyros that tastes amazingly similar to the homemade goulash from the beginning of the month.

On the last day of my self-experiment there is vegan gyros that tastes similar to my "squeeze" goulash. picture: Miriam Meyer

Throughout the month, I was able to have at least one new experience every single day. That's why a few impressions didn't make it into the "Final Cut" of my Veganuary diary - but of course I don't want to withhold them. That's why there is a "best of" my other Veganuary impressions here: from vegan iced tea, to my new substitute Nutella on breakfast bread, to hemp "milk".

Veganuary "Best of"

1 / 6Veganuary "Best of" source: miriam meyer / miriam meyer

Finally, I only have one conclusion to draw from my self-experiment - here we go! These are my top 5 insights that I will take away from my self-experiment:

  1. Vegan nutrition is anything but "bland" as I feared at the beginning. On the contrary: instead of "just beans", I have tried so many different and sometimes exotic dishes over the past 31 days like never before!
  2. Vegan food and substitute products are now easy to find in normal supermarkets and drugstores - and are not always more expensive than conventional branded products.
  3. The vegan universe is bigger than I thought: whether it's makeup, clothing or shoes - you can now think about "vegan" not only when it comes to nutrition, but also in other areas of life.
  4. So far I haven't had to do without anything and the experiment has changed my previous eating habits over the past few weeks - I've been much more conscious about my food than ever before.
  5. Being vegan has become part of my identity during this period. Since I was constantly confronted with the topic, I automatically collected more information about it, and with the help of my colleague Franzi, I dealt more with abuses in food production, animal welfare and the effects of our diet on the environment. And in the end I can say: I care and with veganism I can at least contribute a little bit more to environmental protection.

For my part, I will continue to cook most of my dishes vegan starting tomorrow. When it comes to dairy products, I will now simply rely on milk and yoghurt alternatives for a longer time and loosely replace shower gels, shampoos and soaps with the vegan alternative. I also plan to order vegan dishes when going out to eat, if there are any. Only when I'm partying will I refrain from enjoying non-vegan Aperol from time to time in the near future.

Day 30: Vegan in the shoe store - works!

On Saturday afternoon I dared to go outside again to look for shoes in a few shops. I was particularly impressed by one shop that has a sale: from sneakers to winter boots to sturdy hiking shoes, you can find everything here.

During a sale in a shoe store, I became aware of vegan shoes. Photo: Miriam Meyer

As I walk through the rows of shelves, my eyes suddenly fall on a tag on a shiny black boot: "Vegan, recycled, sustainable & eco-friendly" is the description on it.

Vegan boots in the shoe shop. Picture: Miriam Meyer

Of course, why hadn't I actually considered that shoes – which are otherwise often made of leather – might already have been "veganized"? In any case, I wasn't expecting vegan shoes in shoe chains, but rather in chic hipster shops in Berlin

In terms of price, the vegan boots are usually priced at 90 euros, on the same level as booties from more expensive fashion brands – but they have also been significantly reduced due to the sale.

In the shoe shop I also discover shoes with soles made of cork material. Photo: Miriam Meyer

Further back in the store I even find vegan sneakers: sneakers with a wooden sole made of cork material. What is not there!

In order to save money, I decided with a heavy heart to leave both pairs on the shelf – I really have enough shoes now. And that was probably the most sustainable solution today.

Day 29: "All natural" vegan ready meals

Well, after my faux pas yesterday I only have one choice: keep going!

On Saturday it's wet and gray outside again. I don't feel like going outside or cooking. So I ordered a vegan burger for the first time. While I'm waiting for the hard-working delivery driver, I'm excited to see how the burger will taste. My previous experiences with vegan ready meals were one thing above all: very spicy and salty. Personally, I try to cook with very little salt, so I noticed the difference pretty quickly.

Vegan ready-made products have always been far too salty for me personally. Photo: Miriam Meyer

Both the vegan "Fish Fingers" and the "Vegan Curry Type Butter Chicken" I've tried over the last few weeks were both far too salty for my taste - as if the manufacturers had added a lot of flavor enhancers, to to replace the missing meat or fish.

In the meantime, my Beyond Meat burger has been delivered and at first glance it looks like a classic meat burger, with burger buns, lettuce, tomato slices and a red (!) patty in the middle. I almost choke on the first bite – the consistency of the patty is confusingly similar to that of a beef patty. To be on the safe side, I look again at the delivery service receipt: no, it expressly says Beyond Meat Burger, so I haven't violated my vegan intent again.

The Beyond Meat Burger looks and tastes confusingly similar to a normal meat burger. Photo: Miriam Meyer

Nevertheless, I quickly research the ingredients and a utopia article helps me: the "meat" is based on pea protein to mimic the texture of muscle fibers, the color comes from beetroot extract "to mimic the red meat juice and for that to ensure that the patty is nice and red on the inside after cooking." It's crazy what the food industry can come up with to imitate the familiar taste habits of meat eaters.

Day 28: "Strictly Vegan" mission failed

It worked for a whole 28 days, but today the time has come – strictly speaking, I failed in my self-experiment! At first, Friday got off to a good start: During the lunch break, I go out to eat pizza with my colleagues from the editorial department. Since I can't find anything vegan on the Italian menu and only two vegetarian dishes - pizza vegetariania or vegetarian pasta, but the waiter warns me about eggs in the pasta dough - I ask for a pizza without cheese.

My vegan pizza tastes a little fruitier than usual without cheese. picture: Miriam Meyer

When I order, my veganuary becomes the topic of conversation at the dinner table: "Are you going to be completely vegan in February?" my colleague Fabian asks me the classic "Gretchen question". "Sure," I answer as a first reaction, "so far I'm not really missing anything." My vegan, cheese-free pizza comes and tastes really good too... until my colleague Rebecca is served a Pizza Quattro Formaggi next to me - arghhh, melted cheese smells really good... Well, maybe next time I'll take vegan grated cheese with me Restaurant.

After the break, the day goes on as usual, until we gather in the office kitchen in the evening for a small surprise farewell party for our editor-in-chief. The mood is great, sparkling wine is served to toast. I'm also offered a glass and I'm happy to toast it. And bang - it can go that fast: Shortly before, on day 28 of Veganuary, I broke my rule! The sparkling wine was not vegan. To be honest, that was secondary for me at the moment, I didn't want to make any fuss at such short notice and just celebrate with us.

The "traces" of a proper farewell party in a small circle. Photo: Miriam Meyer

The evening is going to be really nice, so that I only have time to think again later: What will I value from next week? Sure, I don't want to and won't fall back completely into my old meat-eating habits, that's for sure. But I don't really want to pay close attention to the ingredients in my drink, whether it's during an unplanned visit to a restaurant or, like now, at a small celebration. I want to keep my spontaneity a bit.

(Editor's note: All employees are boosted and test themselves daily.)

Day 27: Concerns about a "relapse"

The vegan snacks are really worth their weight in gold: today they cheer me up a bit in the work routine and motivate me to continue eating vegan. Because the "exotic" status of vegan food is gradually fading for me... In the long term, I'm a bit worried that I'll go back to my old eating habits after the end of January, when it's no longer an official "challenge" for me is. That's why I get one last piece of advice from Franzi:

Hi Franzi, I've almost finished the Veganuary now, but to be honest I'm a little worried before the end of the month: maybe I'll "fall behind" again despite all the actually good experiences. Can you understand that?

FranziI don't know anyone who has completely fallen back into old patterns right after the Veganuary. Most incorporate many of the new habits into their everyday lives. Simply because you realize that veganism doesn't have to be complicated at all. Any diet can be expensive and complicated. However, once you have dealt intensively with nutrients and ingredients and have found everyday recipes for yourself, it goes quite naturally into shopping behavior.

Do you have any tips on how I can prevent this?

Yes, that would be a very clear "No"! The most important thing is that you don't forbid yourself anything. If you have cravings for an animal product, then please treat yourself to your favorite cheese or chocolate that you cannot do without. We wouldn't have a problem if everyone enjoyed these products in moderation. So don't be too hard on yourself.

What was the key moment for you when you decided to go completely vegan?

I have these key moments every day. Every time a video from slaughterhouses is shown on TV or on social media or I drive past an animal transporter on the freeway, my heart breaks a little bit. We have simply taken the concept of meat consumption completely to the point of absurdity. The 15 minutes of eating does not justify a life of suffering and fear. A life made only to die. Pigs from organic farms also want to live on, cattle on the pasture also have to drive 8 hours crammed together in a truck towards death. For us it is a meal, but for the animals it is life. I know that many deliberately avoid documentaries about the meat and dairy industry because they are extreme. And that's perfectly fine too! If this is affecting your psyche, then don't watch it. A vegetarian friend of mine can't stand these reports either and commented: "If I can't see where my meal came from, then I can't eat it either." Tip from me: click on the positive clips on the internet. The ones where calves are rescued from slaughter. The ones in which pigs are allowed to walk in a meadow for the first time since birth. If these images move you, you already understand veganism. Videos like this help to better understand the machinery behind the meat industry. In the end, it is sentient beings that end up on our plates.instagram/plantbasednews

Do you have any words of wisdom for the last few days when I'm having a slack?

Look back! On what you have already achieved and where you still want to go. Nothing is easy and clear at the beginning, vegan nutrition can mean a big life change. The whole system of nutrition is simply still designed for Omnivore. This applies to the price and also the selection of vegan products. What I can promise you, however: It will be super easy at some point and once you have dealt with the risks of meat and cow's milk consumption for your own body, the planet, the animals, you will not want to go back.

Many thanks Franzi for your weekly really valuable tips!

Day 26: Wonderfully unhealthy vegan snacking

On Wednesday, my snack crisis can just about be averted: I've stocked up on snacks with a stroll through the supermarket. Because even if a vegan diet with lots of vegetables, fruit and no meat can be healthy, that does not mean that vegan "only has to be healthy".

In the supermarket I also find a wonderful number of vegan sweets and salty snacks. The first thing I notice in the store is a whole shelf full of vegan chocolate bars: in different flavors, they are right next to the fitness-conscious protein bars and, with their vegan seal and "less sugar" stickers, also seem directly healthier than a normal Snickers or Twix.

Vegan chocolate bars can be found right next to the fitness bars in the supermarket. Photo: Miriam Meyer

The price difference of at least one euro compared to a normal chocolate bar absurdly supports my "healthy" impression, even though this is still a candy. I'll take a vegan "Cookie Dough" bar from Nucao with me as a test (spoiler: I didn't think it was that tasty). Nevertheless: animal ingredients have been replaced by plant-based alternatives in the bars and some of the alternative chocolate companies are also socially involved in the otherwise very environmentally harmful manufacturing process.

As an alternative to salty snacks, there are sweet potato chips. Photo: Miriam Meyer

I also find what I’m looking for when it comes to salty snacks: vegan lentil chips, but also vegan peanuts and sweet potato chips, dominate at eye level on the shelves. To be on the safe side, I consult Google again and after a short browse I find that many other of my classic favorite sweets are also vegan from the ground up – without carrying a vegan seal.

Instead of non-vegan Maoams, I use Mambas, which I know from kindergarten days. Photo: Miriam Meyer

These include, for example, the chewing gum from Hubba Bubba, Manner-Schnitten or the chewy candies from Mamba (yes!!). With so much (well-known) selection, I can confidently ignore the chocolate bons in the aisle opposite and make my way home with my haul.

Day 25: Vegan tortillas to beat the weather blues

On a somewhat dreary and foggy Tuesday, I use what I find in the fridge to eat in my lunch. There are vegan tortillas – ay caramba!

For the filling of the cornmeal tortillas, I use a salsa consisting of chopped tomatoes, lots of onions, an avocado that has been mixed in, and the leftovers of a soy-based Like Chicken box. If you want, you can add vegan crème fraîche or, like me, vegan grated cheese, which by the way tastes very similar to normal grated cheese. And "vale, todo bien": My vegan lunch is on the table after only eight minutes of preparation time.

Vegan tortillas

1 / 5Vegan tortillas source: miriam meyer

In the afternoon I get a little hungry. On the hunt for a vegan snack I can't find anything in my own pantry. After work I have to change this "emergency" as soon as possible...

Day 24: Cold checkout to countdown

The last (full) week of my Veganuary self-experiment starts today. So it's high time to put the facts on the table! While I've never been a perfect "mistress of my finances," I've kept accurate records of how much money I've spent on my grocery shopping over the past 24 days. Because one of my original starting questions was: "Is being vegan more expensive than being omnivorous?"

For a comparison that is as direct as possible, I kept all the invoices for purchases in January. Photo: Miriam Meyer

So far I have diligently collected all receipts for the past January purchases in various supermarkets and compare them to the day with my expenses for groceries from the still "normal" month of December.

My result: In December I spent a total of 190.43 euros on groceries, in January now 196.60 euros. The difference is 6 euros - less than I had feared. When I take a closer look, I add up the spending alone for vegan substitute products in January from popular brands such as alpro, LikeMeat or Oatly and also from the Edeka and Rewe own brands: I already spent 55.67 euros here in January for the substitute products alone. So there is still something that can be done.

"I already spent 55.67 euros here in January for the replacement products alone. So something could still be done."

Because of course, for me, who doesn’t have to support a family, smaller amounts are enough and I haven’t always taken the delicious but expensive vegan delicacies with me that you often treat yourself to (the almond butter for 4.29 euros, for example) . So initially everything remains relative to my total consumption.

When I look closely at my receipts, I notice the high tax rate on vegan substitute products. Photo: imago stock&people / Westend61

The sticking point for the price level, however, is that the few providers can still dictate the prices at the moment and the tax rate that vegan products are currently charged with in Germany: A whole 19 percent instead of the seven percent normally scheduled for meat or fish!

My checkout at the beginning of the last week of January shows me how profitable the "veganism business" in the food industry has already become - and that a reform of the tax rate is urgently needed.

Day 23: Banana pancakes for Sunday brunch

It's Sunday, so I treat myself to a "Sunday Best": banana pancakes. When it comes to baking/cooking, I'm usually always a bit experimental, especially when it comes to the quantities. With the recipe for chocolate pancakes, I also have to improvise a bit and leave out the baking protein as an egg substitute - simply because I don't have it ready.

Nevertheless, I like it! picture: Miriam Meyer

But: It worked, my vegan pancakes are delicious with soy milk, albeit a bit sticky and not "fluffy" because it would have needed protein. Still, I like it.

Vegan pancakes

1 / 6Vegan Pancakes source: miriam meyer

If you want to imitate the banana pancakes (correctly using the baking instructions), you will find many different vegan variations, including this recipe, which I used as a guide. Bon Appetit!

Day 22: With vegan vino in the discount store

In order to get a direct contrast to the organic market yesterday, I'm going to the Aldi today with the clear question: Can I find similar vegan products at the discounter, but at a lower price?

When I walk into Aldi (January weather in Berlin), my expectations are very low. All I normally expect from a discounter is groceries at a low price, at least I don't expect high quality here. As I walk through the first aisle, I also notice some of the wine bottles stacked in cardboard boxes with the vegan symbol – finally! So far I hadn't found a vegan wine right away in the other supermarkets, but here it really forces its way into my field of vision. Wine is wine, I think to myself and take a bottle (2.99 euros) with me.

Vegan wine? I can't go wrong with that. Picture: Miriam Meyer

As I continue walking, with a sharpened eye I notice vegan gummy bears, vegan chips or dips in addition to many brands and no-name products.

A few vegan foods have also found their way into the special offers at Aldi: for example vegan dips. Photo: Miriam Meyer

I even find what I'm looking for in the spreads: There's almond butter here too, which didn't have to be specially veganized, but is "naturally" vegan. A look at the price tag disappoints me: the almond butter in Aldi is just as cheap/expensive at 4.29 euros as in the organic market.

zero / Miriam Meyer

I also discover well-known brands such as alpro yoghurt or simply vegan cheese in the refrigerated section – all for the same price as in Rewe or Edeka. Except maybe the vegan organic tofu (suitably placed above trout fillets and other meat products): it can be bought here for 1.79 euros, in Edeka it was exactly one euro.

So far, only vegan tofu has been cheaper at discounters than at supermarkets. Photo: Miriam Meyer

When I leave Aldi again, my thoughts are circling: Is the high price level due to the fact that there is still no mass production or too few suppliers, so that not even discounters can operate price dumping? Or are vegans simply expected to pay high prices because they depend on them and it's "their decision"?

But if vegan food is more expensive everywhere than "normal" - how do I financially manage to eat vegan for a long time without having to save on other expenses? Well, good question, next question, please.

Day 21: Bargain hunting in tofu paradise

On Friday I'll venture into unknown territory: the organic market. In my neighborhood I find a branch of the Bio Company, which I visit on Friday. To be honest, I can count my previous visits to the organic market on one hand, because until recently I didn't really dare to come here often with my student budget.

In any case, there is no shortage of vegan spreads in the organic market. Photo: Miriam Meyer

My first impression: In most aisles I hardly have to look for the vegan variants, especially with the spreads they are higher up than I know from the "normal" supermarket. The variety of sweet spreads alone is almost too colourful: as a substitute for Nutella there is almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter, macadamia cream... it all sounds extremely delicious. I only have to swallow when it comes to the prices – the “reduced price” for cashew butter is €5.99. Hello! Other spreads such as coconut cream, on the other hand, are in a cheaper price range from 3.50 euros.

I find plenty of tofu variations in the refrigerated section. Photo: Miriam Meyer

When I get to the refrigerated section, however, I am amazed at the selection of different meat alternatives: more than ten different types of tofu, marinated or natural seitan and even vegan bacon! I have never been offered so much meat substitute anywhere. The price for 200 grams of tofu is 2.60 euros. That is compared to the current average price for 200 grams of chicken breast fillet from ja! - about 1.70 euros - more expensive, but compared to 200 grams of organic chicken breast fillet from the deli counter - about 5.90 euros - significantly cheaper.

Something to try: what does vegan bacon taste like? picture: Miriam Meyer

Last but not least, I'm looking for vegan sour cream ("Looking for the sour cream") - and I find vegan cashew fresh cream, 250 grams for 3.50 euros. Marc Rebillet would have been proud of me!

My conclusion on the first purchase in the organic supermarket: here I find a large selection of exactly the products that are good for me in a vegan diet. Only the question of price makes me hesitate a bit. Can I find similar vegan products at discounters, but at a lower price?

Day 20: Clean image versus fabric softener made from slaughterhouse waste

The clean illusion of mostly non-vegan hygiene products in the drugstore really surprised me. In addition to shampoo, shower gel and make-up, I noticed other products that also had a vegan seal - or not.

Hey Franzi, I need your advice again: What other products do you pay attention to the ingredients of?

"Almost all cosmetic products and cleaning agents can contain animal ingredients. Therefore, always look for the vegan seal with toothpaste, deodorant, body lotion, bathroom cleaner, etc. Since the certification is quite expensive, companies simply write "vegan" on it themselves, without that to have a yellow seal or the vegan flower.

What do you pay attention to when shopping? Are there certain ingredients that set alarm bells ringing for you?

At the beginning I felt on the safe side when "vegan" was written on the product. Unfortunately, vegan does not mean animal cruelty-free in this case. Animal testing for cosmetic purposes is largely banned in Europe. Nevertheless, some brands circumvent this law by having the tests carried out in China. Even the statement "This product has not been tested on animals" is no guarantee that the product is cruelty-free, as it may still contain ingredients that have been tested on rabbits, mice or dogs. If you want to be on the safe side, buy products with one of the bunny seals: the pink "cruelty free" bunny from Peta or the bunny with the protective hand from the German Animal Welfare Association.

How important is it to you to pay attention to the ingredients in cleaning products, for example?

That came naturally at some point. My clothes are also completely vegan, i.e. without leather or wool. Then my favorite parts should of course also be washed without animal ingredients. Especially since this is really easy, there are many vegan detergents.

Why are animal products mixed into items like dish soap in the first place?

A lot of people are shocked when I say that fabric softener is made from slaughterhouse waste very often. Unfortunately, it is a cheap raw material for producers who have no claim to moral standards. Detergent can contain enzymes and surfactants of animal origin, so always pay attention to the vegan certification.

Day 19: Iridescent make-up with little glamor origins

A day and a hair shower later, I can now say from my own experience: With vegan shampoo, my hair is a little less easy to comb through, but otherwise it always serves its purpose and maybe even smells a little better. Above all, I have the good feeling that I just haven't dipped my hair in a mixture of animal nerve tissue.

Make-up often consists of animal products, but vegan seals and seals against animal testing can help with orientation. Photo: Miriam Meyer

Another thought that comes to my mind is that yesterday I also saw make-up with vegan seals in the drugstore. The idea of ​​smearing a paste made from what used to be animal fats on your face makes my stomach queasy. Of course, it may have been naïve on my part that until now I have hardly thought about what exactly the lipstick or mascara that I apply consists of. But to be honest: Who would get any dark thoughts about the sometimes disgusting origin of the make-up even with the glamorously designed packaging and the shimmering product colors?

So better late than never: The certifications have at least opened my eyes as an "advertising victim" - if they are not trying to dupe me with fake promises.

If, like me, you need orientation in the vegan jungle, you will find a list of make-up articles that are cruelty-free and animal-free at PETA.

Day 18: Beef tallow shampoo? No thanks!

On Tuesday, like every week, I'm drawn to the drugstore: I need new shampoo. As I browse the aisles, I suddenly notice the small vegan flower as a certification seal on some shampoo bottles. "Vegan hair care without animal ingredients and additives" is the explanation on the back of some bottles. On some there is the addition: "No animal testing".

I can also find vegan products in drugstores: for example shampoo. picture: Miriam Meyer

This little seal is a really big help for me: It saves me the trouble of looking for names like cholesterol, cystine, glycerine, creatine or lecithin in the ingredients, since these are all substances made from animal fats, hair, horns, feathers, Beef tallow, nerve tissue or eggs can be obtained. But be careful: Just because some of the shampoos labeled as vegan without a vegan seal say "without animal ingredients" does not mean that they have not been tested on animals.

"Since the term 'vegan' is not protected, vegan shampoos can be free of animal ingredients, but in principle they can also contain ingredients that have been tested on animals. Conversely, shampoos that have not been tested on animals do not have to be vegan at the same time. A reliable seal is the vegan flower - it stands for both vegan and animal-free cosmetics."utopia.de

What nonsense - I thought I was preventing animal cruelty and yet I was almost misled!

Fortunately, I can still find a vegan shampoo without animal testing, which is also perfectly priced at 1.95 euros. If you want to know exactly, you will find an overview page on all animal ingredients in cosmetic products at Peta.

Day 17: Quick lunch break for a snack – Bye, bye Halloumi!

It's another manic monday: Right at the beginning of the new week I have quite a lot to do. So there isn't much time for a lunch break today - so I quickly walk from the office to the nearest snack bar.

Here's my go-to when it's supposed to be quick, actually a "Kiez Sandwich". But bye bye halloumi cheese! Unfortunately, the squeaky cheese is not vegan, so I order the vegan version with falafel, hummus and marinated vegetables.

This time the halloumi has to be left out of my falafel sandwich. Photo: Miriam Meyer

And even though I'm really a fan of halloumi, the version with freshly fried vegetables tastes very good. Lunch break saved!

The sandwich also tastes good without halloumi but with grilled vegetables. Photo: Miriam Meyer

Day 16: Sweet temptations at the bakery

Well, what's the day today? Haaaalbzeeeeeeeeet! Yes, so far I've managed to eat and drink exclusively vegan successfully and without "relapse". Nevertheless, I have the feeling that there will certainly be more surprises in store for me in the next 15 days, because as the saying goes: the second half is decisive.

Because the next small obstacle is already waiting around the corner at the bakery. I would like to get some rolls for Sunday breakfast and nothing should go wrong. Or?

Bakeries always keep an ingredient register in case the ingredients are not easy to see at first glance. Photo: Miriam Meyer

When I'm standing in front of the roll counter, I take a closer look anyway. I can't see any evidence of traces of animal products in normal rolls and most breads, but unfortunately with raisin rolls: they are made from milk roll dough and eggs are also more common in softer breads such as brioche. The same applies to croissants and cheese rolls, while wholemeal, spelled and other grain rolls are mostly vegan. I'll ask again just to be safe.

As I later read again on my website of trust at Peta Zwei, "old school" bakers don't need any additives to get bread tasty and fluffy. Basic ingredients such as flour, sourdough made from it, yeast, grist, salt and water are of course all vegan. However, vegans should be careful with cheap bakers, as they sometimes use "L-cysteine ​​(E 920), which is obtained from pig bristles" for cost reasons.

Some bakeries are already making their offer vegan. Photo: Miriam Meyer

If you are lucky enough (like me in Berlin) to already have a vegan-inspired bakery nearby, you can also enjoy a vegan cinnamon roll or another creative delicacy from time to time. But if not, there are at least many good recipes that you can use to help yourself to the small calorie bombs.

Day 15: What a juice shop!

After I almost died of thirst yesterday, I'm going to take a closer look at the drinks department in the supermarket today. When I take a closer look, I notice that the vegan label is only emblazoned on a few selected juice bottles. I'm looking at fruit juices and not meat broths?!

Apparently, however, there is a huge gap in the labeling of juices. As I found out with a quick Google search, "flavours of animal origin, technical ingredients of animal origin (such as in juices), animal cysteine ​​or additives of animal origin such as coloring do not have to be identified."

"Apple juice in particular turns out to be particularly tricky"

Apple juice in particular turns out to be particularly tricky - it is often clouded with gelatine by the manufacturers. "Here, the gelatine is added when the naturally cloudy juice is filtered and then filtered out again later - the turbidity in the apple juice is extracted. The result: gelatine is no longer detectable in the clear apple juice product and it therefore does not have to be labeled as a food with animal products become," the website eatsmarter explains to me.

Juice varieties in abundance, but only a few are labeled as vegan.Image: miriam meyer

There are (subjunctive!) alternative methods of apple juice clarification: manufacturers then use mechanical filtering, so-called ultrafiltration, for this. Plant-based products such as pea protein can also be used instead of animal gelatine.

Juice brands such as Pfanner, Rauch and Valensina, for example, are now doing this. With a clear conscience, I grab a vegan "Happy Day" multivitamin juice, which costs 1.39 euros, and start the weekend.

Day 14: No vegan sparkling wine? Bring on the Aperol splash!

The working week is coming to an end and my colleagues gather in the office - tested and with distance of course - to toast with champagne because "it's almost the weekend". A bottle of Rotkummel sparkling wine from the kitchen is served to everyone, and there is also a glass for me. But wait a minute - sparkling wine isn't food, but it couldn't be vegan, right?

A quick look at the bottle and Google make me one fact smarter - but also a Prosecco poorer. Because this sparkling wine is not vegan. Unfortunately.

Just in time for Friday there is no sparkling wine, but Aperol (with mineral water) for me. picture: Miriam Meyer

As I can read on the veganblatt advice website, this is due to the production process of the sparkling wine:

"The wine, from which the sparkling wine is subsequently fermented, is made with gelatine, among other things. The gelatine is used to bind the turbidity present in the wine. The gelatine is then filtered out of the wine again. Nevertheless, traces of the gelatine remain in the wine Wine, so that the resulting sparkling wine cannot unfortunately be described as vegan."veganblatt.com

So can't I have a toast now? Luckily we can find an alternative: for me there is now simply Aperol with sparkling water. It's a bit too sweet for my taste, but Aperol is labeled as vegan. Better something than nothing - Cheers!

Day 13: Tips on important vegan dietary supplements

Spinach or not - I noticed that I might be missing other nutrients due to a vegan diet. In order to get an overview here, I get smart again from my colleague Franziska:

Hey Franzi, can you give me tips on which other nutrients I should pay particular attention to in a vegan diet besides iron?

FranziHey Miri! Well, as with any form of nutrition, the same applies to veganism: if you live a balanced life, you consume almost all the important nutrients through your daily meals. Rich sources of iron are peas, chickpeas, whole grain rice and pasta as well as lamb's lettuce and chard. The latter brings a portion of calcium with it. For the dose of omega-3 fatty acids, I like to drip linseed or walnut oil over my food. To cover the need for iodine, I also recommend iodized table salt.

And where do you get your vitamin B12 from?

FranziAnyone who eats vegan or vegetarian food should replace it with B12 tablets. Because it is true that only ruminants such as cows can provide themselves with the vitamin produced by intestinal bacteria. Other animals and people have to get that from somewhere else. Until the middle of the last century, it would have been enough to prepare fresh vegetables from the field. Because vitamin B12 is also found in sufficient quantities in the soil. Anyone who eats a vegetarian or vegan diet should replace the missing vitamin B12 with tablets, unfortunately vegetables and fruit are not enough.Image: Zoonar.com/Dasha Petrenko / Dasha Petrenko

But why aren't the vitamins from normal fruit and vegetables enough for me?

FranziThe natural soil flora was largely destroyed by the industrialization of agriculture, so that our fresh field vegetables can no longer cover the demand. Animals in the agricultural industry are also no longer able to move around so freely that they could get the nutrient from nature. That is why vitamin B12 is added to livestock feed. And at this point you have to admit: Before I eat an animal that was given vitamin B12 before it was slaughtered, I can simply take it myself. As with everything, there are big differences in dosage form and price. It doesn't matter whether it's drops or tablets. Just make sure that the pastilles are not covered with gelatine, because then they are not vegan. I take the InnoNature drops for breakfast in the morning. Tablets from the drugstores DM and Rossmann also serve their purpose here.

Day 12: My new fake friend - spinach

On Wednesday my stomach is rumbling and I feel pretty weak. At first I'm already cursing the leeks and onions from the day before until I realize I'm on my period and then the usual symptoms follow: headache, bad mood and of course cravings! Does my diet (which only lasts 12 days) have an effect? And why am I even more tired than usual the last few days?

Why am I so tired? My colleague gives me tips to prevent a possible iron deficiency.Image: www.imago-images.de / Joseffson

When my colleague noticed that I was a bit off track today, she suddenly asked me: "Tell me, what are you currently taking as an iron substitute during the 'Veganuary'? Because some iron-rich vegetables also have an inhibitory effect."

And indeed - in the past week I have mainly lived on vegan white flour products, coffee, lots of tea and above all spinach in various variations. With the spinach in particular, I thought I'd found a good substitute source of iron instead of meat. But none. I can find more information on the website of the "Iron Experts in Austria", which my colleague recommended to me:

"Spinach contains substances that inhibit iron absorption in the body. Other vegetarian foods such as lentils or beans are therefore better suited as a source of iron."eisencheck.at

As a child, my parents always told me that spinach was so important! (Ok, back then in a different context, to be fair.)

Instead of inhibiting iron absorption, it is better to rely on vitamin C, the website continues, but only in moderation so that I don't get an acidic stomach. And I can find another tip on the website:

"It is important to note that a so-called 'stomach protection' (stomach acid inhibitors, PPIs or antacids), i.e. drugs that are often taken for gastritis or stomach pain, blocks the formation of stomach acid and thus destroys the acidic environment. Although this often relieves the stomach pain, however, the iron can no longer be absorbed. This applies to iron intake from both iron-containing foods and iron tablets."eisencheck.at

Well, then I'd rather focus on a balanced, vitamin C-rich diet with lentils: for example, delicious lentil Bolognese.

Day 11: Don't be a leek - eat the leek!

Packed full of recipe inspiration, I start cooking on Tuesday: today we have potato and leek rösti with spinach salad!

Ingredients for potato and leek rösti with spinach salad- 400g baby spinach- 3 shallots- 2 cloves of garlic- 10-14 tbsp olive oil- 250ml vegan cream- 300g leek- 4 onions- 500g potatoes, cooked- 1/2 tsp ground cumin- 1 tablespoon curry powder, 2-3 tablespoons flour and for gourmets: some garden cress

I orientate myself on a recipe from the food magazine that my family sent me and even have all the ingredients in stock. I start with the spinach salad first: clean the spinach, shake dry and roughly dice the shallots and garlic. Roast the garlic with the olive oil, add the shallots and deglaze with the soy cream and bring to the boil - then mix in the spinach.

Vegan cooking: leek and potato rosti

1 / 7Vegan cooking: leek and potato rosti source: miriam meyer / miriam meyer

For the "rösti mass" clean the leek, cut into rings, peel the onions and cut into strips. Coarsely grate the boiled potatoes and mix with the cumin, curry powder and flour, and don't forget to add salt and pepper.

To fry the Rösti, heat 2 - 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the Rösti mass in portions to the pan, press flat and fry on each side for 1-2 minutes until crispy. Then reheat the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Serve the rösti with the spinach and sprinkle with cress.

Warm and delicious: my ready-to-eat vegan rösti tastes good for lunch or dinner. Photo: Miriam Meyer

Et voilá, after 40 minutes of preparation time, my delicious, vegan lunch is on the table!

Day 10: With recipes against the Monday blues

In the meantime, the weekend is over and a new working week has started for me. To get through the Monday blues, I flip through the food magazine "Mit Liebe – vegan Spezial" that my family sent me for motivation. Garnished with the words: "Look, even more inspiration for you! Even if we can't cook them together, we've already tried some!"

To motivate me to persevere, my family sent me new recipe suggestions from the magazine "Mit Liebe". Photo: Miriam Meyer

In the magazine I even find a weekly vegan meal plan geared towards "#veginner". Even if the products from the supermarket are mainly advertised here, I still find some delicious recipe suggestions that I can also prepare with ingredients from any supermarket: for example leek quiche with tofu, a potato and leek rösti or Brussels sprouts couscous.. .

Day 9: Large vegan selection at the Japanese - but only in Germany

On Sunday I meet up with a friend in Kreuzberg and we walk to his favorite Japanese restaurant. I don't even worry if I could have problems with vegan dishes here, because in my experience, Asian restaurants in particular always offer vegetarian and vegan dishes. And I'm lucky, the menu is really well laid out for vegans too. I order vegan gyoza and marinated tofu with rice. "The Gyoza are a lot crispier than the ones with meat!" my buddy states. And my marinated tofu tastes so completely different than tofu I know - so it really depends on the preparation.

In a Japanese restaurant in Kreuzberg, I try a vegan tempura tofu platter for the first time. Photo: Miriam Meyer

When we go back to his shared apartment after dinner, we meet his Japanese roommate Awei. She laughs when I enthusiastically tell her about my "Veganuary" challenge and the delicious vegan selection at the Japanese. "It's more of a phenomenon in Germany," she says. "In Japan you really hardly find any vegetarian and even less vegan food," she explains. "Even our soups are often made from fish, so they're hardly vegan. But here in Berlin, many Japanese restaurants have just catered to a different target group," she tells me. So I learned something new again – Japanese cuisine is originally anything but vegan.

Day 8: Vegan snacking in the cinema

The first week of my vegan experiment is done! To celebrate the day, I meet friends to go to the cinema in the evening to see the latest Ridley Scott film "House of Gucci". We arrive at the cinema in time and want to get some snacks for the film.

While queuing for the snacks and reading the menu selection, I suddenly have doubts: Sure, I can't eat nachos with cheese sauce, and gummy bears aren't an option either. But what about popcorn? Is this even vegan? Maybe the oil or the caramel in the sweet popcorn was somehow made with animal products?

Luckily for me, sweet popcorn in the cinema is usually vegan. Image: watson

I quickly pull out my cell phone and google to be on the safe side. And lo and behold: As the website petazwei lists, popcorn is "vegan in almost all major cinema chains. This applies to the sweet and the salty version and also if it is supposed to taste artificially like butter." The site also gives tips on which other snacks are also vegan, for example certain types of ice cream such as Calippo and Flutschfinger or Oreos or trail mix. On the other hand, you should be careful with chips and nuts, since animal ingredients are often hidden in the added flavor enhancers and flavorings. So I calmly grab my sweet vegan popcorn and head to the cinema.

Day 7: In search of the perfect milk

The day starts a bit abruptly for me today: I ran out of milk for my oatmeal, so I make a short stopover at Edeka on my way to work. I arrive at the store a little under time pressure and intuitively walk to the refrigerated section. But no return: I can't find any milk alternative here, but instead further back in the shop between the baked goods and cleaning products.

In addition to long-life milk, they fill an entire shelf. The brands represented are alpro, Oatly and Edeka's own brand "naturally vegan". Cost point: the Oatly oat milk is 1.59 euros, the soy drink from "naturally vegan" is 99 cents and the vanilla-almond milk from alpro costs a whopping 2.79 euros. Everything is more expensive compared to a standard cow's milk, which costs 71 cents in Edeka.

The most expensive and cheapest milk substitute ended up in my shopping basket for testing purposes. Photo: Miriam Meyer

For my gourmet test, I decide on the most expensive and "cheapest" milk alternative and test it together with some muesli. Both don't really taste like cow's milk to me, the vanilla-almond drink is really sweet, while the unsweetened soy drink is rather watery and doesn't taste like anything. As Franzi had already announced to me: I still have to try some milk alternatives.

Day 6: Tips for a vegan "starter pack"

New day New luck! After I cooked delicious food yesterday and bought a few things on Monday, I'm faced with the big question again today: What do I do with all the ingredients now? And what actually belongs to a good "basic equipment" in a vegan kitchen?

What is included in a basic vegan kit? watson editor Franzi gives me tips for a vegan shopping list.Image: www.imago-images.de / marcus

I asked my colleague Franziska from the watson editorial team for tips: She has been vegan for a long time and with her vegan experience she has a few life hacks up her sleeve for me.

Hey Franzi, how about you, do you have basic vegan equipment in your kitchen? And what does it consist of? There is no general starter pack, of course that depends on personal preference. But I always have a few foods on hand that I can use to cook something quickly without much effort. These include protein-rich legumes like lentils or chickpeas and grains like oatmeal and quinoa. The right cow's milk and cream alternatives are essential. The selection is almost endless and unfortunately there are also some that don't taste good at all. You have to try your way through the shelves a bit until you find the one that suits your taste buds. Tip: Oat milk is not just oat milk. The products of the brands often differ in quality and taste. So don't give up and try it out a bit. The same applies to cheese and sausage alternatives! The only thing missing for a well-rounded snack is a spread (aubergine, curry, paprika, or vegan cream cheese) and margarine. Otherwise, similar rules apply as with omnivorous pantries: long-life foods such as pasta, rice and types of flour are a must! As well as dried fruits (dates, apricots, coconut chips) and various nuts. What I really should never run out of is (brown!!!!) almond butter. You will also find tahini, cashew butter and peanut butter in my closet. There are always potatoes, carrots, a seasonal head of lettuce, onions, apples and bananas in the fruit and vegetable drawer. Finally, I recommend two more ingredients that are part of the basics in every vegan kitchen: (almost) nothing works without garlic and yeast flakes are also real all-rounders. What could I do with these supplies? With the basic stock of fruit, vegetables and cereals I can you can easily prepare breakfast and lunch. I like to start the day with overnight oats (oatmeal, nuts and dried fruit with plant drink and agave syrup in the fridge overnight, garnish with fruit in the morning) and a cappuccino. Tip: Always buy a barista edition of the plant-based drink for a good amount of foam in the coffee specialties. At lunchtime you can quickly conjure up a bowl with chickpeas, lettuce or spinach, a spread and vegan chicken. My dinner favorite is oven-roasted vegetables with a dip. Simply marinate potatoes, peppers, carrots, onions (and whatever you like) with olive oil and herbs and put in the oven for 25 minutes. A quark alternative with herbs and garlic goes well with it as a dip. Cauliflower tastes great with a tahini dressing made with sesame paste, lemon, and garlic. If you fancy greasy food, you can veganize German classics. I have perfected my recipe for Käsespätzle, which I used to love very much. Fry the (vegan!) spaetzle with plenty of margarine in the pan. Add the oat milk, vegan cheese spread, turmeric and plenty of yeast flakes until everything has melted together into a creamy sauce. Season with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. If you don't like spaetzle, use mussel noodles to conjure up mac and cheese. As a side dish you make a salad with a dressing made from almond butter, apple cider vinegar and rapeseed oil. Never heard of nutritional yeast? You will encounter them more often in vegan cuisine because they produce a cheesy taste and are rich in vitamin B12. You can get them online or in organic supermarkets. Do you have any tips for me on what to look out for when shopping for these things in the supermarket? Sure! Tip number 1: A higher price does not guarantee better taste. For example, I don't like the pizza from the organic supermarket for five euros at all, but I'm totally crazy about the cheaper version from Penny for half the price. When it comes to meat alternatives, you should definitely choose fresh products instead of granules. Rügenwalder has a dry and a fresh minced meat version (which I find much more flavorful). The Like Meat variations make it onto my plate several times a week and Bedda can also score with the cheese alternatives. However, you should be aware that a product made from plants will never taste like its animal counterpart. It's an alternative, not a replacement.

Day 5: Dinner with vegan "Squeeze" goulash

Today, right after work, I'm invited to dinner at my two colleagues Rebecca and Joana's. The menu: Goulash with tagliatelle and caramel mousse for dessert – all vegan. When I think about how a vegan goulash should taste, I first think of the consistency of tofu - and for me that doesn't go together at all.

But when I arrive at Rebecca's house with Joana, Joana pulls a large mason jar out of her backpack. It contains sliced ​​soy that she has marinated for 24 hours in vegetable broth, paprika and soy sauce. "I made them really spicy, that sucks some of the liquid out of the soy fritters," Joana explains to me. "Now all you have to do is express them." Please what?

Vegan strips should be squeezed out before frying to contain as little liquid as possible. Photo: Miriam Meyer

But you read that correctly - so that we can first fry the sliced ​​meat firmly and it doesn't become spongy with liquid in the pan, we have to wring it out. Then we cook tagliatelle (without egg), garlic, tomato paste, lots of onions and some red wine are added to the goulash. Rebecca takes the already prepared caramel mousse out of the fridge. Luckily, the two of them planned and cooked wisely ahead of time, so the cooking went pretty quickly. Because I'm really hungry now! We're finally starting to eat...

Bon appétit: the vegan goulash tastes hearty and is firm to the bite. Photo: Miriam Meyer

And the taste is amazingly similar to that of a "real" goulash, the wringing out and frying has given the sliced ​​​​a surprisingly al dente consistency. Together with the sauce and the pasta, the now hearty winter meal really tastes heavenly. For dessert there is the vegan caramel mousse – I ended up in vegan heaven! Here you can find the recipe that Rebecca used for the vegan caramel mousse.

Day 4: Because of no choice

On the fourth day of my challenge, the time has finally come: I finally make it to the supermarket around the corner during opening hours (albeit only 15 minutes before closing time). Equipped with a shopping list, I immediately start looking for my usual groceries, i.e. toast, vegetables, milk, spread, cooking cream, yoghurt, butter and cheese - and maybe a snack or two? Let's see if I can also buy all of this in vegan form... Edeka isn't that big here.

But be careful: I will actually find something! With the exception of a suitable snack, I can also find all foods "veganized". It does take a little while for the dairy products on the shelves, here I have to look a little more closely and, above all, a little deeper on the shelves than normal at the product selection, but if you look, you will find. A little further in the supermarket I even find a whole shelf with exclusively vegetarian and vegan food, which I have so far passed without paying attention to.

I can also find "veganized" cheese in the supermarket around the corner. Photo: Miriam Meyer

Even if I have to be a little careful here, not packing vegetarian but vegan products in my backpack, I'm just happy that I actually have so much choice: from cooking cream and margarine to two different types of tofu, vegan Meatballs and even vegan tuna. If that isn't a luxury!

The yield of my first purchase at the supermarket around the corner is greater than I thought.null / Miriam Meyer

Out of sheer fascination for the different foods that still sound exotic to me ("vegan ham picker with grilled vegetables") I forgot the time a bit. The store is closing, so I grab the products from my shopping list and head home.

Day 3: Saved from starvation thanks to delivery apps

On Monday my normal working day starts again. With a normal lunch break, during which I put together a lunch from leftovers. There is improvised aubergine and zucchini curry that tastes surprisingly good, because I can always season it.

While I'm cooking, I still scroll to see the closest vegan food restaurants in my area, just to be on the safe side. And lo and behold: several delivery services have updated their offer and are presenting “delicious, vegan dishes and restaurants with a vegan-friendly menu” especially in January, as the Lieferando app says, for example. So at least in Berlin I would be pretty much saved from starvation, but of course that doesn't apply to all cities or in the country. And of course you can't order every day either

Day 2: Dips instead of kebap

The New Year's weekend isn't quite over yet, so far I haven't been able to go shopping. Luckily, I've already made an appointment with friends for dinner at a Turkish restaurant. But I was happy too early: When we arrive and I take a first look at the menu, there are only three vegetarian options out of a good 50 different dishes. Either a starter platter with salad and dips, grilled aubergines with flatbread or falafel with fries. When I asked if the aubergine dish was also vegan, i.e. without yoghurt sauce or something similar, the waiter answered me in a friendly, but somewhat irritated manner: "Of course, completely vegan without dairy products. Just aubergines, flatbread - and of course meat."

Despite a large and varied selection, I can't find a completely vegan dish. picture: Miriam Meyer

Vegan is not prominent in every national cuisine

Damn. So I opt for the cold appetizer platter. The food comes and I notice that unfortunately I can only eat half of the four different dips, the other two consist of tzatziki and mayo. Luckily I can scrounge some fries and flatbread from the others. But is it really sustainable to throw away half of an entire meal just because it wasn't vegan? In any case, next time I'll pay attention to the choice of restaurant in advance, then I won't confuse the waiters anymore.

Day 1: Full / empty fridge

A look in the fridge shows that the majority of supposedly vegan foods are unfortunately not.Image: PantherMedia / Andriy Popov

Completely hung over and hungry, I go into the kitchen of my shared apartment on the morning of January 1st, 2022 and open the fridge. Inside: the remains of the New Year's Eve raclette, in addition to the gherkins I can also discover yoghurt, cream cheese, jams and milk. Shit, this is going to be harder than I thought - because starting today I'm going vegan for a month.

Fondue, raclette, Christmas roast, in between stollen and cookies and more raclette… As delicious as my meal plan for the last week of Christmas was, it was also hearty. But now a new year begins. Höchste Zeit also, dass ich mich einer neuen, sinnvollen Herausforderung stelle: dem Veganuary. Dafür werde ich mich im Januar ausschließlich vegan ernähren und mich näher mit einem veganen Lifestyle beschäftigen.

Startgefühl: Skeptisch, aber neugierig

31 Tage ausschließlich vegane Ernährung, von jetzt auf gleich! Vom gerade noch Alles-Esser hin zur komplett veganen Ernährung. Can this go well? Ich bin etwas skeptisch und gleichzeitig neugierig.

Meine bisherigen Berührungspunkte mit dem "vegan way of life" sind dabei ziemlich gemischt. "Das ist doch nicht natürlich – das schmeckt doch nicht!", "Ist doch dann alles Einheitsbrei" und "Du wirst schon noch die Mangelerscheinungen spüren, dir werden einfach wichtige Nährstoffe fehlen" – das waren die Reaktionen aus meiner Familie, als ich ihnen kurz vor Jahreswechsel von meinem Plan erzählt habe. Und ganz ehrlich, ich habe auch so meine Bedenken, ob ich nicht doch zu optimistisch an dieses Ziel herantrete. Aber trotzdem: Ich will wissen, was an diesen hartnäckigen Vorurteilen dran ist, mit denen Veganismus immer wieder verbunden wird. Ist vegan zu leben, wirklich so fad oder sogar ungesund, wie viele Nicht-Veganer stoisch behaupten?

Bislang nur hin und wieder ein veganer Kochabend

Spätestens seit meinem Umzug ins (ernährungs-) diverse Berlin bin ich immer mehr in Berührung mit veganem Essen gekommen und nehme auch das allmählich größer werdende Angebot an veganen Ersatzprodukten im Supermarkt wahr. Auch in meinem Freundeskreis leben bereits viele vegan und haben mich schon oft mit leckeren, kreativen Gerichten überrascht. Doch wie sieht vegan-Sein im Alltag und nicht nur bei gemeinsamen Kochabenden aus?

Damit ich auch eine realistische Chance habe, den Monat erfolgreich vegan zu gestalten, wird mir meine Kollegin Franziska aus der watson-Redaktion mit Tipps und Motivation zur Seite stehen – und mir vielleicht mit dem ein oder anderen Vegan-Hack helfen, auch meinen Geldbeutel zu schonen. Denn ihr Credo lautet: "Vegan leben muss nicht zwingend teuer sein."

Inzwischen habe ich mir erstmal ein Haferflocken-Müsli mit Mandelmilch und Heidelbeeren gemacht – immerhin hatte ich noch eine Milchalternative besorgt. Aber mir wird schon direkt am ersten Tag klar: Wenn ich den Monat schaffen will, muss ich mich beim Einkaufen besser vorbereiten. Mandelmilch allein reicht nicht.