Archives for category: Vegan Food

After the initial excitement of the first month, and keeping myself motivated by blogging about it, I had some struggles, but now I feel like I’m really getting into the swing of it and I’m feeling well.

This week I’ve had some blood test results back from my GP.  I’d told them that I’d been eating a Vegan diet for 2 months and that I’d like them to check my nutrient levels and anything else relevant.  The bloods results have come back absolutely fine.  It’s great to know that I’m nourishing myself properly.  The same is true in my acupuncture appointments as well: there were a couple of weeks when my acupuncturist said I was a bit ‘blood-deficient’, but that has now passed and I’m back to showing healthy signs.

I had some issues with stomach pain that felt like bad indigestion pain, and that, coupled with a significant mood slump during the second month had got me feeling quite worried.  These are the things I’ve learned which are helping me to take better care of myself and which have alleviated the problems:-

  • I’m really taking care to eat a varied diet and not repeat foods over several days.  I can’t eat beans 2 days in a row without feeling some kind of bad consequence!  So, I don’t do it anymore.  I really mix it up with the legumes, having as wide a variety of beans and peanuts as possible, and make sure that I have tofu meals on days in between, and sometimes have days where I just make a really good salad with some nuts and seeds for the protein.  I find I really like, and eat quite a lot of Tahini.  I also find that lentils and peas are much gentler on my digestive system.  I eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, and also plenty of carbs, mostly whole grains.   I seem to need more bread/pasta/couscous etc. to soak things up than I did when I was an omnivore.
  • Although I’m eating a lot, I’ve learned to eat in smaller meals and to space meals out regularly without large intervals in between.  It turned out that whenever I had stomach pain it was usually because I’d over-eaten, or eaten too fast, and on a very empty stomach.
  • I’ve worked on my Omega 3-6-9s, eating a variety of seeds, oils and fortified soya milk, and I’m also taking a Vegan omega oil supplement.
  • I’m taking a Vegan multivitamin to take care of vitamins B12 and D among others.
  • I’m trying to eat dark foods: dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale, dark beans, seaweed, dried figs, dark red fruits, to help ‘build blood’ (in Chinese medicine terms) and also boost nutrients like calcium and iodine.
  • I’m eating plenty of fruit, something fresh every day and lots of delicious dried fruits, and crystalized ginger.
  • I’m exercising regularly and riding my bike all over the place now that spring is here and it’s more pleasant to be outside.
  • I’m drinking plenty of water, and have reduced caffeine, as this also seemed to be contributing to the problems I was having with stomach pain and low mood.  It was kind of like, when I’d cut out all the dairy products that were clogging my system, I felt the other problems more, but now they are starting to heal.  I find that although I still enjoy the experience of drinking coffee, the after-effects of it are not so nice, and so I only have it occasionally now.
  • I’ve been having fun with Vegan baking.  The best result so far is the lemon cake pictured in the previous post, but the use-up-the-going-off-bananas cake came a close second 🙂

All these things have helped.  I’d also say, there has probably been a strong link between my emotions and my digestive system during this time, and, as I’ve started to assimilate the changes I’m making and to relax more, I’ve started to feel well again.  In the early weeks I don’t think I’d taken account of what a significant change this is, not only in terms of eating habits, but in what it means philosophically, and this was actually quite a shock to the system – in the fullest possible senses of that idiom.

Two books have helped me a lot.  The first has been great in helping me get nutritional things sorted out, because it makes clear, helpful suggestions and even includes some daily eating plans, which have helped to show me I’m on the right track.  It’s an American book, but I still found it quite readable as a Brit.  I just need to find out what a ‘Sloppy Joe’ is and I’ll be quite conversant!  (Doesn’t sound very nice, ‘Sloppy Joe’….  What is it?)  Here’s a link:-

http://www.veganoutreach.org/veganforlife.html

The second book is ‘The World Peace Diet’ by Will Tuttle.

http://worldpeacediet.org/

This is a philosophical book which deconstructs the way we live now and have lived historically, and makes a very convincing plea for a worldwide revolution in attitudes towards other species and the way we have used them.  It addressed a lot of the things that I had started to think and feel prior to reading the book, and reading it has re-assured me that I’m not going barmy in feeling the way I feel.  There are plenty of others around who would like to see a change to gentler, more co-operative living, both between humans and with animals.  Read it.  It’s well-argued and sincere.  It makes a lot of sense to me and has strengthened my belief that our planet desperately needs some big changes and, if we have the insight and courage to make them, humans will be healthier, happier, and have a future.

Another thing happened which cheered me enormously, in an odd way.  It was that I set out to go to The Northern Vegan Festival, which was being held in Manchester.  When I got to the venue, the crowds were queuing round the block. In the end I never got in, because I couldn’t be bothered to wait, but it made me realise that I’m definitely not alone!  How exciting that so many people are making, or at least exploring, Veganism as a way of life!

I’ve been eating a Vegan diet for 11 weeks now and I’m feeling good.

Here are some pictures of meals I’ve enjoyed recently.

1.  A falafel, mushroom, spinach and houmous burger.

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2.  Tofu/veggie scramble, fried polenta slices and steamed savoy cabbageImage

3.  ‘Green Museli’ – I chuck in lots of pumpkin seeds as an extra and add chopped kiwi fruit. This one was served with almond milk.

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4. And finally, a luscious lemon cake I made at Easter

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I’ve also been enjoying trying out some great bodycare products from ‘Lush’ and am completely bowled over by their shower gel called ‘The Olive Branch’.  It’s wonderful.  Here’s a link:-

https://www.lush.co.uk/product/416/100g-The-Olive-Branch-Shower-Gel

Will winter ever end? Butternut squash, leek and thyme risotto.

Here in the UK winter is dragging on, with cold, grey weather and snow lying un-melted on the ground. In an attempt to keep things warm and cheerful I made this earlier today for my family.

I had ‘V-Pud’ for breakfast today.  I found it last week in a local health food shop (The Eighth Day Co-operative, Manchester) and popped it in the basket, full of newbie enthusiasm.

http://www.reallancashireblackpuddings.co.uk/vpud/

Lightly fried in olive oil the V-Pud was a satisfying addition to breakfast and suited the frosty morning ‘I’m hungry’ feeling.  It was pretty good and I’d give it 8 out of 10.  (Points are lost for being a bit crumbly and not being as strongly flavoured as I’d hoped.)  I’m glad it’s there as a great convenience food, and I’ll probably use it again.

On the other hand, as an ex-meat eater, there’s no disguising the fact that this ain’t black pudding as I knew it.  You can’t re-create the flavour of blood.  I don’t think meat-eating friends would find this the same as genuine black pudding, although they might accept it as a ‘vegetarian dish’.  I think over time I will forget what meat tasted like and this won’t be such an issue, but, at the moment, I feel genuinely excited by new, different, vegetable foods and recipes, and just a bit let down by anything that purports to try and convey the same experience as eating meat.

I’m not remotely tempted by the vegan cheese imitation products.  They look disgusting.  I’d rather learn how to cook with nuts, beans and tofu, rather than trying to ‘bring cheese back’ in other ways as a vegan delicacy.

My personal feeling is that Veganism is a different way of living and needs to be recognised as such.  If you think of it as a ‘cutting out’ and try to re-create taste experiences you had as an omnivore, you’re bound to be disappointed.  You need to find new things to get excited by, new food passions, and re-conceptualise the whole food paradigm.

What do you think?

A few days ago I wrote about what I’m finding hard, so here, to balance things out, is what I’m loving about this new way of eating.

Simplicity

I’ve always loved food, and have often struggled to resist types of foods which are not necessarily good for you if you eat too much of them.  Somehow, having a rule to live by, makes it much easier to make healthier choices.  On the Guide to Vegan Living website, this is aptly represented in a simple diagram: “Does it come from an Animal?  No = Eat It, Yes = Don’t eat it.”

http://www.guidetoveganliving.org.uk/

It looks simple, and it is simple.  I’m finding it much harder to overeat when eating wholefoods, and cravings I used to get have just dropped away.  I’ve not missed chocolate, I’ve not even missed cheese very much.  Although there is a great abundance in the vegetable world, and I’m loving that, having a definite limit around the types of food I can eat feels very mentally ‘clearing’.  Maybe having boundaries around things just suits my personality.   Anyway, I’m appreciating the discipline at the moment.

Falling in Love with Veg

I’ve never been a veg-hater, and have always enjoyed vegetables and vegetarian meals, so maybe this isn’t such a great leap for me, but it is wonderful to make vegetables the main event.  Making sure that I eat a wide variety of them across the week ensures a feast to the senses, a cornucopia of colour, texture, flavour and scent.  When you bring your attention specifically to the vegetable kingdom you suddenly realise how packed with variety it is.  I love selecting the veg, touching it, imagining how it might be prepared.  In the space of the past few days I’ve eaten asparagus, butternut squash and tomatoes, to name just few things, and you couldn’t get more vividly different colours or flavours.  The flip side of this is that, on occasion, I’ve overdone it, and upset my stomach through eating too much fibre, but it’s easy to get the balance back.  I’m listening to my body and it’s letting me know what is and isn’t ok.  The signals are coming through more clearly than they were in my cheese-laden pizza days.

Trying out New Things

It’s all an education.  I would never have considered drizzling molasses on my breakfast before, or sprinkling on milled linseeds, but now I’m on a quest to make sure I pack in as much nutrition as possible, that becomes a possibility. Grains I’ve not been sure of, and therefore reluctant to try, are recommended as good foods to eat, and so I’m trying them.  Creativity and ‘do-it-yourself’ are the order of the day.  I guess it’s not so long since everybody was doing it themselves (I’m thinking back to my mother and granny in their kitchens), but it’s certainly less the m.o. for people today, in our ‘convenience food’ saturated culture.  I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with food and so it’s a pleasure to be pushed by circumstance to try that now. It’s sort of like taking the sense of adventure you’d willingly engage with when travelling in a different place and bringing it into your everyday life.  On the few occasions when I don’t feel like getting busy in the kitchen, the choice is simple: eat plain, raw vegan foods, or don’t eat.  No succumbing to junk food.   (See ‘Simplicity’ above.)

Conversations with Veg Lovers

Chatting with someone over the ‘Lunch That Wasn’t’ the other day, I learned all about something called ‘Seitan’, which is apparently what you get when you boil dough to extract the gluten.  This is the weird and wonderful world of Vegan, and it’s like meeting other interplanetary travellers who’ve already ventured furthered into its depths than I have.  Some of the things they tell me are useful, others seem quite bizarre and a bit beyond my grasp, but the enthusiasm with which they convey their news is unmistakable. Like any good obsession, be it retro arcade games, cupcake decorating, or train spotting, people pride themselves on their specialist knowledge and clearly derive great pleasure from sharing it.  Out there in the blogosphere there are hundreds of people waxing lyrical over mushrooms and taking seductive photographs of their breakfast to display to the world.  I suppose taking more of a conscious interest in the food you eat, whether Vegan or not, puts you back in touch with something fundamental.

Banana, Apple and Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa Bowl..

Searching for inspiration I’ve found a new idea for breakfast.  AND… I even have all the ingredients to make it at home and won’t need to go looking for them.  Bonus!  Can’t wait to try this!

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