About six years ago, in June of 2012, I watched "Forks over Knives," a documentary that advocates a whole-foods, plant-based lifestyle, with a friend. The next day, I gave everything in my apartment that wasn't vegan to my parents, and that was that. Danny was in Bangladesh for six weeks at the time, and each week when we Skyped, he asked if I was still eating vegan. I always said yes, and years later, it was still the case.
I hardly ever 'cheated'...and then we moved to Spain, the land of jamon, tortilla, and paella (think lots of meat, eggs, and seafood), where ordering a veggie sandwich doesn't mean you'll get bread and veggies - it means you'll get a meat sandwich with some veggies on it.
So in Spain we (oh yes, Danny hopped on board right after returning from Bangladesh) became a bit flexible, especially when eating out. Cheese, yogurt, and eggs occasionally made appearances in our cooking and on our plates when eating out, but we did our best to stay plant-based as much as we could. We got to a point, though, that I couldn't remember the last time we were eating totally, 100% vegan, and I missed it.
So last year before my birthday when we were both coming up with a list of 30 things we want to do before we turn 30, I put "Be completely vegan for a month" on my list. This past April seemed as good a time as any, so for 30 days I did what I'd (pretty much) done for over three years - I ate no products that came from an animal - no meat, no eggs, no dairy.
It was easier when we were in Madrid, in our own kitchen, planning meals, shopping, and cooking, like we were used to. For the last week of the month, though, we were housesitting and traveling in England, and while I'd suggest that England is one of the most vegan-friendly countries we've visited, the shift made things substantially more difficult. In most housesits, homeowners encourage sitters to 'make themselves at home' and 'help themselves' to things in the kitchen. We often do, replacing things we use up or make a good dent in, but it's still not our kitchen or our grocery store that we're working with. We've found it tricky to cook normally, which for us would often look like cooking every evening, leftovers for lunch, and oatmeal for breakfast. Recipes we like to use call for many ingredients, spices, and a fair amount of prep, so even though we've still been willing and able to put in the work, not everyone has a kitchen ready with the staples and gadgets we use on a regular basis, and we weren't equipped to move leftovers from place to place either, so we really had to simplify our diets.
In May I largely returned to how things were before: eating vegetarian 100% of the time, and when possible (especially when we're cooking for ourselves), keeping things vegan. Maybe someday I'll be able to return to a completely plant-based diet again, but for now, with all of the traveling and changes - it seems best to remain flexible. Most restaurants and people are able to work with a vegetarian diet, so that's where I'm staying for now (although, for the record, and because I just can't resist, I definitely do prefer things closer to the vegan-side of things ;)).
Photos (from top to bottom, left to right) are of the places we ate out in April - a new vegan donut shop in Madrid, vegan pizza and afternoon tea in Southend-on-Sea, and vegan Mexican and Indian food in London.