Archives for posts with tag: Vegan Pledge

It’s been a while since I’ve written here.  That’s partly just because things have been busy lately, but it’s also because it’s been quite a confusing few weeks.

After the initial euphoria of making it through a month with The Vegan Pledge, I had a sudden drop in mood and a period of soul-searching – ‘What’s this really all about now I’m not meeting a challenge any more?’, ‘Do I really want to make this a permanent lifestyle change?’ etc.

I’ve been feeling emotionally shaky and finding my reactions are all over the place: tears, temper, belly laughs.

Something which has surprised me is that I thought I would feel good about making a choice that takes me out of some of the cycles of cruelty upon which our current way of life is built, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case.  As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, it sometimes feels like an almost impossible task to choose ‘good’ food, by which I mean food the production of which hasn’t at some point had a negative impact on somebody somewhere.  For example, where do the cacao nibs I blithely snack on, to get the benefit of their ‘superfood’ properties, really come from? How were they harvested?  Did the workers get paid ok?  Was a village destroyed to plant a plantation to feed health obsessives thousands of miles away?  I worry about this stuff.  But, my life isn’t such that I can grow my own food, and so I have to buy food from others and therefore be part of a cycles of production and consumption.  I’m not sure if soya beans are really any ethically cleaner than processed meat, although at least there’s not the actually fact of an animal’s miserable life and stressful death to contemplate.  I don’t like the thought of human miserable lives either.  And that’s where things have really been biting recently.  In some respects my body and mind feel much clearer, and that is making things come through more hurtful, more shocking.  Now it upsets me more than ever to see people being horrible to each other and there have been times when stuff I’ve seen on the street, or in the bus, or on the news has made me literally flinch or weep.  Both conscious horribleness and apathetic obliviousness upset me.  I never liked it before and now it seems even worse.  I don’t feel like a strong, able person who is taking a positive choice.  I feel in shock.

Because it’s been quite dark sometimes it’s made me realise I need to watch my nutrition and make sure I’m not lacking anything that might be contributing to this drop in mood.  I’ve booked to see my GP later this week and I’m taking supplements now which should help keep up the levels of B vitamins.

I’ve also tried to talk with people about it, and vegans on the web have been brilliant, sending all sorts of advice, about food, about the psychology of change, and offering friendship and support.  I’m grateful for this.

I had one day where I ‘fell off the wagon’.  I’d come home hungry and had nothing readily available to eat in the house and was also in a bit of a low mood.  What I did have was a packet of shortbread and raspberry biscuits, which I’d not thrown out as they’d been given to me as a gift before I chose to go Vegan.  I’d been keeping them to offer to guests sometime.  Anyway, in a state of fairly mindless misery I opened up the pack and ate 5 of the biscuits.  It didn’t help lift my mood, and I just felt sad, both that I’d broken my Vegan commitment, and that I’d treated something which had been given as a gift so mindlessly.  It wasn’t a good evening.  I managed not to let it lead to anything further, however, and was back on track with my next meal and trying my best to take care of myself.  I also talked to some good people who helped me to keep things in perspective.  I can get over-earnest about things at times.

So, for now, I’d like to thank all those who are patiently putting up with me as I work through this stuff, and also say that I’m looking forward to having some fun doing things I love over the next few weeks.  It’s Easter, and even if it is cold, spring is on the way.  I’ll be doing some dancing and visiting a new place in Manchester which is supposed to be good for Vegan food – ‘The World Peace Cafe’.  Maybe I’ll see you there.  Oh, and I’m looking for a recipe for a great Vegan cake to celebrate the Easter/Spring holiday, so if you’ve got a good recipe, get in touch.

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I’ve completed a month of living with my commitment to The Vegan Pledge.

www.vegansociety.com/veganpledge

OK, it has been the shortest month of the year, but here I am, nevertheless, having deliberately (and mostly successfully) avoided consuming anything from an animal for a full 4 weeks:  no meat, fish, milk, cheese, honey, or any other animal derivatives.

When I started I was excited and apprehensive.  I remember that I was worried about missing cheese, and unsure about feeding myself well.  I was excited at the prospect of experiencing better health.

So, where am I now?  What have I learned?

I haven’t missed cheese.  I’ve not missed meat or cheese at all.  I’m not surprised about the meat, because I didn’t eat much of it anyway, but I am really surprised that I haven’t missed cheese.  I probably used to eat cheese almost every day, in some form or other, and quite mindlessly at that.  To make meals without it I’ve had to switch the focus onto a wider variety of grains and vegetable ingredients, but I’ve enjoyed this in the main, and have been so busy thinking about it that I’ve not had time to think about cheese.  I find it strange that I’ve not felt a craving for it, and I wouldn’t know how to explain this, but it’s something I’ve observed.  (Oh, there was a little bit of a craving at the Indian buffet on Sunday, when Dan had Mattaar Paneer and I couldn’t, but there were so many other vegetable curries to choose from, it wasn’t exactly difficult to get over that craving.)

I have missed eggs.  I have really missed eggs!  Dan said last night, “So, is the first thing you’re going to do in the morning make a big plateful of scrambled eggs?” and I have to admit that the thought had crossed my mind.  I haven’t done it though.  I was pleased to discover last weekend that I do actually like scrambled tofu and I know I can create that satisfying cooked breakfast feeling from other things, so I think that in time I can get used to it.  This is the one food however, where I have to work at it, and the biggest help with this is to remind myself of my disgust at animal cruelty reasons for going Vegan.  Thinking about male chicks going in a grinder pretty much does the trick.  To be honest, having one thing that I miss really isn’t that bad.  I had expected it to be worse.

I have really enjoyed eating more, and different, veg.  When I’ve had time, cooking has been an absolute pleasure this month, and I’ve also enjoyed trips to the greengrocer’s to fill up a basket with good things.  I’ve really tried to take on board the need to eat a wide variety of vegetables and I’ve been inspired by the idea of eating a spectrum of colours.  I’ve definitely broadened my palette where vegetables are concerned and I’ve also noticed that my appreciation of flavour has changed.  Things taste more vivid now, and I’m more aware of subtle differences in flavour.  I think there is something in the argument that having a system full of animal-derived products has a dulling effect on the senses.  Or maybe it was just that I wasn’t paying so much attention before.

Vegan subculture is interesting and inspiring.  I’ve really enjoyed visiting other people’s blogs for ideas and seeing the world through many different eyes.  I don’t think Vegan food is boring at all, which is perhaps a common perception among omnivores.  I’ve eaten a lot more interestingly this past month than I have done for a long time, and this is certainly something I wish to carry forward.  On the whole, I’ve found that the other Vegans practising their craft out there on the internet (and the few I’ve met locally) are very nice, creative-living, gentle people.  The kind of people I like to be around.  I’ve occasionally felt a bit alienated by the vehemence of some of the animal rights advocates out there, but, having now seen plenty of the evidence, I can understand where these preachers are coming from.  I just wouldn’t choose to put it across in such a hostile way myself.  Like I’ve said in a previous post, I think we need to help the humans get their lives sorted out, otherwise there’s little chance they will feel inclined to be compassionate towards animals.  People who are Vegan seem to be into other stuff that I like: poetry, hiking, independence, mindful living…  It feels like a good place to be.

The jury’s still out on how it’s affecting my health.  As those who’ve followed this blog will know, I’ve had ups and downs throughout the month when it comes to health.  I’ve had periods of energy and clarity, and periods of stomach ache and tiredness.  I can’t attribute this TO Veganism, because my health was kind of erratic before.  Struggling with it was one of the motivations for trying a Vegan diet.  I’d say that overall, there’s not been any massive change so far, but things are certainly not any worse, and there have been days of feeling extremely well indeed.  I think it will take a while for any real health changes to make themselves known, and some of the things I’ve experienced could be put down to a ‘detox’ effect.  I’ve lost about 4lbs in weight, and if this carries on I’ll be set to lose my excess pounds before the year is out, which will be a good thing.  One thing I had been specifically interested in was whether it made me less sneezy and wheezy.  I can’t say it has, because, over the last week I’ve had a cold.  There’s been one going round at work, so it’s not surprising that I’ve caught it, although part of me had hoped that upping my vegetable consumption would help my immune system.  This is the third cold I’ve had this winter, so I guess I’ve got a way to go to good health.  As cold’s go, it’s not been too bad. I think there is a reduction in the ‘snotty’ factor, and I’ve managed to keep going and do everything I wanted to do this week.  I’m not 100% confident that I’m getting the balance right yet for all the nutrients I need, so I’ve started taking the Vegan Society’s VEG1 supplement and I’m considering taking an iron supplement, as, looking back over my daily food diary, I don’t think I’m getting enough of that.  There are days that are iron-rich, and days with very little.  What I would say, is that doing this has made me more ‘health-aware’ in relation to food on a day-to-day basis and I’ve been putting a lot more thought into this than I did before.

There’s been a positive effect on my mood.  I used to swing from high to low easily and frequently and it was very much related to sugar highs and energy crashes.  By the end of the first week of this new way of eating I’d noticed that the ‘lurching’ feeling as my mood rose and plummeted was simply not there anymore.  I attribute this to eating ‘whole’ food and natural fats and sugars, rather than Vegan food specifically, but, for me, having the Vegan rule makes it very easy to make the wholefood choice in a way that I’ve never managed successfully before.  As well as feeling more on an even keel, I feel more in touch with who I am and what I want, and emotions are flowing more freely.  This has brought up some ‘stuff’, but, for the first time in a long time, I feel able to go with it, rather than trying to block or supress it, and it feels good to be saying how I really feel.  As I learn to manage this better, I’m not sure how it feels for the other people in my life, but, I trust that if I present a clearer picture of who I am, and honour my self, that will free them up to choose whether they really like me or not, and that’s all to the good.  I used to try to make myself liked by everyone, which was, frankly, exhausting.  I think I could sum this up by saying I feel less like a hologram, and more like a human being, a change very much to be welcomed.  I’m going away on retreat this weekend, so it will be interesting to see what comes up through the process of making space and time for stillness and silence.

Being Vegan doesn’t stop you doing anything.  I’ve had a normal month, but also a busy and happy month.  I’ve done my job, seen friends and family, danced at the weekly dance class I attend, been for my acupuncture appointments, campaigned to save the local library, ridden my bike…  Life goes on as normal.  How you eat quickly becomes just a part of that.  It’s only taken a month for eating Vegan to feel normal.  By the time this week arrived, I didn’t have any urge to count down the days until the end of The Vegan Pledge, and, although I’ve wondered about eating eggs, I’m not planning on doing that any time soon.  For now, I’ll carry on with this Vegan journey and see where else it takes me.

People are nice and supportive.  I’ve not had any negativity from others over my Vegan choice, only supportive reactions, ranging from mild curiosity to outright enthusiasm.  Personal favourites are Dan’s fresh approaches to Vegetarian cooking, which he seems to be enjoying as much for himself as to keep me happy, and the thoughtfulness my auntie put into making me welcome at her home last weekend, from stocking up on a few Vegan basics, to sourcing recipes from the internet that we could cook and eat together.  The worst moment was having to deal with not getting a Vegan lunch on the work training day (I never did get a response to my feedback email), but, in the great scheme of things, it was one moment of hassle in what has mostly been an enjoyable journey.  It has been nice feeling accepted and supported, and I’ve found most people, if you provide them with a bit of information, are not bamboozled by Veganism at all.  It’s almost like they’re on the edge of being ready to have a go at it themselves.  Perhaps the Vegan Evolution really is gathering momentum.

So, for the time being, you’ll still find me here, following a Vegan diet and starting to explore other aspects of a Vegan lifestyle.  I won’t be posting every day, but I’ll be back here once or twice a week, and hope to add a few pictures as well (although I know I’ve promised that before).  Watch out for forthcoming posts on how much money I’m spending, eating out, an interesting experience at an acupuncture appointment, and some road tests of Vegan hair and body care products.  There will probably be some more about mindfulness too.  For me, that’s been a big part of what this is about.  More attention given to sourcing food, preparing food and eating food has slowed me right down and anchored me in the moment in a good way.  How we nourish ourselves is such a fundamental thing, and I can’t help feeling, even more strongly now, that this is terribly important.

Oh, and I’ll also be taking part in the campaign ‘Enough Food For Everyone IF…’  I think I’ll start by hassling a few MPs with some letters and then see what else there is to be done.  For further info. follow the link below.

http://enoughfoodif.org/

And, after month in Vegan Blog Land, here’s a link to my favourite Vegan blog so far.  The writer is passionate and positive and she’s organised her content really well.  It looks good too.  I always enjoy checking in here for inspiration.

www.oopsimavegan.com

The Vegan Pledge

I’ve taken The Vegan Pledge.  From 1st – 28th February I’ll be “a Vegan”.  At least I’ll be eating as a Vegan.  I figure that if I can get the food side of things sorted, then other aspects will follow, if I decide to embrace this philosophy and lifestyle full time.  I’ve been assigned a “Vegan Mentor”, who’s already been in touch by email to say hello and offer support.  Her name is Coral and she likes cocoa nibs and molasses.  I like sweet, milky chocolate.  There will have to be some tastebud re-education over the coming weeks.  I am full of trepidation, but I’ve some good reasons for this venture, and the colourful new recipes I’ve tried out recently have got me excited about eating more veg.  So, here I go…!

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