Having done the Ration Challenge as a vegan, I thought I’d tell you all how it went.
I have previously blogged on my reasons for taking part in the challenge – https://veganonadesertisland.com/2019/06/12/why-im-doing-the-ration-challenge-as-a-vegan/
People are still able to sponsor me at https://my.rationchallenge.org.uk/paulbenton
The charity’s aims are explained on their website – https://www.rationchallenge.org.uk/
Just in case you wondered – I did complete the challenge successfully, and, as a result of my experience, have started to think about my food choices even more deeply than your average vegan (is there such a thing?)
While it’d belittle the challenge to call it easy, I didn’t struggle. I felt a little hungry at times, but I wasn’t desperately craving chocolate or chips – although, to live like that all the time would be difficult. The fact my friends were so very supportive meant I earned plenty of reward items, meaning a bag of kale helped immensely – having soya chunks as my chosen protein also went a long way – dried TVP is so light, that you get a huge amount for the allowed 120g.
One of the main things I realised – or remembered – was how easy it is to make your own milk alternative – rice milk just takes rice, water and a blender. Having just broken my blender, I have also come to appreciate how important kitchen equipment can be. You can get “cheap” blenders for a tenner – by I have found, to my cost, that they break very easily. I will be relying on my stick blender (a fiver) until I can replace said machine.
Making your own plant milk is fun and gives you a sense of achievement – you can also make just the right amount for your needs and save on packaging – a huge issue at the moment.
One of the other things I discovered was how tasty rice and beans are.
I’ll admit I threw in both salt and my chosen spice – and usually bulked it up with soya chunks and kale, but just rice and kidney beans is fine in itself for a meal – especially if fried. I will admit choosing fried rice and beans as a main meal since completing the challenge.
I enjoyed the lentil soup from the challenge’s recipe book and also the basic flatbread bites – which is pretty much flour and water with added spice. I will be using both of these recipes in the future.
In fact, the only meal I didn’t really enjoy was congee – I prefer my rice with bite and, although I appreciate the energy this breakfast staple gave me, I did struggle to eat it without throwing up. Being sick is not advisable when you’re eating a rationed diet.
My overall belief that a vegan diet further an omnivore diet was reinforced – especially with the weight of soya chunks compared to the two sardines allowed as the meat-eating equivalent.
I realised that, even as a vegan, I don’t need to buy as many processed meals as I do – making dishes from scratch is healthier and more rewarding – and improves one’s relationship with food.
I came to appreciate that many have to live on a strict budget, and this is possible as a vegan, but, you have to be adventurous and eating the same or similar meals day in, day out can become very disheartening – you also have to be very mindful of getting enough of all the nutrients required for a healthy diet.
This made me think more deeply about the added challenge of people who live as refugees – life is certainly not easy and compassion is often in short supply in wider society – something which both saddens and frustrates me deeply.