Plant Based Living
Blimey its the 1st of December already. I’ve been so busy in clinic the last few weeks, which is great for business but other things get pushed down the list. I wanted to do a short write up about our month on a plant based diet. Its been a really interesting month with lots of interest around the plant based/vegan lifestyle. It seems that everyone has an opinion. We initially decided to go plant based (not vegan) merely to see if we could. I thought it would be interesting to see if having a plant based diet would have any effects on performance. We had watched the controversial documentary ‘The Game Changers’ and were well aware of the bias towards veganism by profiting businesses. We started the month by clearing the cupboards out and purchasing a vegan cook book. We also had lots of guidance and encouragement from a FB page (The Ordinary Vegan).
We planned our first week and both headed off to Morrisons to do our first plant based weekly shop. Something we both agreed on is that we spent more time planning our meals together and shopping together. Throughout the month there was definitely much more discussion around our meals. Our first shop took us much longer than normal as the labelling on foods isn’t standard so we had to check out all the tiny small print for the ingredients.
The first week I felt pretty crap if I’m honest. The influx of beans and pulses played havoc with my stomach. I was really keen to make sure I was getting enough protein and vitamins and nutrients. People are keen to enquire about your protein intake and B12 levels which I was surprised about as no one gave a hoot when I ate meat. Some days I reached my goal of around 100-120 gs of protein and some days I didn’t, but that was no different to when I was eating animal products.
We had a real mix of meals over the weeks. We’ve always started the morning with a Herbalife shake, packed with protein, oats, avocado, spinach and any left over veg. We carried on with this throughout the month as their products are vegan friendly. Lunch varied from burritos, wraps, bagels and we tended to snack on things like Ryvita’s, fruit or bagels.
One of the things I was worried about was going out and socialising. We had a night away booked in a hotel which included a three course meal. When I phoned to tell them of our dietary requirements they were really helpful and informed me the chef was vegan so was used to cooking plant based foods. The meal we were presented with was soup, risotto stuffed peppers and chocolate torte. It was the tastiest meal I had had in a long time and made the pale chicken breast sat on a white plate look pretty uninspiring. On another occasion we were going to a Pie and Pea night at a local cafe but they happily offered vegan pie, gravy and a vegan pudding.
We’ve even managed the odd few cooked breakfast and I have to say Wetherspoons do a mean vegan breakfast. Much healthier but still hits the spot after a cold morning run
Into week 3 I started to feel fantastic. I had started my training programme for next years marathon and really felt energised. I hadn’t changed my diet to loose weight but I started to change shape and lost some fat from my tummy. My weight didn’t drop as I regularly lift weights at my local gym so didn’t want to lose weight. I didn’t feel nearly as tired by the end of the day and if I did I could have a quick 10 min power nap and feel refreshed.
What I was surprised about was the nuber of people who were genuinely interested in our diet change, some said they were already eating a plant based diet, others had cut down on meat and others weren’t prepared to make any changers.
As the month progressed my reasons for considering making this a permanent change became less about performance and more about doing my bit for our planet. We both watched several documentaries on the effects of the meat/dairy industry, Its frightening to see the devastating effect it is having and how little is actually being done by governments across the world.
During our month on a plant based diet it’s been a real eye opener. We’ve eaten a much more varied diet, engaged more on shopping and planning, discussed the whole vegan/meat diet with people from all walks of life and been amazed at how much choice there is to replace meat/dairy. I’ve had Sunday dinners that are still hearty and comforting, tasty vegan sausage rolls and even a fair few mince pies.
We’ve tried to source our food locally (Annie’s Allotment) and are still looking at ways to be more environmentally friendly. We’ve had so many recommendations for local cafes, restaurants and ethical shops that its going to keep us busy trying them all out.
Being on a plant based diet doesn’t automatically mean ‘healthy’ as we found out. It is really easy to eat processed vegan foods and much as I enjoyed my burger at Annies, it’s still a burger (with fries). We really have tried to eat healthy foods and embrace the change. One thing we have constantly noticed is we are much less able to (prone to) over eat. When we’ve been out and there’s food around (which is pretty much all the time nowadays) we haven’t been able to eat most of it so we’ve stayed away. In the past we would have nibbled on sausage rolls, sandwiches, cakes, orange food in general. All this adds up to 100s of extra calories.
So are we going to continue??? Hell yes! We both feel great, Steve has lost weight and we’ve both dropped body fat (no actual evidence on this apart from visual ). We feel like we are doing our tiny bit for the planet. If we do decide to include the odd egg then I would definitely be sourcing it locally from free range chickens but my craving for a boiled egg has subsided.
In January we’re going to encourage friend who aren’t quite sure about going the whole hog (pun!!) to give it a go for 4 weeks. If we all make little changes the effects can start to trickle through. I’m much less worried now that Christmas will be a dry nut roast with some grass. Instead I’m looking forward to a hearty, festive meal with my loved ones. We’ll still have a starter and Christmas pudding and we can even have pigs in blankets now and a bit of festive cheese and crackers.
If you want to get involved in the Veganuary challenge then watch out on FB for more details.