Tag: vegan

Do Vegans Dream of Electric Friends?

I say this because I could imagine they must struggle to ever be invited anywhere … I’m thinking ‘robot’ friends might be the only option HAHA That said, It’s been an incredible eye-opener, my vegan journey. And not just from a nutritional standpoint, but it’s given me a whole new perspective on society and how we think about food. Fascinating.

I completed my two-week vegan adventure on a massive physical and emotional high. It forced me to so radically think about my nutrition and my body loved me for it. I had more energy than I knew what to do with, which in turn had an enormous positive impact on my state of mind. Wonderful.

But while my mind and body were loving me, my friends weren’t. Tell somebody you’re a vegan and they look at you in shock, horror and total incredulity. Seriously. I never realised it was a sin, but apparently it’s pretty close to one. On one level I ‘get it’. Veganism and the real world just don’t mix. It’s fine if you’re at home and do all your own cooking and don’t have families to cater for, but in the real world it’s impossible. This was quite interesting in itself. I never realised just how reliant we are on dairy. You can get vegetarian meals everywhere nowadays – but try and find one without cheese and you’re stuffed (or not, fact!)! Even more interesting, there are products all over the place which are labelled ‘vegan’ but when you look at the ingredients they’re not vegan at all! Yet another lesson that one should always read the ingredients! I was reduced to hysteria (in a good way) on more than one occasion during my steep learning curve as I looked for what I thought might be reasonable ‘quick fixes’ for easy meals …. and discovered that so many foods that I thought (obviously without enough thought!!) would be vegan were nothing close: quorn (why did I think that might be an occasional safe substitute?), protein shakes, tinned vegetable or lentil soups, granola, nut breads … the list is endless because I’d go shopping thinking of the best of vegan nutrition but forget how difficult it was to find what’s good without the presence of dairy! Fascinating!

Most interesting of all, though, was people’s perception that veganism is unhealthy. It’s not unhealthy at all. Quite the opposite – but it’s not for the uncommitted, the unadventurous or the idle! That was the key problem. Veganism is hard work – and in a world that relies on fast food, fancy food and/or quick results it doesn’t fit in. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sitting on a high horse here saying those things are wrong, either. Give me a break – that’s what I eat, too (usually) – but veganism also requires a certain amount of targeted and intelligent focus which most would not be prepared to give. Not to mention that veganism is, frankly, hassle! As a society we eat far too much protein on a daily basis, but a ‘lazy’ or ‘faddy’ vegan will soon see the consequences of probably not getting much protein at all and I can understand that’s a massive problem for the majority of the population. Again, a healthy vegan needs to be on top of their nutrition and I have to admit I spent a lot of time researching exactly where I could get all the protein I needed and making sure I had constant balance in my diet. Combine that with the fact that a healthy diet has got to have variety and yes, veganism takes effort! A daily portion of falafels and lentils just isn’t good enough!

So there you have it. This is the end of any ‘record’ of my vegan travels. ‘Was it worth it and what was the point?’ you ask. Well, the initial ‘point’ was to renew my own interest in food by challenging myself to think about what I was putting into my body. I think I can definitely say that the journey certainly accomplished this and I’ve come away with new knowledge, new tastes and plenty of new meal ideas!

And was it worth it? Well, this week I went back to eating along with the rest of the family – the usual variety of healthy, balanced nutritious meals including meat, fish and dairy. I can’t be arsed to get up off the couch, I feel bloated and I’m grumpy. What can I say!! Lol

WWVD: Week 2 and beyond …

Just over two weeks has passed of my dedicated vegan adventure (foodwise, at least!). 10 lbs gone without a single thought – so that’d be 10 lbs that my body simply didn’t want or need. I can’t believe the scales but my knees, my waistline, my energy levels, sleep patterns, general strength and yes, even my ring fingers say they’re telling the truth! It’s just fab and I feel fantastic.  I’m just not sure what I’ve done to deserve this buzz. I started out simply trying to renew my interest in food. I was stuck in a rut, eating rubbish, feeling horrible inside, starting to look horrible outside – and it was back to the old spiral of eat-feel rubbish-comfort eat-feel even more rubbish-eat more anyway … Sound familiar?

Calorie-counting, points-counting, call it what you will … just don’t work on a long-term basis. Yes, of course it’s a case of calories in v. calories out – but you can eat three Mars bars daily and stay within your calories. You can also eat nothing but fruit and vegetables all day and stay within your calories. Neither diet is healthy and neither will lead to long-term sustainable weight loss. The only reason people lose weight with these ‘counting’ systems is because subconsciously they’re becoming more aware of what they’re eating, they cut down portion sizes and cut out some of the rubbish. Of course, that’s also a good thing – but ‘subconscious’ acts mean people are unaware of the real reasons they are losing weight and will therefore not be able to keep it off long-term or, indeed, know what on earth to do when the weight stops coming off. And that kind of demotivation and disappointment is the fastest way back to that eating spiral (see above) that I can think of.

Of course, I am in no way saying that vegan is the way to go LOL  Absolutely not – particularly for a family, unless everyone is vegan to begin with. I’m very fortunate that I have a very supportive family who think my vegan adventure is nothing short of hilarious. Frankly, I think I have them to thank for my weight loss. It helps when the simple things like asking for a cup of tea remain simple – neither kids nor husband think twice about using soya milk for my tea and dairy for their own. Besides, this has turned out quite educational for the kids, too – they’re constantly asking why I can’t eat such-and-such and learning about carbs, proteins, fat and their role in keeping health at its maximum. Who can say that’s a bad thing, eh? They may not be eating vegan but they’re certainly learning from it, so another brownie point (dairy-free, of course) goes to my WWVD journey.

I said I’d only do this for two weeks – enough time to learn about it and get my eating back to something close to nutritional (yes, it really was that bad for a while!). Well, my two weeks is up … and I’M STILL GOING!! The first week was tough and I missed lots of my favourites (fish, eggs and milk were the most difficult) – but once I’d had a good talk with myself and reminded myself that instead of wasting time moaning about stuff I was missing my time might be better spent discovering new tastes, my vegan adventure soared to new heights and I am LOVING IT!  Am I going to be ‘difficult’ and resort to beans and chips every time I go out to eat? That’d be an absolute NO! I’ll eat whatever’s available (that’ll be an extra treat!) – but neither will I forget how much energy I’ve gleaned from a new perspective on food, and surely that’s what eating should be about, isn’t it? Finding ways of extracting maximum taste but not at the expense of maximum nutrition?  When did nutrition stop being about taste? Hmmmm. Personally, I blame the casual warping of the word ‘diet’ to its current meaning: hunger, boring food, fat free (responsible for more weight gain than anything else), sacrifice, a chore, dread, …).

My vegan adventure taught me lots about nutrition, introduced me to new tastes that I simply would never have touched before – and gave me a new and wonderful energy to do what I love to do: train and support my clients and train myself to the best of my ability. I’m loving life right now. If you’re struggling, then you know what to do: contact me and arrange your own 1-to-1 nutrition consultation (no, don’t be silly, I’m not going to suggest you go vegan LOL). Details on my website: www.youchoosefitness.co.uk


Some very basic vegan days …

Favourite breakfasts:

Porridge with blueberries, chopped nuts and pumpkin seeds

Smoothie: frozen berries, banana, homemade juice, topped with granola

Lemon and buckwheat pancakes


Favourite lunches:

Spicy Moroccan chickpea soup w/ soya and linseed bread

Watermelon, avocado and mixed beans and shoots salad with chilli flakes

Baked potato w/ homemade tofu-veggie burgers


Favourite dinners:

Homemade falafel with mixed roast veg

Nut roast w/ quinoa

Lentil and aubergine curry w/ brown rice


Favourite snacks/treats:

Homemade peanut flapjacks

Orange sponge cake (just kidding: this was HORRIBLE but highly entertaining!!)

Spelt crackers w/ vegan cheese (OMG the salt/sodium content of that cheese is frightening!)

Homemade coconut ice cream

Dairy-free chocolate (yum yum yum)

Trek/Cliff bars (for long runs)


WWVD – Week One Round-Up

Day 2

Hello detox headache. No real complaints. Good to be off the chocolate diet!! Granola and fruit for breakfast. I need the fibre. I also need to watch my protein intake. There wasn’t too much of that yesterday. It was soup and bread again for lunch. That suits me fine. I love soup and the weather’s certainly conducive to hot lunch these days. Interestingly, mid-afternoon I was hungry but I was actually craving fruit. Hmmmm – usually it’s chocolate, cake or, well, anything sweet.

I’m already getting tired of green tea. I miss my cuppas! Dinner was fab – falafels and a salad of tomatoes, beans, lentils, pea shoots, rocket, grated carrot … protein definitely not lacking. It was delicious, too. I came across some vegan chocolate today and thought I’d feed my after-dinner habit with it. It was actually delicious but I ate too much. It was definitely a case of wanting it but not needing it. I was pleasantly surprised at the taste of soya milk but it does taste different in tea. I still miss my tea 

Day 3
Variety is the key. This morning I had porridge, made with soya milk of course. This soya milk ‘thing’ that I have going on is definitely psychological. I keep imagining it’s going to taste horrible, but it doesn’t. It really doesn’t. I loved my porridge. Yay.

I’m finding it really hard, though. I can tell this is not going to be sustainable for me for more than a couple of weeks. I love my dairy and meat and fish too much. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I open the fridge in an effort to make lunch. I keep coming up with ideas, then have to re-check them against the WWVD rules and most of the time my ideas have to be binned. I can’t believe the amount of meat and dairy I eat. I’m fascinated by the effect the lack of these foods is going to have on my body, though – if any. I have to admit that during today’s 5k I was not exactly bursting with energy, but I’m willing to accept that this is probably more to do with my radical change of diet rather than anything to do with the ‘type’ of diet. Got to give my body at least a week to start getting accustomed to the new regime and, I suppose, time to reassess the fuel it’s getting and how it’s going to use it. I hope it works it out quickly.

Body’s adapted, mind adapted … this is GREAT! Loving the challenge. Used to the taste of soya milk now and not missing out on tea any more, though I’m worried that I am now actually craving green tea and find myself regularly taking this option rather than my usual PG Tips with milk!! It’s not so much a chore now, rather than an adventure. Erm … eating out has been a challenge. In London with Caitriona (well, Sidcup of all places) and ended up having beans and chips as I couldn’t find anything else lol Warwick University last Saturday was even worse … best I could do was a packet of crisps, for God’s sake!! Good job I’d chucked a banana and a Nak’d bar in my bag!

I’m finding it hard to get loads of variety, that’s my only real complaint. Variety that is practical, at least. I don’t have hours at lunchtime to cook so bread and soup it is! Miso soup with tofu is a new favourite. I never thought I’d ever type the word ‘tofu’ in a positive manner!!! Breakfasts are easy to vary. Dinner’s a bit limiting, too – but I’m going to work on that this week. Falafels and quinoa have been my saviours. Still struggling to keep protein levels up. I have now bought tofu and am going to venture in that world of the unknown (I’m not counting the miso soup stuff) this week. I think the tofu thing is psychological – a bit like soya milk – so I’m hoping I’ll end up enjoying it. Dubious.com.

Summary? Rocky start to the week but well settled into the vegan thing now and my family have been great. They think it’s hilarious but are all going along with it and are only happy to shout ‘WWVD’ at me when they see me peering at a packet ingredients or into the fridge with a confused look on my face! It’s all good. I never thought I’d say that but it’s all good haha

Vegan Experiment Day One

What would a vegan do? Hmmmm – good question. And what am I doing even pondering this question, you might ask? Well, here’s the thing …

Although I’m extremely healthy and my weight and BMI are all well within a healthy range, my knees suffer tremendously with few pounds that I waiver away from my ‘ideal’ weight. I’ve gone off track and had a few binges and ridiculous eating weeks and have been struggling for the last few weeks to stop eating garbage (albeit in between healthy mealtimes!). I’m just losing the plot and the final straw was last weekend’s ultra injuries, which were not only due to, I believe, a ‘glute’ problem, but also the extra pounds I was carrying.

Enough is enough, but I’m a very weird game-player when it comes to dealing with my health. I know exactly what needs doing but I’ve been trying this for the last few weeks and have failed miserably. If you continue to do what you’ve always done then you’ll always get what you’ve always got, right? So something has to change – radically – and what’s the last thing in the world I ever thought I’d do? Yes, that’d probably be ‘eat vegan’. So that’s what I’m going to do for a couple of weeks. I’m going to eat vegan. Because it’s alternative (to me, anyway), it’s different, it’s a million miles away from what I normally eat and it’ll force me to re-think what I’m eating, to look carefully at food and to take a massive interest in my nutrition to ensure I understand what I’m doing and I’m getting all the nutrients I need! Fascinating, huh? No? Well, I think it is.

Today has been Day One and yes, I’ve spent most of the day wondering ‘What would a vegan do?’ It’s a long time since I’ve carefully examined the nutritional content of almost every supermarket food I picked up, with the exception of all the fresh fruit and veg. I’ve had so much fun. It’s been enlightening, too. Granted, the idea came to me after reading Scott Jurek’s book Eat and Run (http://scottjurek.com/eatandrun/). I’ve mentioned this book quite a lot recently but I think that’s only testament to how much I’ve enjoyed it. The drive and determination of this man is nothing short of inspirational and it’s hard to read it and not want to get up and go for a run afterwards. Of course, the book also heavily advocates a vegan diet and yes, that’s where the inspiration came from for my radical nutrition challenge, but I’ll readily admit that I certainly have no intention of ‘going vegan’! Firstly, I’m far too fussy an eater to be able to sustain the diet for any length of time – and secondly, I have no intention of giving up wearing leather shoes/boots or being quite so radically environmentally-friendly. I do my little bit but I’m far too shallow to commit to the whole vegan ethic.

So I’ll stick to my own personal challenge to try something totally different. I’m a great believer in thinking that the magic happens outside the comfort zone and it occurred to me that I’ve always thought of this in physical terms – but why not nutritional? A vegan diet, I can assure, is certainly well outside MY comfort zone, but I’m looking forward to new knowledge, a real shake-up in my eating habits, reinforced awareness of the food I’m putting into my body and the effect it has, and plenty of fun (and hopefully energy) along the way.

Today, I tried soya milk for the first time ever!! Yes, really! I’ve always had a mental impression that it would taste revolting. I think it’s the idea of getting ‘milk’ from beans – what an odd concept. Well, I was thrilled to discover how wrong I was. It actually tastes rather like a sweetened cow’s milk – or not too far off it. Discovery No. 1 of the day has been positive.

Discovery No. 2 was the fact that I could actually survive a whole day without dairy. Blimey, I never realised how much dairy I actually consume.

I kept my food very simple today. I had a smoothie for breakfast, soup and bread (gluten and dairy-free) for lunch, fruit for snacks and roast veggies and wholemeal rice for dinner.

Looking forward to what I’ll discover tomorrow lol

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