2014 the year of the experimental vegan
January is nearly over and so I can confess that one of my resolutions this year was to trial a period of veganism. I am embarrassed writing this because I wonder what assumptions will be made about my decisions? I suppose the main one would be that I’m desperately trying to loose weight. That is the bit that is embarrassing because British women like to pretend that they don’t work hard to look good. To be sexually attractive we’d be thin with a decent serving of tits and ass of course. We’d devour steak and chips and a bottle of red wine and order the creme brulee AND the cheese because everyone knows that a healthy appetite at the kitchen equates DIRECTLY to your appetite in the bedroom. Unlike women in LA, we know it is important to be a laugh as well as look the part and no one wants to go on a sober date with a vegan right? This is why I get embarrassed. You can see right? Also I’m a bit of a crap vegan it turns out. More on that later.
So I’ve been struggling since the birth of my second child who was an 11lb beautiful monster of a baby, to reach something I would consider in the vicinity of normal weight/size for me. And at the end of last year I just got fed up. Fuck it, I thought. FUCK. IT. I have worked my arse off eating low carb, low sugar diets. I have trained for and successfully run a half marathon less than a year after said monster baby was born. I’m sure I lost some weight along the way but it wasn’t making me happy, it wasn’t enough. So I had a lightbulb moment, I decided to stop making decisions about what I’m doing to my body based on how it will look and start making decisions based on what is good for it and the planet. This led me quite quickly to a decision to trial a period of veganism becauase plants are great for you and because it isn’t forever but I thought it might help me reassess how I eat and my reliance on animal based products – it has.
About halfway through January I heard about Veganuary via this piece in the Guardian which was cool because I felt like it wasn’t hypocritical to trial veganism for a short period. As the campaign founders suggest, a period of veganism has made me think more about what I’m eating and whether I really need that food or whether I just eat animal products out of habit. I’ve enjoyed the fresher, cleaner flavours of a vegan diet. I also got comfy with carbs again. As I said, this diet wasn’t about getting skinny but trying to feel healthy and I remember that for me, carbs make me feel amazing and happy so I tuck into a bowl of courgette and chilli spaghetti with gusto. I just don’t put parmesan on top. And luckily for me I love houmous. Beyond anything normal or reasonable. (I’m not the only one) I’ve slept better and I feel like I’ve snacked less. I also just don’t fancy the stuff I’ve (mostly) cut out. So it doesn’t feel like denial, within my vegan parameters I eat as much as I like.
I remember my brother telling me that veganism is only possible today because we have access to products like soy or milk substitutes like almond milk and I take his point. As a vegan you still have to be mindful of the footprint of your food… But his point was that the consumption meat and animal products is the natural way, the way our ancestors would have eaten. But factory farming is the opposite of natural, the creation of processed meat or cheap milk relies heavily upon technology, machinery and antibiotics so I don’t feel like that argument really stands up. (Read “Eating Animals” if you still need convincing.)
I am not a judgy vegan. I’ve opted out twice this month. Both times I was with friends who I hadn’t told about my experiment and ended up eating delicious meals that they prepared for me. I ate one sausage and some pasta with tuna. I was cool with it and still am. I like those things and I made a bit of a decision early on that I would be reasonable with my new diet which meant not making friends feel super weird. If I’m at a restaurant and there is nothing delicious and vegan I’ll go for the vegetarian option. But as it is January that hasn’t happened yet. As the year trundles on I may reintroduce small amounts of fish and eggs – I miss both. But meat and dairy? Not so much.
In case you are wondering I think I’ve lost a little bit of weight. But actually I am working hard not to give that headspace this year. I have too much else to do. As for you guys, any top vegan recipes please send them my way! As I near the end of January I am ready to go forward into February as an open minded vegan. Tonight I’m eating veggie laksa, can’t wait.