It’s two years since I went pescatarian and for the past seven months my diet has been around 90% plant based. I say 90% because there are times when a friend has taken me out for afternoon tea or my granny has forgotten and cooked me a piece of salmon along with everyone else. I’ll be honest, in those situations I don’t have the heart to decline what has been so lovingly placed in front of me. I’d much rather spare someone else’s feelings than my own.
I’ve always been fascinated by this way of eating and have spent hour upon hour watching countless YouTube videos, Netflix documentaries and reading books – How Not To Die being my bible. It’s hard not to be lured in by the glowing and radiant appearance of people who eat a healthy plant based diet. They look and say that they feel phenomenal. And I agree, they look great and seem to have such a zest for life.
So I decided to see what it was all about. I’ve never enjoyed eating meat and dairy wasn’t hard as I’ve been lactose intolerant on and off all my life but eggs and fish are where I struggle. Of course, this is made easier nowadays by the plethora of vegan substitutes now available. Linda McCartney sausages are my all time favourite and Alpro Soy Vanilla Ice Cream is better than the real thing in my opinion. That being said, I started this journey in order to become a healthier version of my former self so I don’t eat these things on a regular basis.
When I first started I fell into the trap of thinking that I could eat endless amounts of anything as long as it was wholegrain, cue the two bread rolls (with dairy free butter and jam) as an afternoon snack, the midnight snack bowls of all-bran cereal with handful upon handful of raisins. I gained weight. Not a tremendous amount but my jeans that once were loose were now snugger than ever. I also didn’t feel particularly great either, didn’t have a lot of energy and felt like nothing could satisfy my never ending hunger.
That’s when I decided to properly put my mind to it and read the advice of qualified scientists and nutritionists. Enter the likes of Dr Michael Greger, Dr Neal Barnard, Dr McDougall. Their theories and research are astounding, I challenge anyone to not read one of their books and not feel compelled to make a change, no matter how big or small. Thanks to their guidance and knowledge I’ve now managed decipher what foods work for me and what don’t. I eat a lot of leafy veggies, potatoes, beans and pulses, nuts and oats. I tend to steer clear of bread and white pasta as they don’t really satiate me and as a result I could probably eat a family size serving of pesto pasta in one sitting and not think anything of it.
There is something else that I wanted to touch on: Animal welfare. I didn’t feel I could write this post and overlook the primary reason most people choose to stop consuming animal products. Whilst I genuinely find the idea of eating another living thing somewhat repulsive, it’s sometime easy to forget that side of it when you’re presented with it to eat. I know that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense for some people, I doesn’t really for me now I’ve said it out loud. I would never call myself a vegan because besides from the few occasions I eat fish and eggs, I wear leather and I can’t guarantee that every beauty product I own hasn’t been tested on animals. I think it’s unrealistic to suddenly dive in head first with a change as radical as this one and I don’t think it’s right that people are chastised by hardcore vegans because they wear leather. Instead people should be praised, as any change, big or small, towards living a life free of animal products should be celebrated.
I commend people who suddenly decide to commit to not consuming animal products anymore, that’s really an amazing feat. Of course if I really wanted to do it then I could, there’s nothing stopping me. However I know myself, and I know the best way for me to stick to something is not to rush into anything, and instead slowly incorporate it into my life so that it’s sustainable in the long term. No one knows you better than you, so always do what’s right for you and don’t be discouraged by anyone else’s comments or feel that you have to label yourself.
So, onto a lighter note: What changes have I noticed within myself?
- Stronger nails
- Shiny, thick hair
- Clearer skin – this isn’t to say that I still don’t get spots but they’re a lot less angry and frequent
- Improved energy levels. I am no longer a victim of the classic 3pm blood sugar level sump.
- Eating a wider variety of foods
- Cooking a wider variety of recipes
- Lower food bills. Think about it, a £0.46 tin of kidney beans vs £3.50 for a chicken breast.
What I eat:
Oats: Microwaved // Baked // Overnight // Homemade museli // Stovetop
Banana, grated apple, berries, nectarine, raisins, pear, plum, peach, dates, courgette*
Water, almond milk, coconut and almond milk, oat milk
Agave nectar, golden syrup, coconut sugar, choc shot
*If I’m feeling extra peckish then I add grated courgette to bulk up my oats, extra greens and you can’t even taste it.
A combination of all of these things form my breakfast 95% of the time. Other breakfast items I reach for are:
Toast + dairy-free butter// jam/marmalade // almond butter/banana // avocado/tomato
Fruit salad and yoghurt
Parfait – yoghurt + granola + fruit
Salad: Lettuce, cucumber, pepper, radish, beetroot, spring onion, sweetcorn, apple, any leftover veggies
Starch/Carbohydrate : White potato, sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice, white rice, couscous, buckwheat, pearl barley
Protein: Beans (borlotti, cannellini, kidney, black), chickpeas, tofu, falafel
Dressing: Balsamic/mustard, hummus, dairy-free mayo, white wine vinegar
Stir-fry // Stew // Lentil casserole // Nourish bowl // Curry // Veggie Pie // Sausages and mash // Chilli // Burrito bowl // Soup //
On the whole I try to keep my diet pretty clean, i.e. not eating a lot of processed foods – during the week anyway, weekends are a different matter entirely ;). As such, I use ingredients in their whole, natural state and incorporate them into making veggie/vegan twists on the classics i.e. Veggie shepherd’s pie, lentil casserole, bean chilli etc.
I’ve included some snaps from my foodie Instagram account for your perusal.
If anyone has any questions/is more curious about my transition so far then please ask away. I almost wish I had been able to ask someone questions when I was considering eating a more plant based diet.
Also – if anyone has any blogs/vegan foodie websites that they turn to then please let me know, I’m always on the hunt for new recipes.