With a quarter of a million people signing up to Veganuary in 2019 and the Greggs vegan sausage roll rolling in a cool £300 bonus for all staff members due to its roaring success, I think it’s safe to say that the plant-based diet crave is well and truly upon us. But, what is it really all about? And does eating a plant-based diet truly benefit both the environment and your health?
Musing over these questions and after listening to a stream of Deliciously Ella podcasts, I was inspired to take the plunge to find out for myself what it was really like to eat a plant-based diet and I decided my first port-of-call was to watch ‘The Game Changers’ documentary. The documentary which I first heard about in the deliciously Ella podcast series sounded intriguing, to say the least. As a big gym-goer (not so much at the moment, screw you January), I was really interested to find out more about the benefits of a plant-based diet and if it could boost my performance in the gym whilst helping my sensitive stomach. I decided to give the documentary a watch and oh boy, I was hooked. The mix of modern-day science experiments alongside the historical evidence of gladiators eating a mainly plant-based diet was really interesting. It also looked into the performance and recovery time in elite athletics (which I am not) being increased in those who ate a plant-based diet and well, this won me over, I was going vegan!
First things first, I have to admit I watched this a week before Christmas day and on ringing my mother to share the fantastic news that I had decided to go vegan, I was met with great abhor and subsequently banned from doing such a preposterous act as the Christmas turkey and ham depended on it. I didn’t kick up too much of a fuss as come 28th December I was in full vegan mode (bar leftover Christmas chocolate). I cleared out the fridge of leftover cheese and I didn’t like the looks of any of that meat substitute stuff, so I started cooking all of my vegan meals from scratch and using a variety of different fruit, veggies and grains.
I’m going to be honest; I do really enjoy eating a lot of vegetables anyway and so I found the process of finding and cooking a range of new recipes really enjoyable. A couple of new ‘vegan’ cookbooks stood proud on the kitchen shelf ready to be discussed over oat mylk coffee with likeminded vegan loving friends, and I was on a roll. Aside from the lack of vegan friends to revel with me in my new plant-based diet and a mother that wasn’t quite convinced (she hadn’t watched the documentary) I was beginning to the magical effects of eating a plant-based diet, and not just in the growing speed of my metabolism.
When I started running after Christmas to give my gym routine a boost, I genuinely felt more energetic, less out of breath and so much healthier, if that is even something you can feel! I stopped feeling bloated and I wasn’t missing meat, fish or dairy at all. Fast-track another week and I was still feeling really good and sticking strong to the plant-based cooking aside from a bit of chocolate here and there (every day) and it was dark (mostly) which is fine right?
Fast-track another week and I’d fucked it. I went home and had a Moroccan lamb tagine and I won’t lie, it was utterly delicious. So, let’s rewind a little bit to where I fell off the ladder: So all was going smoothly until I started to feel ill and come down with that horrible cold and flu thing that everyone has had recently. After feeling really Ill and going home from work early, I couldn’t face any more rice and mushrooms and really didn’t feel that something with soya cream or likewise was going to make me feel better, so I had something normal. I can’t remember what I had, but I know that It wasn’t vegan, but I didn’t even care anymore because I felt horrendous. What I didn’t anticipate was feeling ill for the next few days and so naturally I opted to break free from the one hundred bean chilli and chia puddings in favour of some good old food. Mother invited my boyfriend and I round for a family dinner party where we had a beautiful lamb tagine and then the night after I had a chicken and bacon bbq pizza from dominoes.
After these couple of small hiccups in the plant-based diet, I got back on track when I arrived back in sunny York. When I first started out on my short but sweet plant-based extravaganza, I did say that I was going to be all bouji and probably be more ‘flexitarian’ in my approach. I got mocked because apparently, it’s not a thing’ but fear not, I googled it and it is. Having a balance is the key to staying on track and I believe that this is true now more than ever before. With the popularity of plant-based eating on the rise and the abundance of recipes and meal options out there to make plant-based eating fun, easy and delicious I think that everyone should try and incorporate more veggie meals into their weekly routines. I have felt such a big difference incorporating more plant-based recipes into my diet and I vow to stay flexitarian as I want to keep eating more plant-based meals, but I love all kinds of food way too much to be restricted to one type of diet!
So yes… I know it’s not the end of January so I didn’t even officially make it to the end of Veganuary, but I’ve learnt a lot from my experience so far and couldn’t resist writing a little post about my own experience which I hope has provided you with a little light entertainment, or amusement, at least. I genuinely believe that I will be eating a lot less meat and fish and a lot more vegan and vegetarian dishes this year as I personally have felt such a change but you know what, if you don’t like it, then don’t do it. If you want a bbq chicken pizza, have the bloody pizza. And if you fancy a bit of sushi, go for it. I don’t think we should limit ourselves to something that is meant to be ‘better’ for us but cuts out many foods that we have not just because we NEED them, but because they taste good!
I think that we should all get into the kitchen and do a bit of experimenting with plant-based cooking this year as I think you’ll be surprised at how easy and tasty it can be. However, my moral of this post is not to preach about the benefits of being vegan, but to not sweat the small stuff and to eat the way you want to eat to feel and be the best and healthiest version of you.
On another note, my mother is over the moon about my cancellation on being ‘vegan’ and the no longer necessary need of an impromptu nut roast and flora baked carrots to ‘save the family Sunday lunch’ and you never know, my sister might now hold back on the sending of daily vegan Facebook memes, maybe.
Have a great year everyone!