I’m going vegan for the duration of lent! In a BBQ-obsessed country! With minimal soy products! Sound scary yet?
Lent, according to the Catholic calendar, started on Wednesday. Today is my fourth day on it. No huge temptations or major slip-ups so far. Last week, I was terrified of the lack of food I’d be allowed to eat. I researched and researched recipes and foods that I could eat. A majority of my searches yielded soy-based meals. The problem? The Republic of Armenia does not stock much soy products. Aside from soy milk, soybeans are no longer imported and tofu is nonexistent. Don’t even ask about soy cheeses and meat substitutesAs I previously mentioned, I’m not doing lent for religious reasons, but rather for personal ones:
1) I needed a reason to stop eating the greasy and overly carb-focused school lunches
2) I wanted to see for myself if being vegan is as awful as I condemned it to be
3) Going vegan would force me to learn how to cook and rely on myself for sustenance
And the added bonus, 4) I’ve noticed that I started losing weight.
The day before I started my diet, I went to the supermarket. Tuesday is as good a day as any to stock up on vegetables. And behold, vegetation there was. As silly as it sounds, I never realised the abundance of options available to me. Turns out, nature has a lot to offer by way of non-animal products, even here, where fruits and vegetables are only seasonally available. I grabbed whatever caught my eye: something green, something red, something leafy, something lean.
I decided that everyday, I’d make dinner for two and eat a portion of it that night and save the rest for the next day to eat at school.
My first day of lent, I took a bowl of borsch, which is a Russian beet soup, along with some bulgur to school with me. In the morning, I had a yellow apple. That night at home, I got fancy making myself dinner and packing the next day’s lunch.
On my second day, I had faux bolognese wraps. I used this recipe for making the bolognese sauce, ditching the Parmesan cheese and substituting the beef for a mix of jumbo white and oyster mushrooms. With a bit of spicing and herbs, the bolognese sauce smelled just like the real thing. On the side, I had an orange and arugla salad, having added walnuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, and dried blueberries to the mix. I think I had a banana in the morning.
At home, my mom, who is also doing lent (as she has been since she was my age), had made falafel, so I made a sandwich out of those with tomatoes and onions.
Since we had Friday off this week, I didn’t have to bother preparing my lunch from the day
before. Instead, I took my time making vegetable broth. I’d been looking at a lot of recipes that require some sort of stock, and since I’d never seen
any sold at supermarkets here, I decided to make some myself. The recipe is very low-maintenance; it just requires you to chop up the veggies and throw them in. While cooking that, I realised just how fantastic a mix carrots, onions, and celery really are. I ended up washing and cutting up some more and then made an onion, leek, celery, carrot and mushroom stir-fry with spaghetti. Serve immediately, topped with tahini. I also made that same orange and arugla salad before the leaves went bad.
On this day, my chocolate cravings were acting up. I was getting a little tired of eating peanut-sugar bars (the ex-Soviet nation equivalent of nut bars) and
sesame paste. Then I found this recipe for vegan brownies 😀 While waiting for those to cook, I also made some fruit salad.
On Friday, I had a dinner date with some girl friends. We were going out to have sushi. Thankfully, I’m not the only one going vegan in the country. Many go on lent in Armenia and restaurants and cafes start offering menus that accommodate the demand. I ordered miso soup, an avocado roll, and a vegetable roll. For dessert, we went to a bakery that served vegan napoleons. Foodless, irritated guest avoided 🙂
That sums up my meals for the past few days.
Thanks for reading,