Sunday, 26 June 2011

I heart being vegan!

It's not too often that I try something new and it instantly feels right - but that's how my mission to go vegan felt. Going vegetarian felt good, it was fun and tasty, but going all the way vegan feels so much better!

I can honestly say I didn't expect to love this challenge as much as I have. It sounded like hard work. But the honest truth is, when I focused on what I could eat rather than what I couldn't the options were endless.

I started my challenge by brainstorming a list of all the normal meals I eat that are already vegan. Having converted mostly to vegetarian already it was a pretty good list. Some of my fave weeknight staples include vege packed thai curry, burritos (with my amazing-if-I-do-say-so-myself fresh guacamole), vege and tofu stir-fry, and curried pumpkin soup. I also jotted down a few of my favourite vegan treat meals, so that if I was feeling down about my lack of food choices I had some happy fall backs - veg nachos, take-out gourmet veg burgers, dark chocolate. Then I created a week's meal plan. I didn't follow it, it was just a good way to psych myself up, and write my shopping list. My message here is to be prepared, it definitely made this challenge less daunting!

Over the last two weeks there have been some days that felt difficult (usually when I tried too many new things in one day, and my stomach didn't cooperate!), and some days that felt amazing. Yesterday I counted and I ate 11 different types of fruit and veg in one day. Apparently the average American diet includes only 12-13 different fruit and veges altogether. Just think what deliciousness people are missing out on!
All in all, I feel great mentally and physically. I feel positive about the choice, I feel healthy, my skin is clear, I'm full of energy, and I'm doing something good for the environment. Win-win-win!

After a few weeks of reading up and surfing the net about veganism, I found so many interesting resources and inspiring blogs and websites. If you're thinking about going vegan here are a few sites I loved:
  • There's a lot of nutritional advise out there for vegans, but I thought a safeish bet for sound advise was this UK national health service page.
  • Some nice video reminders about why what we eat matters for the environment on Plate to Planet.
  • And my favourite inspiring vegan women that I discovered this week if you need assurance that being vegan can be fun, cool and sexy. Kris Carr on Crazy Sexy Life, Kim Barnouin on Healthy Bitch Daily (I just got one of her cookbooks too, love it), and this awesome down to earth advise from Ann Esseltyn on the Planeat website.
  • And many many more - thank you to all the online vegans out there flooding the net with helpful info, I appreciate it! You could google the hours away with a simple 'vegan' search.
I'm also just a few pages from finishing Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer which I happened to pick up at the library. It's quite terrifying but definitely worth reading if you're interested in finding out more about meat, dairy and egg production methods.

My next step is going to be signing up for some Spork Online cooking classes, and trying to expand my repertoire. Hopefully if I can cook some amazing meals I might be able to convince some friends and family to ditch the meat too.

Now sticking to the food theme (I do love my food), this week my mission is to explore eating seasonally. It makes complete sense that eating foods that are in season locally means that they require less artificial input to grow and therefore = less environmental impact. I'm sure there's more to it than that, but I guess I'll find out this week!

Friday, 10 June 2011


'Pre-loved' does sound far more romantic than 'second-hand' doesn't it? Or worse yet 'used' goods?
Unsurprisingly given my lack of enthusiasm for it, my mission last week of doing some second-hand shopping was unexciting and not easy.

After unsuccessfully scouting local charity shops for the items I was after, I took my search online. I used eBay and Preloved (a UK site), but they sure don't make it easy to buy items from individuals. I was searching for some larger household items (like a full length mirror), which I would need to pick up - but eBay doesn't allow you to search for local sellers argh... So every listing I opened seemed to be from Nottinghamshire or some other such lovely named far away town. I miss TradeMe! In the end I have managed to put bids on a few items so I will just wait and see. I still think it's important to buy second-hand where possible so I won't be giving up just yet, but I do wish they'd make it easier...

This week I found myself thinking long and hard about what more I can do to go green. Every now and then I come across a piece of information or something that inspires me to want to take my eco-journey further and faster. This week it was for some reason this cute video of wild tiger cubs. I read the article that says there are around 3,200 tigers left in the wild - that's about the population of the high school I went to! Usually when I read something like this I go off on a bit of a research tangent and read a lot of interesting, inspiring articles. Now in a few internet twists and turns this lead me back to thinking about some of the big eco challenges - and the one that stuck with me this week was the production of meat and other animal foods.

Since my original challenge to go vegetarian I haven't eaten any red meat (success!), but I have still been consuming other animal products. I don't drink milk but I do consume some other lower-lactose dairy products, as well as eggs and the occasional piece of fish. I've decided if I really want to step up to the green challenge in a big way I'm going to need to try going vegan - dairy and fishing industries are hugely damaging to the environment. There's is plenty of motivational material online. If you like positive motivation, this is a great video series on having a happy vegan life: Making the Connection. If you need a bit of negative motivation to push you over the edge here is a shocking video narrated by Paul McCartney (warning, this made me cry): Glass Walls.

So this week I've pledged to go 30 days vegan.

I'm actually quite excited about this challenge because I love food, I loved going vegetarian, and I love trying new recipes. I'd love to hear any recipes or ideas that you might have out there??

To kick start on a good note I'm off to make a batch of lentil soup - it's a rainy miserable day (yes London in June feels a lot like winter) so it'll be a nice pick me up!