As New Year is just around the corner it’s likely many of you are thinking about resolutions and in this blog Anna tells us about her experience of trying to eat vegan.
There’s been much talk about going vegan and like any latest trend there’s a whole array of celebrities shouting about it –Stevie Wonder, Pamela Anderson, Ellen DeGeneres, Sia, Morrissey, Miley Cyrus, James Cameron, Joaquin Phoenix, Peter Dinklage who plays Tyrian Lanister in Game of Thrones to name only a few.
There are a few reasons for this – for a long time people have have turned vegetarian or vegan because of animal welfare. Others have rejected meat and/or dairy because it disagrees with them or because they don’t like the taste or texture. 2 big factors driving this recent ‘trend’ though is the rise in information about the agriculture industry and the effects on health of eating meat, fish, cheese, milk, yoghurt…basically all the yummy things we eat almost every day!
There’s a fair bit of information out there now and even though I’d been trying to eat more healthily Cowspiracy and Forks over Knives were key in getting me thinking about going vegan (They are both on DVD, Netflix and are downloadable from their websites).
Cowspiracy follows Kip Anderson, who is feeling like the environmental situation is getting worse even though he and so many others are recycling, using water sparingly, cycling to work and all those other changes many of us have made over the years. He begins to look at what is impacting on the environment and finds himself following the global agriculture industry. Don’t be fooled, this is about a lot more than cows… It is about getting to the truth behind one of the biggest industries in the world and how it is impacting on the environment. (Watch the trailer here)
Forks over Knives gives a platform for a number of specialist medical practitioners and huge scale, global research done on the locations of various health conditions such as numerous types of cancers, diabetes and heart disease. The evidence presented on the link between eating anything from an animal and all kinds of serious health conditions is compelling and it is certainly worth a watch for anyone. (Watch the trailer here and also access resources on becoming vegan).
Thinking about being vegan has always left me wondering if I would be able to turn my eating habits around overnight. After watching Forks over Knives though I felt more able to make changes. The specialists in the doc tells us that less than 5% of our food should come from animal sources and so I try to work to that.
Having watched both I felt that moving house would be a good time to make a change and since April I have not cooked any meat or fish at home, which has been a good base rule to stick to, This from me who only a few years ago had meat or fish with virtually every meal! I’ve lost weight, I have more energy and I feel like I am making a significant contribution to the planet – it all happens pretty quickly too.
I’d like to post some recipes on here soon but as a general rule I’ve found that always thinking of protein first helps me start to build a meal and then I pack that meal full of veg and usually herbs and spices – I make hearty veg soups or stews and add lentils or quinoa, add seeds and nuts to everything I can and make hummus and tahini as a standard fridge staples for dipping. Now and again I do buy replacement ingredients such as tofu, tempeh, the delicious ranges of vegan or vegetarian sausages or Quorn (which now does vegan versions) and I’ve replaced milk with coconut milk and butter with coconut based butter. Instead of cheese I’ve been sprinkling pasta with nutritional yeast extract or diced and fried, salted aubergine. I’ve also started to make ‘mock duck’ or seitan as a meat substitute and I’m looking forward to trying out more recipes like vegan BBQ ribs and coconut crusted seitan.
Like many people though, as hard as I try I am not quite there yet! It’s just not always easy. I have been brought up a meat eater and do cave dramatically from time to time – If I go out to dinner there is a lack of vegan or vegetarian restaurants open in the evening in the Derbyshire Dales (although there are some good places still like Scarthin Books cafe, Greenway Cafe in Matlock, or Cauldwell Mill in Rowsley) so I still find myself thinking ‘mmmm…steak’, ‘fish’, ‘carvery’ even though I love my plant based meals! I also love a packet of pork scratchings which amuses the landlord of a local pub no end! Now and again I also buy cheese and eggs – listing all this does make me feel pretty repentant and to be fair I usually feel rubbish after a steak and can even find myself feeling pretty angry??!
Ultimately, as well as feeling good for lowering my impact on the environment I want to carry on feeling healthier and more energetic. I do still have a soft spot for meat, fish and dairy but I feel better for not having it and really don’t want this to be left behind as another personal fad. For the time being I am willing to have my weak moments in order make sure this will be a long term change and I will continue to seek out new places to eat out to make this even easier – If you are thinking about turning to veganism this New Year try not to worry if you too cave from time to time, it’s all positive steps to a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.
Are you thinking of going vegan this New Year? Have you already started eating vegan? We would love to hear about your experience and if you have any good vegan recipes, especially those quick and easy ones, then please post them below in the comments.