I started typing this really self deprecating opening blurb here but changed my mind. Frankly I see no need to say “oh I know, Vegan, so lame”. It isn’t lame actually. I don’t want to preach. I have no reason to. Instead I thought I would do a kind of timeline of events that led to me making this decision because some people are super into it, some people think it’s annoying as f**k and some people just don’t get it. All cool. Lemme explain…
Let’s start a few months back. I can’t actually remember the precise date but it doesn’t matter anyway. So Chris and I love a documentary, cue Netflix and Cowspiracy. If you haven’t seen it I would strongly suggest you watch it. Not to be changed into a vegan warrior but just to learn about where our food comes from. I am a foodie. I love food. I can eat for Britain and there isn’t much I don’t love. However, after watching that programme I couldn’t help but feel “something” towards the food I was eating. It is hard to put my finger on it but I knew I wasn’t totally comfortable with having animal products in every single mouthful of food I consumed throughout the day anymore. Eggs and salmon for breakfast, yoghurt for snacks, chicken for lunch, sushi for dinner etc etc.
After watching Cowspiracy we went on to watch Forks over Knives, Food Inc, Fed Up, Food Matters and a few others. I read some books, primarily Born to Run. I started listening to podcasts by Rich Roll. The more I learned the more interested I became.
Here’s an example of something I learned from The China Study:
It looked at mortality rates from cancer and other chronic diseases from 1973–75 in 65 counties in China; the data was correlated with 1983–84 dietary surveys and blood work from 100 people in each county.
The research was conducted in those counties because they had genetically similar populations that tended, over generations, to live and eat in the same way in the same place.
The study concluded that counties with a high consumption of animal-based foods in 1983–84 were more likely to have had higher death rates from “Western” diseases as of 1973–75, while the opposite was true for counties that ate more plant-based foods.
In a nutshell… Plant based = very little cancer… Animal product western diet = heaps of cancer.
No thanks. Cancer is fucking shit. Sorry for the swearing Mum but I think you might even let this one slide. Cancer is fucking shit. The day a close family member of mine is diagnosed with cancer is the day my heart breaks into a thousand pieces likely to never be repaired. Cancer terrifies me. To be clear, I realise being vegan isn’t going to safeguard me from cancer but shit if it’s going to help? Hell yes I’ll eat some plants and chuck out the milk and the chicken.
So onto what happened next. I went through my cupboards, freezer, fridge, shelves…. I got all the stuff I didn’t want anymore and I either gave it away or I binned it. I downloaded some apps for vegan recipes (Forks over Knives have a GREAT one that even makes you a shopping list), I made a vegan board on Pinterest, I googled which coffee shops and restaurants near my office had vegan options (Pret and Itsu are my new best friends). Then I waved goodbye to my lean muscle and mentally prepared myself for massive fat gain because all those carbs and no chicken would see that happen…
Three weeks later at 7.30am with Tom Wright (my strength coach) and standing on the scales… Wait…. what? I had lost 5kgs or half a stone depending on which you prefer. I knew I had been feeling a little leaner but yowza and happy days. To be fair my choice to eat plant based went hand in hand with picking up Ironman training again BUT I never dropped that much weight when previously Ironman training and certainly not as quickly.
I picked up some weights… then I picked up some heavier weights. What the ****? Oh right yeah no worries – I am stronger than ever but haven’t so much as looked at a protein shake or a chicken salad in nearly a month. Cool.
I used to go to bed and complain that my acid reflux was killer. Every night the same. Oh right yeah that’s gone now. Can’t remember the last time I had heartburn actually.
I sleep like a baby now. My dreams can be pretty mental though. Last night a crocodile lived in our spare room and it came into our room and tried to bite my foot so I fed it a pillow and it went back to it’s room and climbed into the dogs cage and pulled a blanket over itself. Sure.
My energy levels are balanced. I rarely crave stuff at work and when I do I stuff my face with avocado wraps or Nakd bars or whatever else I fancy.
I eat carbs. A LOT of carbs. I may also turn into an avocado. I never count calories or macros now. EVER. I can’t remember the last time I checked the calorie count of something. If this seems impossible to you then consider the fact I had an eating disorder for over a decade and could recite the calorific content of pretty much ANY food item. It is VERY liberating eating what I want and thoroughly enjoying it.
Social media is ALIVE with people doing the vegan thing. Deliciously Ella is all vegan, did you know that? Me either. Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, Pinterest boards…. the options are endless and I am loving learning new cooking techniques.
Finally and most importantly…. the food.
No – I don’t really miss cheese. Seriously.
I eat like a goddam queen. ‘Cos I am a goddam queen. Nope – I can’t get away with phrases like that. But I really do eat well. A few of my favourites and the links to the recipes are below:
- Roast potatoes with garlic
- Chipotle Veg Burrito – Made vegan by removing cheese and sour cream and adding extra guac… freakin DREAM dinner
Oh and when I do feel like being a pig aaall of the below are vegan:
- Bourbon biscuits
- Kettle chips
- McDonald’s chips
- Nesquik chocolate milk powder
- Bisto Gravy granules (yes really)
- Green & Blacks 80% Dark Chocolate
- Metcalfe’s Popcorn
- Ritz Crackers
- Lotus Biscuit Spread
- Peanut Butter
- New York Bagels (most of them)
The list goes on and on and on…
The only tricky part? Dining out – easily solved by calling or emailing the restaurant before you go. See?
So…. try it – don’t try it…. It is of course up to the individual but if you DO try it then let me know?! I am still super new to this but I am loving it. My mum even booked a vegetarian restaurant for our family meal at the weekend – super weird seeing my steak eating, red wine drinking Dad getting excited by the thai fritters and koftas…. all vegan. Who knew eh?
P.S. Don’t think I’ve forgotten our creature friends. I have not. I am still researching this side and it isn’t a pretty picture. I think most people realise eating cheap eggs means some little bird is stuffed into a cage with dozens of other little birds and it’s pretty bloody grim but the reality of mass animal agriculture is far far worse than I ever imagined and frankly if I don’t need to kill something to eat awesome food then I ain’t gonna. Shoo little chickens! Be free!